{the interview series} Have Cake, Will Travel

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Hoje convido-vos para algo completamente diferente... até aqui tenho convidado artistas, mas já há muito tempo que queria entrevistar um perito numa arte que tanto prazer me dá e que até aqui ainda não tinha explorado: a da comida! Na verdade, esta arte combina o melhor de dois mundos: o da culinária e o da fotografia - enquanto comemos com os olhos estamos também a inspirar-nos artisticamente... não concordam?

Celine Steen é autora de um dos muitos deliciosos blogs de comida que proliferam na internet... mas Have Cake, Will Travel é casa de uma atmosfera muito especial: as receitas são vegans e as fotos são acolhedoras, luminosas e envolventes, com um toque vintage absolutamente irresistível. Se não conhecem ainda: relaxem, peguem numa chávena de chá e deliciem-se!

[Este post pertence à rubrica semanal {the interview series}, onde publico uma nova entrevista todas as quartas-feiras, com artistas e bloggers inspiradores que admiro, de acordo com o espírito handmade e um estilo de vida criativo. Tornem-se fãs no facebook e não percam nada!
Por motivos óbvios de extensão e compreensão do texto, tanto pelos entrevistados como pelos potenciais leitores do resto do mundo, a entrevista segue em inglês.]

Today I invite you to something completely different... so far I have invited artists, but I have long wanted to interview an expert in an art that gives me much pleasure and I hadn't yet explored: the food! Indeed, this art combines the best of both worlds: culinary and photography - as we eat with our eyes we also feel artistically inspired... don't you agree?

Celine Steen is the author of one of the many food blogs that proliferate on the internet... but Have Cake, Will Travel is home to a very special atmosphere: the recipes are vegan and the photos are cozy, bright and captivating, with an absolutely irresistible vintage feel. If you don't know it yet: relax, grab a cup of tea and enjoy this delight!

[This post belongs to the weekly feature {the interview series} where I publish a new interview every wednesday with inspiring artists and bloggers I admire, according to the spirit of handmade and a creative lifestyle. Become a facebook fan and don't miss a bit!]

Celine Steen | Have Cake, Will Travel
California, USA

1. Let’s pretend we don’t know each other and I’ve never heard about Celine Steen. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi there, I'm Celine. I'm a self-taught vegan baker, cook, and photographer. I've been writing about vegan food for about 5 years now.

2. Have Cake Will Travel is the blog where you share your delicious recipes and stunning photographs. Why did you pick this name? Tell us how it all began.
There's really no profound meaning to the name of the site. I used to travel more than I do now, and I like cake. So it kinda fit.
When I first went vegan, there wasn't much available on the market in the ready-to-eat baked good category. So anything I wanted to have, I had to make. Blogging about recipes was (and still is) a good way to connect with other bakers and vegans out there, so that's pretty much how it started for me.

3. When did you first begin to cook and why does it give you so much pleasure?
I never was fond of cooking before going vegan, it was more of an obligation rather than something I drew pleasure from. When I had no choice but to get busy in the kitchen if I wanted to eat good food, I found out there was so much fascinating stuff to learn about ingredients and preparation, and also how soothing it could be to cook, that it became sort of a (good kind of) obsession for me.

4. One thing is to cook, but other quite different is to photograph and write about it… it must be challenging to combine all these activities! Would you share your creative process with us?
I don't really know that there's a specific creative process going on for me, but I basically think of something I'd like to eat, whip it up, shoot it if it turns out pretty enough for that, write a thorough recipe for it and add a little blurb to make a post that's hopefully somewhat entertaining for those who read me. I don't think it's particularly challenging, but I definitely go through dry spells occasionally.

5. You’re vegan since 2005. Tell us about your choice. Does it demand you even more imagination in the kitchen?
I've always been extremely drawn to animals, and had been a vegetarian for about a decade before going vegan. I met a friend online who was actually vegan, and seeing how easy and fulfilling it was to live an animal-friendly lifestyle, it took little time for me to drop the last unvegan things I was still using and eating.
I think that if you compare being a vegan who prepares their own food to someone who just uses convenience, ready-to-eat food, then yes, it requires more imagination. But I think that no matter what your lifestyle is, as soon as you begin to see how important and healthier it is to create your meals from scratch, you either put the creativity you have to good use, or you learn how to become creative.

6. What influences you most to cook? What kind of traditional cuisine, which ingredients, books or chefs?
I love to browse a large variety of sites (not necessarily food-related) and blogs to get inspired by the photography first, then the words, and finally the cuisine. Two of my current favorite sites include Apt.2B and Leela Cyd.
As for the books, I love to browse those with inspiring photography the most, no matter that they're vegan or not. Some of my favorite cookbooks include Clean Start, Mad Hungry, Milk & Cookies (which has my favorite design of any book out there), and I'm especially excited to have a look through Vegan Cooking for Carnivores when it comes out, as I'm completely head over heels with Quentin Bacon's photography.

7. You co-published some nice books about vegan recipes. Tell us about the next one, to be published by September this year: Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day.
I'm so excited about that book! My co-author, Tami Noyes, and I had such a blast coming up with vegan versions of the funniest, most delicious sandwiches. You might think that no one needs a sandwich book because after all, it's the easiest thing in the world to prepare, but this book is packed with surprises that will make sandwiches go back to being the most awesome meal of the day. If I do say so myself.

8. Would you describe us the perfect kitchen for you?
Anything but what I have now. It's cramped and definitely not much to look at, but in the end, it's not really what you're working with but how you use it, isn't it?
My ideal kitchen would have windows for me to look through while doing the dishes, to lessen the boredom of the chore. Lots of counter space, beautiful brick walls and weathered wood furniture. Great light would be a must, so that I would be inspired to take photos directly in there.

9. Your recipes look delicious, but your photographs are stunning… they even make us drool on the screen! Would you share some tips about food photography?
Thanks for saying! I'm self-taught, so I feel there is always so much left for me to learn and improve upon. I love the process though: seeing the evolution of pictures I took a few years back (and be embarrassed about them now) and those I take now, which I'm sure I'll look back on in embarrassment a few years from now too.
As far as tips go, I would say: shoot often, find the right angle that works best for what you're shooting, the best light in your apartment/house, choose the perfect time of day that will create the right mood, and most importantly - have fun with it.

10. I know this is a hard one, but: share one favorite recipe with us!
The cheezy quackers are probably among the most popular recipes I ever wrote, my husband is constantly asking for me to make more. (He's so demanding, right?)

11. What else are you passionate about?
Animals, most definitely. Books. Good TV shows (I'm a big Buffy nerd.)
I also love being active, especially by biking. My husband and I chose not to have a car, so it's a good way to keep in (somewhat good) shape and bring those groceries home.

12. You live in California, in the company of your husband and (I love this part!) two rescued felines. Tell us what you love most about this place. Would you like to live anywhere else one day?
I actually don't love much about the town I live in, but I do appreciate being able to go out for evening walks and still feel safe. I would love to move somewhere where a car isn't needed, but where I have an easier time meeting like-minded friends.

13. If you could live in any historical era of your choice, what would it be and why?
As odd as it may sound since I moved away from there, I'd love to go back to Lausanne (Switzerland), where I was brought up. There are so many fantastic buildings over there that I feel I never paid enough attention to when I was near them.

14. What advices would you give to someone who would like to learn a bit more about how to become a food writer and photographer?
Observe your favorite food writers and photographers, find out what you think makes them stand out for you, get inspired by them but at the same time, find your own voice and style.

15. What are your plans for the future? And your most unrealistic dreams?
I have a couple of book projects I'm currently working on. As for the more unrealistic-but-not-entirely-impossible dream: to build my dream house somewhere near the Pacific ocean. And most importantly, I would love to open an animal sanctuary at some point, if I ever get the funds for that. I'd love to do more direct good for the animals than I do by simply writing recipes.

Now a quick question and answer game so we can find a bit more about you and your tastes!
Tell us one:

book: The Metamorphosis
music: PJ Harvey, she can do no wrong.
movie: Waking the Dead, I can't watch this movie without a pack of tissue at hand.
personality/artist: Bianca Sapetto, she makes flying look so easy!
color: Black.
object: Camera.
animal: Owl, they are so fascinating.
drink: Black Coffee.
food: Beans.
season of the year: Autumn.
travel destination: Ireland.
piece of clothing: Hoodie.
secret: Shhh...

Thank you for sharing your delicious work with us, Celine!


  1. This was a great interview! And of course, the pictures are stunning.

  2. adorei!!! o nome não me é estranho, provavelmente já cheguei até ao site dela, mas agora passar de novo por estas fotos, pelas respostas dela... que delícia! adoro o estilo dela mais escuro, tem um ar mais intimista!!! parabéns! esta tua rubrica está cada vez melhor! ;)


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