My name is Tamara.
I’m a photographer and pastry cook.
A VERY IMPRACTICAL AND INCREASINGLY OBSOLETE THING I DO
In another life, I take pictures with an 8x10 large-format film camera.
AS A KID I ATE MAINLY GARBAGE
Both my parents are from Chile, but I was born and raised in the suburbs of New York. I grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, on a steady diet of fast-food (pizza, Chinese, and McDonald’s on repeat). In middle school, jealous of the home-cooked meals I ate at friend’s houses, I started to teach myself how to cook and bake from the cookbooks that decorated my family’s otherwise unused kitchen.
THEN I WORKED AT RESTAURANTS
Throughout my twenties, food service was my side hustle, the steady job that paid for my rent and film. I started as a server, spent two strange years as a caterer for Harvard undergraduates, but mostly I cut my teeth as a pastry cook at buzzy, trendy restaurants—the kind that serve “higher welfare” meat, and organic and fair-trade everything, in effortlessly cool spaces filled with effortlessly cool people. But the situation in the kitchen was a little different.
At one place, the pastry station was located directly over a sewage grate that kept backing up. By the end of the day, I would be ankle-deep in sewage, firing fussy, pretentious desserts to unassuming patrons. At another, I worked wildly overburdened solo graveyard shifts that took me from 2am to 4pm, making more pastries than seemed humanly possible and racking up the oven burns to prove it. (4pm was when the fragile abusive owner would show up, do some recreational screaming, and then rip apart a few croissants and cakes with her carefully manicured hands.)
What I learned was, just because a restaurant seems committed to sustainable, high-quality ingredients and hosts bake sales for worthy non-profits, doesn’t mean it does right by its (human, usually immigrant) workers. The places where I worked refused to pay us a living wage, exploited undocumented employees, and turned a blind eye to harassment.
So after way too long, I quit.
NOW I AM THE BENEVOLENT QUEEN OF A HAPPY HOME KITCHEN WHERE THERE IS LESS BUT NOT ZERO SCREAMING
Today, I’m in my mid-thirties, and I mostly cook and bake for my family, my friends, and myself. In the kitchen, I’m obsessive, ambitious, and on my worst days, a maniacal tyrant hell-bent on soliciting unconditional love through food. But on my best days, cooking is simply about the daily act of making something with my hands. Something that can give nourishment, pleasure, and sometimes even beauty. I draw a lot of comfort from its regularity, and from its impermanence.
ALSO I DO THIS BLOG
I started this blog in 2018, after I got the first digital camera that I’ve ever really enjoyed using—a point-and-shoot Leica that, when not covered in flour and butter, is the compact camera I use to scout pictures for my analogue work.
I read a lot of cookbooks and other food writing. This blog is a way for me to bookmark the recipes I love the most, explain why I do, and suggest my own tweaks and adaptations. I also build my own recipes, usually on pieces and parts of others. And of course I always attribute sources and authors where possible.
Flavorful, bright, seasonal, produce-driven. Things that are simpler than they look and taste better than what you’d get at most restaurants. Clear smart recipes that give a lot of bang for the buck. Lots of salt, plenty of butter. I might also be on a personal mission to bring Chilean food to the masses (and give it a bit of a makeover on the way).
THE THING IS
In my bones, I know one thing: there’s no better food than food from home.
Food media is in kind of a funny place, dominated by the gold rush of social channels and digital platforms and image culture. Maybe I'm naive, but clicks and likes freak me out. My goal in this space is to write the best I can; to provide thoughtful and informative posts with exacting recipes; to push myself to make pictures with a point of view; to support, in subtle and less-subtle ways, diversity in food media; and to challenge myself and food media to do better. That's a big goal, and I'm not that big. Most likely, I'm just in my own tiny corner, talking to myself. But I really, really love food, and I'm pretty happy here.