Food Editor Julia Gartland is a true dynamo: photographer, food stylist, blogger and by all accounts self-taught "chef." Her culinary wisdom, stunning images and delicious recipes are featured here weekly in her column, On The Menu (she also offers a wide selection of gluten free cooking on her blog, Sassy Kitchen). Today she shares a little about her career path, cooking and eating gluten free and her personal culinary idol (hint: they share the same first name).
You are a woman of MANY talents, tell us all you do within the food world and which roles are your favorites (and why).
Thank you! First and foremost, I am a photographer (by trade and at heart). I started photographing food when I started my site, Sassy Kitchen, in 2010. I fell in love with cooking throughout the process, which led me to food styling and developing recipes for web and print.
At a relatively young age you decided on a career path. How did that revelation come about? Has it changed in the years since you graduated from school?
I started taking photography seriously around 14 or 15 and decided I wanted to go to art school in New York. I was pretty headstrong about the whole decision despite being very young. Throughout my time at Parsons my passion for it didn't wane, but instead evolved into more still-life and food work. Since graduating from college, I became much more entrenched in the food world, getting lots of food photography work, assisting professional food stylists, etc.
You recently transitioned from having a full-time job and almost full-time freelance gigs (whew!) to a full time freelancer? How did you decide to make the switch? Do you have any advice for other creatives looking to do the same?
The first job I got out of school was at a photo licensing agency. I stayed there for a few years, working up and had a great experience overall. As much as I loved having a cushy job, it wasn't furthering the career I wanted. My freelance work started taking off, so I used that momentum to make goals to leave as soon as I was financially able.
Transitioning from a full-time job to freelance life is very difficult. As much as I prepared for it, at the end of the day you have to believe in what you want to do and be ready to take the jump. For probably 9 months, I worked really hard reaching out to new clients and remained busy with freelance work so that the transition would be less severe. Getting consistent clients, and saving as much as you can while you're on a full-time salary will definitely help buffer the blow, but you have to be the type of person who is hungry for it.
You have 3 friends with 3 extremely different culinary preferences (and varying dietary restrictions) coming over for dinner: what is your never-fails-go-to-meal? Care to share the recipe?
This is a tough one, and I'm sure a situation where most people struggle. I'm super fond of making soccas, a chickpea flatbread/pizza , because the combinations are endless. It is SO easy and simple to make and takes under 20 minutes to cook. It's naturally gluten-free, protein-filled and vegan, but your guests won't notice. I love a simple fennel, rosemary and leek socca, but you can try your favorite herbs or add-ins. I like to top it with a great salad and serve LOTS of simple sides with it: Chickpea and Fava Bean Socca
Another option is a simple pesto pasta with quinoa spaghetti. Whether your guests are vegetarian or huge meat-eaters, I promise they will love this. It's FAIL-PROOF: Pistachio Pesto Pasta
Do you find gluten-free cooking to be limiting? If yes, what do you miss most? If not, what are some easy changes people can make in their diets to smoothly transition to a gluten-free lifestyle?
Personally, I don't find it limiting because I've been eating and cooking this way for many years. It's definitely more challenging, especially when you get into baking and breads, but it forces me to get more creative. I try to create recipes that would be enticing to someone who doesn't have a gluten allergy. Through the process, I was introduced to so many ingredients I never would have touched before, like sorghum, millet and chestnut flour. I'm a huge baker, so discovering new flours or gluten-free techniques is super fun for me.
I would say I miss the ease of eating out. You do have to "look out" for more things, ask about sauces and things like that, which I don't particularly enjoy. Also, bagels and croissants.
If you're trying to transition into gluten-free, just slowly start replacing your normal go-to's with gluten-free products. If you eat oatmeal in the morning, just buy gluten-free oats instead. Simple things to start! Plus, there are tons of health-conscious alternatives out there that everyone is into like cauliflower pizza crusts, quinoa pasta, and almond flour pancakes that are all naturally gluten-free.
What are the three most important tools for every kitchen?
Sharp knives, paper towels and a garbage bowl.
As you're well versed, Clementine Daily celebrates modern women who find joys in the everyday. What attracted you to this ideal and the site? How do you celebrate the everyday in your own life?
I'm definitely a perfectionist and my own self-inflicted expectations are always out of reach. It often weighs on me, but taking my work and my expectations day-by-day helps soften the craziness in my head. Instead of seeking perfection, I think, ''What's one thing I did today to better myself? … what am I grateful for?" It takes the intensity and drama out of the equation. Also, I think "realness" and admitting your true flaws is one of the most endearing traits. It takes guts to be honest.
Who is your culinary idol and why?
Julia Child, hands down. For her wit, charm, warmth and culinary persistence.
p.s. Julia's love for good food is so inspiring. Now let's meet the wine authority.