Claire Thomas started The Kitchy Kitchen out of a passion for California cooking and completely without formal training. An LA girl through and through, she now hosts a show Food for Thought with Claire Thomas, produced by Litton Entertainment and syndicated on ABC stations nationwide. She is also a commercial director and food stylist, and shoots every image on her blog herself. Claire joins us to share how she fits it all in and why summer foods are her absolute favorite- next to new typefaces. You can follow Claire on Twitter @Food4ThoughtTV. Plus, stop by In The Kitchen to see what she creates with that asparagus!
Tell me about your kitchen. You still shoot your online cooking videos in your home kitchen?
I moved into my house with my sister Amanda, a jewelry designer with her own line, Luv AJ. We refer to it as ‘The Compound’ because we both live and work out of here. It’s a really cute mid-century style house in Santa Monica. The kitchen is disproportionately large; I took out a lot of walls. We use it for the online videos, the blog, and I shot all the images for my cook book here.
Because I also work as a commercial director, I’ve been directing for almost two years. I location scout kitchens all the time and have a secret Pinterest board just for white kitchens. I knew what was important for me aesthetically. Anything you see on the Food Network has a burner in the kitchen island so you can light it from any angle. No one would think of that, but I knew right away I wanted one. I wanted it be clean, subway tile. I like the look of concrete so we got Cesearstone that is dark concrete colored and you can chop right on it.
I imaging you had to plan a lot of storage space, as well.
I have a bit of collecting problem so lots of storage- vintage glassware, I love heath ceramics. I love collecting one of pieces. It’s so satisfying to make a dish and know I have the perfect vessel for it. It’s finny because though collecting and accumulating, you learn what you need more off. Once I moved back in, I realized I needed to just go out a buy three dozens wooden spoons and a dozen whisks.
Three dozen wooden spoons?!
When I recipe test, I do block tests for the blog, TV show and cookbook. I’ve created over 450 recipes in the past year. The cookbook will have 200. It’s not coming out until next spring but I tested at least 230 for that. Plus I come up with the themes and recipes for the TV show and the blog. I try to post at least 2 blog dedicated recipes a week so it adds up. I really need to segment my time so I have this goofy schedule where Monday is getting my week going, Tuesday and Wednesday are my two cooking days, Tuesday is usually baking and pasta, and anything with fresh produce is Wednesday because that is the farmers market. Thursday and Friday are for photo editing, writing, all the other things. But very rarely do I get to stick it!
We definitely know how that goes! How has the cooking show changed the way you cook for the blog- or vice versa?
I make food that I love to make and that I love to eat. I’m a home cook. I didn’t go to culinary school. I like making food that is really impressive looking but is really lazy. I hate doing dishes. The thought of using my food processors just makes me go blahhhh. It’s very international now, so it has to cater to a lot of different taste. I was looking at old recipes can tell I was so hard-core overcompensating at the beginning and would do food that was a little too complicated or fussy. The show has helped me calm down and just make food that is simple, good, and sophisticated. That is where I’m headed and I’ve really enjoyed making that part of the blog as well.
Simple food is especially welcome this time of year. What foods do you look forward to every summer?
Definitely peaches. They are just so good. My birthday is in June so summer is a very celebratory time between Memorial Day, my birthday, Fourth of July. My Aunt Tina is a spectacular baker and her pies are just amazing. I developed this recipe for the cookbook that is a pie crust with rosewater and she made a cherry pie with it. I love fruit pies. My dorky obsession when I was a kid was corndogs. To the point to where my parents just threw up their hands and the freezer was full of corndogs. I was very pro-corn dog, very-anti-everything else. The smell of the cornmeal and a frank, hot dogs in general are very summery to me. The best hot dog on the market is Let’s Be Frank. Alice Water’s former food forager started the company, it’s all nitrate free. In LA, the farmers market hot dogs are so treacherous- wrapped in bacon, jalepenos, delicious but you have no idea what is in them. Let’s Be Frank is really clean, really delicious. Anything on a bun and anything in a pie are total summer time to me and make me happy. In LA, so many things that are seasonal everywhere else are year round- ice cream, and popsicles, and salad. So things that take a little more time like pie or outside cooking are what I look forward to here in LA.
Besides food, you also love graphic design and typefaces, correct? You do the photo editing and graphics for your website and videos. Where did that interest come from?
Everyone in my family is a graphic designer. I’m the lone “non-graphic designer” my dad has given me the book the elements of type three times. He’s very forgetful. I’m like, “Thanks Dad. I already have two.” He’s like, “Great now you have one for your car, one for your purse, and one for your home.” Most dads do that with a Swiss army knife or mace but my dad in an emergency thinks you need to know about san serifs.
On Pinterest I kept gathering all this inspiration and typefaces. I always go for the visuals and what is visually appealing and needed to convey the information through graphics. It started very simple but then I got a little obsessed with it. I had so much fun doing that for the videos and it started getting a lot of attention so I started doing it for the photos as well. I spend way more time doing the graphic design for photo than the color correction. It’s like, what typeface screams vintage ice box cake? Because my family is so good at it, it’s driven me to be very simple. I do very type-driven graphic design. You aren’t going to see me doing illustrations.
My guilty pleasures- in the summer, produce, and then typefaces. I have so many fonts I want to buy in my online shopping cart!