The blogosphere is such an amazing place to discover talented and interesting people. Thanks to the internet and a little bit of computer skills, today anything is possible, even quitting a job in the marketing world to follow a passion for food photography and on your way to shooting for Jamba Juice!
This is the story of Marie Reginato, healthy food blogger and photographer from San Francisco, founder of the beautiful blog www.8thandlake.com
In this interview she talks about how she got into blogging, how she developed a passion for healthy eating and how she fell in love with the Italian culture. And she shares some great tips on the best food spots in her city too!
Read along and discover how food blogging changed Marie’s life.
A: Marie, tell us a little about yourself. What do you do in San Francisco? How did you get into healthy eating?
M: Hi, Ambra – So happy to be doing this interview with you! Especially as I’ve loved following you on Instagram and your blog this past year! Such a treat.
Yes, I’m a food photographer and blogger from San Francisco! And becoming a photographer and blogger was kind of an accident of mine. If I look back 10 years to when I was 16 I’m pretty sure I still wanted to be Britney Spears when I grew up haha Never would I have thought photography would become one of the main parts of my life.
And you could definitely say my wandering into healthy eating is a little untraditional.
I started to become curious about healthy food when my boyfriend at the time suffered from 8 years of unexplained stomach pains. He left San Francisco to work abroad and I wanted another platform to connect with him while we were living in different countries. That’s when I started 8th and lake – mainly as a way to share with him delicious plant-based recipes that would help his body.
So during this time I became infatuated by real foods and found that plants taste good, like really good when cooked in spices and herbs. And not just that but cashews mixed with dates tastes like caramel – seriously caramel?! If someone had told me this I probably would have started cooking a lot sooner! (side-note: I hated cooking until I started this blog)
A: Where does the nickname “8th and lake” come from? What was your plan when you first opened your blog and where are you at with it now?
That’s such a funny question and I get it all the time! It’s actually a place in San Francisco where I used to meet my girlfriends for picnics during our summer break from university. We would always meet at that park, enjoy the sun (if it was ever out – SF is always cold), and enjoy a bunch of delicious food together.
I guess I never truly had a plan for 8th and lake. I always wanted a place to share recipes, stories and to purely connect with others. What ended up coming from it was completely unexpected and continues to fuel me everyday. My blog started off as just posting healthy recipes but now I incorporate interviews (can’t wait for yours on my blog!), simple food hacks, travel advice and a monthly playlist for working out. I guess at the end of the day it’s a place to come to for a little motivation – through excitement in the kitchen and connection with everyone who visits the space.
A: I know that you love Italy, and I am always flattered when someone is so passionate about my country! What is it that you like so much about it? I know you lived there for a while and I am curious to know what are your thoughts (both good and bad) on life there?
Oh man, this is a question that I could talk about for hours. I love Italy. No other country has captured my heart and mind the way Italy does. My dad’s family is originally from Venice and Sicily. My mom has European roots in her as well, but no Italian ones, however, she did live there for a year too!
I lived in Florence for one year while I was studying Art History. The majestic sights, the winding streets, the humble laughs by street merchants trying to persuade you to buy a leather jacket, the leisurely dinners that end with a digestivo, and the conversations made when sitting next to locals on the bus – this to me is the beauty of Italy, connection. Connection to the land through food and connection to other human being through open conversation.
A: I know you now work as a freelance food photographer and recipe developer. Can you tell us how being a food blogger changed your life and what you would recommend to people that have the same ambition?
M: It has literally changed everything about my life. I was in a marketing job before this. I wasn’t passionate about it and everyday just felt like a drag. So to make my day better I would wake up around 5:30am to workout and then take a photo for Instagram. I did this everyday for the last year. Then I finally was able to leave that job and become a photographer!
Looking back, it probably was a little nuts to keep that intense schedule going, but I honestly got so much pleasure from it and was able to work on photography for at least 30 minutes each day. So I really believe that the more effort you put into something the more ‘luck’ you will receive.
A: You have some incredible shots on your site. What are your best tips to take perfect food photos like yours?
M: Thank you, Ambra! It’s still very humbling to hear kind comments since food photography has been so unexpected! One of the best pieces of knowledge I’ve learned by experience is to keep playing with your art. Try new styles and eventually your own original style will evolve and become present. Another tip is to try when possible to use natural light. I know this is so difficult as many people work but as you’re learning and trying to improve your craft, try doing it on the weekends for even just 30 minutes. See how the sun moves and castes different shadows on your set-up. Start becoming obsessed with light and actually focus more on the light hitting the food versus the attention all on the food.
A: What are your tips for someone who wants to eat a healthier diet, but still keep it fun and tasty?
M: That’s a great question and pretty much the point of why I started my blog! I have such a sweet tooth so there is no way I can go a day without something sweet. My favorite tip is to mix dates with nearly anything for a caramel taste – especially to stuff a date with dark chocolate and seal it up with almond butter – so good!
But all I’m pretty much doing is changing out the not-so-good-for-you ingredients to ones that are just as delicious, yet also nourishing. It’s more about rethinking the way you look at veggies and to be a bit more creative with them.
I also really love scooping out an avocado and stuffing it with whatever you’d like! I’ll be sharing a recipe in the next few weeks about avocado stuffed ceviche with papaya salsa! These are all very healthy and tasty ingredients just thought of in a different way. So always have fun with it and see what works for you!
A: How is the healthy food scene in San Francisco? Can you name some of your favorite healthy food spots in the city?
M: Oh man, San Francisco is pretty amazing when it comes to food. We really do have everything here.
For healthy food, I adore Seed and Salt and also Nourish Café. They have a very similar vibe and atmosphere – clean, simply, minimal – and offer up delicious veggie combinations.
I love the ‘chocolate chip cookie’ at Seed and Salt and the fig bars at Nourish Café. And then there is my favorite coffee spot, The Mill. I just love everything about this place – the lightening, the openness, the conversations you overhear and best of all – the almond butter toast! It’s a great weekend spot.
A: What are you future plans with 8thandlake.com? Can you share some of your upcoming foodie projects?
M: This is definitely going to be a busy summer but I’m extremely excited for it! I have a few collaborations coming up – another one with the FeedFeed and also with Jamba Juice! I’m also working with a food start-up in SF and doing all their food photography. The company is called the “June Oven” if you want to have a little peek.
Then I’ll be working with a good friend to help design a little something that incorporates summer fruits – I’ll share a more about it in the coming months as it’s still so new.
And then videos! I’ve gotten a lot of requests to start shooting cooking videos so I’ll be diving into that arena very soon!
Oh and then my sister gets married at the end of summer, so that’s the number one thing I’m most excited for!
M: The“Three Layer Caramel Chocolate Chunks”!
I made these around this time last year for my birthday. It was one of the first sweet recipes I added to the blog and I was very nervous to have my friends try them. But when they did, they all asked for the recipe!
It was then that I realized that healthy eating doesn’t need to be restrictive, rather food should make you enthusiastic not frustrated. So whatever you do, find some balance and just have a little fun with it!
A: Marie, thanks so much for sharing so much of your life and passion for photography and healthy food with us! …Now with all this talking about delicious recipes you made me hungry, and I am sure I am not the only one!
If you are reading and sharing my same cravings, come back next week. Marie is going to give us the recipe for her infamous Spicy baked Avocado with Egg and I can’t wait to try it!!