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Meet Rachel Phipps: Pinterest Queen, author and food blogger

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We recently had the pleasure of interviewing 'Pinterest Queen' Rachel Phipps, the multiple award-nominated food blog graduate who has just released her first cookbook: Student Eats.

Even though she is still very young, Rachel has significant experience, with her online profile spanning over eight years worth of content - initially starting off as a fashion blog before moving onto food, alcohol and travel. Her varied and unique upbringing, which spans across England, France and the United States is the key catalyst behind her love of food. 

"I was looking for a creative outlet, and I was seventeen, you don't quite know what that is going to be when you are seventeen" she explains

"The blog was just a place for me to share my writing and photos. It was during university where I started writing about food, then it became a full-on food website which I still run today."

Becoming a food website wasn't necessarily the intention from the off.

"A reader asked me when I'd made the decision to turn it from a fashion website to a food website and I didn't actually realise that I had until I was actually asked that question! It was completely unintentional- but it was a natural progression."

So what is it like to be a Pinterest queen?

Oh God! Rachel scoffs, clearly very humble about the title.

I was on the platform about the time I started the blog. I think the sheer follower number is that, and also because I have a very good relationship with the team at Pinterest. I’ve done lots of work from the blogger perspective for Pinterest, but I take the number with a pinch of salt!

She’s very honoured to be nominated for the Good Housekeeping and Great British Food Awards Best Food Blog category, but is surprisingly pessimistic about it.

I’ve seen the competition, I’ve got some friends who put so much into their website, so I don’t expect anything to come from it. It is nice to see people sitting, looking and recognising the website and what’s on it.

Rachel isn't someone who has had extensive Michelin-star level culinary training She says:

"I come from a family where pretty much everything is made from scratch- everything was done like that. I was used to growing up watching my parents making meals, to helping my parents make meals to me making meals."

Her reaction to going to University is perhaps understandable:

"I began to panic - 'On a student budget can I do the same from-scratch cooking when everyone around me is living on packet meals?'"

It's from these humble concerns that some of the early recipes in the book began to take shape. 

Student Eats is designed to encourage university students to cook, but too many students still shirk the issue. A mental block, time constraints or something else getting in the way?

Rachel says: "I think partly it is the mental block, it's also more of an education about food. I didn't understand until I got to university that my attitude to food and the way we cook was not normal for everyone else. It's educating that cooking from scratch can be enjoyable and good value. It's not hard and it is not going to take up more time than just putting something in the microwave."

Is there an undervalued cuisine or ingredient in Britain?

"I honestly don't know. The sheer amount of world cuisines [in London where Rachel lives] and ingredients you can get ahold of - it's a trend thing. Korean food was a big influence on me, due to my time in LA, but it is more about people not realising what they can actually get.

"It's not about individual ingredients or cuisine, it is about saying 'Look, you can actually get these things in supermarkets now, you don't have to buy something for one specific world cuisine recipe. It’s about getting people to use these ingredients in everyday life."

One obvious issue that she is passionate about is changing the perception of student food being basic or simplistic. Too many recipe books market themselves in that manner.

“Something I’ve noticed in the market a lot is that most of the books are not written by recent graduates, they are written by what people believe students eat. A fair few students see food as sustenance rather than something enjoyable, but the vast majority of students lifestyle now goes into food - whether it is going to street-food festivals, out to restaurants, eating world cuisine. They want to replicate this at home. Some recipes are really simple, like the tuna pesto-rice, but it is quick, it’s easy and delicious."

But at the same time, Rachel is keen to emphasise both sides of the coin - balancing price with quality and sophistication to produce a great eating experience.

The recipes are certainly wallet-friendly too; vegetarian options cost £0.75 per serving, whereas meat options weigh in at around £1.50, sometimes cheaper. Student Eats contains an excellent section on making your own cocktails, as well as advice on essential utensils and equipment needed for a student’s university cupboard.

Rachel's favourite recipe from Student Eats?

The sausage Bolognese. It embodies my influences with food - sausage-meat from my American experience, I wanted a student cookbook to have a Bolognese recipe and couldn’t use the family recipe. If I tweaked it, it never tasted quite right to me. It’s [the sausage Bolognese] as good as my mother’s Bolognese.”

Finally, Rachel's number one piece of advice for student cooks?

“Plan what meals you are going to eat at any given time. You know when your classes are, you know when you’re going out. I have meal maps in the book to demonstrate this - you can’t let food go to waste. I didn’t plan anything on shopping days because I knew I had leftovers. Plan but leave leeway."

Student Eats by Rachel Phipps (Ebury Press, £9.99) is available on Amazon and Waitrose from 3rd August.




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