Zoe Rose Friesen is a food writer and photographer based in Seattle, WA.
She’s the creator of Dinner at Midnite, a blog inspired by her obsession with vegetables and the desire to make cooking delightful and delicious for everyone. She’s also a comedy writer, performer, and long time bartender. She loves crunchy salads, chocolate, and collecting cookbooks.
All food photos by Zoe Rose Friesen
Portraits by Kirsch Creative
We interviewed with Zoe about her upbringing, love for food, and tips that everyone can use to improve their recipes.
The Fox Magazine: Where do you consider to be your culinary home; a city or country that helped inform or inspire your love of food?
Probably San Francisco. I lived there as a teenager and was vegetarian at the time. That era had a big influence on my food style. I was just starting to eat outside of the house more and make my own food choices for the first time.
All my favorite SF foods are filled with tons of avocado, citrus, fresh bright flavors, and lots of vegetables. These are definitely the flavors I still gravitate towards today! Veggie burritos from the Mission stuffed with half an avocado, beans, cheese, sour cream and fresh salsa, big veggie sandwiches from a hole in the wall delis, Indian curries of chickpea and cauliflower from the Inner Sunset. These are some of my favorite food memories, and I always seek these out when visiting!
Food is a great way to experience other cultures. What are some things we can learn from other cultures through food?
I absolutely love exploring food from around the world and learning new global flavors and traditions. I love tracking how ingredients are used in different cultures; how vinegar is used in Filipino adobo, compared to Indian vindaloo, compared to Flemish carbonnade, for example.
Food is this universal language that everyone understands– I can’t tell you how many times a stranger has excitedly struck up a conversation with me after seeing the food mag or cookbook I was reading. Food brings us all together and immediately gives us a common ground no matter how different our backgrounds.
What food and drinks tips can you give our readers?
I love to keep fresh herbs and scallions on hand to scatter over the top of pretty much everything I cook. I just take my trusty kitchen scissors and slice a bundle of herbs or a couple of scallion stalks directly overtop of a dish. Whatever I’m eating feels a little nicer and fancier with a bright green sprinkle, and it adds a nice freshness to the dish. I also always have lemon or lime on hand to squeeze over a dish. I keep a small bottle of lemon juice in my refrigerator for when I don’t have any fresh. If a dish is done but the flavor just isn’t quite right, it usually needs a squeeze of citrus and a sprinkle of salt!
What’s a typical day like for you?
To be honest I rarely have a typical day! This last year I spent six months in an intensive training program for performing arts. In addition to my food obsession, I also write comedy and perform. During school, I would have super long days during the week and usually cook a lot over the weekend. Other times I’m cooking, writing, or shooting during the day, and often have evening events, either performing or bartending. When I don’t have events I’m kind of a homebody and love to cook and hang at home with my partner. When I have downtime I watch movies and comedy, read cookbooks, and eat unreasonable amounts of ice cream!
The Fox Magazine is all about inspiration, what/who inspires you the most?
My biggest inspiration is the beauty of fruit and vegetables. I find the colors, shapes, and textures of produce to be absolutely enchanting. This is the biggest inspiration for my photography. As a cook I love feeding people and bringing them joy, making them feel nourished and cared for. Food is definitely my love language.
I love finding new ideas for cooking vegetables and learning new flavors from around the world. These are my two big passions in food. I also believe that cooking should be approachable not intimidating or scary! I think a lot of people didn’t necessarily learn to cook growing up and when they reach adulthood they are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. I find cooking so fun and comforting, it doesn’t have to be complicated and take hours to make a dish that’s tasty and nourishing! In my recipe developing, food writing, and even Instagram feed I try to show that food is fun and enjoyable and doesn’t have to be overly complicated and fussy. I want my work to be a friendly invitation, an inspiration, and a jumping-off point to your own kitchen adventures!
Do you have any tips or tricks for achieving an aesthetically awesome Instagram page? Any social media tips?
I try to balance making my feed beautiful by also keeping it authentic to my life. I like my food to look as it would if you were standing next to me in my kitchen, simple and not overly styled. I want you to feel like you could just reach in and take a bite! For food photos try setting your plate by a window and turning off the overhead light– directional natural light is best. For backgrounds, I like to use a nice cloth dishtowel or another piece of fabric. Something that sets a nice backdrop but isn’t distracting. Let your dish be the star!
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I was home-schooled until high school! I’ve lived in Connecticut, North Carolina, Alaska, California, and now Washington, and have definitely been influenced by all of these food scenes in one way or another!
What’s your favorite food-related motto, quote, or words to live by?
Everything in moderation, including moderation.
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