Cooking on a Dime

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From Aspiring Chefs To Established Food Writers, Food Is On Everyone’s Mind. February 25, 2012

Courtesy of Jasmine Mangalaseril.

Jasmine Mangalaseril is a public relations professional and freelance food writer. She and her blog have been featured on, and listed on’s 50 Top Food Blogs. Canadian Press, CanWest News, SRC, and Taste Magazine have also mentioned her in news stories.


 1. What inspired you to create this food blog?

Confessions of a Cardamom Addict” began life as a food column in an e-zine a former colleague created.  She gave me free rein as to topic. Food was my natural subject—I am often the person to whom friends and colleagues turn for kitchen advice such as cooking techniques, recipe ideas and how to use new-to-them ingredients. I gave it up when life got busy. About half a year later, after a series of coincidences (including emails from readers who asked me to resume the column, a journalist friend who seriously recommended I take up food writing, and a three-hour conversation about cooking fish), I decided to take “Cardamom Addict” out of mothballs, and resurrect it as a blog.


 2. I see you have been blogging since 2005. What has kept you so dedicated to your blog?

I have always thought of “Cardamom Addict” as cathartic writing with, at times, a tenuous relationship to food.  It’s diarisation with an edible bent. That said, I think there are two predominant reasons as to why I haven’t binned it:

  • Cardamom Addict allows me to indulge in writing styles that are different to what I exercise in my professional life. My career has very little call to write song parodies, circular dialogue or adventure stories.
  • My goal is to write for myself.  I don’t treat “Cardamom Addict” as a vehicle with which to amass fame or riches–and I think this is a key point.  Many people give up their blogs because they expect popularity (or to be given a mantle of authority), free products, access to certain events or people or quite simply money. Forcing these expectations on a collection of pixels would, to me, move blogging into a work-like situation that would result in something I have to do, instead of something I want to do. When it begins to feel like a millstone, I’ll probably give it up.


3. You were listed on’s In Depth Food and Health Page and Hearst Publication’s’s 50 Top Food Blogs (that’s where I found your blog). How does that feel to get that acknowledgement and has it changed how you approach your blog?

I think those listings are similar in importance as when I’m in a shop and someone shyly comes up to me to ask if I’m “the cardamom woman” and then tells me their family liked one of my recipes, or how they appreciate my writing.  I also get touching emails from people because something I wrote conjured memories, helped them, or brightened their day.This sort of acknowledgement hasn’t changed my approach to “Cardamom Addict”—I still write about what exits my kitchen or enters my gullet.  I think if I purposely changed my approach to chase recognition (or other sorts of validation), I’d lose my blog’s focus.


4. Where do you find inspiration for the recipes that you create?

I’m really lucky in that Waterloo Region(where I live) is a great place for food lovers—we have strong agricultural roots and attract an amazing diversity of cultures and immigrants who bring their own culinary traditions. During growing season, I can wander through Herrle’s (a great family-owned country market that’s just outside of town) and get lost in the colors, textures and scents. I have a wealth of living food knowledge around me whether it’s in real life (my butcher, shop owners, Mum ,friends) or the online food community. Inspiration can also come in other forms—more obvious are food references in books and films, but there are also culinary memories tied to dates and songs.


5. What is your favorite recipe to make?

The recipes I return to are often embedded in my moods within the seasons, so I don’t have one favorite recipe.  For example, even though we’re experiencing an incredibly mild winter, it’s still February (almost March), and I’m itching to make steak and Guinness stew over garlicky mashed potatoes. In summer, my kitchen becomes an ice cream parlor of sorts to go along with the parade of seasonal fruit upside down cakes.  In spring, I’ll focus on curries and in autumn, I’ll play with roast chicken and beef and different ways of spicing them. Roasting vegetables is a regular habit for which I’ve a number of uses: side dishes, warm salads, pureed into soups, pizza toppings.


Courtesy of Richard Wilson.

Richard Wilson has a passion for food, which inspired him to pursue culinary arts. He is in the process of establishing himself as a chef. “I love the feeling I get when people tell me my cooking is sensational,” said Wilson.


1. What inspired you to want to make a career out of cooking?
What really inspired me the most to start cooking are my parents. When I was about 15 years old, I asked my parents to show me how to make dinner and that’s how it started. I love making food because cooking is an art and I like to create. There are so many possibilities in preparing foods due to the way you can almost freestyle and mix foods together.


2. I know a few people who went to Atlantic Cape Community College. How was your experience?

My experience at Atlantic Cape Community College was very good. The knowledge and experience that I received was superb. The educators are very willing to help give each student the best insight in the culinary world through their experience in the field.


3. You’ve been working at Cafe Madison / Towne Tavern since August 2008. What is your position and what does that entail?

When I started working at Cafe Madison/ Town Tavern I started in the Tavern. The Town Tavern is a casual dining restaurant that is connected to Cafe Madison. I worked my way from there to the other restaurant, which is fine dining. There I work as a sauté chef. My station consists of poultry and seafood.


4. What is it like working in the restaurant business?

Working in the restaurant business is interesting, I say this because this field is not for everyone. The average workday can last up to 10-14 hours, depending on the establishment. This is where passion must come in because if I do not love this business I’m not going to enjoy doing this. Since cooking is my passion, I have no problem being around for long periods of time. The restaurant world can be very competitive so the more you know the better. Management skills are also a benefit to have because a restaurant is essentially a penny business, every cent counts.


5. What is your favorite thing to make in the kitchen?

My favorite food to cook is the food that I actually eat the least, which would be fish. I am a fisherman and I prepare seafood dishes at my job. I like cooking fish because it creates a challenge for me to make a dish that is delicious and have ingredients that are complementary to each other without tasting the dish.


2 Responses to “From Aspiring Chefs To Established Food Writers, Food Is On Everyone’s Mind.”

  1. meemilah Says:

    Good interviews!
    Great job!

  2. […] Interview with Jasmine Mangalaseril and Richard Wilson Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post.   Leave a Comment […]

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