Matt Armendariz is a graphic designer, photographer, foodie and blogger. His popular blog MattBites is where Matt corrals all of these things into a highly engaging, fun and food-centric world. Whether Matt is defending food stylists, traveling the world or participating in a mall survey at home in Los Angeles his blog is addictive and fun. Check it out!
MattBites started as a way for you to share your experiences with the people and places behind your food photographs. Your blog has evolved to really be a personal account of your work — you obviously love your job, but how would you describe your passions and how do you stay inspired to blog?
I think my passion is to create and to use creativity as self-expression. I’m equally happy playing the piano, making photographs, graphic design, writing, cooking, you name it. I’m passionate about translating ideas from within and seeing how they manifest themselves. As far as staying inspired to blog, well, it can be a full time job at times, but again, it’s a way of sharing and expressing myself but is met in a way that comes back to me via relationships, new friends and experiences. It gives me so much pleasure!
You are a skilled designer, photographer and cook — what excites you the most in your worklife? How does that translate to the blog?
Oh, did I jump the gun and answer this above? Oops! To say “variety is the spice of life” is an understatement! I love the fact that my day to day changes, depending on the duties required of me. What excites me most in my worklife is the ability to juggle many creative processes as things never truly get old. I love writing, creating an image to support a story, and then weaving them all together through graphic design. The blog was a perfect storm for me as it was a place to put all those skills under one roof. I don’t know what I would have done without blogging!
What are your favorite kinds of foods/recipes to photograph? Do you prefer simple ingredients or elaborate recipes?
I have a weakness for ethnic cuisine and love photographing it – the variety of ingredients, styles, the manner in which it’s eaten and the cultural context of it all. Every image is a learning experience for me. And while I prefer simple ingredients you cannot ignore the recipes that take hours or days to develop; those are always a creative challenge but I’m up for it!
What do you consider your most successful recipe published on MattBites? Do you have a favorite photo?
I’d say anything sweet usually gets attention with plenty of traffic. People are crazy about sugar! As in they go nuts! But when I wrote about alfajores a few years ago it was enough to catch the attention of editors at Martha Stewart Living which landed me an appearance on her show. And yes, I still make them, albeit not as traditional as you’d find in South America.
As far as favorite photo, not really. I’m not particularly romantic about the images I create. I feel as if they could always be better and feel sheepish even talking about them! Besides, it’s the talents of my amazing partner, a food and prop stylist, who make the images what they are! His site is www.adamcpearson.com.
What are your favorite tools for cooking?
I’m a lover of citrus so I keep a few zesters on hand; I love the brightness freshly grated zest brings to dishes. And a few good knives and some chopsticks are all I need for everyday cooking!
What are your favorite tools for blogging?
I think it changes so regularly, thanks to advances in technology. But independent of those, I think the skills that are important for blogging involve dedication, restraints and diligence!
Surprising Post: Could you give an example of a MattBites post that surprised you — either by being crazy-popular, crazy polarizing or surprisingly lame?
Well most of my posts are very lame, sorry to say. But when I wrote about “Anything Inside A Tortilla”. I wasn’t expecting it to resonate or get so much attention. It’s still written about, referenced, and even became a news segment on a television program as they created their own combinations based on my blog post. Truly funny.
I really try my best not to polarize. There are plenty of other moments where life creates tension, I do my best to keep my happy place on the internet just that: a place where we can have a good time.
One of the exciting things about blogging is getting reader feedback in the form of comments and email — do you have a favorite example of some of the feedback you receive?
I’m always so touched when readers write to me about something I’ve covered that resonates with them or touches on their personal experiences. It could be a small town, a certain ingredient, or even seeing someone in a photo. Highlights are the times I’ve photographed someone while traveling only to have their parents email me and say “Hey, what a beautiful photograph of my daughter!”
A few years ago I was invited by the United States Army to travel to Virginia and photograph and cover their culinary competition, something that’s gone on for over 25 years but only recently open to the public. I photographed a young soldier as his team cooked a challenge and I posted it. Later I heard from his mother across the country who hasn’t had the opportunity to see her son in many many months. To know she was a regular reader was amazing but what was even more amazing? That I was able to make a connection and show her that her son was great, doing well, and really kicking some culinary ass. I love those moments!
What are your favorite sources of inspiration? Blogs, books, artists, etc.
I am a devout magazine reader, catalog junkie, consumer of media. I have an RSS feed that’s a mile long. It’s much too difficult to list exact sources but they can be from anywhere: design blogs, interior sites, cookbooks, hardware stores, books, writers, you name it!
Of course I think my biggest source of inspiration comes from traveling. I do quite a bit of it and it encompasses every sense we have. I find that I’m inspired on every level after traveling.
Dream Project: Is there a cooking or blogging project you want to attempt but continue to put off?
No, not really. I’m so fortunate to work on such amazing assignments that I kind of just go with the flow and enjoy seeing what’s happening next. I’d love to write a book on traveling and my favorite recipes and meals someday but I’m not sure how I’ll fit that in. I suppose I should make time for something like that! As far as cooking project I’d like to get in the kitchen again and try making Mexican mole from scratch; it’s been hard even finding two consecutive days at home where I can do the entire process from beginning to end.
You shared a favorite cookie recipe with west elm (coming soon!) — are there any other favorites we should know about?
I can’t say I’ll ever have a favorite recipe! I love food so much and find such worthwhile pleasure in the whole gamut of flavors and styles of cooking. It’s quite difficult to even find a particular style of cooking I like. I tend to like them all so it’s hard to play favorites
You can see updates from Matt on MattBites.com
Images: Matt Armendariz