What kind of camera and lens do you use?
Since October 2016, I've been using a Sony A6000 with a 35mm f/1.8 lens. Before then, I used a Nikon D700 with a 35mm f/1.8 lens. Before February 13, 2016, I used a Nikon D3100.
How do you shoot your photography and edit?
I usually spend anywhere between 2 to 5 hours baking or cooking, styling, and photographing. I always use natural sunlight and shoot in the morning/day over foamcore or a white Ikea tabletop, but will add more equipment, such as reflectors if the lighting is too dark. As for editing programs, I mainly use Lightroom.
What does charette mean?
A charette is a period of intense, final endeavor to resolve design issues and meet deadlines. This term originating in the Beaux Arts period, references the French charette carts that architecture students rode on, while furiously working to the very end before the cart stopped at the destination to their project presentations. I titled my blog, The Chef Charette, to emphasize how I also have to cram my cooking projects to create and prepare meals, recipes, and presentations.
Why create diagrams for your recipes?
Recipes can be intimidating because many are overly wordy and include cooking techniques that can be unfamiliar and confusing. As an architect, we frequently use black and white construction diagrams for projects - often without any written explanation. So I decided to apply this way of working to recipes. My goal is to deconstruct intimidating recipes into easy to understand diagrams so people all over the world can understand. I hope this unique way of approaching cooking will make it more fun and encourage people to experiment, cook/bake, and gather together.
Why did you move to Tokyo for 2+ years and why did you move to Los Angeles?
Throughout my childhood I loved cooking, arts and crafts, and architecture and I was particularly mesmerized by Japanese cuisine, art, and culture. I was so keen to learn how to properly assemble a bento box and package gifts well since I've always loved preparing meals, baking, and shipping cookies for friends. I also wanted to learn to live more minimally and nourish my own future family well. All the Japanese moms I've met have always excelled in all these hospitality and household managing areas, so I thought I could really learn from them to apply these skills into my life since I'm so passionate about design, hospitality, and building a bright, future family. While I was studying architecture at USC, I accepted a job opportunity to design this rooftop cafe in Ginza for Itoya, the stationery company I was interning for, but in their LA office. Itoya invited me to move to Tokyo and join the headquarters and project as soon as possible, so I had to fly one week after graduating and start working on this project immediately… It was an INSANE transition haha, since I had to move out of my apartment, say goodbye to all my friends within a week, start learning Japanese quickly since hardly anybody in the office spoke English, and I was completely financially broke…but I believed it was an amazing opportunity I couldn't miss and that it was worth immersing myself in this culture that excels in all areas I wanted to grow. Although it was a difficult journey, I'm very thankful for those who made it possible, that I went, and am at this point today. The experience of working and living here has definitely allowed me to hone all the hospitality, design, and woman skills I’ve wanted. Settling into a Tokyo lifestyle was difficult (mentally, emotionally, physically.) Yet I extended my stay from the 6 month project intent by picking up another full time position in an international architecture firm. I worked 7 days a week as an Architect and Interior Designer and had to comply with many high Japanese design standards as a foreign woman. Yet, the invaluable work experiences deepened my interest in working cross-culturally and serving the world through design and hospitality. Overall, living and working in Tokyo was an incredible experience for my pursuits in design and cooking! Moving to Los Angeles was the most difficult decision I've ever made in my life because of the incredible individuals, friendships, work, and experience I underwent in Tokyo. But I chose to move to Los Angeles by July 2016 mainly for health and financial reasons, and for the sake of my blog growing... to have more space, ingredient accessibility, and natural lighting to photograph and cook! It feels great to be back, but I still love visiting Japan.
What do you do when you have free time?
Lately, I've been spending much more time cooking, baking, and collaborating with other chefs and designers. I truly enjoy experimenting with recipes and exploring new cafes, bars, bookstores, and photogenic spots. I also frequently meet with various designers, architects, and friends for meals and/or venture in/out of the city with my camera. I also manage my personal blog
to archive some cool findings or events.
What is your favorite food?
I love finding new trends and fusing flavors, but I love reminiscent foods that take me back to comforting memories - like the spaghetti with browned butter and mizithra cheese I'd share with dad, belgian waffles and farmers market salads during those weekend brunches, chirashi and sake ikura don
from my lunch breaks in Ginza, crostini with burrata cheese the USC girlfriends and I'd eat on Friday nights after studio... and those heaping tiramisu and rum cakes served at holiday parties. For my last meal, I'd probably ask for sake ikura don