“The heart of our home lies within the kitchen.”
This is the motto of Catherine Cappiello Pappas, the recipe developer and founder of Living the Gourmet. It was from this belief that she created the blog. Her kitchen is much more than a place where she prepares and cooks their meals. It is where they create memories to last a lifetime. This is the very essence of her blog.
She believes that it takes more than just the freshest ingredients to create the perfect meal. “We mix together quality and care, and sprinkle each serving with love. Our recipes are tried and true, from our table to yours,” she said.
With the encouragement of her kids, she started her blog in October of 2008 with the purpose of recording her recipes, share them to her readers, and pass them down to her children. Since then, her blog has grown into a huge community of active and enthusiastic food lovers.
In her spare time, she loves music, reading, writing, and updating her other blog, The Galley.
1. You have a beautiful way of looking at the role of a kitchen in a home. Have you always had this view? When did you develop this passion for cooking?
As I’ve said on my site for a long time, the kitchen really is the heart of the home. Growing up in a first generation Italian family, many of my fondest memories were centered around the kitchen, and around long tables packed with familiar faces, jovial talk and laughter flowing over an endless variety of food.
In that way, I learned that food is an expression of love, an accentuation to one’s memories. The kitchen wasn’t regarded as a place of inconvenience or labor, but rather the heart of whatever event was occurring, or whatever memory was being made.
During the week, the door was constantly swinging open with unannounced guests, whether it was my father’s friends drawn in for a quick coffee at the kitchen table, and a round of chatter about their shared hobbies, or my cousins dropping by to raid the fridge ‘just because.’ Later in the year, the aroma of the dark wines and red sauces would hang thick in the air, heralding the onset of the holidays and winter evenings.
All of this was easy to take for granted, as through the prism of youthful eyes the world, and all inside it, appear limitless and immortal, even as these treasured things we take for granted begin fading year by year.
A portion of that memory-making is simply lost when food, and the preparation thereof, is relegated to an inconvenience, something to be whipped up in thirty-minutes or less, or popped into a microwave. Time has been saved, to be certain, but memories have been sacrificed in the process – even if one doesn’t realize it. What was never had cannot be missed, after all.
To that point, in 2008 my son suggested I start a recipe blog so that the food he grew up with would never be lost, and by late 2008 Living the Gourmet had gone live. Since then, this view of food is what I have tried to convey.
2. It looks like Tammy and Michael share your passion for food and cooking. Was that your influence? Do they also share their own recipes to 'Living the Gourmet' readers?
Since brevity is a virtue unto itself, I’ll say that Tammy is an excellent cook and baker, and that Michael is an excellent eater. If I were to try and describe the behind the scenes of Living the Gourmet, I would ask you simply to imagine a ‘perpetual test kitchen.’
On a serious note though, continuing from my last answer, I wanted to develop my children’s palettes from a young age, and never shied away from introducing them to new foods when they were young. I have to say, looking at where we are, and the ways in which they are able to contribute to the site, I do believe I succeeded.
In terms of culinary contributions, Tammy’s baking features prominently on the site, as well as a number of her savory dishes, while Michael’s wine pairings have become a regular feature.
3. What keeps you busy when you're not updating LTG with new recipes or whipping up delicious dishes for your family?
As odd as it may sound coming from someone who needs to keep a constant pulse on the new, the fresh, and the trending given the nature of social media – I absolutely love reading through old cooking magazines, and I’m talking about magazines going back twenty or thirty years.
It’s oddly refreshing seeing the ‘old’ way of doing things, or seeing past perspectives on food and entertaining. As the saying goes, sometimes the best way to refresh one’s view of the present is to draw inspiration from the past.
I remember in the movie Burnt when Cooper’s character had just arrived back in Paris, and he prepared this gourmet recipe for one of his new young chef’s, the chef’s girlfriend sort of grimaced and replied that the dish was now regarded as ‘old fashioned.’
4. When did you realize that LTG has turned into a popular food site with a community of food enthusiasts? What changes did you have to do to keep up?
The turning point for Living the Gourmet was actually a rather sudden one. In 2014, we received one of our first big breaks, landing an interview with the late great Jackie Collins, and shortly thereafter an interview with the former Executive White House Chef John Moeller. Right around that time things really began taking off, and we were allowed to begin building and shaping our brand in ways that, frankly, we had never envisioned.
If you were to ask me ‘how’ or ‘why’ things began to transition right at that particular point in time, or what it was that we were doing, in particular, that marked that as our turning point, I would have to say I truly don’t know except that I was focusing time, effort, and passion into something I love. Let’s be honest, the secret to success is that there isn’t one.
The first few years of Living the Gourmet were a learning process, but we were learning about ‘how’ to do things like social media, finding an audience, learning how to produce quality content, things of that nature, while the ‘core’ of the site, and my vision for what I wanted to convey remained largely the same. In that way, we remained focused, learning ‘how’ to do what we love.
5. What are the three recipes that you are proudest of developing?
I’m going to be honest and say I have a favorite ‘type’ of post. I love recipes that truly cut to the heart of what I do at Living the Gourmet, recipes or themes that really allow me to convey that sort of rustic ‘first generation’ style of cooking that now largely exists only in our memories.
For example, I posted about “The Perfect Charcuterie Board” some months back, and I loved the atmosphere that post captured, the idea of creating an experience for friends and family through food.
Another post would probably be my “Truffle Linguine with Fresh Tomatoes, Anchovies and Basil.” Posts like those, honestly, I feel best convey my vision for the site.
How to Reach Catherine Cappiello Pappas of Living the Gourmet