Name: Joyce Lee
Blog Name: Pups with Chopsticks
Where were you born? Toronto, Ontario
Where are you living now? Kitchener, Ontario
Why did you start your blog?
When I was working a corporate job, I had no creative outlet and being a creative person I desperately needed one and it drove me insane. Since I love eating and cooking I combined my love with a food blog which allowed me to dabble in food styling and photography as my creative outlet. At the time, I toyed around with the idea of quitting my job to focus solely on something like a food blog, I eventually took the risk and did it and that’s how Pups with Chopsticks was started!
How did you decide on your blog name?
This was a tough one. I think I spent like months on it changing it every few days! Finally I thought to myself, what do I love most? The answers were right in front of me, my two pups staring at me while I was eating a hunk of steak with chopsticks. I swear I eat everything with chopsticks, well maybe not ice cream...
What do you blog about?
I mostly blog about international flavours with a big focus on ingredients. I love traditional recipes and recreating them at home but I also blog and encourage people to play with different flavours to create fusion food as well.
One of the most overwhelming things about cooking with new ingredients is shopping for them - especially foreign ingredients when they can sometimes be in a different language and you can’t always understand the labels haha! :). How do you know you’re picking a good ingredient? How do you store it? And if you have never used it how does it taste and can you use it on something else other than this one recipe? I like to focus on things like that on my blog. 🙂
Is your blog your business, your hobby or something in between?
My blog is something in between both a hobby and business to me. A business because I dedicate all my time to it, learning the in’s and outs and it is my sole source of income. It is also my hobby because I love doing it. Everytime I go out to eat, get inspired from a conversation, a book or a menu, I can’t help but think of ways to how to share this with everyone out there to enjoy as well. I have a lot of fun with it!
What post on your blog most encapsulates you and why?
I’d say my Beef and Onion Soy Sauce Noodles post most encapsulates me. I am all about comfort and being cozy and this recipe is pure cozy to me, partially because it’s my dad’s recipe and it was something that he made for me as a kid. It would always remind me of nights hanging out with the family with Star Trek on the TV with a bowl of his noodles on my lap. As an adult, I love how simple it is with so much going on at the same time.
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
Definitely my Lao Crispy Rice Salad (Nam Khao) recipe. Laotian food needs more exposure and dare I say is hidden in the shadows of Thai food. Their foods are SO flavourful and there are so many ways to experiment with it to enjoy it! The texture of this recipe is really what makes it shine. It’s crispy and chewy (I switched up the traditional way of using jasmine rice to a sticky rice for the chewiness) and the flavours are also so fresh from all the vegetables!
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
My Sweet and Sticky Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu) recipe definitely surprised me. There are a gazillion chinese bbq pork recipes out there so I didn’t think anyone would even find mine. I created this recipe because this is my go-to recipe to make bbq pork and I have really crappy memory and needed to document it. 😛 I am very happy to have been able to share it with everyone to enjoy!
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
Not burning myself out. There’s a lot to do as a blogger. Most bloggers are usually a one-man team that needs to worry about: content creation, photography, marketing, technical support - That’s a lot for one person! So it’s easy to forget to give myself breaks. I recently took a step back and started to finally slow down to give myself breathers and I’m quite pleasantly surprised! The breathers actually give me more inspirations!
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a blogger?
To be patient. Everything takes time and doesn’t happen overnight. Most importantly I learned that you should never compare yourself to others and just focus on what you are creating. Every blogger goes through different journeys to get where they are and what works for them might not work for you. Besides, all bloggers are going through or been through similar growing pains at some point, so I see them as siblings instead of rivalries and always cheer them on. 🙂
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
There are so many! But my absolute faves are:
- Serious Eats - I love learning about the science of food and the testing and experiments are pretty awesome.
- i am a food blog - A fellow Canadian blogger! Steph’s recipes are so comforting. Everything I love to eat! (and her photos are amazing!)
- lady and pups - Mandy has really cool recipes with traditional asian foods with really amazing flavour twists, oh and her photos are beautiful. She’s raw and very real and I love that.
- two red bowls - Cynthia has amazing food photos and I love reading through her blog. Her stories are written so well that I feel like I’m right there with her for the ride. (and she’s REALLY SUPER DUPER nice. :))
Favourite food - care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
Nam Khao (Lao Crispy Rice Salad) is definitely my favourite food. I first had a taste of it at a small cozy restaurant called Lao Haus in Stratford, Ontario. If you ever go to Stratford, eat there, seriously. Everything is made fresh from scratch and the flavours are insane. The owners are super friendly as well. They were what inspired me to create my Nam Khao recipe on my blog, since I couldn’t find this dish anywhere else around here!
What are you working on next for your blog?
I am thinking about starting up some comfort foods again with a twist so I’m playing around with new flavours in hopes to spark a few new things but I will most likely be sinking a lot of my time filling out my ‘Ingredients’ portion of the site to share my knowledge of international ingredients. 🙂
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
I’m a HUGE nerd. My favourite pastime is playing Magic: The Gathering. I actually get super excited when we visit our local board game store just so I can buy sleeves for my decks. I spend weekends just sorting through my Magic card collections as my ‘Me’ time. It’s odd but I find it very relaxing.
What makes your blog unique?
I have a big focus on ingredients on my blog. I want to help people discover new things or try to find substitutes if they can’t find the ingredients. Whenever I discover a new ingredient, I often find myself googling or asking people around me at a supermarket “How do I pick out a good <ingredient>?” or “How do I store this?” a lot. Everything I learn I find fascinating and want to share this knowledge with everyone! It’s also pretty cool when readers engage with me to teach me things as well.
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
Follow Pups With Chopsticks on Social Media