Meet new IACP member Kirsten Whatley, a food photographer and food writer based in Hawaii. Learn more about her culinary background, her inspirations, and her goals for this year.
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Tell us about your culinary background – what inspired you to become a culinary professional?
I love to share culinary stories through my writing and photography — I’ve been away from the industry for many years (on a detour through the nonprofit writing world) and am just now returning. My emerging work explores how food and drink traditions convey culture, both our cultural differences and the commonalities of our humanity.
Who do you consider to be your culinary role model?
It was my mother who ignited my passion for culinary arts — not only the cooking of food, but the “event” of food, the ambience we build around it, and the storytelling that inspires.
What brought you to IACP? What are you looking forward to taking part in as an IACP member?
Living in the remoteness of the Hawaiian Islands, I was excited to discover IACP as a resource that brings together professionals in diverse areas of the culinary industry. I’m looking forward to virtually meeting, collaborating with, and learning from other IACP members!
What culinary projects are you working on currently?
I recently completed a story for AFAR on cultural food traditions in one of the most isolated regions of Maui. And a piece I wrote on Kauai-made mead is coming out this month in Saveur. I’m also finishing up some essays that share more personal tales of culinary adventures.
Tell us a bit about your professional goals for the next several years – what projects would you like to accomplish?
In the near future, I’m interested in experimenting with multimedia work, merging my writing and photography with other ways of stimulating the senses, for a more experiential style of storytelling.
Ingredient that we’ll always find in your kitchen?
Cilantro — in one form or another. My current favorite is as homemade cocktail bitters that I recently made from coriander seed.