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With a creative soul, Jess launched Cookinginmygenes to share effortless, scrumptious recipes that inspire joy. Working independently, She collaborates with clients and embraces new opportunities.
Jess’s aim is to spread delightful meals and re-energize exceptional products through relatable recipes.
Influenced by German and Canadian heritage, she cherishes memorable gatherings and uses these experiences to create recipes that boost unforgettable meals with loved ones.
Each dish is a loving tribute to the generations that have shaped her culinary journey, and with every post, she invites you to connect with your own roots and create lasting memories through food.
So, discover the magic of home cooking, and venture on a flavorful journey with Jess by your side.
Read our exclusive interview with Jessica Kostka now!
What follows is an interesting interview with the Cooking influencer.
1. Please Tell Us a Little About Yourself and How You Got Into Cooking.
My name is Jess and I’m a food blogger & photographer living in Calgary, AB, Canada.
From a young age, I remember sitting around the dinner table at home or the cottage, for big meals, conversations and laughs.
I have so many food memories from growing up like Christmas when we would have two turkey dinners in less than 12 hours. Or, ‘coffee time’ at the cottage when we would enjoy cake in the afternoon.
From a young age I was interested in cooking and still remember my mom teaching me to make macaroni and cheese for the first time. I always enjoyed cooking and eating food!
These are the times in my life that have made me the happiest—gathering with people I love to break bread and share stories. It’s these moments that inspire my cooking and recipe creation now.
2. What Are Your Favorite Types of Recipes to Create and Share, and Why?
It’s so hard to choose! But I love creating recipes that are made for sharing and entertaining.
Simple appetizer recipes are one of my absolute favorites because you can make something truly delicious with just a few ingredients. And, appetizers are always the start of a beautiful gathering in my mind!
3. How Do You Balance the Flavors in a Dish?
Taste, taste, taste! I am always tasting my flavours in a dish, considering the 5 basic tastes – salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami. Then, as I cook, I will adjust as I go if needed.
For example, if the recipe is a bit too bland, doesn’t have a kick of anything much yet, I might add another big pinch of salt and fresh herbs if it makes sense for the recipe. Or, too rich of a dish in umami flavour, I might add some fresh lemon juice or vinegar to balance.
4. How Do You Approach Creating a Menu for a Special Occasion?
This is such a great question. I always start with the main dish because then you can build a menu around that with complementary ingredients and flavours.
5. Can You Share Any Cooking Tips or Techniques That You Think Are Important for Beginners to Know?
An instant read thermometer is so key in the kitchen! It can especially help with cooking meat to the right temperature and then you don’t have to worry about cutting into the meat to make sure it’s done.
6. Can You Share Any of Your Favorite Restaurants or Chefs That Inspire Your Cooking?
When I started my career in food, I really loved watching Jamie Oliver and Ina Garten on TV and enjoyed making their recipes.
Over time, Jaime Oliver has developed many simple, seasonal recipes that I make regularly. And, Ina Garten has continuously inspired my love of entertaining and gathering with family and friends over food.
7. Can You Talk About Any Culinary Experiences or Travel That Have Influenced Your Cooking?
Two travel experiences have influenced my cooking:
(1) I’ve been to Oregon from the coast to the vineyards and specifically Portland a few times. Most of our meals there really focused on local, seasonal ingredients and I truly cook like that in my kitchen when I can.
(2) I went to Prince Edward Island and had a similar experience at the Fireworks Feast at the Inn at Bay Fortune. It was a spectacular celebration of local, seasonal food that I will never forget. Again, the same theme which I take into my recipe creations.
8. Can You Talk About Any Unique Cooking Methods or Techniques That You Use in Your Recipes?
I try to keep my cooking methods fairly simple so that hopefully anyone can make my recipes.
9. Can You Walk Us Through the Process of Developing a Recipe From Start to Finish?
I usually start with a general type of recipe and some flavour ideas. I take a look at flavour combinations in one of my best reference books, The Flavour Thesaurus, to help finalize the ingredients. Then I’ll research similar recipes, including referring back to my own recipes since I have a lot of base recipes I can pull from (i.e. cookies, muffins, one pot pastas).
Next I’ll deep dive into my personal reference recipes to look at amounts of ingredients and build the recipe from there.
Finally, once I have a draft recipe I’ll start with a first recipe test and really focus on the final flavour of the dish. Taste, adjust and then repeat at least 1-2 more times to make sure it can be replicated and taste the same each time!
10. What is Your Favorite Dish to Cook for Friends and Family?
Ohhh this is such a hard question! But I do love to cook a holiday meal for family and friends.
Having everyone arrive and serving a charcuterie board. Then a full meal of turkey, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, gravy – then of course, a simple dessert. I love the whole experience of a holiday meal!
11. What is Your Favorite Ingredient to Work With and Why?
I love to work with fresh berries! What makes them so special is their versatility since you can make both sweet AND savoury recipes with them!
12. How Do You Plan and Organize Your Content, and What Tools Do You Use to Stay on Track?
I use Asana! It’s wonderful for keeping track of all of my projects from my own blog to my client work.
Then for planning and organizing my online content, I use Later for social media planning; Splice for editing videos; Lightroom for editing photos; and Google Drive to keep all of my work organized.
13. Can You Share Any Favorite Childhood Food Memories That Have Influenced Your Cooking?
I loved Christmas dinner growing up; it evolved as I got older in terms of where it was or who it was with but there was always something magical about that meal.
14. What Do You Hope People Take Away From Your Blog, and How Do You Want to Inspire Them in the Kitchen?
I hope that people find simple, seasonal recipes that taste good. That make it easier to get together with your friends. That help you spend less time in the kitchen and more time eating.
15. Can you talk about your experience with food photography and how you developed your skills?
I’ve been a food photographer for 5 years now and the most impactful course I took to help elevate my skills was Foodtography School. That course gave me the foundation to build upon and development my skills moving forward.
Additionally, I always try to challenge myself once and a while, photographing and styling in different ways to keep things fresh.
Cooking in My Genes offers a heartwarming and flavorful experience for food enthusiasts and home cooks alike. By combining cherished family recipes with a modern understanding of nutrition, Jess has created a food blog that is both engaging and informative.
The blog not only provides an array of delicious dishes but also serves as a reminder of the power of family traditions and their long-lasting impact on our lives. It is an invitation to rediscover the joy of cooking and the bonds that can be formed around the dinner table.
We want to thank Jess for taking her valuable time to share her culinary expertise with us in this exclusive interview. Her passion for cooking, unique approach to ingredients, and insider tips have truly inspired us to try new things in the kitchen, and we’re sure our readers feel the same.
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