Dee de los Santos is a freelance PR professional and social media specialist working in the food and beverage and entertainment industry. She works alongside local restaurants and brands that in the past, included Mad Men and Canadian Club. Dee is the owner and chief editor of Gastrofork.ca which has been featured in Eat In Eat Out Magazine, is a notable blog on Urbanspoon, a nominee for a 2013 Ninjamatics Canadian Weblog Awards and was named Top 100 Food Blogs to Follow in 2013. She films the CookShow! - Gastrofork's Youtube channel that features simple video tutorials. She has also released a cookbook with her father, Filipino Cooking Made Easy.
When did you realize you liked cooking and what made you start your blog, Gastrofork?
I came to fully enjoy cooking most recently because of two reasons. Firstly, I got married and as much as going out to eat is fun, sometimes a dinner at home is just as great (no loud atmosphere and no bill to pay at the end!). And secondly, I would go to restaurants and think to myself that I could make certain dishes at home. I'd take it as a challenge to try and learn how to make the dishes I admired. Obviously not as delicious as the real deal, but it's a great learning experience!
I started my blog Gastrofork a couple years ago because there were so many places I loved that didn't have many reviews online and I wanted to share my experiences with other people. Also, at the time I was learning how to cook more complex things so I thought it would be a great idea to show others that everyone starts from somewhere and you just have to keep practicing and trying new recipes to get better at cooking!
When I have an amazing experience in a restaurant, I almost want to try and duplicate it at home. Every time I learn something new at a restaurant, I keep it in mind when I'm cooking like how to present a dish or what flavours pair well with different items. My dad, who also contributes to the website is my biggest inspiration. I always watched him cook from when I was little up until now. I think I'd like to get to a point where I can just throw in different things without measuring like he does and make consistently delicious meals.
Are there particular chefs that you admire? If so, why?
This is a tough question! I haven't met a chef yet that hasn't been incredibly passionate about their work so it's hard to pick a couple. On a local level, there are so many chefs that I admire (Chef David Hawksworth and Chef Ned Bell come to mind!). I'm going to say my most recent discovery was Chef Thomas Heinrich (Grain Bar & Mosaic Grille). His dishes are a delight for all the senses. They are visually stunning pieces with flavours that are world class, high end but fun. Yet, like most chefs, he's very down to earth, friendly and easy to talk to! I think he's inspired me to step up my game in the kitchen! There are so many chefs that are so talented right here in Vancouver, we are so lucky.
Why do you think the Epicurious Community Table is helpful for other members?
One of the reasons I joined the Epicurious Community Table is because of the diversity of the recipes/entertaining ideas and the talent in the community. The recipes and suggestions are real and made by people who may not have taken classes in food photography or cooking, but enjoy cooking or entertaining.
How did you discover the Epicurious Community and what made you sign up?
I'm a big fan of Bon Appetit magazine and I found Epicurious (and then the Community Table) through there. The reason I signed up was to see what other people were cooking and to share my recipes and ideas as well!
Do you have any favorite food bloggers? If so, who?
Another tough question! We are lucky to have such a vibrant and great community of food bloggers here in Vancouver, we all know each other and I read and keep up with a lot of the bloggers here. If I had to choose a couple, I would have to say the two I admire the most are Mijune (FollowMeFoodie) and Melody (GourmetFury). Mijune is so incredibly detailed in her reviews and gives great, specific tips to improve. I admire and appreciate her honesty and her hard work in every review she posts. Melody of Gourmet Fury has impeccable taste and knows her cocktails and recipes. She also has a great eye for photography and isn't afraid to say what's on her mind which I respect and love about her. The both of them convey passion and knowledge in what they do and it is really refreshing.
I have to ask--what's your personal favorite dish?
My favourite dish right now is not really a dish but more of a side. It's something my dad taught me how to make and there really isn't a particular name for it but we call it the Cilantro Salsa. Its four ingredients: a bunch of cilantro, a small onion and a small tomato chopped with a couple shakes of fish sauce. But it is SO amazing with any meat/protein dish - especially barbecue which is perfect for the summer. If you're a big fan of cilantro, you will love this side dish! I could eat this dish by itself, all day.