Ashley Rodriguez is a food lover and blogger of Not Without Salt. She’s worked in L.A. as a pastry chef, traveled around the world to explore the art of cooking, and recently published her first book, Date Night In. Here she shares the secrets of her success and passion for food.
Tell me a little about how you became passionate about food?
I wouldn’t say I grew up at my mother’s apron strings but more on the sidelines watching her make dinner without cookbooks and recipes. She was confident in the kitchen and by watching her I learned the same. Then I lived in Italy for a while studying art history. There I learned how to live at the table. In Italy, life happens at the table and I fell in love with that culture. So with the confidence I had in the kitchen and the desire to gather people around the table I found my place in food.
What would you say is your favorite kind of food to make or eat?
I think first and foremost I am guided by the seasons. I want to eat what the weather dictates. Tomatoes and peaches are what I crave in the summer, right now it’s comforting soups and rich cups of hot chocolate.
What has enabled you to find success?
Passion and hard work.
Describe your three favorite recipes – do you have any go-to ingredients?
My Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Herb and Butter Roasted Chicken.
I can’t seem to think of a third – it’s just that there are too many.
Salt is an obvious choice for my go-to ingredient. Beyond that I’m always looking to add more brightness and “oomph” to my recipes. So I grab lemons, vinegar, soy sauce, hot sauce, Parmesan – all of which are amazing flavor boosters.
What do you find new and exciting about the food industry?
Well, I find the number of voices in the field right now exciting and a bit daunting, I’ll admit. But mostly exciting. It shows that there is passion and eagerness in our field. I’ve learned so much and have been so inspired by what others are doing.
In your opinion, what makes for a great dining experience?
The people who you are dining with.
How do you hope to inspire people?
When people sit at my table or read the blog I hope what they are left with is more than just a great meal or recipe. I hope they leave feeling full, loved and nourished.