Dana Wootton is the amazing cook, writer and photographer behind the blog Dana Treat. She shares recipes for all kinds of vegetarian foods and baked goods. I am always inspired by the diversity of recipes that she shares and enjoy reading about why she cooked something or who she cooked it for. If only I lived in Seattle, I could take one of her cooking classes and learn the secrets to the food that she makes look so good. Luckily for those of us who are far away, Dana took the time to share some of her thoughts on creating with us. This is the last interview in the series (for now?) I hope you have enjoyed it and as always, I'd love to hear what you think!
Tell us a little bit about your work space. What works well, what doesn't? My workspace is a large galley style kitchen. I have a large island where my sink is and I can sit 10 people around it for classes. I have a lot of counter space and plenty of room for all my tools. It is, what many people would consider to be a dream kitchen. I have a large Viking refrigerator and a 8 burner Viking stove – the stove I been dreaming of since I first saw one over 10 years ago. The one thing my kitchen lacks is good natural light. The room faces north and there is another large house right next to us. Seattle is pretty dark much of the year anyway and to have a dark kitchen is a bummer, especially since I spend so much of my time in there. But we are about to get some more lighting to try and help.
What motivates you to create? I would say there are several things that motivate me to create. Sometimes I just really want to eat something good! Other times, I will cook or bake something for my blog because I want to share a recipe with people. We are always having some kind of party or dinner party or just friends over for dinner. Everyone we know loves to come to our house for meals, so I have a lot of expectations to live up to! I’ve also been able to donate dinners or classes to organizations that mean something to me and my family. I always want to make the people who bid on my offerings feel special.
What stalls or inhibits your creative process? I have two young boys, ages 6 and 4. I started my personal chef business when my oldest was 16 months old, so I have always had to cook around them and their nap schedules. Even though I am experienced at it, I still find it to be very hard to get all I need done in the time I have. They demand A LOT of my attention, so I like to be done cooking when they are home and awake. As I get busier, this balance gets harder and a lot of the time I feel like I can’t get any “brain space” to think through all I have to do. I know many moms talk about not feeling like they are good at any one thing because they are trying to do too many things and I can relate to that feeling.
What are some of your common mistakes or difficulties? My most common mistake is simply not allowing myself enough time to cook. I am pretty good at managing my time since I don’t have a lot of it free. Sometimes I make a serious error in judgment and then I really don’t enjoy the work. If I’m not watching the clock, I get very Zen in the kitchen. I am efficient and smooth and I feel like a well-oiled machine. If I start to fall behind, I get sloppy and feel like I am all over the place. Another mistake, that goes hand in hand with the first one, is not reading a recipe all the way through or carefully enough. There is nothing worse than realizing something needs to rest in the refrigerator overnight when you need it right now!
Can you tell me about a project or something you have made that you love or find really exciting?Even though I am just beginning my regular teaching journey, I am so excited about this project. Up until this year, I have taught quite a few classes, but on no set schedule. I always thought it would be a great way to use my passion, but could just never figure out how it would all work. And then, I just put it out there. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to teach and how much I wanted to do so and put together a schedule. I emailed everyone I knew and put it up on my blog and my first two months sold out within a couple of weeks. I am really proud and pleased about that. I have some great things in the works and am already looking forward to the spring classes.