Have you ever come across someone you immediately feel drawn to? For me, that just so happens to be Béa, La Tartine Gourmande. She emanates warmth, passion and class in an effortless fashion and has become my go-to when it comes to all things food related. Captured by our dear Heidi, from White Loft Studio, we are so thrilled to have her here today sharing some of her insider secrets (and a fab recipe to boot). Oh, and the gallery musn’t be missed.

How has living in France and New Zealand influenced your work in the kitchen?
Since I grew up in France and only left to live overseas by the age of 26, it’s easy to see how France influenced my cooking. No matter where I live, I know I am deeply French in my roots. My cooking is deeply French, even if it’s not the same as my grandmothers’ or my mother. My recipes are inspired from traditional French recipes–those I grew up with–but I enjoy revisiting with my flavors and techniques I learned from living elsewhere–like New Zealand where I discovered a lot of Asian flavors actually.

How did you know you wanted to surround yourself with food for a living?
I come from a family who loves to cook and eat. At home, we always–and still do–talked about food, what we ate and what we would eat. I started to cook when I was a child and continued to learn when I left my home village to go to college at the age of 17.  I always knew I would do something with food but for the longest time I didn’t know what — until I created my blog and then everything changed.

Any tips for someone hoping to follow in your footsteps?
Never be afraid of trying. I always thought I would be incapable of painting. Until I took some brushes and paint and started. We have more resources inside us than we think. Exploring them is something everyone can do. It can be a really enriching experience that changes everything.

What is your go-to meal when you’re in a pinch?
I always keep staples (vegetables) in my fridge and pantry (quinoa, rice, grains). A riz pilaf or a risotto are really easy to make and can be improvised with whatever vegetables you have handy. With a salad, it makes a simple lovely meal. Or a soup. My sister in law tells me that I am “la reine des soupes” (the queen of delicious soups), and I’d have to agree as I really can improvise soups easily.

What are a few of your cant-live-without kitchen tools/gadgets?
A great vegetable peeler and a mandoline. I am a believer that vegetables really taste different depending on how they are chopped and especially grated. Try to make a French carrot salad and you will understand what I mean.

If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A bowl of fresh wild strawberries with a little cream and sugar. A carrot salad with lemon, olive oil, and fresh herbs. And most likely a seafood or saffron risotto. It’s hard to decide on only one thing!

Hands down, the best thing you’ve ever eaten?
It’s always a hard question. I don’t think there’s one best thing but a ton of wonderful experiences. One of them was eating at Noma in Copenhagen in December 2008. Very inspiring.

Help! I’m having a dinner party for 10 people – what should I make?!
If you are looking for a casual meal, and it’s winter or fall, I would start with a soup finished with greens and a good quality oil or maybe oeufs cocottes, then I’d make a dish of roasted root vegetables with black rice and chicken cooked with spices and coconut milk. I would always finish with a large bowl of green salad and an apple tart or an apple clafoutis for dessert.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
Be yourself and follow your own voice. It does not matter what others do. Stick to what feels right to you and work hard at it.

And because we just couldn’t help ourselves, Bea has agreed to share one of her fabulous recipes with us.

CRÈMES AMANDINES AUX FRUITS ROUGES DE L’ÉTÉ
by Beatrice of La Tartine Gourmande
Serves Four

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ingredientsUnsalted butter for the ramekins + 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
3/4 cup whole milk
4 cardamom pods, crushed
1 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup (100 g) blond cane sugar
Pinch of sea salt
2/3 cup (60 g) almond meal
4 1/2 ounces (125 g) sour cherries, pitted
4 1/2 ounces (125 g) raspberries
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) red currants
Confectioner’s sugar, to serve

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1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and butter 4 shallow bowls (or crème brûlée ramekins); set aside.

2. In a pot, combine the milk, cardamom pods and seeds, vanilla bean and seeds. Bring to a simmer, and then remove from the heat and cover. Let infuse for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

3. Discard the vanilla bean and crushed cardamom pods, and strain the milk; set aside.

4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolks with the sugar and salt.

5. Stir in the almond meal, and mix well.la

6. Stir in the milk and melted butter.

7. Divide the batter between the ramekins and add the fruit.

8. Bake the crèmes amandines for 30 to 35 minutes, or until set.

9. Serve lukewarm (or at room temperature) dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

Note: If you have a hard time finding sour cherries or red currants, you can easily substitute them with other berries. Make sure to use small berries, as they look prettier in the desserts.

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Photography: White Loft Studio | Design & Styling: La Tartine Gourmande | Venue: Béatrice’s Kitchen

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