Interview with Mary Desjean: Foodie, Food Photographer, and Lover of Life

“Food is an important part of a balanced diet.” -Fran Lebowitz

Best Food in San Diego

We found Mary and her blog “This Tasty Life” through our identification of experts in different categories for our blog site.  We really liked her food pictures and what she had to write in her blog posts.  We got really excited and decided to interview her.  This is what we found out!

San Diego Lifestyle:  What got you into food photography?

This Tasty Life:  My friend, Alyssa (who started the blog with me back in the day) and I just started taking photos of our food one day. We’re both really into food and we played a lot of Bingo together. We wanted to start a review site for the Bingo halls and commenting on what places had the best food and that’s how we started out originally. We’d get some funny looks from the older ladies around us who were wondering why on earth we were taking photos of our dinner.

SDL:  How did you start becoming a blogger?

This Tasty Life:  Back in college, around 1997 or so, my very first website was a blog before there was even a name for “blogging”. It was called The Shower Stall Diaries and it was intended to be an online journal about the weird things I thought about while in the shower. I was a journalism student and interested in the Internet and wanted to build my own website and that was my first idea. Eventually that leapfrogged into a site called The Plain Jane that I ran with Alyssa, which was kind of a creative writing site. Then I had a blog about arts and crafts and finally a food blog.

SDL:  Have you ever been to culinary school?

This Tasty Life:  I haven’t, but I’ve taken a few classes here and there.

Best Food in San Diego

SDL:  What are your top three restaurants in San Diego and what are your top three favorite dishes?

This Tasty Life:  In no particular order:

  1. Monello:  It’s in Little Italy is definitely one of my favorites. They make fresh pasta every day and it incredibly delicious. You can’t go wrong with any the pasta dishes there. I do love the lasagna at their brother restaurant, Bencotto, quite a bit and would say it’s one of my favorite lasagnas in town.  Check out my Monello article!
  2. Kitchen 4140:  This place is in Clairemont, and oh boy is the food good here! I’ve been several times and it doesn’t disappoint. I wrote an article about this place 2013 Kitchen 4140 and 2015 Kitchen 4140 about this wonderful place.  I always love to sit on the patio in their little garden to enjoy a great meal. Dinner or brunch is awesome but the chicken fried steak with wild mushroom truffle sage sauce holds a very special place in my heart.
  3. Carnitas Uruapan:  This little taco shop in La Mesa doesn’t look like much but they have really awesome adobada. If you go on the weekends after 5PM, you’ll be treated to 99 cents mini spit roasted abobada tacos served to you from the parking lot.  My first review was 2013 Carnita Uruapan. Their potato tacos are my absolute must-have favorite though – they taste like the best mashed potatoes you’ve ever had inside of a crunchy taco shell.  I did a follow-up Revisit Carnita Uruapan article in 2015.

SDL:  What are your favorite styles of cooking?

This Tasty Life:  I try to make things from scratch and avoid processed foods or prepackaged ingredients. It’s just not worth it to use prepackaged foods when you can make something so much more flavorful! Italian is my go-to since it’s simple and you can add tons of fresh herbs to make anything taste spectacular. My other love is baking – cookies, cupcakes, cakes, cheesecake – that’s my very favorite thing to do in the kitchen. It’s like edible science experiments.

SDL:  What are your favorite recipes?

This Tasty Life:  After lots of experimenting I finally figured out how to make the best cheesecake. It’s really smooth, really creamy, and a bit of coconut oil in the crust gives it a touch of a tropical-sweet flavor.

SDL:  Do you watch food TV shows? What about other TV shows? What are your favorites?

This Tasty Life:  I do! I love watching Chopped and seeing what the chefs can do with baskets of crazy ingredients. I also watch Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives since I love seeing restaurants around the country (which gives me travel ideas). A Chef’s Life and Mind of a Chef are two other great shows to watch – I love the documentary style and how you get to see how one chef does their thing. Besides food TV, my current favorite TV shows are The Walking Dead and Doctor Who.

Best Food in San Diego

SDL:  Who are your favorite chefs and bakers?

This Tasty Life:  I love Christina Tosi – I’ve had her crack pie and by god… it is amazing. I love flipping through the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook and thinking about recreating her recipes. I also have a bit of a crush on Tyler Florence.

SDL:  What advice do you give to new cooks trying recipes at home?

This Tasty Life:  Remember that recipes are just a guide and feel free to make adjustments as you go along. The recipe police will not get you! Experimenting with flavors can yield excellent results. Also: remember to always season your food! Salt and pepper are really important to making flavorful food.

SDL:  What do you do when you’re not cooking or eating food?

This Tasty Life:  I read a lot on my Kindle. I like taking my dog down to Dog Beach in Ocean Beach for walks. My boyfriend and I also really love going to the movies or having Netflix binges on our favorite shows.

SDL:  How can people reach you and follow you on social media?

This Tasty Life:  I’m on Instagram as @kyten, on Twitter as @kyten or you can follow my page on Facebook @ThisTastyLife.

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The San Diego Lifestyle
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The San Diego Lifestyle is a blog site focused in the active and luxury lifestyle in San Diego. Our goal is to be your guide to enjoying the active and luxury life!

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