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Brita is a Nashville native and on her blog B. Britnell she hopes to inspire us with recipes we’ll enjoy making, love eating and most importantly, be eager to share.
I am Gabriel Soh and I am so happy to have Brita Britnell of B. Britnell here with me today.
On Growing Up in Nashville:
I wasn’t born in Nashville, but we moved here when I was young, and I’ve lived here basically my whole life with the exception of college. I went to college in DC. So I’m very much a Nashville native. I absolutely love Nashville.
I will say I’m not into country music at all. I went through a year spurt in high school this one year where I really loved country music and since then I can’t stand listening to it if I’m being perfectly honest. But I love Music City. I love what it is to this city that I am in and just what it has become.
I feel like what it’s become is when people ask, “What do you do in Nashville?” part of me feels like I don’t have an answer, but it’s only because all I want to say is food and music and there’s 101 million different food and music things you can do every night in Nashville and I absolutely love that.
I love to make sure people know, that if they’ve never been to Nashville or maybe they’ve been, but they just walked down Broadway or went in all of the honky-tonk bars, is that there’s such an awesome music scene in Nashville outside of country music. We all appreciate the country music but there’s a really awesome rock-and-roll scene and a really awesome Indie scene and really anything that you can imagine. There’s just so much music in Nashville. It’s really great.
On the Role that Food Played in Her Home:
My father was born and raised in Italy in Sicily and moved here when he was in his twenties and my mom was born and raised in Georgia and so I got a very southern taste. My mom’s entire side of the family is fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits and sweet potatoes. And then my dad knows how to cook nothing besides traditional Italian food, honestly, and he loves to cook and he cooked all the time. Pretty much all he cooked was, I don’t want to necessarily say it was all spaghetti, but it was all Italian-inspired, for sure.
On the Food Culture in Nashville:
I had a big group of friends come and visit recently and I mentioned hot chicken to them and they didn’t know what I was talking about.
This is such a huge phenomenon in Nashville. I don’t think people understand until they get here. There’s a fried chicken place to every McDonald’s that we have. The myth behind the story is that this woman owned a restaurant and she found out that her husband was cheating on her and so she put a ton of paprika and cayenne and all this pepper in his chicken to punish him. He ended up loving it and started a restaurant and that restaurant is Prince’s. And so, since then it’s just hot chicken.
It’s essentially fried chicken that’s unbearably spicy. I can’t eat it. But there’s a hot chicken festival every year that the mayor comes to and it’s a really big deal here.
On Hot Chicken:
I always tell people you have to go to a hot chicken place. I think the absolute best place is Pepperfire. It’s a newer place but I just think that their recipe is the absolute best. I do a lot of Nashville food writing and do a lot of Nashville food photography. So whether or not I like it, I’m around hot chicken all the time. I always force myself to try it. That way I can at least say “They have good hot chicken. Or I don’t like theirs as much.” They’re all very spicy to me.
I actually have an article that I wrote for Thrillist that’s something like “X Number of Under the Radar Hot Chicken Dishes“. And there’s everything. Hot chicken tacos. Hot chicken taco salad. There’s everything. So I would definitely recommend the hot chicken.
Besides that, there is a place here in Nashville that I really like called Biscuit Love Brunch. I like to recommend that specifically to people just because I think it’s got a new-age new American feel while also having that southern-like “it’s all biscuits”, and they do have a hot chicken biscuit there.
On Her Blog:
I was just really bored at work, and during the summer it was super slow, and so I just felt like I needed a creative outlet. It was just this desire for a creative outlet and I did it because I wanted to write.
Honestly I didn’t know what it was going to be. I will say food had nothing to do with it. I never started my blog thinking that it would be a food blog.
I did think, “Oh, maybe once or twice a month I’ll share a recipe. That’ll be fun. I like to cook.” I never imagined that it would turn into a food blog. When I started doing those once or twice a month recipes I realized that was the part of it that I loved the most. It in a way felt like I had purpose as opposed to this “Let me come up with this witty article.”
On How She Learned to Cook:
I just figured it out. I didn’t cook a lot in college. I actually didn’t cook a lot growing up at all to be perfectly honest. It was one of those things that my mom jokes about now. She’s, “I always tried to get you in the kitchen and you wouldn’t even fry an egg.” But I’ve always loved to eat, I feel like, more than the average person. I’ve always been really into food but I just loved to have other people cook it for me.
At a certain point I just dove into it and I just wanted to know everything about it. I listened to lots of food podcasts and read everything I could. I would like to say I’m just self-taught. My husband is also a great cook. In everything that he does, he’s very technical.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
I’m a huge fan of Chopped. I have it in my mind that they should do a Chopped blogger version. I really like Chopped. I like to watch Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. There’s always a lot of Nashville places on there so I think that that one’s fun.
My husband’s really loves watching Mind of a Chef. So we watch that a lot. Chopped and Mind of the Chef are two of my favorites.
What are some food blogs or food websites we have to know about?
I already mentioned Joy the Baker’s blog. I absolutely love it. I will be honest that for me food blogs are a lot about the photography. So my favorite food blogs are mostly my favorite food blogs because of the photography. There’s a food blog called Local Milk. She caught my eye because she’s local. She lives in Chattanooga and does a lot in Nashville so in the same State as me, and her photography is just the most beautiful photography to me. She also does have really great recipes on her blog. I’ve made quite a few. And I also really like My Name is Yeh. She does, I want to say mostly baking, but she definitely does other stuff. Those are for sure some of my favorites.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook or Snapchat that make you happy?
I’ve not gotten into Snapchat. I tried. Literally the only person I’ve ever snapchatted is my husband. I keep saying I’m going to get more into that. And Periscope. I haven’t even downloaded Periscope yet. But I’m really big on Instagram and again just going back to the whole food photography thing, I just love pictures.
I’m a very visual person and I just love the pictures. Local Milk has really beautiful pictures so I love looking at hers. Who else? I follow this one account called This Wild Idea and it’s a Tennessee account and it’s actually a dog, but it’s the same thing. The pictures are really beautifully done and I love that. So again, it’s a lot about the photography for me.
What is the most unusual or treasured item in your kitchen?
I will say I have this spinny thing that you put eggs on and it sits on the counter top. I could never use it because in America we refrigerate our eggs and you keep them in the carton. About six months ago, earlier this season, we got chickens which has been such a great fun experience and so now I’m able to keep the eggs out on the counter.
I love walking in my kitchen and seeing this. It’s this circular thing where the eggs go around it and when you take one egg off the rest spiral down and it’s a neat thing to me. I just love that I have my own chickens and that I have the eggs in the kitchen. I love it. It’s a really cool thing to me. I like to brag about my chickens.
Name one ingredient you used to dislike but now you love.
This is going back a little bit but when I was a child I absolutely hated peanut butter. I hated peanut butter. I don’t know why, and now I love it. I do a lot. I have a lot of peanut butter recipes on my blog. I have a peanut butter pie that is one of my most popular recipes and I have no idea why.
The smell of peanut butter made me sick. I couldn’t stand it but I absolutely love it.
I want to say a lot of spices. I never really cooked with spices until I got into my mid-twenties and now it’s like I’m obsessed with spices. I just love messing around with them.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
I have both of Joy the Baker’s cookbooks and I absolutely love them. I think she’s working on a third one. I have a cookbook of hers that I want to say it’s called Homemade Decadence.
If you go back and look at my earlier posts from when I first started, I often referenced how much baking made me nervous. I loved to cook but baking was such a complicated thing for me, which kind of goes back to the macaroons, but that one was a great thing for me because I was able to take some of her recipes and I think she does a great job of spelling it out.
We also have the Joy of Cooking which is different from Julia Child’s book but just the Joy of Cooking and it has every recipe you can imagine. I want to say it’s at least 500 pages if not a lot more. I’m not really sure but it’s a ton and it has just everything you can imagine. It doesn’t have more popular or more modern stuff in it. I don’t think it has anything quinoa in there, but it’s got every kind of main dish every kind of bread that you can imagine and it’s an awesome go-to.
It’s been a fun way for me to experiment. My husband and I sometimes literally will be, “We want to cook a dessert. Let’s do something we’ve never done before, but that we should know how to do.” I made cheesecake for the first time recently and so it’s just been neat having that cookbook. I highly recommend that one. I think it’s a good bit of money. I think it’s $50 but I think it’s everything that you could ever want to cook from fried chicken to cheesecake to just every kind of bread. It’s awesome.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
I just started this thing on my blog. Every time I post a recipe I’ve just been posting a YouTube video. And I told the story about how I love to listen to songs on repeat. So I often do. I just will put something on and whatever catches my attention, I’ll hit that repeat button and it will play the entire time that I’m cooking and photographing. I think it drives my husband crazy but it kind of keeps me going.
I’ve been really into lately Lucy Rose. She’s a British musician and I think I heard her in something on HBO, like she was in the end credits. I Googled the song and I’ve been really into her recently.
On Keeping Posted with Brita:
I would say that if you go to my blog www.bbritnell.com, I’ve got all my social media there. The one that I’m most active on is Instagram and my Instagram handle is @b.britnell. I use Instagram the most.