We partner with some incredible local talents for our classes and some of our retail selections. In our ongoing Extended Family series, we want to showcase their work and provide a glimpse inside their personal story.
Olaiya Land has been teaching cooking classes here since the early days. She also leads culinary and photography workshops in Europe, and we get to live vicariously through her Instagram feed. The trips to Paris and Lisbon currently have spots open so grab them while you can! See a list of her upcoming classes at Book Larder here.
Let’s start out with the basics, where are you from and what do you do?
I’m a Seattle-based cook and photographer. I lead food and photography workshops to Portugal and Paris several times a year. I also blog at millys-kitchen.com (Milly was my grandma, who instilled in me a life-long love of cooking and feeding people).
What do you love about your job/business?
I love bringing people together–across a table or across continents. Food and photography are the tools I use to make that happen. I think as we move further into the digital age, promoting meaningful human contact and encouraging others to engage with the beauty of the organic world (as opposed to the world in their phones) is more important than ever. When I see that happen during one of my tours or pop-up dinners or cooking classes, that’s what gives me the most satisfaction.
How long have you been in business?
Wow. A long time now, I realize! But in a sort of round-about way. I’ve been blogging and leading culinary and photography tours and workshops for 4 years now. But I’ve been cooking professionally for over 15 years–in restaurants, teaching cooking classes, etc. Before that I studied French and art history. So now everything–cooking, speaking French on my tours, teaching, writing, photography–has come together into this beautiful job I get to do.
How did your business evolve since its beginning?
In so many ways–I feel like it’s evolving every day! But probably the most significant thing has been learning photography. This is a real source of joy for me. It allows me to share what I do more widely and to have more creative control over my professional image.
Also, meeting so many amazing chefs, photographers, makers and food artisans abroad that I work with for my workshops and tours has been such a rewarding experience. I feel incredibly grateful for the community of people I’ve created all over the globe. That has made my job much more exciting and inspiring than it would be if I was doing all of this on my own.
What cookbook do you reference most often (in general or just lately)?
Jerusalem by Yotam Ottalenghi and Sami Tamimi is my favorite cookbook of all time. The flavors are amazing. So incredibly creative and delicious. There’s a great mix of quick, weeknight dishes and more involved recipes. And most importantly, the recipes actually work. Everything I’ve ever made out of this book has been stellar!
If you could take any cooking class, what would it be?
Authentic Turkish or Lebanese or Israeli cooking. I love the flavors of the Mediterranean and would love to broaden my knowledge of these cuisines!