Jules has had an interesting life, with three major careers focussed around food. From her early days as a food scientist helping Arnott’s to find the perfect chocolate for their Tim Tams, to making wine in California and now her new career as a full time food blogger and author: you’d think Jules has had a bit of a charmed life when it comes to dream foodie jobs. We’d almost be jealous, but the fact is Jules is one of the most humble and delightful people you will ever meet and you cannot help but feel happy for her. We wanted to find out more about her transition between these careers so sat down over lunch and had a chat.
I grew up in Gunning, a small town near Canberra, where my Mum cooked lovely rustic country food. It wasn’t until I went to boarding school that I realised how flavoursome her food was. The food at boarding school was terrible and made me really appreciate my Mum’s cooking.
During my school years I thought about becoming a chef, because I thought I’d have access to good food. I also considered wine making but didn’t want to live in Wagga or Adelaide which were the only two places offering the course. So I became a food scientist: a merge between my favourite subject of science and my love of food.
After graduating I worked at Kellogg’s for a number of years and eventually got pulled back to the idea of wine making. When Charles Sturt opened their correspondence course I did a few subjects and really loved it. I continued to work as a food scientist and studied at the same time. I then worked for a vintage in the Hunter Valley for small winery, Margans, and they were quite innovative which was great. Even though it was hard work I stuck at it and then went and worked in California for five years. I really liked the idea of being a wine maker but I eventually realised that the thing I enjoyed most about wine was drinking it!
I then went back to being a food scientist, working for Arnott’s specifically on Tim Tam innovation. My job was working with chocolate and on a normal day I could be in the factory, trying out new things, running a production trial of a new product, or conducting meetings and tastings with the marketing team. Some days it could be 8am and everyone would have to sit around the table tasting different chocolates to find the best one for a new product!
In 2004 I read a Good Living article about food blogs and wondered what they were all about. So I started reading food blogs and after about four months I thought “I could do this!” and that’s when Stonesoup started. I knew I was interested in food writing and photography and so it began as a creative outlet, a place for me to practice my writing and become better at photography. I read that the best way to learn anything was to commit to doing something so I made myself commit to doing it for a few months and found that I really enjoyed it. It was also a great record of all the things that I would cook and was really useful when a friend asked for a recipe for something I had cooked them.
In 2008 I decided to write a cook book about my mum’s recipes, as a gift for my family. I took two weeks off work over Christmas and I was at home cooking, writing, and taking photos every day. I loved it: it felt so fun and natural and I wondered how I could do it every day. I contacted a friend who is a business coach and asked for some help. I wanted a career change and asked if she could help me. We started to set goals and structured my thinking about what I needed to do to make the change. That was early 2009 and the goal was to make the transition in 2010.
I did a blogging course last year with Leo at Zen Habits. I’ve always had a minimalist ethic when it comes to design but hadn’t really translated that concept in to my life. So I started following some minimalist bloggers and it really resonated with me. I started sorting through my things, giving things to charity - that was about August.
In January 2010 I realised my dream of becoming a full time blogger. Part of the way I achieved that was realising that as a minimalist I didn’t need so much money to live on and knew I could make the transition to full time blogging without needing to earn heaps. I also started to apply minimalist concepts to Stonesoup. Whilst in the past I might have cooked big fancy meals and shown the recipe I realised it wasn’t particularly helpful for people who just wanted to cook a regular meal.
Now I focus on helping people by creating recipes that they can use when they want to make something quick. I have a series of 5 ingredients, 10 minutes recipes and this will form the basis of my new e-book which will launch in October.
I’ve also just launched the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School which is focussed on helping people to become better home cooks using the stonesoup minimalist approach to cooking and focusing on bringing back the joy of cooking.
If you would like to sign up for Jules’ Virtual Cookery School or buy one her e-books, click here.
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