Even though my “culinary” capabilities are limited to microwaving frozen things and boiling water (on a good day), I have always been an intense appreciator of eating/looking at/Instagramming #foodporn…and I find myself constantly amazed at the edible masterpieces that come out of some people’s kitchens. While this could be because I am constantly hungry, I think it has more to do with the fact that cooking is truly an ~art~ that requires a certain intuition – and since I don’t possess this intuition, I am all the more impressed by those who do.
Enter Romilly Newman: A 16 year old culinary prodigy who has already set the taste buds of people thrice+ her age on fire. Inspired by the Food Network, Romilly started a blog called Little Girl In The Kitchen in 2009 – documenting her journey into the world of creating ~culinary masterpieces~. Now, 5 years later, she’s come into her own – still influenced by seasoned chefs, but garnering her own following of international readers with ravenous appetites.
So whether she’s serving up a spiced apple crumble or kale aux lardons, her tagline of “teenage girl, adult food” rings true. And with that said, Romilly Newman – I love you. #poetry
PS: The next time your batch of biscuits doesn’t work out…I’ll take them.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Romilly Newman, I’m 16 year old teen chef and food blogger.
Why did you decide to channel your love of cooking into an online endeavor? Was there a specific “eureka” moment when you decided to start writing a blog?
I always loved food, but it wasn’t until I started to play around in the kitchen that I discovered my true calling. I first learned how to cook by watching the Food Network and reading various cookbooks and magazines. I realized that I what I really wanted to do was write and talk about food and share my opinions and ideas about cooking with a larger audience. I became obsessed by the culinary world and I wanted to share everything I was doing with anyone who would listen. Blogging seemed to be the easiest way for me to get my voice out there, and I found it to be really helpful at such a young age to be able to write about what I was cooking and to treat it as a diary of sorts for anything relating to the food world.
You were the youngest contestant to ever compete on Chopped. Can you tell us something interesting about your episode?
I had so much fun! I knew going in that I would get much more out of the experience if I didn’t care as much about the final outcome and just let myself take in the experience. I like to take my time when I cook so it was definitely a challenge, but I really enjoyed being able to participate. I had been a fan of the show forever!
What do you consider your biggest success in the kitchen, and what do you consider your biggest failure?
I find that most of my biggest culinary successes have been when I was least expecting it. Oftentimes I’ll pick up a few unassuming elements and just play around with different flavors and textures and be utterly blown away by the result. For me, that’s one of the most exciting things about cooking – the ability to experiment around and express yourself creatively. I’m far from an accomplished baker and I’ve had too many baking disasters to count. Currently, I’ve been really stumped by biscuits. I’ve probably made 10 batches of biscuits in the past 3 months, I just can’t get it right!
What is your favourite dish to make and why?
I don’t think I can choose just one dish. However, I’ve always loved to cook Moroccan and Middle Eastern dishes. The flavors and colors are so vibrant – I love all of the spices and herbs they use and the way they incorporate both sweet and savory elements in the majority of their dishes.
What are your 3 favourite ingredients to cook with?
That’s difficult, but I definitely can’t cook without good olive oil, maldon sea salt and lemon.
You talk a lot about Julia Child. Do you have a modern-day female chef you look up to?
So many! Alice Waters, Gabrielle Hamilton and Christina Tosi, just to name a few.
You’ve appeared on CBS’s’ The Early Show and contribute for Zooey Deschanel’s blog Hello Giggles; both extremely impressive accomplishments for someone your age. What do you consider your first “big break”?
Being on The CBS Early Show was definitely my first “big break” because it attracted a massive amount of readers for my blog and helped get my name out there for the first time.
What is the best thing about cooking to you?
Cooking for me is the easiest form of self expression. I’m constantly inspired by elements, chefs and different cultures of food. In the kitchen cooking is where I’m most comfortable. I discovered my love for cooking at such a young age that I’ve really grown up with it and as I mature and get older, I find my passion, skills and understanding of food and ingredients does too.
You’ve studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris as well as at schools in Morocco and Ireland. Is this something you see yourself pursuing for the rest of your life?
Yes! I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to participate in such amazing cooking courses and to explore other countries culinary rituals and techniques. I love being able to learn from other chefs and see how they work and incorporate their countries culinary style into their cooking. I’ve definitely picked up a lot from my experiences in all of those places and hope I’ll be able to continue to.
Besides the food, what was your favourite part of Paris?
I was extremely lucky to have been able to spend a year living there and there are so many parts of Paris that I hold very dear to me now. The best part for me was being able to wander around and discover the city for myself. It’s not a bad place to get lost in and it was nice to be able to call myself a local.
What is your go-to girl power anthem?
‘Shake It Out’ by Florence + The Machine and anything by Elle King.
Where do you foresee yourself in the future – New York City or elsewhere?
I’ve lived in New York my whole life and I really love everything about it, especially the food scene here. I definitely think I’ll move around and try to immerse myself in different culinary cultures, but I know I’ll always end up back in New York.
What motivates you to keep learning and growing within the culinary field?
My love for food and sharing it with others.
Do you have any advice for young people wishing to pursue fields that often measure “success” and credibility in terms of age?
I think that now with the whole blogging culture it’s much easier to get your ideas out there no matter how old or qualified you are. If you’re passionate and willing, you’ll be able to get somewhere in whatever you’re trying to pursue. Being young is a mixed blessing – you just really have to put the work in and really care about what you’re doing. You can’t look for instant success or expect things to fall in your lap because because when you’re young, you have to work extra hard to prove that you have something special to say and contribute.