Chatting with Stacia Carlton of Be Still & Eat
Today we’re turning the tables – and the pantry and oven for that matter – on VL Contributor Stacia Carlton. Stacia is a culinary school graduate and publisher of the popular food blog, Be Still & Eat. She also contributes recipes to our popular #DailyDish and interviews local chefs and business owners for our readers.
To mark the launch of Be Still and Eat’s new cooking classes and party prep services, we thought we’d focus the spotlight on Stacia and ask about her simple approach to cooking, her belief that delicious, real food can be produced in every kitchen, and her mission to bring great home cooking to kitchens everywhere.
Village Living: Why did you start Be Still & Eat?
Stacia: Shortly after graduating from culinary school, I knew I wanted to teach, whether that be through articles, in schools or private homes, I knew that I wanted to share not just my knowledge, but also my passion for cooking. Not only do I love to cook but I’m a huge yoga fan and for me, there is an interconnectedness between them. Meals don’t need to be complicated and time consuming but if we don’t bring a level of mindfulness to preparing and eating our food, when we don’t enjoy the sensual element of eating, we’re missing out on a very large part of the pleasure that is food. My goal with Be Still & Eat was to not only share easy, enjoyable, healthy recipes, but also to inspire people to experience the pleasure of cooking, and to enjoy the gift of food.
VL: How important is healthy cooking to you?
Stacia: Crazy important, but in a practical way. I like to teach people how easy it is to make their own pasta sauce or salad dressing, for example, instead of choosing store bought which is generally laden with sugar and salt and all sorts of other crappy stuff. I’m about easy, practical and delicious food that’s as healthy as we can make it without sacrificing flavour. That’s not to say that I don’t occasionally enjoy some less than 100% healthy choices but I try to aim for real foods rather than pre-packaged and overly processed garbage.
VL: Easy, practical and delicious sounds good but is that always possible? For example, cooking, especially for a bigger dinner party, scares a lot of people. Do you think most people make it too complicated?
Stacia: Yes! People grossly overthink their cooking. They think they have to produce something from the pages of Bon Appetit, Saveur Magazine or even Canadian Living. Cooking shouldn’t be pretentious and it most certainly shouldn’t be feared. Through my dinner prep and cooking classes, my aim is to show people how it can be highly approachable and fun and still churn out a really memorable meal.
VL: Tell us about these new cooking classes and dinner prep services.
Stacia: People are busy. They want to entertain at home but let’s be honest, working all day, rushing to the grocery store on your way home, and frantically trying to get a meal together for guests isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. People are often so frazzled just at the thought of it that they just throw their hands up instead. I want to help take the stress out of what is supposed to be a fun event. Cooking is what I do and it’s never a chore. If you want to have a dinner party, I’ll help you plan the meal, I’ll do the grocery shopping, and I’ll prep the food in your home while you have a glass of wine and get yourself and your home ready.
If you’re looking for a more interactive approach, I also teach small groups on any number of cooking related topics in fun, hands-on cooking classes in your home. Those can be really an awful lot of fun and an interesting twist on the cocktail party.
VL: Your recipes all make me hungry. What are the top three that you get the most requests for?
Stacia: Probably my Syrian Chicken which is an old family recipe, any number of pizza and pasta from scratch recipes (which are surprisingly WAY easier than people ever think) and I guess my Coq au Vin. That’s one of those “Oh I could NEVER make that!” kind of recipes that’s actually just a really gorgeous rustic dish that will earn you rave reviews every single time.
VL: What else should people know about Be Still and Eat?
Stacia: Be Still & Eat is all about bringing the fun and enjoyment into the kitchen. When you cook with joy your food can’t help but reflect that. I hope to help demystify much of what goes on in the kitchen, to encourage people to take chances and get creative!
Stacia charges on an hourly basis with in home cooking classes running between 1-2 hours and dinner party prep services typically around 4 hours. Call her today to discuss your next party. 416-829-1367 or visit www.bestillandeat.com for more details.