Amelia Morris is no stranger to cooking failures. Six years ago, she decided to make a beautiful chocolate cake from the cover of the December Issue of Bon Appétit magazine as the centerpiece of her Christmas brunch.
"We were so impressed we started taking photos, and then things started to slide. I just kept taking photos as the cake fell apart," she says. "From then on I was obsessed with the idea of comparing my version to the fancy magazine version." And that's how Morris' popular blog, Bon Appétempt, was born. "At first I was trying to make fun of food magazines, but about two years in, I realized the magazines weren't so horrible, because they were inspiring me."
Although Morris no longer sets out to mock the food elite, Bon Appétempt still presents a combination of ambitious dishes (a recent post covers making pizzelle from scratch, inspired by Morris' grandmother) and real-person humor and advice ("if you want to make a sh*t ton like Grandma, you should double this recipe").
In her new book, Bon Appétmpt: A Coming of Age Story (With Recipes!) Morris chronicles a life of attempts, in and out of the kitchen. "It's for anyone who's tried and failed," Morris says of her book, which she calls a memoir with recipes – not a cookbook. "When I think of a cookbook, I think the recipes come first and the story comes second. With a memoir, the story comes first."
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Having lived in L.A. for the past nine years, Morris' cooking style feels very Californian, drawing on seasonal produce and multicultural techniques (she lists Alice Waters' Art of Simple Food as one of her favorite cookbooks). "Since I started to like food while living in L.A., it definitely had an effect on me. I've been inspired by places like HK Market in Koreatown and avocados – endless avocados!" What's Morris eating now? "The Shrimp and Scallion Pancakes [from the book]. I have a 1-year-old and we're kind of in a food rut, which means pasta. The pancakes are very refreshing!"
Morris will discuss Bon Appetémpt on Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m. at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz. The first 20 people to arrive receive a free Bon Appetémpt tote bag! Morris says: "It's really cute!"