Taco about stressful. A few years back, I was helping out with a project that involved heavy production and high-level food photography. Our team had never tackled either before, so we sought out help from a woman whose makes it her business to be kitchen prepped.
On your blog, it says that as a kid you would eat anything “as long as it was covered in ranch dressing”. When did your tastebuds evolve? Did you have a kind of “ah ha” food moment?
Yes, I was the biggest picky eater as a child. No joke – would only eat white foods. Chicken, white rice, pasta with butter and Parmesan, etc. It’s sort of random, but I had my tonsils out when I was in 4th grade and I was anemic for a little while after that and all of a sudden I started craving red meat. My younger brother was always the adventurous eater so I think I started to try other things to try to compete with him as well.
Sibling rivalries in full swing! Did you ever come across a food that even he wouldn’t touch?
Not that I can think of. He was the one who got me to try sushi and oysters which are now two of my favorite foods.
You grew up East Coast. Whereabouts?
I’m from New Jersey. In college, it was during the Jersey Shore days so I used to always have to clarify that I’m from the farmland areas about 45 miles outside NYC (not from where Snooki’s from).
Ha! I’m not gonna lie, when I moved to New York we came through New Jersey. I was very surprised to find it was green, lush, and mountainous most of the way through.
Is there any local East Coast cuisine you’ve found doesn’t translate well to California?
Gurl. We’ve been looking for good bagels everywhere. Closest we’ve found is Yeastie Boys in Silverlake.
New York and New Jersey have the best bagels! One of my favorite breakfast foods are bagel sandwiches or a Taylor Ham egg and cheese on a hard roll. Taylor Ham (some call it pork roll) is another New Jersey thing. I’ve found a pretty good bagel place here on Wilshire – New York Bagel & Deli and they even have Taylor Ham!
Thank God. New recommends. You’ll find my Instagram feed on Wilshire soon. You’re a Pepperdinian, right? (For those not in the know, that’s my nickname for those peeps I know who went to Pepperdine University)
What was your major in school?
I majored in Public Relations and have a minor in History. I thought I wanted to work in fashion PR for a long time. It turned out to not be the right fit for me but it led me to what I really love: sharing food with people! Well I guess I’m not literally a good food sharer but I love sharing my recipes/ photos and making food for people
When did you decide to jump ship and start your food blog / career?
After I graduated college, I moved back home to NJ and was commuting to NYC for work. I ended up moving back to California (after a brutally cold winter) and was applying to jobs in entertainment, PR, and other random jobs. While I was applying and in the process of moving, I had written down all of my recipes for my mom and realized I loved writing about food and creating recipes. I’ve always cooked for my family but never thought about doing it full-time. I realized I could make a career out of something I was passionate about even if it wasn’t exactly traditional. And the blog sort of just took shape from there!
Where did the name Cooking With Cocktail Rings come from?
I inherited a bunch of vintage cocktail rings from my great-grandmother and I wear them all the time. I have two that I never take off and then others that I switch out!
We first met working on Top Chef’s Instagram launch. You worked as both a chef and a food stylist on that account. Does food styling affect what you cook?
I always like adding garnishes and sauces to things! And some recipes I have written just aren’t pretty and don’t photograph well so I don’t post them. Those are on the backburner for a redo sometime. A tip I learned was to always make foods two colors whether it’s with a sauce or garnish. Something purely beige just won’t look good. They might be delicious but it doesn’t communicate that in the photo!
Tell me about a project gone wrong. A true chef’s moment where you had to improvise and do a quick fix operation!
Hmm that’s a hard one. Most times when I recipe test it’s a process, I add as I go and make notes about what I would do different next time. I’m not as good of a baker as I am a cook – baking you can’t add as you go – once it’s in the oven it’s hands off and you’re done. One time I was testing a red velvet cake recipe and it was a different shape pan than I had used before – I filled the pans too high and it dripped all over my oven. I think I still have red velvet cake in there. Luckily after a little cleanup the cakes still came out fine!
Question lightning round: Favorite Instagram Chef / blogger.
I would have to say @halfbakedharvest! She has some really unique creations and beautiful photography.
Los Angeles hot spot you adore.
Cassia – it’s down the street from my apartment and it’s always my splurge meal. My fiancée and I go and order pretty much one of everything!
Guilty pleasure junk food.
Anything with cheese. I’m not that much of a junk food person but I’m a sucker for anything drenched in cheese.
Music whilst cooking?
Usually old school rock.
Are you more Beatles or Stones?
So hard to decide!! Both! But for rock i would say Queen has my heart.
Do you have a favorite meal you’ve ever made?
I made shrimp scampi risotto for a Create Dinner – a dinner party where a group of creative women get together and all contribute their skill/ talent. I have had the pleasure of cooking at several of them but this one was really special. It was at a beautiful house and we had some really great conversations over wine and food!
I was about to ask you about Create Dinners! How did you get involved?
It was Kate Edward‘s idea and she pitched it to me and we just kind of went from there. She does the photography and plans and gets everyone together and I cook! We are now planning and taking applications for our 5th dinner which will be in June.
What I love about Create Dinners is that so many people from different backgrounds can get involved. For example, ya’ll had someone creating a LIVE IG Story at the last event.
Yes! We have all sorts of creatives! It’s really fun to meet people in different creative industries. Especially since I work from home, it’s nice to meet people with all different interests
On your website, you say “Cooking is cathartic”. What advice would you give someone who is normally stressed in the kitchen?
Take a breath and try to prep all of your ingredients before you turn on the oven / burner. That way, when you’re ready to start you just have to throw ingredients in that are already prepped. It makes things go much smoother.
Kylie Mazon currently lives and works in Santa Monica. If she’s not working from the couch with her Bengal cat curled up by her side watching crime tv shows, then she’s out searching for new restaurants to try and looking for inspiration for her recipes. Check out her recipes / food porn on cookingwithcocktailrings.com.