Karlee is the creative inspiration and culinary genius behind the breath-taking recipes found on Olive and Artisan.
I’ve spent the last 8 years sitting behind a desk, signing paychecks and reconciling accounts while brainstorming about the best kind of flour for a layered cake. Now, with my month notice officially on my supervisor’s desk, I can finally say that I’m going full-time with my blog, cake decorating workshops, and food photography business. To say this is a dream come true would be an understatement that would rival “Beyoncé is a pretty good performer.”
I started Olive and Artisan after a year of working crazy hours at a stressful job, unable to start a family and having just shut down my special cake order business. I needed something to bring joy back into my life and, for me, that has always been food. So, while my other friends were announcing the birth of their second child, I bought a domain name that would forever change my life.
My childhood can be summed up in Saturday morning walks to the farmers market, Sunday pot roasts, family potluck parties centered around a new cuisine, spending afternoons at my grandma's bakery, and evenings watching Martha. Food is very much engraved into the culture of my family. A special occasion called for our favorite Hungarian restaurant but we never lost our love for a good ol’ dive-diner that served the best buttermilk flapjacks on any given Sunday before church.
Growing up, my birthday parties were a traditional English tea service and I required my attendees to dress up as such. Gloves, hats, purses...all of it. Cucumber sandwiches, sugar cubes, and doilies were a must. Pinkies out were enforced. My mom made sure of it.
My favorite meal as a child was anything she made, such as (but not limited to) Spanish Rice, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Cream Puffs, Egg Noodles in Mushroom Cream Sauce, Éclair Casserole, Rosemary Orange Chicken, and Spaghetti Carbonara. Her belief that healthy doesn’t have to be flavorless still gives me inspiration to this day. Her work as the Tea Party Director of Operations landed her a position as the coveted Foods Teacher at my alma mater.
My typical grocery bag is filled with lemon, lime, orange, cilantro, rosemary, oregano, thyme, walla walla onions, San Marzano tomatoes, arugula (always arugula), eggs, cheese, and a whole free-range chicken. But all of that is usually outshined by the amount of butter I have to pick up to enable my cake habit.
My Pistachio Kitchenaid Mixer makes an appearance in almost every meal/baked good I make. If it was self-cleaning, I might have to buy it a ring and settle down already. I can’t imagine my stove without my Le Creuset Dutch Oven and my Shun Santoku 7-inch Knife as my weapon of choice.
I know people probably want to hear that I ate really wonderful escargot in a small Parisian restaurant and washed it down with champagne. But, no. It’s probably blood sausage from Universal Studios Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which I swiftly washed down with a large gulp of Butter Beer.
Building my Cake Decorating Workshop business. There is something so powerful about constructing a workshop with brands and makers I believe in, seeing the tickets sell out in a matter of hours, and watching my attendees make the cake of their dreams. It has been powerful and life-affirming, and I feel like the luckiest person in the world to get to put them on for my bomb.com supporters.
Easy! It’s Beth Kirby of Local Milk’s kitchen brought to life by Jersey Ice Cream Co. I mean, can you even!? I love the idea of a kitchen feeling home-y, utilitarian, and coated with Venetian plaster. I would also give up my left foot to be able to have a Lacanche stove of my own. I really would.
At ATT Park eating garlic fries with Daniel.
Olsen twins movies.
Of telekinesis, because Alex Mack.
Well, yes, anything of Olive and Artisan, obviously! But, my friend Bella of Ful-filled makes the cutest little Matcha Milk Bread Turtles and has shared them on Side Chef! They are just the cutest little things and so fun to make.
It takes time, dedication, self-doubt, confidence, and failure. And when some time has passed, and you feel like you’re ready, it will take more time. You’re going to have a lot of late nights and early mornings. It takes saying “no” when you really want to say “yes.” Other people are going to get there faster, and it will mess with your confidence. But in the end, it’s worth it, it’s so very worth it. So in that spirit, here is the best advice I can give.
1. Be yourself… always. If you don’t know who that is, it’s time to find out.
2. Meet other bloggers, network, and step out behind the screen.
3. Listen and learn everything you can but still use your best judgment.
4. Blaze your own trail.
5. Always bring value.
6. It’s not about you, it’s about your readers.
7. Work smarter not harder.