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Meet Lisa Lotts of Garlic and Zest in Boca Raton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Lotts.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in the kitchen, guided by my Mom, my grandmothers and one of my grandfathers. They all had different styles of cooking, but the common link was that they knew their way around a kitchen and incorporated their distinct regional styles into their cooking. From classic Southern comfort food to French and Caribbean inspired fare. These are still the flavors that influence me and they’re evident in many recipes I share on the blog.

I’ve had my website, Garlic & Zest for six years and I started it because I couldn’t find any real satisfaction in my day job. I needed an outlet, to do something creative. I’d been following a number of food blogs and enjoyed the writing, the photography and especially the recipes. I thought, “I could do that.” There was no one to tell me I couldn’t… so I did.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Of course, it hasn’t been smooth. In the beginning, I thought it was just about writing down my thoughts and stories and snapping a few pictures of my recipes. I soon found out just how involved it is.

There’s a whole technical back-end, that I knew nothing about and had to teach myself — or hire it out when I just got too frustrated.

Food photography isn’t as simple as you might think and my initial efforts were really sad. Improving to a point where I was actually satisfied with the results was a long process. At least it was for me. I’m still learning.

There’s also the whole social media and SEO aspects of running a website, which is a constant learning process.

Oh, and if you want to make money doing this sort of thing, it takes time and you really have to diversify.

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
My website, Garlic & Zest is a cooking and recipe site where I create do-able gourmet recipes with step by step photos so the average home cook can make the dish and feel comfortable doing it.

In the past six years, I’ve published over 750 recipes, taken more than 50,000 food photographs and eaten a lot of cold dinners, but I’m proud of the process and feel more fulfilled than I ever did in my previous working life.

I think the difference between my website and other food blogger sites is that I do take process shots of each step of the recipe. It always bugs me when I go to a recipe and there’s 20 shots of the finished dish, but nothing that shows you how you GOT THERE.

What were you like growing up?
I was an outgoing kid. I was on the swim team, I was on the Flag squad, I was a Thespian in our high school drama club. I used to babysit to make extra money.

Most weeknights at home, I’d be in charge of cooking dinner for the family. My Mom would leave a recipe on the counter and I’d follow it. Sometimes, it was perfect, other times, not as successful. I remember a split pea soup — where I had followed the recipe to a T, adding the exact amount of water to the pot that is called for. After simmering, all the water was absorbed and it had the consistency of mashed potatoes… it never occurred to me that I could add MORE WATER. Duh. My mother laughed hard at that one. My Dad called it Split Pea SCOOP.

I would say that cooking/eating were my major interests as a kid, though. They still are.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photos of myself courtesy of JKR Photography

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