Meet Your Food Blogger: Amy T. Shuster of Backyard Bite
Amy T. Shuster Simple Things
SI: What neighborhood do you live in?
AS: I've been in West Hollywood for about four years. I love this area. It has such a diverse community and amazing restaurants in every direction within walking distance. This was how the name "Backyard Bite" came to mind. I would talk to my neighbors about a fantastic taco shop or burger place I discovered up the street and they would have no idea what I was talking about. I would say, "But it's right in your backyard, you could walk there!"
SI: What are some favorite local spots that you've blogged about?
AS: There are so many. Just to name a few: The Golden State for it's beer floats and burgers. Shaky Alibi has the best liege waffles. Sweet Lady Jane Bakery is a birthday tradition. Some others are Allora Cucina and Olio Pizzeria.
SI: How long have you lived in L.A.?
AS: I've lived here for almost eight years, in the Valley, Beverly Hills and Hancock Park. I moved for work and the weather, but the food is a huge bonus! Los Angeles is a melting pot of so many cultures and cuisines. Where else can you wait in line for pancakes for two hours (The Griddle), have amazing Taiwanese dumplings for lunch (Din Tai Fung Dumpling House) and authentic Salvadorean pupusas for dinner (Jaraguá)?
SI: Where are you from?
AS: I'm a Chicagoan. Midwestern comfort foods like Portillos hotdogs and deep-dish pizza were common growing up. I still smuggle back frozen deep dish from Lou Malnati's whenever I visit. I'm amazed at how the food scene has blown up there. I hope to take Backyard Bite on the road soon and do something like "Backyard Bite Does Chicago" or "Backyard Bites the Big Apple."
Amy T. Shuster Sweet Lady Jane
SI: What was your interest in food growing up?
AS: My grandma was always teaching me Puerto Rican dishes and how to experiment. I took those recipes with me to college and would use the dormitory ovens to cook and really stink up the place. Everyone knew when I was there because you could smell the salmon! I would get food from the school cafeteria, bring it to the dorm kitchens and make something better. I loved watching Jamie Oliver on The Naked Chef. He was an introduction to the food world for me. I probably paid more attention to the Food Network than I did my classes!
SI: Did you say Puerto Rican food? What is your ethnic background?
AS: I'm the best blend of Puerto Rican-German-Austrian-Russian (and quarter Jewish). I'm pretty sure I'm the only Puerto Rican girl who's food blogging about LA, though I do hope I'm wrong.
SI: Aside from food blogging, what do you do?
AS: I'm an actor. I've worked in various film industry fields, in front of and behind the camera. I've also worked in restaurants, catering, photography, art and graphic design. I write for blogs like Buy Local Market and do restaurant copywriting. I've recently begun making promotional videos for restaurants looking to increase their web presence.
SI: Can you recommend a few L.A. food blogs that you follow?
AS: Noms not Bombs, Gas•tron•o•my, The Minty, The UnVegan, The Gracious Pantry, Kahuna Of The Kitchen, and Marian The Foodie. I see the other bloggers not as competitors, but as peers. We share ideas, recipes, restaurant news and our love of food. It's a wonderful thing.
Amy T. Shuster Paper Or Plastik Cafe
Past "Meet Your Food Blogger" interviews:
Adam Roberts of The Amateur Gourmet (Jan. 9, 2012)
Billy Vasquez of The 99 Cent Chef (Dec. 30, 2011)
Javier Cabral of Teenage Glutster (Feb. 1, 2010)
Pat Saperstein of EatingLA (Dec.10, 2009)
Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites (Nov. 16, 2009)
Tony Chen of Sinosoul (Oct. 29, 2009)
Chris Bostick of The Varnish (Oct. 16, 2009)
Rickmond Wong of Rameniac (Oct. 8, 2009)
Jeni Afuso of Oishii Eats (Sep. 29, 2009)
Bill Esparza of Street Gourmet LA (Sep. 16, 2009)
Amanda Simpson of FoodPornDaily (Sep. 10, 2009)
Cathy Dahn of Gastronomy (Sep. 2, 2009)
Eddie Lin of Deep End Dining (Aug. 18, 2009)