Matt Armendariz, contemporary food photographer and the author of the delicious food blog, Matt Bites, sits down with TLK to talk about his food cravings, guilty pleasures, and the release of his first cookbook, On a Stick: 80 Party Perfect Recipes.
TLK: What dish do you most often crave from your childhood?
Honestly, and as simple as it sounds, it’s probably rice and beans from my grandmother followed by my mom’s enchiladas. Those two things are the things that will never taste the same. Everything else I can make for myself.
TLK: Whose home do you secretly fantasize to be invited over for dinner?
Countess Luann. But seriously, any home where the food is prepared with love is fine with me.
TLK: Do you prefer carnitas or Carne Asada?
Carnitas! But I love them too much and must enjoy them in moderation! And we make some excellent ones over here in California.
TLK: What's your favorite food city in the world?
I couldn’t pick one as I love too many different things! But a few of my favorite food cities would be Seoul, Singapore, Rome and Portland.
TLK: What did you do to celebrate the release of your cookbook?
I slept! And then we had a fantastic book release party but then it was immediately back to work. I feel like I celebrate something every day so I don’t usually need to have a big giant blow out.
TLK: How did you go about developing your recipes for "On a Stick"? Were any family recipes?
It was a collaborative effort. It began with my editor, we exchanged an initial list of ideas and from there I went into research mode. I read about food on sticks, went to state fairs, ate satay in Singapore, and tried to find as much stick food as I could. There are no family recipes in the book but I think I just started the tradition with myself!
TLK: When you come home from traveling what are a few of your must go-to restaurants?
When I come home from traveling I must always have Korean food. Always. I have no idea why but that’s just the way it is. Of course this rule doesn’t apply if I’ve just come home from South Korea! But there are a few places near us that do different Korean dishes and it’s my first craving. Followed by Mexican food.
TLK: What do you think makes a great food image?
Great looking food, superb lighting, thoughtful composition, and great visual interest.
TLK: Which chefs do you admire?
I admire so many chefs I couldn’t even tell you! I’ve met and worked with so many over the years but one that always pops into my mind is Susan Feniger. She is this little powerhouse of love, she never stops smiling, and to be in her presence makes you happy. Not to mention she’s such a veteran and continues to inspire others.
TLK: What music is inspiring you right now?
I’m a huge lover of music and enjoy so many styles. Right now it’s Lucinda Williams, some dance stuff, some jazz, and obnoxious Lady Gaga remixes. I’m sorry, I can’t help it.
TLK: How would you describe your style?
It’s a little bit of everything – high brow, low brow, old, and new. I think every period of history has something unique to offer and I enjoy it all. There’s also a huge handmade element in my world and I love the juxtaposition of high end pieces with unique one of a kind things.
TLK: What's you favorite mixed drink?
A summer staple: a Pimm’s Cup or Campari and Soda with a lemon wedge.
TLK: Tell me something about yourself most people don't know.
Most people don’t know that I studied music for many many years growing up. I will still play the piano if I’m alone.
TLK: What's your guilty pleasure?
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Frito Pie, Horribly Bad House Music, Rosé with ice cubes.
TLK: Do you prefer coffee in bed or Sunday brunch with friends?
You will never ever find me in bed drinking coffee. EVER. Call me neurotic but I would choose to get up super early, start my day and get things done so I can enjoy an early afternoon with friends. Preferably over wine. I’m not much of a bruncher but I do enjoy heading to the desert with friends and sitting by a pool all weekend.