Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spotlight: Dining in DC's Lisa Shapiro

We're starting a new weekly series on the Capital Cooking Show blog that will highlight fellow food bloggers and writers.  To kick off this series, we're featuring, Lisa Shapiro.  Lisa and I first met through the DC Food Blogger planning committee.  Lisa is a sweet person with a great personality.  We've had lots of fun hosting the monthly happy hours.  I've asked Lisa a few questions below to give you more information about Lisa and Dining in DC.  Make sure to check out her blog!

How did you get into blogging? I have always been interested in writing and dining out. I was the Managing Editor of my High School Newspaper, The Mainstream. And even then, at 17, my favorite magazine was the Washingtonian. I was obsessed with the 100's Best Restaurant List. I started highlighting the restaurants I went to and collecting dining reviews. I started the blog in June 2007 so that I could help my friends, who were frequently seeking dining out recommendations. As a native Washingtonian and someone who was spending so much time and money dining out, I was considered almost an expert within my circle of friends. I was asked so frequently, that finally someone suggested that I put all of the information "in one place" -- a blog. The rest is history.I   am celebrating my 3 year blogiversary this year. Dining in DC has come a long way.  

Favorite ingredient? It is very hard for me to choose one. I like dried cranberries in salads, fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on pasta, love fresh cilantro, and can't get enough of summer tomatoes.

Photo by Mary Diaz

How would you describe DC Cuisine? Eclectic, for sure. Almost every possible ethnic cuisine is represented in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area.  While DC's restaurant scene is up and coming, we have some amazing talent in the nation's capital. And despite the fact that many New York chefs are coming to DC to open outposts, I still think it's important to recognize the independent DC chefs who have made living and dining in DC worth while. They are the reason that DC is on the culinary map!  

Who are your culinary inspirations? My friends and fellow bloggers are my culinary inspiration. People like Olga Berman of Mango and Tomato. She is so passionate about cooking and writing about food. I have met so many great people recently. I am inspired by these extraordinary people whose passion is food and cooking.
What is your favorite local restaurant and why? I am really looking forward to Farrah Olivia re-opening in DC in the next couple of months. It was my favorite restaurant. Right now I would say my favorites are Art and Soul on the Hill, Zentan, and the new 8407 Kitchen & Bar in downtown, Silver Spring. I also really like the Lebanese Taverna.   
Travis Timberlake from Art and Soul was a guest on Capital Cooking's Southern Sensation's episode.
Photo by Shauna Alexander

What is your favorite Food Network Show? I don't really watch much Food Network but I know that everyone talks about it. I prefer the shows on Bravo, like Top Chef and Top Chef Masters.

Do you have a favorite cookbook? The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso I use a lot at home but being a food blogger has given me the opportunity to meet many talented Chefs, many with cookbooks. I recently met Susur Lee and he gave me his cookbook, Susur: A Culinary Life. It is a great cookbook with wonderful stories and provides the evolution of his career while sharing the history about Chinese cooking. Most recently I met Chef Jose Pizzaro. His cookbook, Seasonal Spanish Food is very simple and has intimate stories about his life and how food has transformed his life. I am inspired by these cookbooks and by these amazingly talented chefs. I am also very excited about the Capital Cooking cookbook. I think it's great that we explore all of the ethnic foods that makes DC so unique. Lauren has inspired me to want to learn and become a better cook. 
What are your most exciting challenges right now? My greatest challenge is that I work a full-time job and commute from my home in Springfield, VA to work in Silver Spring, MD everyday. Having a long commute is very difficult and it makes it very difficult to do all of the things that I want to do. I want to attend every food and media event and then need to find time to write about it. I am struggling with life and work balance -- trying to find time for all of my passions, including my family. My two children are just 6 and 2 and I want to be there for them.

Anything else you’d like to share with the viewers? This month I am judging two cooking contests at local food festivals. I will be judging the So You Think You Can Grill? contest, June 12-13 at the Food & Wine Festival at the National Harbor and a chili cookofff at the Taste of Reston, June 19-20. I hope friends come out and say hello.
Photo by Duane Heaton
Thank you to Lisa Shapiro for the interview!


Anonymous said...

I read Dining in DC all the time--it is a wonderful blog. Great interview!

capitalcooking said...

Thanks! Lisa's awesome!