Thursday, April 3, 2014

Everyone Needs a Ticket to Tasty

"Eat, Drink, Explore & Aspire!" That's what Ticket to Tasty is all about. Founded by Justine Frostad (CAS '09), it isn't just a food blog. It's a forum designed for people who love to cook and people who love to eat.

We had the great opportunity to talk with Justine about how Ticket to Tasty began, what she's learned about creating a successful food blog, and how NYU alumni can get started with a blog of their own. And we even got to try one of her recipes! did you come up with Ticket to Tasty?
While I was getting my Master’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism in Boston, for one of my projects I decided to produce and host a cooking show with some of my peers. I adore cooking, coming up with new recipes, tweaking tried, tested and true recipes and, my favorite part, bringing together the people I care about around a great meal.

When I graduated, I knew I wanted to marry my passion for reporting with my love of food. I was on the hunt for my ideal job and suddenly I realized, with the tough job market and a need to provide for myself, I would have to create it. That’s why I initially launched Ticket to Tasty, which is a blog that features recipes, event coverage and interviews with interesting people working in the wonderful world of food. It’s an unpaid labor of love and I was thrilled that a few of my close friends wanted to be a part of it because we all have full-time jobs so it’s truly a team effort!

What unexpected lessons have you learned from running a food blog? 
Running a food blog has taught me that if you want something you should go after it. In my opinion, it’s better to launch something and constantly improve your work in progress than let the fear of imperfection prevent you from getting your idea off the ground. I am a home cook, not a Chef, so at first I was worried that people might not be interested, but as I started researching other blogs out there, it quickly became apparent that there is a huge community of people who simply enjoy cooking and sharing their journey with anyone interested.

It has also taught me that collaborating with smart, positive people is essential. I work with amazing contributors and a super talented web designer, which makes the blog a fun project, rather than “work.” One of the regular contributors, Caleigh, happens to be my best friend since childhood. She’s a true talent in the kitchen and I have learned so much about cooking from her. Growing up together in Toronto, she taught me the basics and now in our twenties, she’s been able to show me some great techniques and tricks of the trade; now that she’s finished training at Le Cordon Bleu in London, UK. We both love entertaining so we are always coming up with new recipes and themes for our next get together. In fact, we are working on a new and very exciting project together now. I’m grateful that we have created an opportunity to work together.

Was Ticket to Tasty your first blog? What advice would you give to alumni interested in starting their own blog?
Yes, Ticket to Tasty is my first blog. My advice would be don’t wait until the perfect moment to get started because there will never be a perfect time. One of my favorite quotes is “leap and the net will appear,” because it rings true. The great thing about a blog is you can make changes instantly. We’re far from perfect, but we adore cooking and gathering those we love for a night of food, drinks and great chat. It’s amazing how the quality of conversation elevates when you take the time to sit down together and share a meal.

My other piece of advice would be to put yourself out there and try to get involved with respected publications in your area. I started freelance reporting for City Bites in Toronto last year and, as a result, I have met some incredibly talented people who have shaped the way I approach my own blog. I have also had the opportunity to cover some stellar events including Toronto Festival of Beer, The Stop’s Night Market and Disaronno’s Next Mixing Star 2013.

The College Alumni Association hosted a panel discussion about a year ago titled “Food Porn” and it explored the ways in which sharing photos of food (for example on Instagram and Facebook) are changing our relationship with food. Why do you think sharing photos of your food has become such a popular thing to do?
I think there are a few things at play here. First, it seems to me that as people become more educated about what goes into producing our food, they are becoming proud of this knowledge and passionate about sharing the food (purchased and homemade) that meets their standards.

The second reason, for me, stems from the fact that most of us don’t ‘go online’ anymore, we’re always online in one way or another. Social media has become so ingrained in our daily routines that sharing our lives with the online communities we surround ourselves with has become second nature. This includes sharing everything from our major milestone announcements and heartaches to where we go on vacation and, of course, what we eat everyday.

What items do you always make sure to have stocked in your fridge?
I currently live with Caleigh, who, as I mentioned above, contributes regularly to Ticket to Tasty, and we both love trying new recipes. Our fridge always has something new inside, depending on what we want to attempt to make that week. There are definitely winners and losers in that process, but that’s part of the fun! For every dish that doesn’t work out there is one that goes straight into our book of treasured recipes. A few recent treasures include, Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Topping, Bran & Date Loaf, and Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Scones.

As for the regulars in our fridge, those include almond milk, frozen fruit (we are self-proclaimed smoothie addicts), goat cheese, eggs, kale, lemons, butter and pesto. We’re fairly healthy eaters, although we also love baking…but you didn’t ask what’s in the pantry!

For NYU alumni who are looking for something new, what “hidden gem” or off the beaten path restaurant would you recommend?
I live in Toronto now and haven’t lived full-time in NYC for a few years (although I’d move back in a heartbeat!). Things change so quickly in the city, but a few spots I visit fairly often when I come back every couple of months include Bread, CafĂ© Habana, Sushi Samba, Iron Chef House and Alice’s Tea Cup.

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