Name: Philip Lago and Mystique Mattai
Blog name and URL: Chef Sous Chef
Where were you born? Both of us were born in Ontario – Philip in Elora and Mystique from Toronto. Small town boy + city girl.
Where are you living now? Toronto, in a cozy condo by Lake Ontario.
How did you decide on your blog name?
Cooking together has always been a constant throughout our relationship. While Phil manned the knife work, Mystique instantly became designated stirrer or kitchen assistant to Phil. In Phil’s vows, he listed all the things that Mystique was to him, his friend, his heart, his sous chef. It was the perfect way to describe our cooking relationship. And so, Phil became honourary Chef in our kitchen and Mystique his Sous Chef. Together, we’re Chef Sous Chef – and you can’t have one without the other.
Why did you start your blog?
About two weeks after we got married, we found ourselves restless and yearning for our next big project. We have previously chatted about opening a catering business together, but found ourselves drawn to the branding and styling of planning a wedding. We decided to harness our hunger for creativity and fun in the kitchen by starting our own food blog starring the daily adventures of us.
What do you blog about?
Real food recipes, food adventures and living a healthy lifestyle through food knowledge and eating well.
Is your blog your business, your hobby or something in between?
It started as a hobby but it’s grown into our side business, or our side hustle as we call it.
What post on your blog most encapsulates you and why?
Our How to Craft a Mezze Board post. It’s a simple how to on pulling together a board inspired by the Mediterranean. The platter is plentiful, it embraces different cultures, and shows a variety of techniques from making your own hummus and tabouleh to grilling vegetables to mapping out the board, styling, plating and even choosing the right accompaniment. It is the right balance of food, drink, lifestyle, design and tutorial.
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
Definitely our recent Spiked Coffee Chocolate Coconut Custard recipe. We released this dairy and gluten free recipe just in time for the holiday, and thought it would make the perfect addition to any menu during the season. We keep a visual in our heads of all the recipes we’re including in our own cookbook, when the time comes. This custard is 100% making an appearance – silky, creamy, rich and decadent with 100% real, pronounceable, unprocessed ingredients.
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
We dabble with the Whole30 program every once in a while, and during one of our endeavors we made Whole30 gnocchi. Whole30 as you may know, has a term called sex with your pants on, which means if you eat substitution foods you’ll eventually want to eat the real thing. Our Sex With Your Pants on Gnocchi continues to be a success. Although, we’re not sure if it’s popularity is from Whole30-ers or seedy search engine results – we’ll let you be the judge.
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
Having not enough hours in the day. Like most bloggers, we both have full-time jobs and spend majority of our weeknights and weekends cooking, testing, cooking more, styling, photographing, and blogging. And don’t even get us started on shooting in natural light before the sun goes down.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a blogger?
Staying true to your brand, trusting your values and never comprising the relationship you’ve built with your audience and followers.
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
Tara O’Brady from Seven Spoons. We particularly love how she started her blog cooking for her then boyfriend, who is now her husband. Tara’s writing in particular mesmerizes us. She harmonizes food and writes through her relationships, through family memories and everyday moments as though you were conversing with a friend.
It’s a daily ritual of ours watching the adventures of Joy, Walker and Vienna of Joyous Health. Joy’s energy, her vibrant and fun videos and her authenticity (her weakness for pastries) make her blog one of our favourites. Plus, could she be any more adorable?
Favourite food – care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
Meatballs. There is nothing more satisfying than sitting down with a bowl of meatballs, served with a baguette, mozzarella and a glass of wine. It’s the perfect dish for any meal of the day.
What are you working on next for your blog?
Videos. Getting in front of the camera, live cooking and tutorials, and sharing our recipes through a new visual platform. YouTube, here we come!
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
We’re both HUGE Raptors fans. When we’re not in the Kitchen you can find us at the Air Canada Center or parked in front of our couch with the Toronto Raptors! Ps. #letsgoraptors
What makes your blog unique?
Flat lays. Before we capture a recipe, we lay out all the ingredients on our white table, create a mis-en-place through styling and take an aerial photograph. Every Sunday on our social media channels, we share the ingredient flat lay and ask our followers to guess what we’re making with our mystery box ingredients. This ingredient flat lay shot has become our signature way of presenting ingredients in a recipe and will continue to be that Chef Sous Chef stamp on our blog.
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
We really love the Featured Blog section. It’s always interesting to learn what others in the food blogging space are doing, specializing in and ways they are making an impact in the food landscape.
Follow Philip and Mystique, aka Chef Sous Chef, on Social Media.