Man Bites Blog: A Passable Interview Part Two

Yesterday, we posted the first part of our interview with food blogger/photographer extraordinaire, Matt Armendariz. Today, Matt talks about cooking with Martha Stewart, photography, and his recent venture with Spice Islands.

All images by Matt Armendariz

How did you get involved with Martha Stewart?

Her editors were reading my blog and when they formed Martha’s Circle, an ad network of various lifestyle, crafting and food blogs, I was one of the first they called. I was immediately flattered to be affiliated with such an excellent brand like MSLO but I certainly didn’t expect it would develop into what it did. I was asked to tape a segment with Martha on her show and ever since I’ve been back to tapings of the program, become friends with various editors and even headed to NYC for a big blogging party Martha had this past summer. She’s such an inspiration, plus she’s always very nice to me.

What was it like being on her show?

Nerve-wracking, thrilling, exhilarating, fun and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If anything it inspired me to be a better person insomuch as you see what pure long-term professionalism looks like in her staff. I can’t say enough about Martha’s people.

Personally it was a milestone. You have to remember I’m a college drop out, I never went to school for any of these things I do but I had an interest and passion. I make mistakes, I’m imperfect and I’m me; if I can be myself and end up on Martha then I believe anyone can follow their passion and just be themselves. It’s been a pretty powerful experience. And to have a woman who has revolutionized food photography lean in and tell you how much she personally loves your work, well, I was and still am speechless.

One of the best things about your blog is your photography. The thing I like about your images is that even though they, and the food look stunning, they also look real. How important is it for you to have a sense of authenticity in your images?

Thank you. And for me authenticity is completely important. I can’t tell you how many times I hear “well he’s a professional photographer married to a food stylist and it’s not real and I’m a home blogger who has to eat the food I cook”. I’m not sure where people got the idea that what I do isn’t edible but it is. Granted many images you see were cooked specifically for the camera and not for dinner but that doesn’t matter. Authenticity is very important.

You often work with your partner, Adam, who is a food stylist. Who loves food more?

I think we both love food equally. However, we certainly have different food interests.

Is there any kind of culinary world that intimidates you?

No, not really. I think if I was going to be intimidated it’d be by someone’s kitchen skills but then again I’m not a chef nor want to be. I think many of those things can be learned but what cannot be taught is some people’s deep connection to food, feeding and loving others. Those are the qualities I admire.

Your blog has garnered quite the accolades. What do you think it is that you do that helps that?

Honestly? I have no idea. I mean, I have a formula that I try to employ that works for me, but whether that formula is the key I have no idea. Be honest, be yourself, speak well of others, keep negativity at bay, challenge yourself personally, never accept less, be a sponge, etc. Those are things I do daily and if that’s what helps then I’m happy.

Tell me how you got involved with Spice Islands.

As a blogger you get used to being approached by companies looking for PR opportunities and ways to do business together. As bloggers we’re pitched allllllllll the time!!!!!!!!!! And actually until now I haven’t really pursued anything because it never felt right. Companies want to pay you, have you say nice things about them, without ever developing any type of real relationship. That’s not for me. But Spice Islands came along via their agency and a discussion began. What I learned was that here’s a company that is proud of what they do and what they make, with people that know their stuff enough to have you try it and be yourself. Do you realize how scary it is for a company to say, “Here, try our product and be honest. Say what you want to say to hundreds of thousands of people”? Only the brands who truly believe in their products have the balls to say that, my apologies for being so blunt. So of course I jumped on board and it’s been truly educational for me too. I’ve always been on the advertising side of these types of things, now I’m doing the spokesperson thing and it all goes back to that Martha point. Me? Really? It’s pretty unbelievable.

Did you worry that working with Spice Islands might affect your credibility?

Not at all. I was big on full disclosure before the FTC regulations kicked in, I think that’s a key to maintaining standards. So no, working with a brand doesn’t concern me because it’s on my terms.

What can you tell me about your future projects? I hear you may be working on a cookbook.

I just finished my first book called On A Stick! And yes, it’s all about food on a stick. It’s silly, informative, a project where high brow and low brow come together. Kind of like me, I guess. But it was fun to work on such an entertaining project with my team of Adam Pearson and Jenny Park. It was definitely one of those “Hey, let’s put on a show!” kind of moments for us and glad it worked. And I’ve got future book projects in the works which I’m excited about.

The future is pretty wacky right now and to be honest I’m enjoying the ride. I’ve taped some television segments that will air in the spring, done another video project that I’m excited about but can’t mention just yet, as well as guest edited a food magazine that just launched. As for me I’ve got some things brewing that I’m interested in exploring in the new year, an online magazine venture is one of them. I feel as if I’ve got this rich background in food from the past 20+ years and blogging has introduced me to some of the most talented people you could ever meet, it’d be great to put all those things together to see what happens. We’ll see.

Any last words of encouragement for people out there who want to blog about food?

Yes, if you want to do it get started! You can literally have a blog up and running in one day, there are no excuses! You’d be surprised at the level of community out there, it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done. And if you think your photo skills or writing chops aren’t up to speed, don’t even worry about that. Jump right in, everyone has a unique perspective when it comes to food and only you can do what you do.

You can follow Matt on Twitter here.