For someone who describes herself as impatient, Elettra Wiedemann didn’t have to wait very long for her food blog to take off.
Within three weeks of launching Impatient Foodie in July 2014 — a side-hustle between modeling jobs — Wiedemann was fielding calls from a book agent. This week, she sees the release of her first cookbook, “Impatient Foodie: 100 Recipes for a Hectic, Time-Starved World” (Scribner, $29.99), which looks to translate the ideals of the slow food movement — organic, sustainable, freshly prepared meals — for busybodies.
“I never anticipated that I would ever work in food; it definitely is surprising to me that I have a cookbook. I’m very grateful,” Wiedemann said. “Sometimes those doors kind of open. You just have to walk through them without thinking about it, and that’s what I did.”
amNewYork caught up with Wiedemann, always a multi-tasker, while she walked her two dogs in her Fort Greene neighborhood.
Before Impatient Foodie, what was your involvement in the food scene?
I grew up a tomboy, I just really never cared what I ate; it was just not part of my thinking. I grew up eating pasta — I really loved pasta, still to this day. I started modeling when I was 19. That’s when I had to teach myself how to eat and cook differently in order to fit into sample sizes, which are tiny. That was my first step in my foodie journey, even though I didn’t know it at the time.
What was the initial idea for the site — where were you coming from with that?
I went to the London School of Economics for grad school, writing my dissertation about food systems and food politics. I came back to the United States feeling like I really understood how important my food choices were in connection to these larger issues I was concerned about [such as] workers’ rights and animal rights. I really tried hard to shop in a specific way, but I found often that the ideals of the slow food movement, as people call it, weren’t really compatible with the realities of urban life, especially hectic urban life. I launched Impatient Foodie as this open journal to be like, I really want to participate in all this stuff but it is a pain in the ass. I think people really resonated with that message.
What are some key tips you’ve learned from three years of doing your blog?
I definitely think I found a really good balance with grocery shopping — buying the stuff I have to make from scratch, like from the farmers market, and taking advantage of the prepared food aisles section. I found that getting pre-made salad, or pre-made roasted chicken, stuff like that, really helps to do half of the heavy lifting for you, and then you can impress with fresh kale or heirloom tomatoes. It does cut down the cooking time significantly. Also, not every meal is going to be the perfect Alice Waters-blessed meal, and that’s OK. Little choices every single day really do amount to something.
How did you want to translate your blog to a cookbook?
When I was looking through the cookbooks that I had, I realized that they had one assumption that was never true for me — every cookbook I owned assumed I was reading the cookbook first and then going shopping, when the reality was I was shopping and then looking at my cookbook for guidance. The “Impatient Foodie” cookbook is based around that assumption — you’re going shopping and bringing a bunch of food home. The book is arranged from A to Z — asparagus to zucchini. Each ingredient has four different suggestions on how to use it — a main, side, dessert and a salad. For beets, there’s beet gratin, beet pasta, beet velvet cake, beet tahini salad. I have an entire chapter devoted to how to use herbs in different ways, if you have mountains of herbs slowly dying in your fridge and you don’t know what to do with them.