There’s still only one cook in The Fountain Avenue Kitchen, but I now have two very talented team members who will be bringing complementary strengths to these pages. I’m very excited to introduce them and hope you will join me in welcoming them to our family!
When I started this blog a little over nine years ago, I had recently put another career on hold in order to spend time with my two boys. My husband’s job was requiring increasingly more long-distance travel, and my job involved a good number of nontraditional hours. Both made covering all of our metaphorical bases something of a challenge.
Cooking was never my vocation, but it had long been my avocation. The creative process appealed to me, as did the science behind it. I poured over cookbooks like they were novels and read anything I saw relating to food and nutrition. I enjoyed recreating restaurant favorites and simply looking at recipes and thinking that I could make them more flavorful, often with lighter ingredients, fewer steps, and more options. And I loved creating my own recipes from scratch.
At the same time, I realized that so many people were struggling to get dinner on the table, and for good reason. Work and family responsibilities often leave little time and energy to cook. Sharing recipes was my little way of encouraging and saying, “You can do it－and your meals can taste great without being complicated.”
Meanwhile, I had never posted a single thing on Facebook, and I was one of the least tech-savvy people I knew. I could cook, but I couldn’t cut and paste! The idea of creating a website was mildly absurd.
I joked that sharing a recipe online was quicker than writing out 20 recipe cards. It took a year or two until I felt comfortable referring to my website as a “blog” because, to me, that word implied sharing the innermost details of my personal life. And who would care?
Putting myself “out there,” so to speak, made me feel vulnerable and a little self conscious, but I was encouraged by friends and family who actually cooked the recipes. That was the point, of course, yet it surprised me when it actually happened!
They even asked for more.
Fast forward through the better part of a decade, during which time I’ve tested and shared hundreds of recipes, worked with various food companies, written a newspaper column, partnered with a regional health system, taken all the photographs, maintained the website, and answered nearly every comment and email sent my way.
I’ve had lots of other ideas as to content and features that would make the blog better for my readers, but at some point I accepted that there were only so many hours in the day. And my family was always priority number one.
Thanks to the endless stream of ideas swirling through my head, I marveled at how wonderful it would be to have a partner. But it would have to be the right person. Someone with the same passion I have for creating a product that’s both entertaining and informative. Someone with a unique yet complementary skillset, which would make a collaborative effort truly worthwhile. And most importantly, someone who is as kind and humble as they are capable and creative.
I pretty much figured that might never happen.
And then guess what?
I found two of these people!
Last summer, Emily Russo and her family just so happened to buy the house next door, which crazy enough, was my childhood home and where my parents still lived. When she learned about my job and I, in turn, learned that she was a dietitian with vast experience in a hospital setting, recently completed her master’s degree, and became a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, we had a lot to talk about.
Donovan Witmer is a talented commercial photographer, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working from time to time over the years. He’s been a creative force behind several national and regional brands that many of us know and love (Auntie Anne’s pretzels anyone?) and has extensive editorial experience.
Going forward, the three of us have exciting plans.
Emily and I are working together to incorporate her extensive knowledge of nutrition into the blog in a way that best serves the readers. This will include answering reader questions, debunking food myths, and helping us to weed through the glut of information on diets and better understand where the culture of dieting may not be serving us well.
I love that Emily dove right into the archives of this site, cooking recipes old and new, so she became familiar with the site. In the process, she even reminded me of a few old favorites that fell off my radar over time.
Donovan is lending me an expert hand behind the camera. While I will continue to cook and style all the food, Donovan’s help will also relieve me of the photo editing and additional work that follows the actual picture taking. At the same time, his involvement will elevate the visuals you see on this blog. For someone who has no real photography training, I got the job done. Donovan will do it better!
As a team, we will have the ability to better respond to requests including recipe development and photography for various brands, corporate engagement, and other opportunities that are separate from yet support the blog. Maybe we’ll even get to the cookbook and branded mugs that so many have asked for over the years!
Rest assured, however, that the priority is and will continue to be delivering reliable recipes with a generous helping of the usual banter.
At the end of the day, I’ve gotten to this place because of my fabulously loyal readers. I am grateful for all of you. Your feedback and support have kept me cooking and completing the many daily tasks that make this blog a reality, even on the days when it seemed a little harder than it should.
I know you will love Emily and Donovan, both for the talents they bring to this space and their warm and engaging personalities. In turn, I know they will be in awe of the community they are joining.
More than anything, I look forward to a whole lot more of what we’ve been doing since the early days of 2012. Looking back, we’ve been through a lot together…and it has been pretty great!