Sites We Love: Pantry Confidential

Gorgeous photos? Check. Engaging writing? Check. Seriously inspiring recipes, tips, and culinary curiosity? Check, check, and check. The best food blogs all seem to have a lot in common — but what separates them out are the strong personalities behind them. In our Sites We Love series, we sit down with some of our favorite bloggers to find out how they do it — and why it’s as much fun for them as it is for us.

Today's site we love is Pantry Confidential, where New York-based bloggers Hana and Christine go behind the scenes to document the kitchens, cabinets, and cooking styles of food industry professionals (and their amateur counterparts). From nutritionists and chefs, to magazine editors and freelance journalists, each profile brings readers a delicious recipe and a unique perspective into the private worlds of individuals working with food. Here's what Hana and Christine have to say about their site:

Blog has been live since: November 2011

Posting rate: We aim to post twice a month, on average.

Geographic location: New York, NY

Why is the site called Pantry Confidential? We wanted to capture food lovers in their own homes, showcasing the very real ways they cook, eat and entertain. As lovers of food, blogs and good photography, we thought we could create a nice home on the web to do just this. Who doesn't want to know what other people's kitchens look like and what kind of goodies are in their cabinets?

What's been your most popular post? Our very first post! We featured our friend, Chef Instructor Robynne Maii, and it must have really struck a chord because people couldn't get enough of her highly organized spice bins.


Credit: Christine Han

What's your favorite post? Each shoot is so special in its own way, but we'd probably choose Shino's as the most unique. Shooting her kitchen really opened our eyes to the importance of aesthetics, as it perfectly combined Shino's beautiful food and handmade ceramics. It was a wonderment to discover that she eats like that everyday—that aesthetics is not just an afterthought but an integral part of her process, that she often picks her plates before choosing what to cook.

What's something great that you've learned or that's happened to you since starting your blog? HANA: We are constantly surprised by the generosity and hospitality of people (especially those who barely know us). Total cliche, but it's amazing how much closer food can bring us together. Every shoot also presents a new lesson for us, whether it's discovering the tastiest farmer's market eggs or finding the best peeler, it's been a ball so far! CHRISTINE: Agreed. I always say the best part of our project is making new friends I wouldn't have met otherwise. Also, constantly shooting has made me better, faster and more precise as a photographer. I no longer get sweaty shooting 30 views of the same bunch of asparagus. I merely perspire lightly while getting the four shots I know will be good. Lastly, I finally came across a simple lentil recipe I really like, thanks to one of our profilees! It may not sound like a big deal, but I'd been on the hunt for a long time.

What's the usual process for developing one of your posts? HANA: We try to tailor our questions to each pantry and let those answers guide our shoot. The shoots themselves take a few hours, mostly because we end up having a lot of fun and hanging out longer than we need to. Afterwards, Christine goes through and edits her shots while I work on piecing together the responses. CHRISTINE: I take a few standard shots for each profile, but mostly I let each one unfold naturally. I trust that what I'm drawn to is what I should shoot.


Credit: Christine Han

What are your favorite ingredients and tools? HANA: Some favorite ingredients: eggs, soy sauce, avocados, pretty salt. As for tools, I love rubber-tipped tongs, my salad spinner and my trusty Lock & Locks (so Korean!). CHRISTINE: I always have pancetta, eggs, lemons, and Parmigiano Reggiano in my fridge. As for tools, tongs are awesome (I used to preach about their handiness, to my husband's chagrin) and I love my Dutch oven. Also, I recently got a spoon rest, something I deemed unnecessary until I discovered how nice it is to have a dedicated dish-thing just to rest your drippy spoon on while you're cooking.

What are your favorite food and cooking resources? HANA:: Saveur, Bon Appetit, Martha Stewart, Jamie Oliver, Donna Hay. If I'm able to make it out to NJ, I love shopping at the Japanese chain marketplace Mitsuwa and have a weakness for any foreign food programming that takes you behind the scenes of great eateries. CHRISTINE: Saveur, hands down, is my favorite for photography, stories and recipes. I also love Martha Stewart and Ina Garten. They have solid recipes and techniques for most things you'll want to make. And Maangchi always makes me laugh — she's great for quick, accessible Korean food.

What photography equipment do you use? CHRISTINE: My main squeeze is the Canon 5D with a variety of lenses. Mostly I use the 50 1.4 lens and 50 2.5 macro lens in available light. But my true love is film and I've whipped out my Contax 645 on many of our shoots.


Credit: Christine Han

Where else can we find your work? We're on Facebook and Twitter, and you can also find us on our respective personal sites, style fare and Christine Han Photography.

What food blogs do you follow? HANA: It's hard to keep up with so many great sites, but here are just some favorites: Spoon Fork Bacon, What Katie Ate, David Lebovitz, Maangchi, Cooking with Dog. CHRISTINE: Orangette--not only is she a clever writer, but she's a fellow film-shooter. Milk & Mode, for her simple recipes that never fail to make me think, "I can do that!" La Buena Vida, for her take on food and life—I discovered her only recently but feel like she's a kindred spirit.

Do you know a blog or blogger who deserves to be featured in this space? Email a nomination — including a link to the site and a few sentences on why they're worthy of love —

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