Amy Pottinger of Caviar and Crayons (Transcript)

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Nicole S.:                                 Welcome to BFF with the Chef. I'm your host Nicole Schwegman. Aloha friends and foodies, and welcome back. Today I'm stoked to interview Amy Lauren Pottinger, the self-taught chef, food blogger, and caterer behind Caviar and Crayons, a food blog and catering service that focuses on elevated comfort food. Amy gained national attention when she auditioned and landed a spot on season 13 of Food Network Star. Since the show Amy has continued to grow her business and brand, while remaining rooted in her love of food. Amy is the proud military spouse of an Air Force fighter pilot, and she is also the proud mommy of two utterly adorable kiddos. Hey Amy, and welcome to the show.

Amy Pottinger:                     Hey, thanks for having me.

Nicole S.:                                 Thank you for coming on. So look, I'm sure people know who you are. If they don't, y'all need to know who she is, okay.

Amy Pottinger:                     I'm 35 and I don't know who I am so it's cool.

Nicole S.:                                 This is existentialism with my BFF at the-

Amy Pottinger:                     Right. With food.

Nicole S.:                                 Yeah. All right so we just want to jump right into it, and then we'll get started. So tell me about the last meal you cooked for yourself.

Amy Pottinger:                     So as you mentioned, I'm a mom, I have two young kids. And as much as I like to play culinary adventures for my husband and I, they're not always on board. People like to think that I cook these elaborate meals and my kids always eat them, but that's not really the case. So last night we made basic tacos. Hard shell, ground beef, store bought taco seasoning, dare I say, and then had taco Tuesday.

Nicole S.:                                 Tell me about a meal that brings you back to your childhood.

Amy Pottinger:                     You know, I really don't have anything in particular. I just remember my mom would give us weird stuff like carob chips instead of chocolate chips. She was really health conscious, so my lunch was just always odds and ends of really whole foods that I didn't understand as a young kid. I'd always try to give me teacher my organic bean chips because I didn't want to eat them. And that's just kind of how my childhood was. We weren't a big cooking family. My mom would just kind of dump all these healthy things in a lunchbox and that was what I ate.

Nicole S.:                                 I'm going to be honest, that sounds terrible.

Amy Pottinger:                     It wasn't great as a kid.

Nicole S.:                                 I don't even know what a carob chip ... First of all, what is a carob chip? I don't even know what that is.

Amy Pottinger:                     It's basically like ... And I might be wrong here because I haven't touched it since. But I know it's supposed to be a healthy alternative to chocolate. It might be vegan, I'm not entirely positive.

Nicole S.:                                 No such thing. There's no such thing as a healthy alternative to chocolate. It's either chocolate or it's not.

Amy Pottinger:                     It is if it's not really chocolate. Yeah, pretty much it's not chocolate.

Nicole S.:                                 You know what a healthy alternative to chocolate is? Kale. Don't give me a carob chip. I love you mom but don't give me a carob chip, call it chocolate. That's like saying "Oh guys, Santa's not real." Like what?

Amy Pottinger:                     Right. A rose by any other name does not taste as sweet. Not that I'm out here eating roses.

Nicole S.:                                 Exactly. You might as well, if you got a carob chip. I think I would have seriously been like, "What are you doing to me?" You were a better child than I was.

Amy Pottinger:                     There was some sort of sugar in there.

Nicole S.:                                 Oh my goodness. Okay. And a bean chip? I've heard of bean pies. I won't even get into it, but my sister, she didn't make bean pies, but she did date a guy who I think did have bean pies. And I'm like no.

Amy Pottinger:                     Is that a thing? Like sweet potato pie, but with beans? I don't get it.

Nicole S.:                                 Me neither girl. That's why I didn't have one. No wonder you became a chef. Beginning to make sense now.

Amy Pottinger:                     I always worked in restaurants, but never in the back of the house, just in the front of the house. So I was exposed to food that way, starting from about 15 on. But yeah, my childhood itself doesn't have a whole bunch of culinary memories. The only thing I can really think of besides all the health food is when we wouldn't eat it, my mom would make us tuna noodle casserole, which was I think like canned cream of mushrooms, and egg noodles, and canned tuna. Like I said, she's not a chef. So when I first got married and my husband and I were like super poor, paying for my college. He was a first or second lieutenant. I can't even remember which one comes first. I tried to make it like once, and he's like "Nope, don't make that again." Like okay, deal.

Nicole S.:                                 He's like "I love you, but not this."

Amy Pottinger:                     Don't make that. Yeah.

Nicole S.:                                 Oh that's so funny. We're going to get more into like our moms. I love my mom too. But it wasn't that she couldn't cook, she just resented it because she also had to work. And so a lot of Hot Pockets. So many Hot Pockets.

Amy Pottinger:                     Oh dude, Hot Pockets, the snack of champions.

Nicole S.:                                 Your mom gave you health food, my mom was like the exact opposite. She's going to be like "You're making everybody think that I'm a terrible mother." No you're a great mother, but oh my gosh, if [inaudible 00:04:53] in a package, we would probably eat it. She worked. She worked for a living. That was the '80s.

Amy Pottinger:                     Oh absolutely. My mom did too. But I think that's why we just got that weird assortment of healthy foods. Like I bought it, I threw it in the bag, and here you go, now it's healthy.

Nicole S.:                                 That was the '80s and '90s man. You could do that to your kids and nobody judged you. It was totally fine. All right, give me an ingredient you can't live without.

Amy Pottinger:                     Garlic. If there were ever to be like a vampire apocalypse, I would be the last person standing because I'm obsessed with garlic. I mean like if a recipe says like two cloves of garlic, I'm like great, 75 cloves of garlic. That sounds phenomenal.

Nicole S.:                                 So that recipe, 40 cloves of garlic for chicken, you're like "How about 140 cloves of garlic for chicken?"

Amy Pottinger:                     Right, and that's only for one breast of chicken.

Nicole S.:                                 Oh my gosh. Okay so-

Amy Pottinger:                     Just kidding.

Nicole S.:                                 No, she's not kidding, and that's okay. We approve, hard approve. I love garlic so much, but my husband ... It's not that he hates garlic, it's just he's like "Can you cool it with all the extra garlic?" Because it didn't go well in his tummy. And I'm like, come on man. 

Amy Pottinger:                     We need the garlic.

Nicole S.:                                 Seriously. But no, he's just like ... He likes onions a lot, so I also love onions, garlic, butter. That's like a trifecta.

Amy Pottinger:                     Okay, you're going to laugh at me. I only recently started cooking with onions. And I know I'm supposed to be chefy and all that, and I am. True story, swear to God. I hated them growing up, like hated them. And I make killer guacamole, everybody loves my guacamole. I would substitute radishes for the onions, because they kind of have a bite to them, they have a similar texture, they add color. But I only recently started cooking with onions, and even to this day, I basically slow cook the life out of them, until they're totally translucent, and then I'll still even puree them. So I understand the flavor that they add, but I'm not an onion girl.

Nicole S.:                                 Wow.

Amy Pottinger:                     I know, that blows peoples minds. How are you a chef, and you don't like onions? I'm like "I don't know, I just don't, leave me alone."

Nicole S.:                                 Wow. You make me speechless, okay.

Amy Pottinger:                     Yeah. It's a shocker. It happens.

Nicole S.:                                 That's okay. That's okay. I cannot stand goat cheese. I'm admitting it to the world. I know, I know. I can't stand it. And people are like, "How can you possibly be a foodie and not like goat cheese?" And I'm like "I cannot stand ... The taste, it is just, ugh."

Amy Pottinger:                     I get it though, because it is a different flavor profile that doesn't yield itself to everybody's palate. So I at least understand that. But no, goat cheese is like a love language for me.

Nicole S.:                                 I know. I want to like it. I really have tried to like it, but it just tastes disgusting to me.

Amy Pottinger:                     That just doesn't work.

Nicole S.:                                 And lamb. I'm putting it out there.

Amy Pottinger:                     And I also love lamb.

Nicole S.:                                 We're getting real right now. I can't stand lamb, and I can't stand goat cheese. Now I'm going to get a thousand people screaming in their car right now going "Who are you?"

Amy Pottinger:                     Well it's been nice chatting with you. I hope you have a good life, okay.

Nicole S.:                                 I know right. And like you and onions. Don't like onions. Onions have layers. People have layers.

Amy Pottinger:                     Like ogres.

Nicole S.:                                 I'm like onions, ogres, people ... Right now people are like, we're out on both of them. Like there's a thousand people screaming in their car. It's crazy. All right, let's talk about the fact that you are a self taught chef. And I want to talk about that because there's a lot of people out there listening right now, who are saying or they're thinking, "Man should I quit my six figure job and go to culinary school?" Or, "I've always wanted to be a chef."" Or there's probably a girl who's in high school right now and she's going "You know what? I am in love with Top Chef, I've seen all of the Food Network Stars, maybe I should go to culinary school." But you have somehow made it. You are a chef, and you did not go to culinary school.

Amy Pottinger:                     I did not.

Nicole S.:                                 So tell me, how did you start to teach yourself? Because maybe you don't have to go to culinary school. I'm not saying that culinary school is bad, but how did you do this? How did you get started?

Amy Pottinger:                     Yeah. So like I said, I worked in restaurants when I was younger, so I was around food. Actually I worked in restaurants pretty much until I met my husband at 23. I was always around the food, so I kind of started to pick up on a little bit of it. And then if I wanted to learn something, I just taught myself. I have a natural ability to understand balancing the flavors. I don't know how to describe it. Back in the day, to this day, I can cook a dish sometimes start to finish without tasting it, and I barely have to adjust it. I don't really know where that comes from. So I can't explain that. But also I just kept trying things. Like I'm like, oh lobster. The first time I think I made lobster with a white wine butter sauce, it was so runny, because I had no idea what I was doing. So I looked into it, and just step by step over a series of years I taught myself how to do different things. And I never really followed recipes, but I would need them for like technique or inspiration. And then I'd always cook it my own way, and make it a little bit different.

                                                      So that's just kind of how that evolved. And after a while I decided I should start a food blog. I had just had my second kid. My husband was gone all the time. I had absolutely no idea how to share my love of food with people. So I was like well, these days anybody can start a food blog, so I did.

Nicole S.:                                 And you know, having two kids and having your husband be gone ... You've just got so much time on your hands.

Amy Pottinger:                     So much time. I just sit around taking hot baths, drinking wine all day, leisurely reading books.

Nicole S.:                                 And you were like, I'm going to start a food blog.

Amy Pottinger:                     Yeah.

Nicole S.:                                 No nanny, just by yourself ... The baby's like "Let's do this."

Amy Pottinger:                     Yeah. I'm a bit of an overachiever, what can I say. I don't sit well. I'm always doing. I actually wish I could relax more. I have to actually remove myself from any possibility of doing anything productive to do nothing. Like if I had nothing to do on Friday at home, I wouldn't be able to just sit here and read. I would have to like go to a beach to where I couldn't find something to clean or do, in order to not do anything. It's so bad. I don't know when that happened either. I think after having kids, because I used to be so laid back.

Nicole S.:                                 Oh girl. All your laid backness came to me. Because I got no problem. I can lay on the couch for a good 13 hours, and binge through a show. I don't know if that's a proud thing. I don't know if I should be proud of that.

Amy Pottinger:                     No. It's enviable that's for sure. I'm jealous.

Nicole S.:                                 I mean I'm down for marathons. Law and Order marathons that is.

Amy Pottinger:                     I've watched every Law and Order episode. I won't lie.

Nicole S.:                                 It's a thing. It's a thing in my family. We love law and order. I can't tell you that I have not seen all of them. I've probably seen them all. I'm not down for SVU, but I am down for the original Law and Order. Yeah, I love that-

Amy Pottinger:                     SVU got weird for a while.

Nicole S.:                                 Yeah, I can't handle it. It's too much for me. But the original one, I'm down for it. I'm always down for an original Law and Order. Especially from the '90s, because it's like, oh, that's my childhood, no.

                                                      So you start a food blog, the baby's like "I can do design." The toddler's like "Don't worry, I can help you out with like your pictures and photos and stuff." And you're like "Cool, we're doing this."

Amy Pottinger:                     Yeah. Free child labor. It worked out great.

Nicole S.:                                 It's great. Like the baby's like, I got this, right?

Amy Pottinger:                     Yeah.

Nicole S.:                                 So the three of you started a food blog. So take me from when you start this food blog, to when you say to yourself ... Or the baby says "You know what mom, I think you should try out for Food Network Star."

Amy Pottinger:                     Well he filmed the video. The baby filmed my Food Network video.

Nicole S.:                                 Yeah, obvi.

Amy Pottinger:                     I mean the camera wasn't super steady, but everything else was fine.

Nicole S.:                                 He was working. His little baby hands were doing what he had to do. So take us from the audition tape to oh my gosh, I'm on The Food Network Star. And the baby's like obvi mom.

Amy Pottinger:                     So there were actually a few years in between. I think I had had the food blog about three years when I went on The Food Network Star. And honestly, it hadn't ... Anybody who's in this space ... I'm sure you see it with all the love and energy that you put into your podcast. It takes time. So I had the food blog for about three years before I would say my hits were anywhere over a thousand, which is nothing in this space. I basically was just circulated around through friends and family. And it was more of a hobby than anything, but I knew I wanted it to be more. And one day on a whim I just applied for the show, thinking never in a million years is this something that'll happen. And then somehow they called me, and I was like what? What is happening right now? You just called me. And then I went through the whole interview process, and ended up on the show. I wouldn't say the rest is history, because nobody's going to write about it. But if you follow the show-

Nicole S.:                                 I mean some ... Look, this is a side note to all y'all listening out there. People have written about it. You can find Amy on the internet. She's kind of a big deal. She's being modest. She's being modest, the baby's like don't be modest. The baby is now a kid, all right. Yeah, he's managing her like ... He's an agent now. Yeah, so you get the call, and they say "Hey guess what? We like you. We want you to be on the next Food Network Star." What is it like? Because right now all of the food bloggers are listening to you and living vicariously through you. So what is it like to go on a TV show and cook? Because I have to think you're competing with people who have restaurants and other food bloggers and other food heavy people. How do you psyche yourself up for that?

Amy Pottinger:                     You don't. It sounds cliché but there's no way to prepare for it. Especially if you were as green in this space as I was. Like you said, we had people that had owned restaurants, people who had competed on other Food Network shows. I mean, people who really, really knew what they were doing. And I was definitely the least experienced person. I had never demoed a dish. I had never been on food television. I had never cooked for a large group of people besides family and friends. I had literally done nothing except for cook. Like I knew how to cook but everything else was completely foreign.

                                                      So you walk in there and there's literally no comparison. People are like "Well I could do that." Time goes by so much faster than you'd ever think. It's so much more stressful. They throw these weird challenges at you that make no sense. Like one of my comeback kitchen challenges was like take liver and onions and make it Italian. I'm like "Because people do that to themselves in their own home. Like that's how people want to learn to cook." Let's just draw two things from a hat and see what we come up with.

Nicole S.:                                 And also liver and onions, like what? The worst dish ever.

Amy Pottinger:                     Right?

Nicole S.:                                 Somebody's screaming in their car right now like "I love liver and onions." Yeah, okay. We know.

Amy Pottinger:                     And somebody's probably really upset that they like carob chips as well and we've ruined their take on carob chips.

Nicole S.:                                 We know, but I'm here to tell you all right now, they're not chocolate. Get over it.

Amy Pottinger:                     It's faux chocolate.

Nicole S.:                                 It's just faux. We're trying to help you okay. Your parents lied to you.

Amy Pottinger:                     They did. But that was a smaller of the lies so we're good.

Nicole S.:                                 Yeah, honestly the fact that they told me carrots would make my eyes see better, that's a lie too but I digress. I'm still not over it but whatever.

Amy Pottinger:                     If that's your biggest betrayal in parenting then you're set.

Nicole S.:                                 Yeah. Well, stand by. I want to go back to, you go in, you're green, and you're like "Holy moly, I'm in it now." I'm sure you were nervous but how did you deal with that? Because again, we're living vicariously through you right now. So how do you deal with that? First of all when I saw you you looked like you were a pro. You didn't look nervous, so good job.

Amy Pottinger:                     Well I was.

Nicole S.:                                 So good job on faking it til you make it.

Amy Pottinger:                     It's all fake.

Nicole S.:                                 You didn't look nervous at all. You looked fantastic. So you faked it really good.

Amy Pottinger:                     It's the hair and makeup people.

Nicole S.:                                 Yeah. They're just like "We're going to put all this extra makeup on you. You're going to look like you're smiling even if you're not." No. You looked great. But I have to think that when you get that call, why do you think they chose you? Besides, of course, you're adorable and you make a mean ragu.

Amy Pottinger:                     They just said you're adorable. Do you even know how to cook? I said no and then that was it. No.

Nicole S.:                                 That was that.

Amy Pottinger:                     That was it. Like oh, you don't cook but you're decent to look at so that's good.

Nicole S.:                                 Do you get to cook for them beforehand?

Amy Pottinger:                     No. The process is a little bit different for people. Somebody like me and my friend Trace from my first season of Food Network Star actually. We went through the actual casting. So I did have to do a culinary interview with someone as well. These are all really lengthy Skype interviews that they condense. Although he couldn't taste my food I took photos, emailed the recipe, walked him through the process, and then asked questions like what would I do with this chopped basket and stuff like that just to verify that I'm not just some random girl trying to be on television and I stumbled upon food TV. So we went through that but actual cooking, no.

Nicole S.:                                 That's awesome girl. Well on behalf of all of the food bloggers, because that's who I represent ... No. But I'm proud of you. I mean that takes a lot of guts to get on national television. And doing a food blog for three years in itself is a pretty big accomplishment. For every one person who does a food blog for a year there's like thousands of people who are like, oh, I don't know, me, who did it for like three weeks and was like I'm out. You're like this sucks. I want to go back to watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians. #NoJudge by the way.

Amy Pottinger:                     Haven't watched a single episode. I've never watched it. I can't.

Nicole S.:                                 I promise you you're really not missing anything. Yeah. But it's easy to just quit so the fact that first of all you're doing this blog for three years ... And I want to say something to all the folks out there who are struggling through their blogs and their going "Nobody but my mom is looking at this blog." Hey man, that's how it starts. For the first three years you might only get your mom and maybe your first grade teacher who'll look at your blog. Your comments are like "Good job honey", and "I love your little food, webcast thingy." And your like "Mom, it's a food blog."

Amy Pottinger:                     "What an interesting take on my meatloaf honey."

Nicole S.:                                 Yes. "Oh honey, I'm so" ... You know, "That's my daughter." Right? And it's your mom who's ... Because that's your original cheerleader in a way, is your mom. My mom's my OG cheerleader. Like before I had anyone in my corner I had my mom in my corner. So your mom's your OG cheerleader and maybe for the first year or two, or three, or maybe even five, that's who's looking at your blog. I mean a lot of people tell me when they started their food blogs they did it for their friends and family or they want it to be something more but they didn't think they would ever. And sticking to something and just doing it and just keeping up with it ... I have to tell myself this because a lot of times I'm like no one is listening.

Amy Pottinger:                     You get tired. Yeah. Life happens.

Nicole S.:                                 You get tired. Yeah. You're just like how am I going to continue on? Why am I doing this? I could be out at the beach. Instead I am editing tape. But you get tired. And so I think it's really amazing for people to hear that for three years you just kind of slogged through. And oh by the way, the baby's like little. I just think that people give up too early. If you just hang in there-

Amy Pottinger:                     Oh absolutely.

Nicole S.:                                 Yeah. And so I love your story because not only did you just kind of slog through and you were just kind of going along and doing your blog, something really amazing came from it. But you didn't know that. You were just going on living your life and then boom. You tried out for something and it came about. And I think that's what I love about your story and what's so cool about it. And it's frankly been really inspiring. Because you're so down to earth. Y'all, she's down to earth. I've been to her house. She's a caterer and she's doing her catering thing. Like you come to her house to pick up your meal and the kids are like "Hey, I saw [inaudible 00:21:28]." And she's like "Yep. Please don't put that in your mouth. Oh by the way, here's your pasta [inaudible 00:21:36]."

Amy Pottinger:                     Pretty much.

Nicole S.:                                 Yeah. She is keeping it real y'all.

Amy Pottinger:                     Well, and that's the thing too, I was recently fortunate enough to be invited back to my alma mater and I gave the graduation speech and very, very simple thing that ... Not a graduation speech. It was a donor dinner speech. But one of the really simple things I said that people were like that's so true, is I may be on the Food Network, I may get to do some catering for some really cool, high end clients and some private dinners and stuff, but at the end of the day I go back and I do the dishes. And it's hard work and it's not glamorous but life is hard work. And it's kind of one of those things where it might not look as linear as you think or it might not have all of the frills that you think it's going to have.

                                                      I also did a career day at a high school and had these high school students. The only thing they wanted to glom onto is the brand ambassadorship stuff that I do. Like I get paid to put some stuff on my social media and they're like "Oh my gosh. Well how much money do you get paid to do that? How long did it take to do that?" And all they want is they want somebody to walk up to them and pay them to put this content on and I'm like "I'll tell you what, it can be lucrative but it took me being on national TV twice." It took my blog being around for like five years. You have to put in the hard work if you expect anything to come of it. Nobody's just going to walk up to you and be like "Okay, here you go. Your Instagram looks really cool. We'd like to pay you to put stuff on it." So I mean there's definitely dues to be paid and there's definitely times where you're exhausted and you don't want to do it.

Nicole S.:                                 Oh yeah. So many times I'm up till midnight trying to arrange a photo shoot. And I will tell you right now my photos don't look nearly as good as yours. But you've been ahead of me for five years. So there's no way I can expect to be at your level. I think people hear ... Do you know how many people come up to me and ask me?

Amy Pottinger:                     Go look at day one of my ... I was actually looking at it with my husband the other day because it popped up on our computer. We were getting ready to throw away our old desktop and the images came up and I was like "Oh good lord." Like who would follow my blog looking at those photos? But again I just spent time editing stuff and teaching myself stuff and honestly I still do everything else. I do everything for my blog. I use Wix as my platform but I did the layout, I designed it, I write the recipes, I take the photos. And nobody taught me how to do any of it. It takes time. Life takes time.

Nicole S.:                                 It does. It totally does. For anything that's worth having it takes time. And speaking of time because you almost always have none, I can't believe you're even giving me an hour so I appreciate it.

Amy Pottinger:                     Oh, you're good.

Nicole S.:                                 You're also a military spouse.

Amy Pottinger:                     True story.

Nicole S.:                                 So the fact that you're able to do this and be a mom to two and be a military spouse, which is really hard. My mom is a military spouse. I grew up as a military brat. I serve now. My husband's a military spouse. It's difficult. I think that it's pretty inspiring that you have this career and I would call it a pretty robust career in catering and in the food media space while also being a military spouse. How do you manage that? Because I know you do manage it. But for those other military spouses out there who are listening to you and who are thinking this woman has all of her stuff in one sock, I could never be that amazing. I want you to bust some of those myths about how hard it is out there because that's that added pressure. You're not just doing this and your husband comes home every night. You're doing this and he's working God knows where. So can you talk to us about [inaudible 00:25:10]?

Amy Pottinger:                     Yeah. I don't know if there's one answer or a formula. I mean I've been so busy cooking lately that I don't think I've put anything on my blog, anything new, in like two months. And that makes me sad because I love my blog. I'd sometimes rather do it than cooking because there's more art to it. But right now cooking pays me quite a bit more. So life shifts and you have to kind of just line up your priorities. I try to get most of my stuff done by the time I pick my kids up from school. That doesn't always happen. I've recently realized that if I also want to work out I have to wake up at 4:30 in the morning which is something I never thought in a million years I would ever wake up for. Why would I do that? I'm like I'll just not work out. But I'm getting older so turns out I have to.

                                                      But yeah, I don't know. There's no one formula. You just some days you're really tired and you're asking yourself why you're doing this when it would be easier if you just didn't and then other days it feels like it's totally worth it. And sometimes there's some slack in the professional area because I do make money doing this but this isn't our primary source of income. My husband's job is. So if the family needs more attention I can take a step back and do that. But if I have extra time to do this then I do this. So I want to say it's just figuring out a balance, but that's so vague. That's so different for every single person what that balance is. Like how much time you think you have to give to any given project. But like I said earlier I don't sit still well. I guess I just like being busy. I don't know when that happened honestly. I never used to be like that. It might be being married to my husband who's super hyper driven perfectionist, like OCD, go go go. So maybe just through osmosis it shifted my entire outlook on life I guess. I don't know.

Nicole S.:                                 Well, you used to work in restaurants so I kind of have a feeling ... I used to work in restaurants when I start ... My first real job was at a bagel shop. I wouldn't call that as a restaurant but we did serve food. And you are on your feet from the time you walk into that shop until you are done. And I did work in various culinary endeavors and I was a cater waiter. But not for the money. I did that when I was a lieutenant. As a lieutenant in DC. I was a cater waiter but not for the money, for the food. Because that's the kind of hungry little greedy person I am. I mean the 60 bucks at the end of the night was awesome but I got paid to eat. That's pretty much how I saw it. But yeah, you were on your-

Amy Pottinger:                     That's everybody's dream.

Nicole S.:                                 It is. Side not people. If you want to just eat really well, be a caterer waiter in a big city. If you don't need the money and you just want to eat well but also get paid for your time at the night, be a caterer waiter. You learn how to serve people. I learned a lot about food service by being a cater waiter. But also whatever the bride and groom are eating, that's what you're eating. So I was always like where are the fancy weddings because that's what I want to be a cater waiter for.

Amy Pottinger:                     That's where I want to be.

Nicole S.:                                 Somebody right now is planning a wedding and they are appalled that I'm saying that.

Amy Pottinger:                     Yes. Hey, we're just eating your leftovers. Don't worry about it okay.

Nicole S.:                                 That's it. It's not fancily plated. No. It's just all this-

Amy Pottinger:                     Oh my gosh.

Nicole S.:                                 That's what I would do.

Amy Pottinger:                     I worked in a restaurant like forever ago as a server. Again, in the front of the house. And it alarmed me how many times ... And they're being so sweet but it's just so gross. People would be like "I didn't eat all of this. If you want to eat it you can have it." And I would be like "Okay, thanks."

Nicole S.:                                 You're like what?

Amy Pottinger:                     Okay, thanks. I know I'm serving you but I don't need your leftovers. That's not sanitary. I'll just go talk to the kitchen.

Nicole S.:                                 You know I'm a waitress, not a slave right? They feed me.

Amy Pottinger:                     Thank you so much. I'm okay.

Nicole S.:                                 Yeah. It's like thanks but no thanks. Yeah. So I love that.

                                                      Okay. I'm going to shift a little bit. I want to talk about what are you making for your kids over and over? And I'll tell you, my friend Morgan Murphy, he was the Thanksgiving special for season one. But he's a food critic and he has a little boy, he's four years old, same age as your son. And he talks about how people always tell him that his son has such a great palette and that he'll eat a lot of things. And one of the reasons is because he takes the time to cook with him. Now, he's a father and he's got one. You've got two and it's like zone defense right? Right now you guys are man to man. You're man to man defense on it. But talk to me about what do you make for your kids and what do they eat?

Amy Pottinger:                     Yeah. He's absolutely right. If they make it themselves ... And we don't do it every night because I don't have time to sit there. Or the patience. I mean if we're being honest. Sometimes cooking with kids can be kind of tedious. But he's absolutely right in that if they've made it and they're proud of it they are so much more likely to eat it. Something I think I did poorly as a parent is just kind of kept exposing my kids to things when they didn't want to eat them. All babies eat everything and then I don't know where it goes wrong but then they just start to eat less and less and get pickier and pickier. And I was like "Oh okay, surely when they get older they'll regain the sense of culinary adventure." Not so much. So we're actually backtracking that now in my family.

                                                      And anybody who's a mom is like ... People are like "Well just feed your kids what you eat." My kids will not eat for a day and a half. So as much as I want to have CPS called on me I'm probably going to give in.

Nicole S.:                                 Hey, first of all, no judgment.

Amy Pottinger:                     You know, my kids are pretty simple eaters so I have to find foods that are familiar to them like pasta, pizza. They like to make little hand pies and stuff. And just find ways to put new ingredients in them and kind of work those in. It's like if we make chicken pot pie, say they're used to the chicken and the carrots and the peas, I'm like "Well we're just going to throw roasted red peppers in today." Because we're going to take something that they've eaten before and that they're familiar with and just keep adding to it. So like I said, I definitely have dropped the torch on the whole getting my kids to eat like I eat thing. But we're working our way back up by gradually just adding stuff back into their diet.

Nicole S.:                                 Don't worry. All you have to do is feed them Little Caesars pizza for an entire summer and they will beg for vegetables. No.

Amy Pottinger:                     Or carob chips.

Nicole S.:                                 I know. My mom's like "Enough with the Little Caesars pizza." I love you mom.

Amy Pottinger:                     No one likes a story Nicole.

Nicole S.:                                 I know. She's like ... And by no ne she means her. No. I'm going to hear that at the holidays.

Amy Pottinger:                     Everybody else likes it mom.

Nicole S.:                                 I know right. She's actually really awesome but good lord. She's like "It was the '90s. Everybody did this."

Amy Pottinger:                     Everybody did this. I know. It really was the age of convenience. Like okay, here we go. Look everything's so accessible. Yeah.

Nicole S.:                                 It was. It was fine. No one judged you. You just drank Sunny Delight and you just thought that was orange juice. It is not orange juice.

Amy Pottinger:                     It is not orange juice.

Nicole S.:                                 No. It is not. Anybody out there who's like "Sunny D is great." No. If that's all you can get, no judgment, I totally believe people have the right to feed their bodies in the way that they choose. I'm just letting you know it's not orange juice.

Amy Pottinger:                     It's not orange juice.

Nicole S.:                                 I learned it the hard way. Yeah.

                                                      Okay. I know you've said you've been kind of busy cooking and catering, but when you're doing your blog ... Because I want to send people somewhere to try some of the great things that you've invented and made. What is one of your most popular recipes on your blog?

Amy Pottinger:                     One of my favorite things is Mexican. Bobby Flay and Alex Guarnaschelli told me I have Bobby Flay level Mexican. So some of the Asian food and Mexican food to me are really great opportunities to add a lot of the things that I like, like spice, acid, and I love to cook with those ingredients. So if you're on my blog I'd kind of kick you in the Mexican food direction. My blog by the way is So you can pop on there and even though I've neglected it a bit lately there's about four years of recipes on there. Even though there might not be anything new. There's a pretty good pool to dip your toes into and find something.

                                                      I have all the normal things that blogs have. You can look stuff up by keyword. So no, you're not going on a goose egg hunt trying to find Mexican food. But a lot of people I've found tend to want to make really easy week night meals. I think a big one that gets a lot of hits is the bruschetta chicken. Like you're just making a bruschetta sauce basically and putting it on top of chicken with mozzarella. So it's a really, really simple meal. I think that's what most people gravitate to. People want to look at some of these fun, fancy recipes online but for the most part that's not something that people really want to execute on a daily basis.

                                                      Another reason I like all the Mexican food is because I can say, grill a bunch of ancho dry rub chili chicken. And then I can make a burrito bowl, and then I can make a breakfast taco, and then I can make a salad. So when you do something like that you can kind of repurpose it throughout the week.

Nicole S.:                                 Oh that's a good point. I think a lot of people say "Oh, you have to cook a dinner every night." And they think they have to make a completely different set of proteins, set of carbs, set of everything, and they just get like I'm out, let's go to Domino's. Pick up a pizza.

Amy Pottinger:                     Or Little Caesars.

Nicole S.:                                 Little Caesars. The people at Little Caesars are going to contact me and be like "Could you stop telling"-

Amy Pottinger:                     Yeah. Here's a cease and desist story. Thank you.

Nicole S.:                                 If only I were big enough that Little Caesars knew.

Amy Pottinger:                     Right. I know. I'd want that cease and desist letter.

Nicole S.:                                 I know. That means I've made it. Yeah. But that's a great point that you bring up is like having a recipe that you can repurpose into different meals, that's just a really great tip. Right now we're doing this interview. By the time people hear it it'll be like in the middle of the spring and they'll be like "We gave up on that diet." But if you're talking about meal prep, it's a great way to just make a bunch of chicken and then you can use it for a bunch of different things and you don't have to constantly think about "Oh gosh, okay, I have to make dinner tonight." Well no, you've got your protein prep for the week. You can use that up and then you can go and make a bunch-

Amy Pottinger:                     It can be a salad, a burrito, yeah. Heck, you can even turn it into a chicken fajita pasta. So look, you've got your salad, you've got your burrito, you've got your pasta. You're eating four different meals.

Nicole S.:                                 Yeah. That's exactly right.

Amy Pottinger:                     Okay, that's three. I can count.

Nicole S.:                                 I mean, they get what you mean. They totally get what you mean.

Amy Pottinger:                     Counting is overrated.

Nicole S.:                                 Really is. Honestly cooking is way better. I want to talk real quick about ... Are you a savory person? You talked a lot about cooking but do you do a lot of baking? Is it something that's a passion of yours or are you more towards the savory?

Amy Pottinger:                     I am definitely more savory. And a lot of that has more to do with my metabolism than anything. My sister, I don't even know how we have the same genes because she's like 5'10", 5'11" and 140 pounds and I'm like hmm, can I be you? But she's like "Do you want to try my jalapeno cheddar bagel recipe? It's amazing." And I'm like "If I could I would. But then I'd eat 10." But yeah, baking is awesome. I just don't have the metabolism to just eat baked goods all the time so I don't do it a lot. Recently I've been having a lot of people ask me if I can do desserts so I've been doing those. But mostly just to give to other people because again, I can't have that in my life.

Nicole S.:                                 Right. No, I completely understand. But you look great. So just in case you were wondering.

Amy Pottinger:                     Thanks liar.

Nicole S.:                                 She looks great y'all.

                                                      What is that one tip that you can give that home cook out there that's listening to you that's excited by all the things you had to say that they can use to make their meals better tonight?

Amy Pottinger:                     Something I always do and a lot of chefs will tell you this so I don't know how innovative this is, is you season and add flavor along the way. That way you have consistency throughout your dish. Like say I'm using thyme, butter, shallots, and garlic. If I'm cooking my meat I'm going to use that when I season my meat, when I season my vegetables, when I make my sauce. So you really have developed a different level of complex flavors. And then also actually there's a show on Netflix right now called Salt Fat Acid and she points out that all culinary points of view, all different kinds of ethnic cooking, all have salt, fat, and acid because the salt adds the flavor, the fat adds a depth to the food and you know kind of like a richness like an umami to it that you're not going to get otherwise, and then the acid adds that tangy but not too tangy kind of flavor to it. So I always, always, always in addition to garlic have salt and acid in the food that I cook. And, you know, fat's in everything practically except for carob chips. So you might as well add that too.

Nicole S.:                                 That's right. And our tip together is ditch the carob chips. Just no.

Amy Pottinger:                     Yeah. Make sure you put them on top of your Little Caesars pizza and then you've just hit a culinary gold mine.

Nicole S.:                                 That could be the next hit. What if we discover-

Amy Pottinger:                     It's probably not.

Nicole S.:                                 No. I'm going to put some-

Amy Pottinger:                     I feel like we're going to scrap that idea.

Nicole S.:                                 Yeah. Don't do that people. Don't do that. Don't somebody send me a picture of that on Instagram talking about "I made a pizza with carob chips on it." No.

Amy Pottinger:                     It's so good.

Nicole S.:                                 I'm just going to be like you need help. Someone's screaming in their car right now at us about it. Keep screaming.

Amy Pottinger:                     I think the people who are eating the carob chips aren't eating Little Caesars pizza so I think we've managed, if we found that small, small subset of people, the chances that they're listening to us right now it's pretty slim.

Nicole S.:                                 It becomes like a Reddit dread. Like people who do that. Yeah, they all hate us. I can live with that in my life. Well, you have been amazing. Tell us where we can find you on the internet.

Amy Pottinger:                     Yeah, of course. There's a lot of repetition. My food blog again is Caviar and Crayons. And my Instagram is caviarandcrayons. My Facebook is caviarandcrayons. The only outlier is my Twitter, which doesn't allow enough characters for the S. So it's caviarandcrayon, singular.

Nicole S.:                                 Got it.

Amy Pottinger:                     I'm not a big Twitter person anyways. I found Twitter to be the meanest place while I was on Food Network Star. That's where people I think just kind of sit and say mean things to people. So I'm on Twitter but I'm not on Twitter.

Nicole S.:                                 Yeah, no. I can't with Twitter. I mean I'm pretty snarky but there are some-

Amy Pottinger:                     Yeah, but not to strangers on the internet. Cut my friends and family down.

Nicole S.:                                 Exactly. Only to people I love and care about. Not to people I don't know. That's the best way to be. I throw shade at those I love. Well Amy you've been amazing. You guys isn't she fun and amazing? And she makes great, great tacos. I know. I order them from her all the time. So I just want to thank you for being on my show. I really appreciate it and I want to thank your husband for his service and I want to thank you for your service because-

Amy Pottinger:                     And thank you for your service.

Nicole S.:                                 Aww, thank you. We're just thanking each other for our services. All right girl, we will see you around town. Take care.

Amy Pottinger:                     That's actually a possibility for us.

Nicole S.:                                 That is true. Bye.

Amy Pottinger:                     Okay. Bye.

Nicole S.:                                 Okay, so you've just finished listening to me chat with Amy Lauren Pottinger, Food Network Star competitor and winner of Comeback Kitchen. Well okay, first of all, I really like talking to her. I feel like we have similar energy. When it comes to food I love her drive and just her can do attitude. And she's also really super funny. So I totally get why she shined on television and why she did as well as she did. All right. So I'm not kidding about ordering food from her. She makes these amazing dinner kits including these taco kits that just one, take a load off of me when I'm trying to get through the week. Sometimes I just don't feel like cooking and she has this great service where you just Facebook her and then there's a taco kit and you just go pick it up. It's amazing.

                                                      I also encourage you to check out her blog because it is truly a labor of love. It's a beautiful blog even if she hasn't been updating it lately because she's been so busy with her catering business. But she has four years of recipes on there and they're just really good and I'm definitely going to try some of those and you'll see them on Instagram in the coming week.

                                                      So you can see Amy on season 13 of Food Network Star and you can also see her on Comeback Kitchen. I'll put links to both in the show notes. And if you've been inspired to try out for a cooking competition after listening to Amy talk about it, yes you should do it. It's really hard and she's really modest. That woman can cook really well and she does handle being under fire really well. Which is one of the traits that you need in order to be successful on those shows. But hey, what do you have the lose? Do it. Don't think oh well ... No. Do it and have no regrets about it. Try out.

                                                      All right. So that's about it for this week. Remember if you like the show please tell someone about it. You can share it with your friends and ask them to subscribe, share it with your mom. It really helps the show and it helps me to be found by other future Food Network stars. And if you want to connect with me I have a Facebook group, BFF With the Chef Friends, and it's where I post frequently and I put recipes in there, I put things I find, tips. And I also hang out a lot on Instagram so you can message me there as well or if you want to be old fashioned just send me an email. They're all great ways to get a hold of me. I also will accept a raven from the north. Where are you Game of Thrones? Come back.

                                                      All right. So this is BFF With the Chef wishing you a great week and hoping you've been inspired to go and make something delicious. Bye.