Behind The Butter

The Next Food Blog Star

Hi, I’m Jenna and I am a food blogger.

It’s crazy, really, when I slow down and really think about the steps that have led me to where I am today. I live in Northern California. I have a book coming out. I write a blog for a living! I am my own boss.

Totally crazy.
In one of my very favorite memoirs, A Strong West Wind by Gail Caldwell, the author poses the question “how do we become who we are?”
I wanted to be a food blogger long before I even knew what a food blogger was…long before I even knew was a “blog” was. Growing up, I had this passion for life, for food and for writing. I had no idea how to combine what I loved and even less of an idea of how to make a living from doing it. I just knew that I never really fit in with a normal schedule and was always striving for the next big adventure. I hated settling and hated mediocrity even more.
I graduated college from The College of Charleston in 2007 with a joint degree in English and Creative Writing because I felt most at home in my small writing workshops, where I could write my stories and poems about whatever I wanted in a supportive setting and get feedback for the first time. I didn’t have a blog in college. I didn’t even know what a blog was in college. I was focused on my Shakespeare and Milton and planned to travel to France right after I graduated to figure everything out.

Jenna-Paris baskets
In Paris I totally fell in love with food. With Patricia Wells tucked in my backpack, I made my way to every single pastry shop on the Left Bank. For the first time, I felt completely at home with these people who were also in love with food like I was. The French women were beautiful and, unlike American women, less focused on rigid workouts and diet products and more focused on living the good life by actually celebrating their meals. I had just turned twenty two and felt like I had been set free in a whole new culture and life.

I immediately applied to culinary school when I got home from France because it just seemed like the right thing to do. I wanted to learn everything about classical French cooking so I could share the celebration and love of food with others. When I was in school, I started a food blog. I had two readers (my parents) and a tiny beat up point and shoot camera. I didn’t know a thing about blogging, didn’t know a thing about the internet and didn’t know a thing about Foodbuzz, BlogHer or any other way to produce revenue. I started a blog because I loved to write and thought it was fun. (I actually started a poetry blog when I was an undergraduate but it only lasted two weeks so this was my second attempt)

Three years later and I’m still blogging my heart out every day. As part of Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog’s first challenge, we are supposed to answer the question what defines you as a food blogger and why should you be the next food blog star.

Jenna-Paris mmmm

My answer? Because I’m passionate and driven. I’m not saying you have to go to culinary school to be a food writer, but I did because I wanted to be the best food writer out there. I wanted to know everything about food so I could write about it to the best of my potential and share my love of it with others. I love writing recipes that inspire people to get back to the kitchen, recipes that make people feel good and proud of themselves. I also love sharing my adventures in hopes I can inspire others to follow their dreams and take big risks that often lead to big rewards.

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  • Tabitha (From Single to Married)
    September 16, 2010 at 8:26 am

    You’re awesome! Just found your blog this week and am loving it already!! Glad you decided to become a blogger. 🙂

  • Christie - Honoring Health
    September 16, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Hoooray, Jenna for president.

    I mean, next food blog star.

  • Debbie
    September 16, 2010 at 8:30 am

    You have my vote Jenna!! 🙂

  • Camille
    September 16, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Yay Jenna!

  • Jessica @ How Sweet
    September 16, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Go Jenna!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish)
    September 16, 2010 at 8:36 am

    your blog is truly an inspiration…and i would say you totally deserve to be the next food blog star 🙂

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman
    September 16, 2010 at 8:37 am

    And also: Your writing makes your food blog stand out among many others. Just so ya know.

  • brianna
    September 16, 2010 at 8:38 am

    i second tracey’s comment!

  • Angharad
    September 16, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Rock on.

  • Allie (Live Laugh Eat)
    September 16, 2010 at 8:47 am

    I’ve been reading for a loooong stinkin’ time and it’s been amazing to see how your blog has grown. You’re a star already 🙂

  • Nancy @ The Wife of a Dairyman
    September 16, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Your blog is one of my favorites, I think because of 1) the way you write 2) you live in my area and I recognize just about every restaurant you go to 3)great recipes and 4) you’re honest with your opinions and how you like to live life:) Good luck in the competition!

  • Erin @ Travel Eat Repeat
    September 16, 2010 at 8:50 am

    I think you have one of the more unique food blogs out there in that you’re not just writing about food — you’re writing about life and I LOVE that.

  • Emily
    September 16, 2010 at 8:52 am

    I don’t mean to sounds cheesy but it really is inspirational to see someone so close to my own age pursue a passion and succeed. I am still figuring out what my passion is and how to make it a reality and it’s nice to see someone making real strides from hard work and creativity.

  • Kailey (SnackFace)
    September 16, 2010 at 8:53 am

    I’m with Allie up there: You already are a star, honey!

  • Susan
    September 16, 2010 at 8:56 am

    What an awesome job you have! I hope I can get to becoming a full time blogger (with an income) someday! Inspiring!

    September 16, 2010 at 9:00 am

    good luck love. great post to submit, you truly are beautiful, inside and out. You inspire us <3


  • MMiller
    September 16, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Love it Jenna! I have been following you for a little over a year! I look forward to your posts every day! Good luck!

  • Nicole
    September 16, 2010 at 9:07 am

    You have my vote, Jenna!!

  • The Ceci Sipper
    September 16, 2010 at 9:09 am

    You have support and votes coming all the way from a wine blogger in Chaumont, France!! Go Jenna! Good luck and have a blast!

  • Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary
    September 16, 2010 at 9:10 am

    🙂 Good luck Jenna!!

  • Katherine
    September 16, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Good luck! I just discovered your blog and I love it. I just started one, too, but not about food…

  • Tina
    September 16, 2010 at 9:11 am

    You can definitely see your passion in every post you write. And I love your writing. 😀

  • Charles
    September 16, 2010 at 9:12 am

    I love writing recipes that inspire people to get back to the kitchen, recipes that make people feel good and proud of themselves. I also love sharing my adventures in hopes I can inspire others to follow their dreams and take big risks that often lead to big rewards.

    And that, m’dear, is why I read ELR.

  • Rachel
    September 16, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Beautiful, just beautiful!

  • Daisy
    September 16, 2010 at 9:20 am

    And you do just that. I recently hit up your chocolate chip cookie recipe post and made them last night!!!! They rock and it’s because of your recipe. It made me feel like a baking champ!!

  • Elise
    September 16, 2010 at 9:21 am

    love your passion for food & writing. its pretty amazing!

  • D
    September 16, 2010 at 9:27 am

    You go girl! You go!!!
    Love D

  • Cat
    September 16, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Jenna, what makes you stand out is that first and foremost you are a WRITER. Yes, in all caps! In a world of food blogs with lots of photos and typos, you are putting out real, quality, creative writing here. As a fellow English major and someone who has spent her nose in a book most of her life, this difference is so apparent to me and much appreciated. I’m not about disparaging other blogs, all the voices are important, but if they are looking for a star, then that is definitely you! Also, I love your approach to eating real food, no restrictions full-fat and all. So refreshing!

  • Caitlin
    September 16, 2010 at 9:27 am

    A+ your sincerity is very refreshing!

  • Jasmine @ Eat Move Write
    September 16, 2010 at 9:28 am

    I love your story. Even though I knew most of this, it was fun to read it again, to hear what you think would make you a food blog star. Really, though, you already are. xo

  • Mastering Public Health (@MasPublicHealth)
    September 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Good luck!

  • Lauren at KeepItSweet
    September 16, 2010 at 9:31 am

    great post, good luck!

  • Sahar
    September 16, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Inspiring! I love what you do and hope I can pursue my dreams with half the passion that you put into writing and blogging. Best of luck, I know you deserve to win!!

  • Shannon
    September 16, 2010 at 9:35 am

    You Go Jenna! I adore your blog and look forward to reading it everyday! I even have the bf hooked on reading your work (and your carrot cake! Hello heaven!) You are very witty and talented and in my eyes are a huge idol in the blog world.

    Good luck!!!

  • Stacey (The Habit of Healthy)
    September 16, 2010 at 9:38 am

    I love your blog and it was nice to read about your journey. It’s so interesting that you went to culinary school to help you progress as a food writer, rather than as a chef. Good luck!!

  • Laura
    September 16, 2010 at 9:42 am

    I’m still a new reader but I really love your blog, your perspective and your positive attitude. I love when people have passion and go forward with it even when it involve risks. Can’t wait to see what you have next to share!

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey
    September 16, 2010 at 9:52 am

    I love your passion – you always keep me entertained! Go you!

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    September 16, 2010 at 9:53 am

    I love your passion, your drive and dedication, your ability to turn something you always wanted to do (even though you didn’t even know the outlet truly existed for you, i.e. didnt know what a blog was!) and look at you now!

    That old adage about do what you love and the money will follow. Well, your situation is definitely living up to that…and that’s awesome!

    And everyone starts with a point and shoot and two readers. Well, I started with one. My husband 🙂

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing
    September 16, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Love it Jenna!!! And just so you know, you really HAVE inspired me. A LOT.

  • Jillian @ Reshape Your Life
    September 16, 2010 at 9:59 am

    I love it Jenna! What makes your blog stand out is how well your personality comes out in your writing style but also your food background!

  • Morgan
    September 16, 2010 at 10:00 am

    I can’t wait to see the recipes you create and the food you cook!!!!

  • Maria @ Oh Healthy Day
    September 16, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Beautiful post Jenna! I absolutely love reading about those who are out there chasing and achieving their dreams. Your upbeat, positive, and endearing personality shines through in your blog and that’s why I have faith that you’ll be a great Next Food Blogger star! Good luck!

  • polly
    September 16, 2010 at 10:20 am



  • Sarah (Oc2Seattle)
    September 16, 2010 at 10:31 am

    One of the best things about Project Food Blog is hearing stories like yours. Looking forward to seeing you tackle the other challenges!

  • wendy
    September 16, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Have you no awkward angles? Every picture is gorgeous!

  • Erinn
    September 16, 2010 at 10:53 am

    You have my vote! I’ve noticed these other bloggers in the same competition, but you live and breathe great food and enjoying life. Taking 60 shots of quaker oats doesn’t qualify you as a “foodie.” Sorry. Go Jenna!

  • Jil @ Peace, Love & Munchies
    September 16, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Jenna, this is an absolutely amazing post. You have set out to do so much and accomplished so much. You are an inspiration to many – including the person writing this comment.

  • Suzanne de Cornelia
    September 16, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Cheers from another Franchophile Foodie to Our Blonde, Brave & Beautiful ELR Leader’! Adventure on! 🙂

  • Jessica@tastyandtrim
    September 16, 2010 at 11:19 am

    You most definitely have my vote for the next food blog star! I absolutely love reading your blog, and you always share the most delicious recipes 🙂

  • AshleyH
    September 16, 2010 at 11:53 am

    I think its so fantastic that you have created a life that you love for yourself. I am only 21 and I hope in a few years I will have done the same thing. You are such an inspiration. It amazes me how you are able to follow your heart no matter what any one else says.

  • Sarah
    September 16, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    There are so many food bloggers out there but you can really tell the difference between the ones who have a true passion and talent for it versus the ones that are just “Here’s my oatmeal” ” I ate a salad” “Had an apple” etc. Evey blog has a different purpose so there is nothing wrong with those kinds of blogs but in my opinion yours is in a different league. Katheats also comes to mind as a blog that’s a league above in terms of passion and talent. She clearly puts her whole heart and a ton of work into her blog,

    Anyways, I am rambling. I am in the corporate world so being a full time blogger is so beyond anything I could ever imagine doing. The business school graduate in me is always wondering where exactly the revenue comes from. Are foodbuzz ads enough? I’m certainly not asking you to tell your readers how much your blog earns (although it’s clear you are able to provide yourself with a pretty great life) but would you be willing to talk about how blogging goes from a hobby to a source of income to your total livelihood? I’m so curious about blogging as a job and how people make that happen.

    Great post!

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    September 16, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I always wondered how/why you went to Paris! Well, I think it is clear from this post and your blog in general that you are very passionate about what you do. So…you should definitely be the next food bog star!!! You’ve got my vote 😀

  • Amber K
    September 16, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Agh! The more of these I read, the harder it gets to think about who to vote for. There is a huge and amazing blogging community!

    Good luck!

  • Danielle
    September 16, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    What a wonderful post! You are truly inspiring to all those out there who are still trying to find their passion in life!

  • Chicago Cuisine Critique
    September 16, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Great post!

  • amy leclerc
    September 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    You are inspiring Jenna! These two kids might look familiar-they stopped by your winery when they were heading East. Looks like they are doing alright. Check out today’s New York Times Home & Garden section! Blogging, eating and adventurous living are quite the trend.

  • Laughter-Loving Stacy
    September 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Jenna, you inspire me to not give up on what I love. While there are a million things I love to do, I’m motivated to just love whatever it is I do.

    You’re fantastical!

  • Natalia @asideofsimple
    September 16, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    This is great. That is all.

    Oh, and I totally have a picture of Les Deux Magots from when I was in Paris this April. I LOVED Paris. By far one of my favorite cities I visited when studying abroad.

  • Julie
    September 16, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I can really tell a difference in the blog in the past few months. The quality has really improved since you re-directed the blog away from food journaling. Your passion also really shines through when you write about baking and eating- you just seem so much happier!

    Thanks for putting so much work into it! It’s a wonderful blog and the content is really amazing. Looking forward to the book. : )

  • eatmovelove
    September 16, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    I agree with Julie above.

    And – thanks alot – I’m not even going to bother to try to enter that project anymore…not with the likes of you competing…;)

  • Pam (IIN Health Coach)
    September 16, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    You are already and star and the definition of Food Blog Star!!
    I hope you win 🙂

  • Abby
    September 16, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    I love your blog and I love your passion!! Yaaay Jenna!!!:)

  • Brooke (Baking with Basil)
    September 16, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    You have my vote Jenna!! I love your blog since the first day I read it….but even more now. You have such a passion for what you do and you are truly an inspiration.

  • Sana
    September 17, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I love the direction your blog has taken 😉

  • cathy b. @
    September 17, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Love your outlook. Love your blog. Thank goodness for someone who thinks rationally about good food and rounds it all out with a good sense of humor! Keep it coming!

  • Joan Nova
    September 21, 2010 at 6:13 am

    Love your passion as expressed in your entry post. You convinced me to cast one of my votes.

  • Jacob's Kitchen
    September 21, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Great post! One of my dear friends (woman & warrior) turned me on to your blog, and I have been a daily reader ever since. So much great inspiration. I voted for you! =)

    Good luck!

    You can check out my PFB post at:

  • Lindsay
    September 21, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Great post! Good Luck! I just gave you a vote! You can check out my entry here: Thanks and Good Luck!

  • Sharlene (Wheels and Lollipops)
    September 22, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    One of the things that I love about the PFB challenge is getting to know fellow bloggers and reading about what got them interested in food. We all love food but some of fell in love with it at different times. I think its great that you followed your passion – you have my vote.

  • Lick My Spoon
    September 22, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    It’s good to see someone that’s so passionate about cooking. Best of luck in the competition. You’ve got our vote!

    Lick My Spoon

  • Lea @ Healthy coconut
    September 24, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    What a great story this was to read, your passion is obvious in your writing. I love reading your post and your blog.

  • Lea @ Healthy coconut
    September 24, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    And I also love your blog because it inspires me to travel more. I just started reading the travel page a few weeks ago and I’m taking my time and enjoying each one.