Quelcy Kogel

It’s Friend Friday again and I’m more than pleased to introduce the lovely and amazing Quelcy Kogel! We did a bit of an interview which is below but first check out her video. Quelcy is launching her baking blog, With the Grains, this Sunday the 26th at Waffle Shop in Pittsburgh, PA.

Tell me a little bit about yourself: Where are you from?  Where do you live?
I was born in Nebraska, and though we moved when I was young to the ‘burbs of Philadelphia, I still like to claim some Midwestern roots, mostly because the majority of people think Nebraska is comprised only of cows and corn (both of which I am very fond).  I still have family there, visit(ed) frequently and venture that my parents’ deep Midwestern roots influenced my upbringing in many ways.

At that transitional age of eighteen, Carnegie Mellon University roped me into Pittsburgh.  I made significant escapes to Argentina and France, but somehow, I found myself in Pittsburgh again (the mistake was leaving my personal belongings here when I left for Paris).

What do you do? What is the project you are working on?
By day, I am the Organizational Development Leader for a clean-tech, start up company based on a CMU professor’s research in energy storage.  His solution is a battery so environmentally benign, all the components are edible (by “edible,” I mean they will taste like charcoal, but they won’t hurt you in any way)!  My long-winded title means that I promote company culture, design interiors, help bring what we call “rock stars” into the company and bring baked goods for employees’ birthdays (that last part wasn’t in the job description, but I saw a void and filled it).

By night and weekend, I am an avid baker, amateur photographer, professional picnicker, aspiring concept artist and “a wanderer by trade,” as Bob Dylan would sing.

I also like to dance a lot, but I do not sing.

Where do you plan on taking this project, what are some hoped for outcomes?
First and foremost, I am launching this blog because I truly enjoy everything that goes into it:  baking, food styling, wandering, writing, etc, so I plan on taking it wherever the fun and  ideas take me. Not only is the blog a consistent creative outlet that also satisfies my sweet tooth, but I am learning more and more about both food and photography as I go.
Beyond that basic premise, there are lots of things I hope to gain from this project.  Here is a mini baking blog bucket list of potential outcomes I hope to achieve:

1.  Freelance food styling/photography opportunities
2.  Bake a wedding cake and even more ideally, style a wedding
3.  Connect with other bakers/bloggers and see where that takes me
4.  Contribute on a regular basis to another blog or online magazine

Where do you find your influences? Who or what are they?
With regard to my baking blog, my mom was my first and most inspirational influence.  She is known far and wide for both her cooking and baking.  When I was in college, she would send me care packages with homemade graham crackers!  I hope that sentence garners appropriate envy because they were the best graham crackers I have ever eaten!

Around that same time, I became very interested in the sustainability of food systems, overall nutrition and the politics of food at large.  I read the heavy hitters in the food politics world:  Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon.

What really started me baking on my own was a combination of an incredible sweet tooth (very certain this was a product of nurture and not nature as my family seems to place equal importance on ice cream as vegetables) and wanting to satisfy that tooth with the purest of ingredients- locally sourced and/or organic ingredients as much as possible.

I love both being in front of and behind a camera, so the documentation of my food creations came quite naturally.  I had a growing collection of food photos and recipes and a head full of anecdotes, but it took me a while to embrace the blog format.  It wasn’t until I started seeing more food and design blogs that I really liked (I imagine at some point, I will include links to some of my favorite sites) when I finally considered starting my own blog about my baking adventures.

The focus of my blog is baking from whole ingredients and celebrating food, both in preparation, presentation and in the sharing of the final product.  It’s about celebratory moments.  I kept the blog private until now as I wanted its entrance into the world to be celebratory as well.  Hence, it took me a while to work my way through my baking/photo archives and arrive at the point where I am now:  ready for the world to meet my baking side!

What is on the horizon? Any new projects percolating?
Hopefully, there is grad school on my horizon in the MFA realm, which means portfolio creation is definitely in my near future (Dear Magali & World, hold me accountable for that!!!!).  Other than that, I have some projects up my sleeve unrelated to baking.  Stay tuned!

If you haven’t had enough – never fear! The blog will be up on Sunday and I’ll be doing a post-launch follow-up to see what Quelcy’s got cooking.

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