At Life & Thyme, we’re fortunate to connect with a vast array of talented individuals from across the globe that help support our mission to create food stories for the culturally curious. They inspire us through their own creative narratives––and we’re pleased to share those specialities here in our series, Life & Thyme Community Spotlight.
Today, we check in with Nicole Ziza Bauer, a contributor to Life & Thyme as a writer and one-time guest editor.
How did you get involved with food writing, and how would you advise someone looking to get into this world today?
Nicole Ziza Bauer: It started as a genuine interest, the “write what you know” philosophy or, in my case, “write what you love.” Food interests me because of how simple and complex it is: ingredients, techniques, tastes, cultures, personalities. It’s the experience of life itself, which is tirelessly fascinating and interconnected. When I first wanted to branch out with my freelance writing, I looked for outlets publishing stories similar to what I wanted to tell and that’s how I found Life & Thyme.
For someone looking to get into the world today, I’d suggest just…starting. Let your interests and curiosities fuel you to discover what is out there so that then, when you are able to reach out and finally connect with someone, it’s a meaningful connection. You know what you bring to the table and are able to offer a unique vantage point through your writing.
How do you approach developing an angle for a particular subject?
NZB: It’s a both/and. Usually there is some guidance or prompt from an editor, which then leaves the rest to me to figure out how to shape it. I brainstorm a lot, thinking through obvious angles first and then how to go deeper into quirks or specific touch points that then bring a piece full circle. Any story worth telling should have a hint of relevancy for the reader, so I like to think about that too. How can this build connection or bring insight so that a reader can have his or her own “aha” moment? No matter how big or small that is.
What are some tips for conducting better interviews?
NZB: An interview is just a vehicle for getting to know a person, so I like to think of it as a conversation. I prepare, of course, and have a list of questions that (I hope) feel fresh, fun, and open-ended, but I also go into them knowing they don’t have to be perfect scripts. No one wants to read a transcript without a compelling framework for who, what, or why it matters, so I try to take in everything about a meeting and ask follow-up questions even if I didn’t plan for them. Little, unexpected details can prove just as insightful and add life to an otherwise two-dimensional piece.
What memorable moments come to mind from the stories you’ve worked on for Life & Thyme?
NZB: Interviewing the chef and culinary staff at St. Jude Children’s Hospital was incredibly special for me. Before pursuing writing I had intended on becoming a doctor, so I had spent a lot of time working and volunteering specifically in pediatric oncology. It felt like a validated turn of events, using my professional skill set in new ways that still contributed to my most meaningful passions.
Additionally, I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to interview Jonathan Gold just a few months before his unexpected passing. His love for Los Angeles was palpable, as was the genuine desire to simply meet and eat with your neighbor. That alone has the potential to spark so much change for good, and he really paved the way for that.
What are you most excited about right now—work or otherwise?
NZB: A trip back to one of my most favorite places in the world, Bassano del Grappa, Italy, in April.
What did you have for breakfast?
NZB: Steel-cut oats with golden raisins, cinnamon, ginger, maple syrup, pistachio butter and mushroom powder. And coffee.