Baker, Blogger, Blue Demon
June 14, 2012
Tim Mazurek spends his days advising DePaul students and his weekends sifting, stirring and advising food lovers on his award-winning food blog. Mazurek, an academic advisor in the Office of Academic Advising Support, writes the acclaimed blog Lottie + Doof, which was recently selected as 2012's Best Cooking Blog by Saveur.com.
“I had this idea that I would start a food blog because it would encourage me to cook and photograph food and be creative,” says Mazurek, who began doing serious work in the kitchen around age 10. Though his family made it a point to try different restaurants, Mazurek’s blog focuses on the joys of cooking at home.
“I like going out to eat as much as anyone,” he says, “but I didn’t like the idea of ruining that experience with a camera and being critical about it. I like going out to a restaurant to be entertained and to hang out with friends and to have a nice meal. Also, part of my mission is that I really like home cooking and I want to encourage people to cook at home instead of going out. That is a good thing to me.”
Like most start-up blogs, Lottie + Doof (Mazurek’s grandmother’s name combined with “food” spelled backward) began with a modest readership. By the third year, readership had taken off and was catching the eye of the food world. While he chose not to place ads on his site, Mazurek began to profit from freelance writing and food photography jobs for such outlets as Time Out Chicago, Chicago Magazine, BonAppétit.com, O Magazine and ReadyMade Magazine.
Mazurek’s blog gained more acclaim when chosen as a finalist for best cooking blog of 2012 by Saveur.
“They open up the competition to nominations, so anyone can nominate a blog,” he says. In fact Saveur received 40,000 nominations, which editors whittled down to six finalists Saveur described as “a vital part of not only the Internet, but of food journalism overall.” After a round of public voting, Lottie + Doof was chosen as the winner.
“I did not expect to win this,” Mazurek says. “There were blogs nominated that had much bigger readership. I was totally surprised.”
Cooking as art
As one can surmise from the blog, Mazurek is interested in larger-scale cooking projects.
“I’m not so interested in weeknight dinners and what to cook after work,” he notes. “I feel like we all know how to roast a chicken. I’m more interested in when you want to celebrate something or impress someone. I’m interested in the project, whether it’s making a cake or jam or pickles.”
Mazurek buys as many of his ingredients as possible at local farmers’ markets and advises starting one of his blog’s recipes – such as mac + cheese (Lottie + Doof style), zucchini pickles or rhubarb and raspberry crostata – when you have plenty of free time.
“I think you need to be strategic when you choose to cook,” he says. “I never choose to tackle a recipe on a Wednesday night. I save it for a Sunday afternoon when I can chill out and enjoy it. Part of it is finding out what cooking means for you. I find that it is empowering to be able to make something that you enjoy eating, and it’s also nice to share it with someone. To have friends over to eat the pizza that you made is a very positive experience all around.”
On the job
Despite his success, Mazurek does not currently have plans to become a full-time food writer.
“I’m pretty comfortable with having two career paths,” he says. “I like my work in higher ed and I like the role Lottie + Doof plays in my life right now.”
However, the site has allowed him to freelance, try new recipes, connect to local food makers and meet some of his own food idols such as Dorie Greenspan, a renowned a baker, cookbook writer and chef who connected to Mazurek through his blog.
“For now I’m really satisfied,” he says. “To take this thing which was just me alone in my kitchen and to have it recognized and to get work from it – that has been awesome.”