Be my guest: 84th & 3rd

I stumbled upon JJ of 84th and 3rd just under a year ago. I was in Berlin, awake in the early hours of the morning, scrolling through Instagram (note: not recommended if you are trying to get to sleep) when I spotted her amazing photos. Then I discovered she ran the #eatfoodphotos photo challenge – and my life hasn’t been the same since.

JJ of 84th and 3rd (Photo courtesy of 84th and 3rd)

But there’s more to JJ than just Insta-fun – and she’s kindly shared some of the secrets of her success below.

What’s your blog about? 
Unprocessed, allergy-friendly recipes, daring adventures, and a touch of mad-science magic.

When did you start it? Why?
I started in December 2010 with little idea about what 84th and 3rd would become, I didn’t even post a recipe until three months in! Then in October 2011 we completely changed the way we ate and my experimental approach to food really kicked in. I use the blog as a creative outlet to develop recipes, improve my photography, and write. I hope that it gives others ideas and perhaps a bit of inspiration to look at food differently.

Do you have any culinary training or professional experience?
Other than growing up in an Italian family and spending most of my teens and twenties glued to Food TV, not a drop. I baked from a really young age and Mom is a ‘dash of this and a dash of that’ type of cook so I learned early that cooking isn’t something to be afraid of. Now I do commercial recipe development among other things.

What’s your day job? What else do you do?
Almost two years ago I left advertising agency-land to do my own thing… these days that includes commercial recipe development, some food photography and styling, a bit of writing and content creation, web design and build, social media consulting and business strategy. Pretty much all of it is in the food industry for chefs or producers.

Masterchef and TV food shows – hot or not?
I love TV food shows that are about recipes and food-related travel. Unfortunately most food shows on Aussie TV are more about drama these days, so you’re more likely to find me watching design or renovation ones.

What’s the last cookbook you bought?
I found a used copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day when I was in Adelaide recently and couldn’t pass it up. On the wish list are all of Ottolenghi’s books.

Tell us about the best meal you ever ate?
Lobster, cooked in a huge pot on the front lawn of a beach house outside of Boston where my entire extended family was staying. We ate it with our hands, dunking it in obscene amounts of butter and washing it down with gin and tonics. Perfection.

Who’s your food hero?
I have a soft spot for Alton Brown from years of watching Good Eats. Anthony Bourdain is a fave too – both his shows and books (see previous answer re Food TV – ha!).

What are your three favourite posts on your blog?
It’s like choosing a favourite child! I have a thing for rainbows and creative distraction as evidence by these Food-Based Easter Egg Dyes and Rainbow Whole-Fruit Ice Pops. While I eat far more savoury foods than sweet it seems that desserts get posted more – one of my faves is a truly mad-science inspired twist on Lemon Custard Cheesecake Bars. The post that means the most to me is probably my Vegan Pumpkin Pie. Four is close enough to three, right?

Tell us about another blog you love.
To be truthful the only blog I read religiously is The Bloggess. There are so many blogs out there that I float through from time to time and wish I read more. I’m a fan of London Bakes, and Jane from A Shady Baker always makes me feel so calm when I read her posts about living in the country.

Who do you cook for?
RJ (my husband) is the usual suspect although any time you put me near a kitchen, even if it isn’t mine, I’ll find some way to cook or bake. I do have a habit of testing out new recipes on people I barely know, it usually works out for the best.

What’s for dinner tonight?
What ever I can rummage from the fridge… probably eggs of some description with sautéed greens and avocado. We eat eggs fried, scrambled or baked about three times a week.

Thanks JJ! Now, who wants to Be My Guest next?

Five favourite Instagram food feeds

I wasn’t exactly an early adopter when it came to Instagram, but now I’m completely hooked. While we were on holiday – and therefore in several completely different time zones – I discovered lots of fun people to keep an eye on. Now that we’re home again, the list is growing but I’m trying to keep a lid on it because there are only so many images you can look at in a day and still manage to function in the real world.

So, here are my current five favourite feeds. I’ve restricted it to food – regular readers will know I’m unlikely to fancy any Instagram accounts that feature too many cats (though I do make a couple of exceptions – including this one) – but I have lots of other must-sees in other fields. That’s a subject for another time…

1. David Lebowitz – American pastry chef, Francophile, Paris resident, author – David Lebovitz could post photos of Parisian poubelles and his followers would ‘like’ them. While he posts plenty of shots of la vie quotidienne in Paris, the food shots will make you swoon.

2. 84th and 3rd – JJ (aka Jennifer Jenner) is another multi-tasker with a killer IG account. She’s also the brains behind one of my favourite things on Instagram, the monthly ‘Foodie Photo A Day’ challenge, in which you take a photo a day to fit into a theme. You can find out more about that here. It’s very addictive.

3. Food52 – It’s no surprise that one of the world’s best food websites (according to a poll I just conducted in my dining room) has a great Instagram. I really, really love Food52. It makes me wish I was young and brave and monied enough to pitch up on its New York doorstep and say, ‘hi, I’ll be your intern!’ It’s one of the few websites where either the readers are really smart and considerate, or they have a team of gun moderators.

4. Passports and Pancakes – Megan Fleiner’s IG feed (and her website, Passports and Pancakes) are both so dreamy you’ll want to hate her. But instead, you’ll find yourself wishing that a) you took photos that were as pretty as hers and b) that you travelled as often. Sigh. Cute dog, too, if you like that sort of thing.

5. Sugar And Spice – Shirleen DOES post lots of pics of her cat, Cyrus, but I forgive her because I love seeing where she eats in Wellington (and, don’t tell anyone, but that cat is kinda cute). Her restaurant/cafe photos are great, but what I love best are the shots of the amazing food she cooks at home.

Are you an IG-er? What are your favourite accounts? You can find me here – or I’ve also just embedded my photo feed here. Such fun!