Recently CinemaJaw was graced by a tattooed tough gal, Vegan chef, Mom, Wrestling fan, fellow Blogger and Author, Natalie Slater. Natalie has appeared on Food Network, The Cooking Channel, and WTTW Chicago Tonight as well as on the pages of Time Out Chicago and Bust Magazine, to name a few. She has to be one of the most interesting and hard working Chicagoans out there and we were pumped to have her spill her guts about her love of food, film and her new book Bake and Destroy. This is our ChicagoNow exclusive interview with Natalie.
CinemaJaw: How did you get started in the culinary arts?
Natalie Slater: I was always in the kitchen with my mom and grandma - mostly waiting around in hopes of licking the beaters or sneaking chocolate chips, so cooking is just in my blood. In college I worked at a bakery, too, so I got a lot of technical know-how on the job.
CJ: Why "Bake and Destroy"?
NS: My husband works in the skateboard industry and I'm a bit of a trouble-maker, so I spoofed Thrasher's Skate and Destroy tagline.
CJ: Were you surprised at the success that you have found with Bake and Destroy, or was it the goal all along?
NS: Oh absolutely I was surprised, I still am. Bake and Destroy started out as a blog where I wrote about my relatively boring life as a work-at-home-mom. It was sprinkled with recipes because I baked while my son was napping. I was really just writing it to keep in touch with friends I didn't see much of now that my life revolved around my baby. After a few weeks I started getting comments from total strangers and the audience has just grown and changed ever since.
CJ: What tips can you give to other would-be breakout creatives? How does one effectively, and productively escape mediocrity?
NS: All of the lines that ever existed have been blurred, crossed and obliterated thanks to social media. These days there's no such thing as "a vegan blog" or "a movie podcast" - niches don't exist anymore. You have to bring something new to the table. I mean, there's a vegan black metal chef. I host a pro-wrestling themed bake off. Don't be afraid to wear your most obscure interests on your sleeve. Chances are, there is an audience for your weird thing.
"Everything you see I owe to John Waters. I remember seeing Cry Baby as a kid and thinking, "This is for me."" - Natalie Slater
CJ: Pop culture permeates your work. Does that love of pop culture love carry over to film?
NS: Definitely. Everything you see I owe to John Waters. I remember seeing Cry Baby as a kid and thinking, "This is for me."
CJ: If we have to narrow it down what are your favorite 3 movies of all time?
NS: Rocky, Ghost World, Slapshot
CJ: More recently, favorite of the past 4 years?
NS:Forks Over Knives was the most important film I've seen in the past several years. It really put things into perspective for me. Food choices don't have to be a lifestyle - you don't have to be the most vegan vegan who ever did vegan. But you should eat more nutrient-dense, plant-based food and less other crap. That movie makes that point without the guilt trip.
CJ: So you are big pro wrestling fan, a fact that has inspired many of your recipes. What movies have inspired recipes?
NS: I spent one year writing a new horror-inspired recipe a month. Everything from Italian zombie flicks to good old slasher films. More recently I baked Over the Top-themed cookies for my friend Colt Cabana, who just so happens to be a pro-wrestler.
CJ: Alright I just have to ask, what did you think of the film The Wrestler?
NS: As someone who is very close to a handful if pro-wrestlers, it bummed me out. I would say historically, it's accurate. That's the story of a lot of guys I grew up worshiping. Wrestlers are more savvy these days. They're branching out into acting, saving their money, retiring before they destroy their bodies. I thought it was great, just sad.
CJ: So what's next for you, whats the next project, adventure, goal, ect?
NS: My friends call it The Slater Hustle - I always have 90 projects going on. I'm collaborating with an apron company to create a line of Bake and Destroy aprons, I have my own line of ceramics with Circa Ceramics, I'm posing for a vegan pin-up calendar... Hustle, baby. Hustle.
CJ: If someone wants to buy your book, try your treats, or get in touch with you what is the best avenue for that?
NS: My book is sold everywhere books are sold online, and in Barnes & Noble, Powell Books and Books-a-million nation-wide. In Chicago you can find it at Rudy's Round Up, Challengers Comic Shop and Quimby's, too. I'm always posting new recipes at BakeandDestroy.com too!
CJ: Thank you Natalie!
Take a listen to Natalie as our guest on the CinemaJaw podcast. We also highly recommend you try her Evil Dead cookies, they will swallow your soul! Thanks to Natalie for this interview and for being on the podcast.
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