Today, Friday, April 24, 2015 marks the beginning of Smak Spotlight, a new addition to the Smak brand. This project is something that I have been wanting to start for quite some time. Let's face it, I spend a lot of time on social media. Instagram is my spirit animal. I read blogs (food, fashion, lifestyle) like they are 'choose your own adventure books.' I (attempt to) use Twitter like it's my job. And I secretly want to be friends with all of these incredible bloggers, Instagrammers, and foodies. I am so inspired by the passion with which they live life. I want to be able to share some of these incredible experiences with them. Smak Spotlight provides a platform where my readers can learn about someone that inspires me on a daily basis. Whether it is a fellow blogger, a local chef, or an all around badass person, I am thrilled to be putting these men and women in the Spotlight. Ultimately, I hope that through Spotlight, these individuals are able to inspire even more people.
Enter Beau Ciolino.
I've stumbled upon Beau's blog, Probably Baking, a few times on Instagram (I may or may not lay in bed at night browsing food photography on Instagram, whatever, it's how I fall asleep. However, it wasn't until Probably Baking was featured on one of my favorite fashion/lifestyle blogs, Yummertime, that I really started reading the website. A quick thank you to Chris and Brock for getting me actually start reading Probably Baking rather than just liking pictures on Instagram. Beau's writing is smart, funny and honest. It can be rather easy to pick out a writer who is writing what they think the readers want to hear, rather than being genuine. Beau is the latter. Please do yourself a solid and start reading his website, it is awesome.
I reached out to Beau a few weeks ago with the idea of writing an article for Smak. Specifically, a travel-oriented article on New Orleans. To my luck he agreed and the rest is history.
Today we learn a little bit more about this 22-year old from New Orleans, Louisiana. Monday, Beau talks the reins and talks NOLA.
| BEAU CIOLINO | Age: 22
What is your favorite part about living in New Orleans?
My favorite thing about New Orleans is its laid back atmosphere. This city moves at a snail’s pace, pausing for parties and parades, often putting play before work. It can be annoying at times - it takes forever to get anything done here - but once you take a step back, it becomes apparent that maybe this is the way life is supposed to be lived… not stressing, enjoying good company and appreciating the beauty in slow living.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received is something my mom used to say. She’d always tell me “Don’t sweat the small stuff… and it’s all small stuff.” I have always been an anxious person, trying to accomplish a lot and getting nervous when I don’t feel like I’m doing enough. Whenever I get too stressed out about school, or my future, or a project I’m working on, this saying comes into mind. It’s all small stuff.
What’s your biggest goal for 2015?
My biggest goal of 2015 is to be my most authentic self. I want to live the life that I want, without outside pressures or constraints. I know it sounds so cheesy, but it’s true.
You’re just about to graduate college, what’s next?
Once I finish college in a few weeks I will be doing some travelling and hopefully finding a job. I’ve applied to a few food publications and sites, but so far nothing has been contractual. We’ll see! Worst case scenario I’ll just continue working in the service industry and blogging, which has actually been pretty fun for me as I get to be surrounded by food and the people who love it!
If you could cook dinner with anyone, who would it be?
If I could cook dinner with anyone it would be my late grandmother on my mom’s side. She died when I was just a child, but she apparently was an awesome cook. My aunt even made a cookbook about her, documenting all of her recipes. She lived in New Orleans too, and most of her food reflects her southern upbringing. It appears she was also pretty crude with her language, which I can of course appreciate.
What’s your definition of the perfect day?
My definition of the perfect day would be sleeping in until 10 and then going to a fancy brunch where there would be bottomless mimosas and good company. I would have an afternoon nap and then I would go swimming in a perfectly warm pool with my boyfriend and a few of our friends. The weather would be sunny, about 80 degrees. At five o’ clock we would all go to Bacchanal, my local wine store, for a few glasses of wine and some cheese. We’d watch the sunset and hang out until 10, listening to the live music and talking and drinking too much wine. From there we would go to the Country Club, a swimming bar near my house, for some late night swimming and maybe a few cocktails. Sounds kind of hedonistic, and it totally is, but sometimes hedonism is just what the heart needs.
You’re given a plane ticket to anywhere in the world. Where are you going?
If I could go anywhere in the world it would be Copenhagen. Or Ghana. Or back to Vietnam, where I lived for a few months. Or Brazil. Or – shit – Morocco?! Yeah I basically have no clue. NEXT!
Why did you start Probably Baking?
In all honesty, Probably Baking was more or less pressured onto me by my good friend, Cameron, and my boyfriend, Matt. I have always been a cook and a baker, but have never known what to do with those interests. I didn’t want to work in a restaurant kitchen, and I didn’t want to go to culinary school right after finishing undergrad… so I was kind of lost as to what to do with my culinary interests. Matt and Cameron suggested I start a blog. I resisted it for a while. Then, one day, kind of out of the blue, I made a gluten free bourbon spice layer cake and took photos of it. And then I wrote about it. And all of a sudden, Probably Baking way born. Of course, lots of work went into getting it to where it is today, but it had a pretty organic beginning.
Favorite post you’ve written?
My favorite post I’ve written so far is my strawberry and basil focaccia post. The photos came out exactly how I had hoped and I got to get real personal with my job hunt and real life, which is always fun to do. My goal with Probably Baking is to have original and unique recipes, but also a window into the individual (me) behind them. When I read other cooking blogs, the most interesting thing for me isn’t always the food, but the stories of the person behind the food. I’m not saying it has to always be serious or even pertain to the recipe at hand, but just some insight into the personality of the person creating the food is always nice. I try to keep that in mind when writing my own posts and I feel that the focaccia post is a good example of that.
How do you go about scheduling content for your blog? Do you always work ahead or do you tend to post in real-time?
Ugh I WISH I worked ahead. It would make life so much easier. But no, everything you read or see on my site was produced within a day or two of being posted. Keep in mind, a lot of the recipes on the blog are ones I’m developing myself. Most people don’t realize the amount of testing that can go into a recipe before I post it. Sometimes I make two, three, or four versions of something before it goes on the blog. This can make developing an arsenal of recipes and posts ahead of time extremely time consuming. I will try to work ahead once school is out and I’ve got a little more time to plan.
If you could work with anyone, fellow blogger, celebrity chef, etc, on a post, who would it be?
If I could work with anyone it would be Ina Garten only because I grew up wanting to be invited to one of her garden parties but never was. ☹
What are your go-to blogs to read?
BLOGZ?! Jeez, you’re asking for quite a list and I am going to give you one. I’m not including Smak Eats in this list because obvi I love it and visit it often! For baking and stunning photography: A Brown Table, My Name is Yes, Hummingbird High, Le Juse D’Orange, Glazed and Confused, and Top with Cinnamon. For amazing writing: Chocolate & Marrow, Fig & Bleu, and Local Milk. For all around fun content and original recipes: Fix/Feast/Flair, Kale & Caramel, Southern Fatty, and Displaced Housewife. For lifestyle and fashion ideas: Yummertime and The Kentucky Gent. I’m always looking for more fun bloggers to follow, so this list is always growing!
What would you say to someone looking to start a blog?
Starting a blog is easy, but making it interesting is the hard part. Let your true personality shine through and DO NOT be afraid to be a little out there, it’s what will set you apart from the masses. Honestly, when I started writing my blog I was so afraid that I would curse too much or be too strange for people to like but it’s all worked out! I’ve ended up meeting a ton of awesome people by just being myself! As with everything you do, including blogging - quit trying to be someone you are not, life is too short!
Most thankful for?
I am most thankful for having such a beautiful family and close group of friends. I’ve never felt like I was on my own. My parents, siblings, wonderful boyfriend, and friends make me feel at home no matter where I am. It is because of them that I am able to focus on what I care about.