I had what seemed like a small idea that over time developed into a big dream called, “ChickfoodTV.”
The beginning: Just after New Years 2015, I was in a place of missing vlogging and expressing myself through food. I was experiencing severe burn out with my current job of standing-in on a television show. After 16 consecutive years of standing-in for leading actress’s, I needed a break. Something new. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted to do something fulfilling, something centered around my passion for cooking and creating plant-based recipes and meals.
In 2011, I was working on “The Newsroom,” an HBO tv series, and was bringing my raw food lunch to work everyday in a cooler. It sparked a lot of conversations on set and people wanted to know how to make my recipes… especially my sauerkraut, a staple in my cooler. After work, one day, I told my then finance that I wanted to blog or “vlog,” so I could share and show people how to make my recipes. So, without much of a plan, we dreamed up a name and set up a blog. The next weekend, we filmed me making sauerkraut in our dining room with a flip camera, no lighting, and no special microphones. Just a large table and a big window for good daylight lighting. We didn’t even make edits. One take only, then straight to YouTube. The next weekend, we filmed another, then another, and the next thing I knew people started following and commenting. I couldn’t believe it.
I started receiving very sweet emails from women all over the world that wanted to start eating better or just needed some advice about where to start. They just wanted to feel good, and I didn’t blame them. Isn’t that what we all want? My advice was simple: “This is what I do personally to feel healthy and vibrant and maybe, if you tried this or that, you could too.”
It was never a one-plan-fits-all kind of thing. Just start eating whole, unprocessed foods one meal a day and start seeing and feeling the changes. Drink more water, move your body, get good rest etc. Baby steps. Build a new healthy habit and then repeat.
So, that was the beginning of my “vlogging” universe and it was called, “Lalaraw.” I made around 40 videos in a little over a year and then got to a place where I questioned if this was it? Is this my message? I knew I tapped into something I enjoyed, but was “raw” that message? I had been a vegetarian since I was 14 and a vegan for most of my adult life, so I realized that it was really about living a healthy, plant-based lifestyle, both raw and cooked. Plus, I loved and missed cooking large meals and entertaining for friends and family. So I took a break from my “vlog” to reassess. I was also planning my wedding at the time and finishing up the last season on “The Newsroom” in 2014, as well. Yes, it was a busy time.
Then, New Years 2015 the idea for “ChickfoodTV” was born. I had been thinking about this name for many years and it was time to own it. Take my space on the Internet and stake my claim. I purchased the web domain and started on my two-year journey. I signed up for Rouxbe cooking school in their certified plant-based chef program and spent 8 months sharpening my plant-based skills. I thought I already knew a lot, but the program showed me there was so much more to learn. That’s what I love about being a foodie… so many flavors, so many techniques, so much to learn.
I purchased a new camera, some lenses, lights, a microphone, and editing software and starting working on bettering my food photography. Then there was web design, which I knew absolutely nothing about. ChickfoodTV would go through two different designs and logos and neither of them spoke to my soul. I looked at other sites I admired for inspiration and looked at what felt like thousands of templates. This process was now at the almost 7-month mark and it felt like ChickfoodTV was going nowhere fast. It was making me crazy. I just wanted to cook and share recipes, not all this other stuff. At times I felt like maybe I shouldn’t do this and just go back to my TV gig. Even worse, then the insecurities set in… I am not smart enough, I need to go to web design school, I need to know more, work harder, run faster, lose 10 pounds, learn French. You get the idea. Then I stumbled across Feast Design Co. and it was love at first site. I loved their clean no-fuss templates and design work. I started to see ChickfoodTV as I always envisioned it. Clean, classic, modern. So I hired Shay Bocks and her amazing team to customize their new Cook’d Pro web template for me and to design my logo, that I totally love! Thank you, Feast Design Co, you brought ChickfoodTV to life.
There were so many learning curves, because I really wanted to up my game this time around and create high-quality content for my subscribers. My site finally looked beautiful and how I imagined it, but now I needed more help customizing and getting ready to go live. So I hired Holly, a super talented web designer. She helped me get the site ready for launch and built my Woo Commerce store for me. I honestly do not know what I would of done without her. If you want her info, please send me a PM.
I cannot say enough about my husband and his help through this process. He has been my rock and pushed me to take risks. When I didn’t believe in myself or was feeling overwhelmed and frustrated he picked me up and got me back on track. He also designed and built my beautiful kitchen where we film all of our ChickfoodTV videos. In our home we have a galley-style kitchen that’s long and narrow… not the best for filming. While visiting Seattle and having dinner at Plum Bistro, an amazing Vegan restaurant on Capitol Hill with my long time friend Glen, we talked about the fact that everything was in place except I didn’t love my space for filming. Then Glen says, “Why not build it?” and a light bulb went off in my husband’s head. My husband, the eternal optimist, set out on a plan to build it for me in our back house… and he did, with the help of his friend, Mikey. The kitchen is incredible. I still can’t believe it is mine.
Around this time I was beckoned back to the television industry and started working on a new TV show. With all the overhead with the making of ChickfoodTV it was time to get back to work. This makes getting a food vlog launched a lot more tricky. Long hours on set does not leave a lot of time for recipe development, photography, post writing, editing, etc. But if there is a will, there is always a way. Right? So, I started squeezing in time on set on my laptop, and I would do recipe developing at night and weekends. We decided we would film on weekends and during my mini hiatuses from work.
Suddenly, it was 2017. What? Where had the time gone? Had it really been two years since this started? Yikes. It was “Go” time. I started loading all the recipes that I worked on over the past two years and discovered there were a lot of them. Then, came getting advice from our lighting crew on my current TV show on how to properly light my kitchen. Then, an intro needed to be shot and some new photos for the new kitchen. It was getting so close I could literally taste it.
We brought our good friend Josh on, an amazing film-maker, to shoot my intro for the front of every ChickfoodTV video and to also give us a tutorial on how to shoot on our own. Then, we (“we” being me and the hubs) started filming the actual cooking videos. My husband as the director, camera operator, assistant food designer, and PA… and me as your host and chef. At this point, we thought had we covered every “thing” there was to cover and ChickfoodTV was ready to roll. Not so much…with my husband’s and my busy schedule we had zero time for video editing. So we found a great editor named Liam and hired him. My mini team was finally complete.
Two years and 3 months from its first idea, my dream finally became a reality. My creative place to share what I am passionate about. I could not be more grateful for the help of friends along the way. It took a long time, what seems like forever, but it is definitely a vlog built on love and support from my friends and family. My hope is that ChickfoodTV inspires you to start your journey to a healthier, more vibrant life, filled with eating a ton of plants!
Thank you for being here. I hope we have a long journey together.