Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Spotlight: Nick of Macheesmo and 55 Knives

Nick and I became acquainted through the DC Food Blogger Happy Hours.  Turns out we live in the same neighborhood.  Not only does he blog, but he also just put together an electronic book as well.

Tell us about 55 Knives.
- 55 Knives is a project I dreamed up many months ago to compile favorite recipes from a number of different food blogs into one easy to read e-cookbook. Each chapter in the book features a favorite recipe from the blogger along with the story behind the recipe. Since there are 55 different authors, there's a huge range of recipes and writing styles. It ended up being a really unique, fun, and quality product.

How did you get into blogging?
I've been fiddling around with websites for years now. Most of them have failed or I just lost interest. Something clicked with Macheesmo though and I've been posting pretty much daily now for almost two years. I really love to write and to cook so it's a pretty natural fit for me I guess.

How did you decide to create 55 Knives?
When I came up with the idea I couldn't find anything really similar in the cookbook world so I thought it would be a fun project to try out. Plus it gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about managing a huge project, working with e-commerce software, and marketing. If anything, I learned that marketing is really hard. ;)

Why did you pick 55?
Because five rhymes with knive and 55 is a substantial, but not excessive number. I was shooting for 175-200 pages in the final product and I figured each chapter would be 3 or 4 pages long so 55 just made the most sense. The final e-book is 174 pages.

How did you decide which bloggers to include in your book?
I wanted a variety of different styles and experience levels. I tried to find people with different cooking and blogging backgrounds. It also had a lot to do with what blogs I happened to be reading at the time obviously.

Favorite Ingredient?
Butter. I'm a butter guy. The real stuff.

How would you describe DC Cuisine?
I'm pretty bad at questions like this because I never really go out to eat... maybe once a month I go out. I cook at home almost every day... but if I had to describe it, I think I'd describe it as under-appreciated. There are tons of little places that produce really great food and don't get a lot of talk. I went to a tiny shop called Pica Taco (14th and Florida) with Betsy (my wife) a week ago and they made the most wonderful beef tongue tacos I've had. Never even heard of the place before last week.

How long have you lived in DC and how did you end up here?
I've lived here for 5 years now and moved to DC right out of college. I've really enjoyed it. I'm actually moving to Colorado in the next 6-8 months though, so it'll be interested to see what I miss the most. It probably won't be the sweltering humidity of summer.

Who are your culinary inspirations?
In general I'm inspired by people that take really simple, fresh ingredients and use them correctly. People like Judy Rodgers or Alice Waters. I really liked what Jamie Oliver did in Food Revolution. Made me want to go work in a school cafeteria.

But honestly, I'm inspired most often by people who have never written a cookbook or have their own show. People that comment on my posts or send me emails with recipes suggestions are a huge inspiration for me. They're just average people trying to cook healthy and delicious food for their families. As cheesy as it is, that inspires me day-to-day I think.

What is your favorite local restaurant and why?
Tough pick. I just went to Komi to celebrate my recent wedding and it was unbelievable. Pretty expensive though. To counteract that, I like the burrito cart guy on 15th and M. He makes good food. For the money ($$ on yelp), I think The Tabbard Inn is a really solid restaurant for brunch and dinner.

What is your favorite Food Network Show?
Good Eats. I'm a dork. I've seen every episode multiple times.

Do you have a favorite cookbook?
Honestly, not really. It depends on what I'm looking for. I think I've almost baked my way through The Bread Baker's Apprentice. It's fantastic. I also use my copy of How to Cook Everything on a weekly basis.

What are your most exciting challenges right now?
I'm really excited by the challenge of taking Macheesmo to the next level. The site has enough content on it now (over 500 posts) that it's becoming a resource and not just a blog. Over the next 4-6 months I have some really big plans that I hope will make it a really useful and entertaining place to visit on the Internet.

On a personal level, I'd say I'm also excited by the challenge of marriage. It's not always easy, but it's definitely exciting to start a life with someone special. I'm also excited to see how my cat deals with a cross-country road trip.

What is your favorite recipe featured on your blog?
This is the kind of question that I'll seriously give a different answer to every day depending on my mood. Today, I'm going with Spanakopizza.
And yes. I know Rachel Ray has a version of something like this. But my version is better.

Anything else you’d like to share with the viewers?
Thanks for reading this far, and thank you Lauren for the awesome interview! Check out Macheesmo and 55 Knives if you haven't yet!

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