In this interview of "Dinner Conversation" I get candid and cozy with Stephanie Jung. We instantly connected because she's from San Francisco just like me. Did I mention she is a major foodie? I don't want to spill all the beans because this interview is packed full of food, art, and wisdom. Read on!
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I’m a graphic designer whose world revolves around food!
The name “Broke and Cooking” why did you decide to call it that?
The goal of Broke and Cooking is to get young people into the kitchen. There’s always been this stigma that eating healthier is expensive and out of reach. I wanted to post recipes that give people inspiration to stay in and cook once in a while. Broke and Cooking is about sharing recipes that are not only delicious and affordable, but totally approachable. The idea that one of my tried and true recipes could become someone’s new favorite dish is my biggest motivation.
How did you first get involved with design and food photography?
I’ve loved drawing since I was really young. I’d doodle cartoon food all over everything I owned. I can still remember the first time I got my hands on Cook’s Illustrated - I would pour through it over and over, studying the line work and reading recipes, wondering whether there were actual careers in ‘drawing food’.
I went to college for Fashion Design, and shortly after graduating, went back to school for courses in Graphic Design and Photography. I’ve worked at jobs that combined fashion and graphic design, but my path has somehow always led back to food.
Your food looks amazing, do you create your own recipes that you share?
Thank you! I find inspiration for recipes everywhere - I love to eat out, and ideas for dishes can come from food that I’ve eaten in tiny hole-in-the-wall spots, fancy restaurants, or better yet, home kitchens. Broke and Cooking recipes often come from something I’ve tasted before, and wanted to recreate at home.
How do you keep coming up with material/content for your blog? Many people struggle with coming up with different articles/posts and they only have one blog.
I try to set BAC apart by blogging recipes with step-by-step pictures. I hope that readers find this helpful, and that the pictures show how simple cooking can be. Food photography is my favorite part of the blogging process. I love playing with the colors, textures, and shapes of different ingredients, and learning new techniques to push my styling and photography skills. I want my photos to make people hungry. :)
When did you begin your cooking journey?
I grew up in my Grandmother’s North Beach kitchen, blocks away from San Francisco’s Chinatown. We would walk to the markets every day, and she would teach me how to pick the best fruit. Both she and my dad taught me how to cook from a really young age, and it definitely made me really comfortable when it comes to experimenting in the kitchen. When it comes to cooking, sometimes you’ve just gotta dive in and try it.
Are you a full time blogger? What do you find most challenging about what you do?
My ‘day job’ as a freelance graphic designer is definitely as challenging as it is rewarding. I think the hardest part for me is finding balance among all the things I enjoy doing. Juggling ideas and work for multiple clients, while trying to find the time to develop and photograph new recipes, all while maintaining the rest of life can get hectic, but it’s all a learning process. You’ve just got to find what works best for you.
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working on your blog?
Social media is amazing. We can be connected to people we’ve never met, and inspired by people all over the world. I’ve met some great people, including the ladies from MISSBISH (MISSBISH.COM), who feature women who are doing their thing in all genres, from all over the globe. The women who started MISSBISH (Lindsay, Nicole, and Gill), are constant motivation for me because of their work ethic and ability to take risk.
What do you do when you aren’t working on food and design?
Eating out with friends. Binge-watching my favorite shows. Traveling! Seeing the world exposes you to so many wonderful people, cultures, and traditions, and really teaches you a lot about yourself. It shows you how resilient you are, how adventurous you can be, and how much there is to see and learn. Traveling is the ultimate inspiration.
What type of networking do you do that you feel helps your business?
Most of my jobs have come completely from networking. Your network is one of your most powerful tools. A chance meeting with someone may end up leading to a great opportunity. Art shows, work co-ops, and even ig meet ups are a great way to meet other creative people.
What’s the best thing a blogger can give to his/her readers?
Authenticity. Be real about it. If I think a recipe is too tedious, chances are, so will my readers - and I’ll let them know that. Then I’ll offer a more convenient option that worked for me. I like blogs that are unpretentious, so I keep that in mind for BAC.
A lot of people are interested in blogging for the money earning potential. What are some tips for people interesting in making money from blogging? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?
Honestly, I think it shows when someone is just in it for the money. I’d say that readers really tune in and can sense when someone really cares about what they blog about. You’ve gotta love it. Not to say that monetizing your blog is bad, as it’s most likely a goal for all bloggers, but I’m trying to keep the passion as first priority. If money comes from it, that’s just a bonus.
What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself and your blog?
Teaming up with other bloggers and cooks has been really fun and uplifting. Consistency is also super important! Keeping my brand’s integrity across all social media, and posting new content on a regimented schedule is important for the readers.
Name some of the foodies and designers whom you look up to and why?
My girl Nicole (@thatfoodcray) is the ultimate foodie and food blogger. I love eating with her because you know you’ll definitely be eating almost the entire menu! My good friend Tracy (@tracywei18) is an amazing Pastry Chef whose baked goods are some of the most creative I’ve ever had. Both of these women are truly good people, badasses at what they do, and empower other women. I look up to these girls because they both gave up the traditional career route and went after what made them happy.
If someone was interested in breaking into the food industry, what would be a few things you would suggest?
This applies to more than just the food industry: you’ve got to have a passion for it. Make a plan for your goals, put in the work. Diversify your skills and experience. Always under-promise, and over-deliver.
If a kid walked up to you asking you for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your “best tip” what would it be?
It’s ok not to know what you want to do with your life - it will come. Explore the things you do like, and don’t be afraid to create your own lane. It’s ok to make mistakes. Be comfortable with who you are, what makes you happy, and stay true to yourself. In today’s world, that can be difficult, so keep a strong team of friends and family around you. Keep your intentions pure, and learn to push past your fears. And most importantly - have fun with it all :)
What other services do you offer and what other projects are you working on?
I specialize in branding and illustration. I also offer marketing material and web design, apparel graphics, photo retouching, and vectorization.
I’m working on a personal project that I can’t talk about ;) and developing a few brands with new clients. It’s so fun to start from scratch and bring someone’s idea to life.
Where can people find you so that they can stay connected with you?
My personal ig: @stephaniejung