After launching the food blog EatLiveRun (www.eatliverun.
com) in 2007 and building a loyal following, the San Francisco-based writer, 27, penned her first book. “White Jacket Required,” out this week, covers Weber’s experience as an aspiring food writer who enrolls in culinary school in Orlando.
‘While I was in school I always wanted to be a writer, but I think there were a couple moments when I was like, is this really silly? Should I just go be a chef?’
Q. When did you get interested in writing about food?
A. When I was about 10 years old, I was obsessed with cookbooks. My mom would just drop me off at the bookstore and I would just sit in the cookbook section and flip through cookbooks for hours. And really it started then, when I was really young. I really just wanted to write about food. I was obsessed with reading cookbooks, obsessed with watching my mom cook — she’s a wonderful cook — just learning everything I could. Reading cookbooks was kind of like reading a novel for me. I’d go to bed and read them at night.
Q. Enrolling at Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando, what were your initial thoughts going in?
A. It was so much harder than I ever could have dreamed or anticipated. I was coming straight from college, where I got a bachelor’s degree in English, and then writing. So I kind of thought culinary school would just be really fun and I’d get to frost cupcakes and make cookies and all that stuff, and it was actually so much harder than my undergraduate education. It was very strenuous. A lot of people actually dropped out because it was a lot more work than they anticipated.
Q. You went into this wanting to be a writer more than a chef. Did this experience force you to take the chef part more seriously at times?
A. I definitely felt kind of different from my fellow classmates because everybody else was there to be a chef. While I was in school I always wanted to be a writer, but I think there were a couple moments when I was like, is this really silly? Should I just go be a chef? And I took notes every night through culinary school because I knew someday I wanted to write this book, so that was the factor that kept me going.
Q. What kind of kitchen challenges did you face?
A. My final for a meat fabrication class, I had to completely break down a chicken and a fish in under two minutes each — so take out all the little bones of the fish, and separate all the different cuts of the chicken, that sort of thing. That was very challenging and I never ended up getting the fish down. It sort of ended up looking like something the dog brought in.
Q. What was the most rewarding moment?
A. It was closer to the end of my program and one of the final classes. We basically had to take all the skills we had learned over the past year and apply them. And every night had a different theme. Decorating pastries has always been difficult for me because I’m sort of impatient, and on the night we did pastries, we had to make all these very traditional French pastries. I worked so hard that night and I got a perfect score. It was such a great moment for me, because this didn’t come naturally for me.
Q. What do you want readers to learn from your book?
A. Finding out what you’re passionate about and going after it, that’s what I was hoping people would take from the book, and that’s what I’m finding people are taking from the book as I get the first reviews in. It’s surreal having readers e-mail me telling me they’re halfway through and they love it, or they stayed up really late last night to finish reading it; mothers buying it for their daughters who are graduating high school and not sure what direction to go with their life. It’s really totally surreal. It’s my biggest dream come true.