An Interview With The Ardent Epicure, My Favorite Foodies Series

>> Saturday, February 5, 2011

Spicie Foodie's Favorite Foodies; Favorite Foodies; Spicie Foodie; The Ardent Epicure
Today I am going to introduce you to a special new series (yep another one) here on Spicie Foodie, My Favorite Foodies. I've been really looking forward to sharing with you my favorite foodies from around the globe. This series will be archived up there on the menubar under "Faves" and instead of just giving you a name and a link to my favorite foodies, I will be interviewing them. This way you can see why these people are my favorites.

To kick this new series off, it is my pleasure to introduce to you my friend Alisha~Magic of Spice, from The Ardent Epicure. Does this fabulous blog really need and introduction? I mean many of you already know The Ardent Epicure, and will agree that it is one of the best food blogs around. Over the past few months I've gotten to know Alisha better and I can tell you that she is talented, sweet, kind and intelligent. She has nothing but support and encouragement for everyone she comes in contact with. Her blog,The Ardent Epicure, is a small team that I'll let Alisha tell you about. They are all very talented cooks and bakers, and every visit has me learning something new, be it a new technique or about a new ingredient. This inspires me to keep learning and to keep pushing myself in the kitchen, which I think is a great thing for all of us. Now I'm going to let Alisha (aka Magic of Spice) tell you about herself and their wonderful blog.
The Ardent Epicure
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your blog and the team behind The Ardent Epicure?
Our blog is now 10 months old, so we are almost a toddler☺ The team is composed of myself, my oldest son Adam and my son in-law Grely. Adam is a computer tech currently in the process of finishing up a Masters Degree. He is responsible for our lovely blog layout/design and has a serious passion for food, most specifically individual ingredients and an in depth knowledge of varied specific foods and spices. Grely is an avid baker and in my opinion a master of sweets. He takes great pleasure in creating something delicious and in making everyone happy has a result. He works full time outside of the blog so whenever he makes a delight we make sure to post it. I work both inside and outside of the food industry and have a great passion for all things culinary, including gadgets.

2. Is there a special significance to your blog's title? Can you tell us how or why you choose this name?
Yes the name denotes one having a Strong passion and a refined or discriminating taste for food and or wine. So Adam and I knowing already having a shared passion for food, played off words back and forth to describe this passion. Of course the blog itself being an entity, we chose The Ardent Epicure.

3. Why do love to cook/bake or spend time in your kitchen? And have you always liked being in the kitchen?
Yes I have always loved to cook even as a very young child. I grew up in a home were food and it’s preparation required deep passion and a creative spirit. I in turn nourished my own children with this concept.

4. Do you or any of The Ardent Epicure team have professional training in the culinary world?
Yes, I was an Executive Chef for many years then later a co-owner of a small café. Although I have training in all aspects of food preparation, my specialties are Gourmet vegetarian and Mediterranean cuisines. I still teach privately so technically I am still a professional chef, lol

5. What is your most memorable or most special kitchen moment, be it a happy or a disastrous memory?
That is such a tough one so I will go with a childhood memory. Although I am not in the kitchen and was around 10 years old. There was a dinner at my dad’s restaurant with a large portion of family present. I do not specifically remember the occasion, but suddenly everyone stood up.
Well everyone but me…long story short, my aunt leaned over and told me to stand up. I asked why of course, she stated that the Chef was approaching the table. I peeked over and saw my dad coming to the table and sat back down, exclaiming “that’s dad, he always comes to the dinner table”.

Alisha, Azuki Bean Soup with Sage, Chamomile, and King Oyster Mushrooms
6. Some people may know that you are a vegetarian, which obviously means meat is something you are not fond of but is there any other food or ingredient that repulses you, and why?
Wow, I will have to go with insects…or do they count as meat?

7. On those occasions when you want to treat your family, friends and yourself to a special dish/dinner or dessert, what fabulous food do you prepare?
Another tough one…Aside from my cocoa mousse probably a specialty sauce like a gastrique with seafood, or pasta from scratch and my 32 hour marinara. I am known to play with my food, so I am usually inventing something shortly beforehand.

8.What is the most difficult thing you have ever cooked or baked? Have you or would you do it again?
Only one? I am not much of a baker at least of sweets, but one thing I found very frustrating to master would be a soufflé. I make an effort to avoid them. But yes I have prepared them on occasion, but really a thing you must do on more than occasionally to perfect.

9. What is your favorite spice and why?
I am going to have to say ginger. Primarily if I could only choose one I would need something with a peppery feel to it, but versatile enough to handle both savory or sweet.

The Ardent Epicure
Adam, Fresh Lobster with Lemon & Clarified Butter
10. What is your favorite ingredient, the one you couldn't live without, the one you use most often? And is this ingredient the one that inspires you the most or is there another?
A high quality olive or avocado oil and I use them constantly. I would not say they inspire my dishes though, that would probably be fresh organic produce.

11. What food is your food vice? You know, one you sneak in a little extra of when no one is looking.
Does wine count? Assuming not, I will say cheese…oh how I love thee! Actually at times it replaces the answer to # 10, especially a new find. I buy small amounts to try out then consider all of the wonderful possibilities.

12. When you go out to eat what do you go for?
Japanese cuisine, always (well if I get to pick).

13. Do you like to listen to music while you cook? What do you listen to? Do you sing and dance along?
Yes, usually 70’s, jazz or blues. Like I’m going to answer that, lol. Ok, yes I sing but never dance along.

14. Who is your favorite foodie (be it a professional Chef, enthusiast, novice, friend or family)? Have they, do they or how do they inspired you and your cooking?
Wow, there is not really just one, and a few in each category. My dad of course is first on the list because I had an experience with food in such a passionate way very early on. My cooking style, flavors and dishes are completely different from his, yet the passion is the lesson. My home cooking experience was Creole based cuisine, explains the love of spice☺

15. How do your family and friends feel about you being a food blogger?
Well my dad absolutely loves it and of course my kids do as well. My friends aside from other bloggers don’t pay too much attention, other than complaints of “why have you never made me this” sort of thing.

16. How do you organize your recipes before publishing them on your blog? Do they get written down on paper or do you type them up as you share with us?
The exact same way I did for the restaurants…sticky notes☺ Most of my earlier recipes came from those that I designed menus around. Now it is more of a jot it down before I forget sort of thing…I need to get a journal because the sticky note thing can be confusing once I am trying to write a post.

17. What do you like the most and dislike the most about being a food blogger?
What I like most about it is the people. Regardless of how different our styles may be or our cultures for that matter, we all have an amazing and shared passion. Where else could you ever find something so amazing. What I dislike, that would be time…meaning finding it without letting everything else slip through the cracks so to speak.

18. What about hobbies or what do you like to do to relax and enjoy your free time?
Free time? OK, I will be serious now…well I love music and art, I am actually an artist (matter of opinion I am sure) so I love to paint and draw. I am also crazy about bubble baths and have an entire bath time ritual with candles, nature music and wine…that is my idea of relaxing.

19. What is your goal or what do you hope to accomplish with your blog?
Parts of this are still be formed, but I guess ultimately I (not being able to answer for other team members) would like to do a few things. 1. Promoting the idea of real food, meaning little processing and fresh. 2. Teaching or sharing how I view food and how to develop an intrigue from a single ingredient into a dish. My view of preparing food is the same as taking a canvas and starting a painting. You start with an inquisitive thought about an ingredient, a passion or a desire and you create from there. As well as to teach techniques of preparation in an accessible way for those that may not be familiar, but would like to know.

20. Anything else you would like to say or share with us, tips or advice?
My advice to any new food bloggers or anyone struggling a bit as a food blogger…Most important-be yourself and stick with what works for you. This is not to say that you should not expand or continuously grow, but stick with what makes you unique. People read us, how many people depends on time as well as a voice that people want to read. This Voice comes in many different forms, as many as there are bloggers. That is what I believe is most important, whether it be writing style, sense of humor, artistic displays, photography or basic content…”You” is who people will be reading or viewing and following.

Follow The Ardent Epicure on Twitter - Facebook - Foodbuzz


Sommer J February 6, 2011 at 11:22 AM  

Great interview!! So lovely to get to know you better, Alisha. I agree, you're an amazingly supportive blogger and it's a joy reading your blog. I actually bought the oreo cookies to make the cake on your site, but the cookies didn't last 2 hours in my house. Guess we must try again hehe.

alison February 6, 2011 at 11:29 AM  

congrats,a wonderful job,nancy!i love you both,you and alisha,you are so...magic!bravo!

Spicie Foodie February 6, 2011 at 11:53 AM  

@Sommer, I'm glad you agree about Alisha and The Ardent Epicure:) I know that Oreo cookie cake makes me drool. They don't sell Oreos here, lucky you:)

@Alison, Thank you:)!

A little bit of everything February 6, 2011 at 12:52 PM  

this is such a great post Nancy. I love both of you and it's always a pleasure to read your blogs. love the sticky notes, I use them all the times especially when I bake something new :))
and yikes to the insects :)))

Both of you have a wonderful Sunday

Chef Dennis February 6, 2011 at 1:29 PM  

what a great interview! Hearing from someone as talented as Alisha and seeing that she goes through the same things that we do is reassuring.
It is always nice to learn more about our online friends, I look forward to the day that I meet you both!

Spicie Foodie February 6, 2011 at 1:41 PM  

@Claudia, Hehe:)

@Roxana,I also love your blog. All of those baked goodies makes me want to invite myself to your house, hehe:)

@Chef Dennis, I too look forward to meeting such a talented person as yourself. One of these day:)

Victoria February 6, 2011 at 1:58 PM  

Alisha is fabulous!! Thanks for sharing this great interview!! I too love painting and taking bubble baths (outside of the kitchen), haha.

Brindusa February 6, 2011 at 2:18 PM  

Thank you for this interview. I had the pleasure to meet Magic of spice when I started my blog, but I didn't know so many things about her! Loved her answers.
Have a nice day.

Sandra February 6, 2011 at 2:39 PM  

Awesome interview Nancy! You both are amazing food bloggers! Now I know bit more about Alisha and behind the The Ardent Epicure!
Amazing job!!!

Tiffany February 6, 2011 at 2:56 PM  

What a great idea and a GREAT interview!!!!! I look forward to reading more in the future!

Belinda @zomppa February 6, 2011 at 6:27 PM  

Great feature and so great to know Alisa and the Ardent Epicure more - one of my favorites and love to get to know more behind the fantastic blog!

Drick February 6, 2011 at 8:22 PM  

what a great new series and perfect choice for the opener... could not think of anyone more fitting than Alisha... beautiful person, multi-talented and passionate in all endeavors...

penny aka jeroxie February 6, 2011 at 10:16 PM  

Great idea. Will love to get to know more about other foodies. And what a great looking oreo cheesecake.

LeQuan February 7, 2011 at 1:11 AM  

Hi Nancy,

Thank you for having Alisha as your first interviewee. It's always a pleasure to read her blog, bug now I know much more about this kind, talented, smart woman. This was a great idea. Have fun with your future interviews.


Thank you for sharing all this about yourself with us. It was also great to know a bit about Adam and Grely as well. When hubby and I go out to eat, our first choice is always Japanese cuisine. Cheese oh cheese, how I love thee as well ;-) Great interview and great answers. I had fun reading this.

Conor @ Hold the Beef February 7, 2011 at 8:49 AM  

Really nice to get to know Alisha better and I think this is a fine new addition to Spicie Foodie!

The story about Alisha's Dad is too funny :)

Susan February 7, 2011 at 10:03 AM  

This is such a great interview ... Alisa has made so many good points and given us a nice picture of who she is and what inspires her ... thanks for this new post! Looking forward to the next interview!

A SPICY PERSPECTIVE February 7, 2011 at 10:14 AM  

What a wonderful new series. It's great to get to know Alisha and the gang a little bit better!

Magic of Spice February 7, 2011 at 11:06 AM  

Hi Nancy, thank you so much for inviting me to be part of your new series. This really is such a great idea and I am looking forward to more :)
And thanks to all of your readers as well for all of there wonderful words :)

She's Cookin' February 7, 2011 at 11:52 AM  

What a terrific new series, Nancy! Alisha and her partners Adam and Grely definitely showcase their individual passions on their delicious website. Its so great that you and Alisha have developed such a wonderful friendship - she's a beautiful person indeed.

Liv Wan February 7, 2011 at 3:49 PM  

Such cool and interesting interview. Now I get to know Alisha more hehe...I can't wait to see more of foodie's interview. Thank you for sharing.

Faith February 7, 2011 at 4:49 PM  

What a wonderful interview! I really enjoyed reading it and getting to know more about Alisha...I had no idea she is also paints and draws! What an incredibly talented person she is!

Michael Toa February 7, 2011 at 5:15 PM  

Hi Nancy. What a great interview. I love Alisha's blog and it's very nice to know more about the passionate team behind the scene.
I look forward to this new series. :)
Have a great day.

denise @ bread expectations February 8, 2011 at 12:58 AM  

Hi Nancy! What a wonderful idea and a great way to get to know our fellow bloggers a little better. I have the loveliest picture of Alisha now, sipping wine and singing along to a song while stirring at the stove :D

Alisha - thanks for a warm and intimate peek into what makes you, you! Glad to call you a friend!

sweetlife February 8, 2011 at 1:09 AM  

A wonderful post, I love Alisha , she is such a supportive blogger and with each posts teaches all so much. I loved getting to know you a little more and onbly widh you the best for the futrue my friend..hugs..I agree, time is my constant struggle..but I love bloggin!
ps. Thanks to Spicie Foodie for this feature.

Angie's Recipes February 8, 2011 at 5:00 AM  

Alisa, nice to learn more about you! And thank you, Nancy, for this wonderful interview.

Rosa's Yummy Yums February 8, 2011 at 3:16 PM  

A great interview! Thanks for sharing.



whatsfordinneracrossstatelines February 8, 2011 at 6:59 PM  

This is such a wonderful idea Nancy.

You know what I love most, I feel like I already made a lot of these leaps just by reading their blog. They've done a wonderful job of translating their passion to their blog.

I knew Alisha was an artist, the first time I saw her photos, she turns vegetables into a work of art!

But I loved learning things I didn't know. Makes me want to read them even more!

I still want that oreo cheesecake bad, but I'm trying to have a little restraint! He He

Carolyn February 8, 2011 at 7:42 PM  

Wonderful, wonderful interview. I didn't have a clue that The Ardent Epicure was a team (and what a team!), but it is like its own entity so I suppose that's why. Love the childhood memory, "oh that's just my dad"!

UrMomCooks February 8, 2011 at 8:46 PM  

Really enjoyed reading this!!! It is nice to find out more about favorite bloggers all at one time! (Your blog is wonderful too!)

Jill Colonna February 9, 2011 at 5:21 AM  

What a super interview, Spiciefoodie! So interesting to hear about Alisha's background and feel I know her. So much in common: wine, ginger, music, wine ;-)
Congratulations on a super site, great team and look forward to reading more great posts.

Chow and Chatter February 9, 2011 at 10:41 AM  

lovely interview esp the part where your Dad comes out and everyone stands up your a star Alisha

Dionne Baldwin - Try Anything Once February 9, 2011 at 4:06 PM  

I really like learning more about Alisha! (And I had to come and visit your blog!) Thank you for sharing this. I feel like I want to go into my kitchen and create something delicious right now.

Cake Duchess February 9, 2011 at 10:29 PM  

Wonderful interview Nancy with Alisha. It was really nice to learn more about you Alisha. I think you are amazing and so talented. Thank you for sharing your great tips at the end:)

FOODESSA February 10, 2011 at 8:28 AM  

The danger of interviews like this one is that it captures an incredible essence of a Foodie that you liked to visit and now find yourself in a Foodie lovefest with her. LOL
Alright, first off to Nancy, the questions were well thought out and capturing.
Alisha...I could say so much, however, I'll hold back just a my dear are unique and very inviting! I really enjoyed getting to know you that much more.
I'm also thrilled for you and admittedly a little envious about the great food passions that run in your close knit family ;o) I especially love Grely's dessert...I am after all very much a sweet tooth ;o)

Minus a few recipes with 'Hot' spices...I really feel a certain soul-foodie-ship with you when I create my own recipes.
Other than practicing my Interior Design profession and blogging...I could spend the rest of my time painting while being surrounded by peaceful nature ;)

Fabulous interview!

Flavourful wishes,

Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron February 10, 2011 at 6:45 PM  

That's a cool feature and thanks so much for spending time creating this for us Nancy! I can tell it's a lot of work. I love that I could get to know your faves better in many ways!

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