Julia Calleo’s personal and professional interests come together in her cooking and baking blog My Lavender Blues. It began as a low-budget creative outlet but has evolved into a long-term passion project she can share with her four-year-old son, David. Drawing her inspiration from her full-time job as a food stylist and photography in food magazines and on websites like Eva Kosmas Flores’s Adventures in Cooking, Calleo focuses just as much on the presentation of the final product as she does on the taste. Currently, she lives in Saint Louis, Missouri, but she’s originally from Ramsey, NJ. The transcript below is an edited Q&A with Calleo.
How often does your son participate in your cooking?
He actually loves to cook! He’s only four now, but as he’s gotten older he’s not as patient with me taking photos while I cook. He still loves to be in the kitchen with me so we almost do our own recipes: I’ll give him just some flour, sugar and things like that, and he’ll cook his own recipe while I’m doing mine. He has a camera, actually, I bought for him- it’s an old thing, a film camera, so he takes pictures of his food while I take pictures of my food.
What’s the most important part of any recipe? Where do you begin when you’re cooking or baking?
My thought process always goes to the colors and a final image first. I know that’s not necessarily a culinary way of thinking, but I think part of it is from my full time job: we kind of look at the end picture before we start at the beginning, so I kind of picture what colors I would like together, like a color story. Then I’ll go to the grocery store and see what colors can relate to the image I have in my head and then from there I’ll start picking out ingredients.
I think what brings people in to your site is your style of writing. It’s almost conversational, it’s very personable, and it’s funny too. How did you develop your style?
Thank you, first off- I really appreciate it when anyone says something like that. You know, I wasn’t very good at English and my grammar is terrible. I wrote a lot of stories when I was younger- when I think teachers weren’t as critical of the writing. My brother and I would write stories together and he’s a very good writer, so I assume it’s somewhere in the genes. But I read a ton of books, all different kinds of genres. I prefer self-deprecating humor, I love stand-up. I think it all kind of comes from the environment that I purposely surround myself with. But in terms of writing style, that is just.. I guess it just kind of flows, if that makes any sense. I can’t really say where it’s from, but if I had to guess it’s what I purposely surround myself with in what I read and what I watch.