Does grocery shopping and cooking overwhelm you? Enter Alexandra Shytsman, Founder of the food blog The New Baguette a food blog that doesn't overwhelm but rather inspire an "I can do that" attitude. Plus Alexandra's relatable tone makes you feel like you're cooking with a friend rather than at a French culinary school with a text heavy, multi step textbook. Alexandra's goal is to make cooking fun and approachable for the busy person. Read more about what inspired her to make The New Baguette her full time job and what's next for Alexandra.
1. What inspired the name and creation of The New Baguette?
I like to say that cooking has been a fascination of mine ever since I was tall enough to see what's on the stove. Around the age of 12, I discovered the Food Network and became so inspired that I decided to start cooking dinners for my family after school. Both my parents worked so there was no one to stop me from making a mess in the kitchen! Fast forward to my 19-year-old self in college - I was bored and needed a creative outlet, so late one night I typed out a few of my favorite recipes and started a Blogspot blog. Here I am nearly seven years later! My site has gone through many iterations and various degrees of seriousness during this time, but for the past two years it has been a major focal point in my life.
I am a diehard Francophile so "The New Baguette" is inspired by, of course, Paris. I love how the French have so much respect for their culinary traditions and how seriously they take mealtime. In Paris, you'll often see people walking the streets with still warm baguettes under their arms, tearing off fragrant bits and eating them as they walk. Sometimes these baguettes are destined to be part of bigger meals, but often they are meals in themselves. Thus, the baguette is a convenience food. “The New Baguette” is a representation of a modern way of eating that goes beyond convenience to ask: what am I eating and is it good for my body?
2. As a recent entrepreneur (congrats) how do you envision growing your brand?
Thank you! I am so excited for this new chapter of my life. One of the ways I'd like to expand my brand is to take it offline and interact with people IRL through cooking demos, classes and tasting events. I am also looking forward to collaborating more with brands on recipe development, food styling and photography projects. My big, BIG dreams include getting a cookbook deal and a Food Network show of my own!
3. With the weather getting colder and colder do you have any tips on eating and cooking healthy and passing on the grilled cheese?
Healthy eating is all about being prepared. I am a big fan of weekend batch cooking so that when you get home on weeknights, dinner's almost ready. For instance, I'll cook a whole bunch of beans or chickpeas, whole grains (like farro or brown rice) and roasted veggies (sweet potatoes and broccoli are my favorite), then during the week those can turn into a hearty grain bowl, a hash with a fried egg on top, or a big crunchy salad with lots of greens and a creamy tahini dressing. I find it's also important not to starve yourself throughout the day to avoid being ravenous by dinnertime. I like to keep healthy snacks handy at all times (I have a great blog post about that!) and graze as needed. Nonetheless, grilled cheese is not the devil. If you absolutely must have one, go for it - it's good for the soul! Just be sure to pair it with a green salad.
4. NYC can be a challenging place to cook (limited space). What are the basic cooking essentials everyone should have in their pantries?
As far as I'm concerned, these are the three food groups to focus on: fresh produce, whole grains and legumes. Again, if you plan ahead and shop smart, these three will have you covered for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When all else fails, there's avocado toast.
5. If you had your own cooking show what would you cook and why?
I would love to show people how to cook delicious plant-based food that is healthy, vibrant and satisfying! The reason being that eating more plants and less animal-based foods is healthier for us and our planet. With increasing instances of diet-related illnesses (diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers), ever-rising healthcare costs, and a growing world population, it is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and each other. Plus, a plant-based diet makes it so much easier to stay fit, energetic and balanced!