Interview w/ Sarah from Broma Bakery – Episode 59: PaleOMG Uncensored Podcast

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Today on the podcast, I’m talking to the lovely and hilarious Sarah from Broma Bakery. Sarah has some of the most stunning food photos out there so she’s telling me where she gets her inspiration from, how she comes up with new recipes, and what projects she’s working on nowadays. Sarah will not only wow you with her creativity, but she will keep you laughing on her instagram stories!

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Episode 59 Transcription!

This is Juli Bauer from PaleOMG and you are listening to PaleOMG Uncensored.

Juli Bauer: Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of PaleOMG Uncensored. You’re very lucky, today. Because I’m not just talking to myself for an hour. I actually have a lovely guest. Her name is Sarah Fennel, and she is the creator of Broma Bakery. Did I say that correctly? Broma? I was going to ask you before.

Sarah Fennel: Yeah, you did.

Juli Bauer: Ok good! {laughs} I’m like, what if it’s supposed to be pronounced a different way. I suck at pronunciation.

Sarah Fennel: Oh no, I get it all the time.

Juli Bauer: Ok.

Sarah Fennel: Hi!

Juli Bauer: Hello!

Sarah Fennel: Thank you so much for having me!

Juli Bauer: I’m so excited to have you on! I found out about you through Monique of Ambitious Kitchen. This was two years ago, probably. We were at an event together in San Francisco, and I was just complimenting her on her photography. And she mentioned you. She said she learned it all from you, and you’re such an amazing photographer. And I started following you right then and there, and have loved following you ever since.

Sarah Fennel: Oh my god, thank you so much! That means a lot. I really appreciate that.

Juli Bauer: What’s cool about you is you have this amazing, classy, beautiful photography and Instagram and blog. And then your Instagram stories you are 100% you, and you’re f*cking hilarious.

Sarah Fennel: {laughing}

Juli Bauer: You are so funny. Oh my god. And, is it your boyfriend, or husband, or life partner?

Sarah Fennel: Yeah, my boyfriend.

Juli Bauer: Ok, your boyfriend. He is so funny, too. You’re just awesome to follow.

Sarah Fennel: Oh my god, thank you. Well yeah, I really like being able to sort of less loss on stories, just because that’s how I am in real life. And I don’t want people thinking I have this amazing, glamorous, perfect life just because my photos are put together.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. Like everything in your house is all white space.

Sarah Fennel: Yes! {laughs}

Juli Bauer: And you have like cupcakes sitting on your counter every day. Which you might. You might.

Sarah Fennel: I do.

Juli Bauer: Well for everyone who doesn’t know about Broma Bakery, and Sarah Fennel, will you just give a little bit about yourself. A little background. How you started your blog. Just the full synopsis of your however many years of life. {laughs}

2.26

Sarah Fennel: Yeah, absolutely. So, I started my blog in the fall of 2010. And I was a college student. I was just really feeling unmotivated and just really uncreative at school. So I wanted to give myself some sort of creative outlet. So I decided to just start photographing baked goods. My mom was a really good home baker growing up, so I basically just took a bunch of her recipes and would make two or three a week and take photos and put it up on the internet.

But I was never doing it with the goal, really, of developing an audience and making this my career. It was totally selfish. I was doing it for myself because I missed having that creativity. And I was fortunate enough to be doing it at a time when blogging was still pretty new and the market was petty open. So I gained a good amount of traction just by sort of throwing a photo up onto the internet and not doing much else.

And then in the fall of 2014, I was working in catering and marketing for a group of restaurants at my college town. Just really not feeling motivated by life and decided to just quit and see if I could make my blog a fulltime thing. So I gave myself two months, and I said, ok if I see a lot of growth in two months then I’ll keep going with this. And if I don’t, then I’ll go find a real job.

So after two months, I did see significant growth. I wasn’t making money at that point on my blog at all, but because I was starting to see more and more people connect and make my recipes, I just kept putting time into it. And then here we are 3 years later. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: And what did you go to school for?

Sarah Fennel: Anthropology.

Juli Bauer: Ohh, ok.

Sarah Fennel: So totally unrelated.

Juli Bauer: Yeah, completely. And so what year was it that you went full time? 2012?

Sarah Fennel: 2014.

Juli Bauer: Oh, 2014. Ok. So when you decided you want to go fulltime with the blog, did you know how to monetize your blog at all, or was it just like, I think opportunities will come out of it. How did you think you would be able to make this a fulltime gig?

Sarah Fennel: Totally. I had no idea what I was doing. I remember I quit my job, and I went home, and I was really frustrated, and I was like; I’m going to try to make this work. Oh, sh*t I don’t even know what to do. So I literally Googled how to make money on a food blog. And I found really bad information online that was like, start using advertising. Reach out to brands. And I was like; ok, but how?

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Sarah Fennel: So it was very much like this self-learning process where I just really hunkered down for a solid year, and tried to learn as much as possible about food blogging. So I was in a fortunate position where I had $8,000 in the bank that I had saved. So I could not make money for a little while, and I just really cut corners that year. But for the first, I would say, 6-9 months, I did not focus on making money. I focused on really homing in on my craft and developing my skill. Because I figured, I need to have this wealth of content before I could go to brands and be like; hi, will you pay me?

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Sarah Fennel: {laughs} And I think that’s something a lot of people sort of don’t realize. I think now everybody wants things fast and quick, and everybody wants to grow and see success overnight. But I think that if you want to have a really lasting, long-term success, you need to be willing to put in work and have it be kind of hard and maybe not see a lot of gains for at least a little while.

Juli Bauer: I mean, especially if you; what I really like about your website is if you go to your recipes, you can click on the exact month and look back at every single month and the progression of all your posts. So you start in October of 2010, and then you said you don’t go fulltime until 2014. I feel like you can really see the progression of how you started concentrated on your photography even more, improving step by step. And then how many more recipes you begin to come out with.

Sarah Fennel: Yeah.

Juli Bauer: So how often do you post nowadays versus when you first started. And are you able; obviously you’re full time so you’re able to put more time into it. But do you have a certain goal, week to week, when you’re posting of how much content you come up with, and what kind of content?

Sarah Fennel: Mm-hmm. So when I was just doing it for myself, I would post whenever I felt like it at any time of the day and there was really no rhyme or reason to it. Once I went full time, I posted three times a week, and I was doing that for a while. And now I’m down to either two or three posts a week depending on the season or if I have a lot of press trips or travel things that I want to talk about. That will add in a third post.

But it’s mostly two recipes and then a third bonus, more lifestyle or travel related post. And in terms of my weekly schedule, I work a month to a month and a half out. So at the beginning of each month, I’ll sit down and I’ll plan ahead the next month, and know sort of who I’m going to be working with and the types of recipes I’m going to be doing and all that stuff. But then there’s always an occasional recipe that you’re like; oh my god I need to post this tomorrow. {laughs} And so it just works its way into the schedule.

Juli Bauer: And then you obviously; so I’ve had mostly on my podcast, since I’m in the paleo world, I’ve had mostly paleo bloggers, or gluten-free bloggers. And you use all the wonderful gluten that’s out there.

Sarah Fennel: {laughing}

Juli Bauer: {laughs} You’ve got all the fun stuff. So you are able to be so incredibly creative. And I get this question, I hear this question to food bloggers all the time. And obviously the answer is very vast. But where do you get so much of your inspiration? Because obviously you’ll do whatever it’s in season. Like you have an autumn Moscow mule right now, so you kind of go with seasonal stuff. Or maybe at a restaurant. But what gives you the most inspiration that you pull from so you can continue to cook week to week?

9.35

Sarah Fennel: Totally. Oh, god. I really feel like I get it from everywhere. I love looking at cookbooks and getting sort of my visual inspiration from there. I look a lot on Pinterest, a lot on Instagram. Really just looking around the web to see what people are enjoying then.

And I think when I develop my recipes, I always like to start from a pretty simple baseline. Like, I definitely want to make a cake. What kind of cake do I want? I want the cake to be chocolatey. So I start from this broad place, and then narrow it in from there.

And I definitely; I am not a recipe developer naturally. It’s something that I’ve really had to learn over time I rely so much on my sister, who is just so good at looking at a fridge that to me is empty and she’s like; oh we can make this three-course meal out of all of this. And that’s not something that comes as naturally to me. So it does just take a lot of time and effort. It’s a muscle that you have to build.

Juli Bauer: And do you enjoy; obviously you started as baking. Do you enjoy baking still the most, or have you kind of fallen in love more with savory recipes as you’ve become more of a recipe developer? Or even cocktails, or side dishes, or whatever.

Sarah Fennel: I think I like baking the most. I mean, baking is something that I will do regardless of if it goes on the blog or not. Even if I’m on vacation, or at someone’s house, I’m like; wait, can I make some cookies? It’s just something that’s very; I don’t know. A part of me. But I will say I have come to enjoy savory recipes, and cooking savory recipes more. I was really intimidated by cooking in the beginning. It’s so funny. So many people say baking is so unknown. But for me, baking is so technical that it’s almost like it’s laid out in front of you, whereas cooking you really have to be creative and think of all these ways to do things. So that was not as natural to me. But again, just like in time, you do it over and over and over again, and you start to think differently and think in that way.

Juli Bauer: Well I think you’ve obviously done a great job with some of your savory recipes, because they look delicious on your website.

Sarah Fennel: Thank you!

Juli Bauer: But I want to talk about your photography. Because when you come to your website, or if you go to your Instagram, you automatically are just taken aback by how beautiful the photography is, and you think you’re like; ok this person obviously knows what they’re doing. So I read a little bit on your website. You started with catering, and that’s where you kind of found your love for photography and it was able to grow from there.

So when you first found your love for taking photos of food, what kind of camera did you start with? Did you just have a little point and shoot? Did you decide to go big right away and get a nice camera? How did you start off? Because I think so many people who are aspiring photographers, they just don’t know where to start because there is so much. There are so many cameras out there and so much information, it’s a hard choice to make unless you have a close friend who is a food photographer.

13.14

Sarah Fennel: Yeah. Yeah. So when I started, I had just a Canon Rebel. And you know, it was like $250 or something like that. And it had the lens that it came with, nothing fancy. And I think when you’re starting out, of course it’s important to have a decent camera. But I think it’s more important to focus your effort on {laughs} this sounds funny, but on tweaking your mind to thinking the right way with food photography. Because unless you know sort of what you’re doing and have a grasp on more of the compositional part of food photography, I think it doesn’t really matter how good your camera is.

So for people that are just starting out, I would definitely recommend getting an SLR, which is one of those bigger cameras that has a lens poking out of it. But you can just start with the baseline level. Because also with so many things, you don’t want to have to go all in and spend thousands of dollars and realize it’s not quite for you. I think it’s totally fine to start with something that’s pretty good, and then focus more on composition, and perspective, and learning about light and things like that.

Juli Bauer: How did you begin to learn that kind of stuff? Did you learn it from another person? Did you go take classes or any courses about photography? How did you really start to improve those skills?

Sarah Fennel: I started my interest in photography back in high school. It was just, you know, like film photography on a black and white camera that we developed ourselves. So I learned about photography for four years during high school. And it was something that I really, really liked. And I think that’s one thing that I would argue sets me apart from some other food bloggers out there. I learned photography, first and foremost, from what they call the masters. Like, people that were photographing back in the turn of the century, and the 20s, and the 50s. Sort of not even thinking about how to photograph food, but just how to photograph, and how to see lines and colors and all these things that make images really strong on their own.

So learning more of those fundamental aspects I think has really helped me. Because it takes a lot of the guess work out of photography. It’s not just; oh god, here’s a muffin, what do I do with it. It’s like; ok. Here’s a muffin. I’m going to use the rule of thirds so it’s balanced out in my photo.

I strongly recommend people to buy books on the fundamentals of photography. Composition, that’s just about photography in general. And not necessarily dive right into food photography, when you’re talking about learning it.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. Interesting. I love hearing about that. I decided to take a course, because I bought a fancier camera and I just put it on automatic. So I’m like; ok, if I’m going to put f*cking good money into a camera, it’s time to actually understand what I’m doing with my camera. So I’m excited to find out just about the camera itself and really, for me, it’s learning what looks good. And what I love coming to your website for; and I’ve done this in the past, is if I’m photographing a bar recipe, I look at your bars, and I see how you photograph them, and I try to figure out why you photographed them in a certain way. Or why you used certain things in the background to balance it out.

And you’ve given some great tips just on your Instagram stories alone, I remember you talking about having a piece of white in something in your photo to kind of balance out, I’m guessing the white balance of it.

Sarah Fennel: Yeah.

Juli Bauer: And just things that I didn’t quite understand, and you just giving those little tips have gone a long way. So you’ve taught workshops, haven’t you?

Sarah Fennel: Yes. Wait I just want to pause and say, that’s so kind of you to say. It makes me so happy {laughs} that you come to my site for inspiration. So thank you.

Juli Bauer: I do! I think I am so, I don’t understand photography, and I don’t understand photos, so I try to understand from the greats out there. And you just have such beautiful photos. And it’s fun trying to learn why you set up a shot a certain way. It’s just really cool to try to figure that out and understand it. You have photography that goes back; and it’s improved so much, but still I’m looking at photos of January 2015 and the photography is still stunning 2 years ago, you know.

Sarah Fennel: Oh my god, thank you.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. It’s so cool to see it improve and change.

Sarah Fennel: Well I mean, if you go back to 2010 I don’t know if you can say the same.

Juli Bauer: Oh yeah; still it was way better than mine. {laughs}

Sarah Fennel: {laughs} So yeah, to answer your question. I’ve started doing these photo workshops, and it has been so much fun. It’s really something that I feel like I’m good at it, but also just really like being able to teach other people and see their wheels turning and see them be like; oh, ok I get it.

So, for a while I was always interested in doing tutorials on my blog. Sharing my trade secrets, like you said how I do sometimes on my Instagram stories. But I wasn’t feeling quite in a place where I felt like I had the authority to teach people. Then, I guess about 8 months ago, I felt a shift. And I was like; you know what? I get all these questions about food photography. Maybe I should monetize this. Maybe I should start teaching people.

And I didn’t want to do it in an eBook, because that feels so impersonal to me. And I think that you get so much more out of learning when you can actually physically be with someone, and sort of be working on things together, and tweaking things and talking through things. So I decided to start doing workshops. And I’ve done two now. I did one in Ann Arbor, which is where I went to college. So it was really cool. We got to go to a lot of the restaurants I used to work at, and partner with some old friends.

And then I just did one two weeks in Napa. And that was stunning. I did that one with a cohost. Which was a really fun experience, because it allowed me to, I think take a step back and she could teach and I could go over to someone and help them with their camera settings. And it was just really awesome. And the house was stunning.

Juli Bauer: How did you start setting those up? Did you work; like this one in Napa. Did you work with a certain hotel, or a brand to really bring the full experience together, or how did you get that event really going in the first place, since it was so new to you?

Sarah Fennel: Yeah. I have to credit my assistant Hilary. Basically she came on in May of this year, and she was like; Sarah, let’s do a workshop. And I was like; I don’t know. I don’t know. She was like, I’ll take care of all the logistics. Let’s do a workshop. {laughs}

So she really helped in terms of being like; ok, this is, we need to market this to people. We need to put a post out. We need to talk with a hotel. We need to do all these things. So she really was like the logistics expert. For the Ann Arbor workshop, we did partner with a hotel for people to actually stay at the hotel. But then the workshop we did at some of my friend’s; it’s like this beautiful carriage house right downtown. And they just rented it out to us for the week, which was incredible.

And then for the Napa workshop, my cohost. Actually, the house owner reached out to her directly, and was like; “I know you’ve done workshops in the past. Would you want to host a workshop at my house?” And my cohost was like, this is the most beautiful house I’ve ever seen. Yes. So that really came; you know, it dropped into our lap, which was incredible.

I’m really struggling now, because with my next workshop, it’s like; oh my god, where do we go? And it’s so hard to find a house that’s beautiful and that also sleeps like 15 people.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. Where do you live?

Sarah Fennel: I live in Detroit.

Juli Bauer: Ok. Detroit. So are you trying to do workshops all over the place in different cities every single time? So it just really depends on the city you’re going to work in. Do you want to be all over the place so you can get all kinds of different faces?

Sarah Fennel: Yes. Exactly. And I want it to be a unique experience every time. I think it’s just so fun to be able to curate this experience based on the season, based on the place that we’re in, and really work around those. I mean, I’ve been toying with the idea of doing another Ann Arbor workshop, just because it seemed like a really good spot for people to get to. With the Napa workshop, I think it was a little more difficult for people to get out to the West Coast. But yeah, I do like the idea of doing them all over.

I think eventually I want to get my own studio space so I can do more day workshops, and things like that. But for now, it’s also fun for me to be able to travel to all these places. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Yeah. And when you’re setting up these workshops, are you thinking; ok, we’re going to go photograph our big breakfast at a certain restaurant, and then we’re going to work in studio. Do you try to take it into different elements, so they’re not just getting just the set up of an actual food photography studio?

Sarah Fennel: Yes. So, all of the workshops that I’ve done, the way that we lay it out we have classroom time, which is basically lectures, and then we have hands on time. So, pretty much everything we eat throughout the weekend, there’s an opportunity to photograph it. It’s not necessary, but it’s just a way to interact with the beautiful food that’s there for you the whole weekend.

And then during classroom time, we literally just sit in a circle and go over these; I mean, they’re lectures but it’s not boring stuff. It’s actually been the thing that people say they like the most. Which makes me so happy. Because it is like PowerPoints that we talk about. But to hear that people are excited about learning these very specific things makes me really happy.

And then when we go to restaurants; again, if you want to photograph before your food comes out, you can. Or we can just sit down and talk about how you want to grow your Instagram. Or how to reach out to brands and make it more of an open conversation.

Juli Bauer: That is so cool. Nowadays, as you’ve built your brand up and you’ve worked with more companies, do you find yourself reaching out to more companies, or do you find more brands reaching out to you? Or is it kind of just a balance of both?

Sarah Fennel: I would say a balance of both. I think a lot of people assume that just because you’re big, and you’re doing well and whatever that opportunities just come to you. And they definitely come to me more than they have in the past. And the opportunities I do get from people that come to me are fantastic. But I still do a lot of pitching. I think it’s so important not to get lazy with that. Because if I stopped reaching out to brands and just let them come to me, then I wouldn’t work with half the brands that I do. And I have these long-term contracts now because I was willing to be like; hey, this is me.

I mean, just because I have a decent Instagram following, that doesn’t mean that somebody at Chobani knows who I am. I have to make myself known to them.

Juli Bauer: Mm-hmm. That’s good to hear. Because I think; I loved what you said about this. Because I think a lot of people, especially people who listen to this podcast, they are aspiring bloggers, and they think that it just comes naturally. You just grow this huge following, and then all these businesses reach out to you and you’re golden. And it’s just kind of everything falls into place. But it takes a lot of hard work and constantly trying to grow your brand while growing your visual to brands so they want to work with you.

So I love hearing all of this, of how much work you’re putting into it. And you’re not just thinking; oh yeah, these brands will just come along. Because that’s just not how it works, sadly. I wished it did. But it’s just not how it works.

Sarah Fennel: I know. That would be a nice life. But I think, it’s so important too to make sure that you’re constantly doing things to improve on your own work. Because as soon as you stagnate, your work stagnates. And you want to be just every month thinking about ways you can get better, and what you can do to improve your brand. I strongly feel like, as long as you are continuously improving, things are going to keep coming your way. But as soon as you go on autopilot, then it’s like; who’s to say that you’re going to stay relevant?

Juli Bauer: Exactly. And it’s just like at a business, if you’re working for someone else and not working for yourself. If you’re just going through the motions, your boss is going to see that. Our bosses are the people who are reading, and they see that too. So it’s just like any business, whether you work for yourself or someone else. Someone is going to see your laziness and that you’re not putting as much effort into it. So I love that you’re continuously trying to improve.

But I want to stay on the photography a little bit more, because I’m obsessed with your photography. This is kind of a broad question; but how did you find your photography style? Because everybody has a different bit of a style. Maybe some people love using floral decorations, or some people using glass, or metals. A lot of your photos have a white background. How did you decide what your photography style was? What gives you inspiration in your own photography?

Sarah Fennel: So I would say that I found my style through a lot of trial and error. If you look back to a lot of my older stuff on my Instagram, on my blog. It was kind of all over the place. I didn’t know if I wanted to be dark and moody, or light and bright. If I wanted to have sort of a more muted look. And I really just played around with it.

So doing that over time, I noticed that every time I would photograph on white, or on a lighter surface, I liked how it looked more, and I felt like it was more me. So, it really was just trial and error.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Sarah Fennel: But I will say; one thing that we do in the workshop. Can you hear my sister blow-drying her hair?

Juli Bauer: Not at all.

Sarah Fennel: Ok good.

Juli Bauer: {laughing}

Sarah Fennel: So one thing that we do in the workshop, which is really helpful for people, is we create these mood boards. The idea is; abandon everything that you think you know, or you think you like. Go on Pinterest, or go to whatever visual site that you really like, and start putting together your favorite photos. Don’t think about it; just do. Make it very quick and without thought.

And then after you get like 10 or 15 photos, then look at those photos all together, and see what things are coming up over and over again. Are you seeing a lot of black backgrounds? Are you seeing a lot of blue? Are you seeing a lot of hands in the shots? And from there, sort of pick out the things that you like the most, and then start to incorporate those into your work.

So when I was creating my mood board, when we did this exercise at my first workshop, mine was very comforting, but also still very bright. The photos; it was always sort of shot on a cloudy day. There was a lot of gray. And then as I moved on and photographed from that point on, it was like; ok. So I need to make sure I’m photographing on cloudy days, making sure there’s a lot of gray. Making things look comforting. And bringing in more those mood and emotional feelings into your work.

Juli Bauer: OK, that’s cool.

Sarah Fennel: Does that make sense? {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Yeah, totally does. It’s so interesting how we can all just have a completely different style of photography, but love and appreciate so much other photography. Because me, I always want it to be; I want the sun to be shining for my photos. Because I like the bright colors. I like blue backgrounds and pink backgrounds. But then I’m absolutely obsessed. And I’ve been looking at all your photos, and I’m like; ok, I need to get more white backgrounds, because I just love how that looks.

Where do you get your backgrounds from?

Sarah Fennel: So my favorite place. Well, ok when I started out I would go to the tile section at Home Depot and just get tiles. And it’s a great way to just get cheap backgrounds. You can clean them up easily. Highly recommend.

But, now my favorite place to get backgrounds is a company called Woodville Workshop. And they based in Russia. I found them randomly on Etsy like a year ago. And I decided to order one of their backdrops, and I absolutely loved it. They’re really light. They have just phenomenal texture. They have great customer service. And the prices; it’s not like $2, but it’s not as bad as some of the other things out there. I think it’s a really decent price, considering the quality that you get for their backdrops.

And let me just double check; I have a code I can give to you. It’s not even an affiliate code. I literally; I love these people so much, I reached out to them and was like; can you please give me a discount for my followers because everyone needs these backgrounds.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. You know, Lexi from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen recommended this place, too. I’ve looked for them but I haven’t actually purchased anything. So now I definitely want to after two people have recommended them.

Sarah Fennel: I love Lexi so much!

Juli Bauer: She’s so great.

Sarah Fennel: She’s the best! Ugh.

Juli Bauer: She’s really awesome.

Sarah Fennel: But yeah, definitely recommend them. And then the other place that I recommend if you want a really good marble, Crate and Barrel has this, it’s called their French Marble Pastry Slab. And it’s so f*cking heavy, but it’s this beautiful piece of white marble. And that’s something I shoot on almost every shoot. So it’s definitely worth it.

Juli Bauer: And do you just stick to mostly white backgrounds? Do you ever get any backdrops that are like dark woods or colors? Do you just like sticking with the whites and the gray colors the most?

Sarah Fennel: I think that it’s really important to differentiate between a brand style and what you appreciate and your personal style. So I shoot a lot for other clients, and because I do I have a lot of darker backdrops that I use for specific clients, or woods for specific clients. But when it comes to an individual brand, I actually think that it’s better to only have like two or three backdrops. It makes it so much easier to create a cohesive look than if you have all of these colors and different lights and darks going on.

So I would actually say; definitely experiment with things. But once you realize what you like, then I would pick two or three things and just cycle through those.

Juli Bauer: OK. Well I’m totally going to make a purchase with them today. Because I need some new inspiration.

Sarah Fennel: Yeah! They’re just so great. Yeah. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: So let’s talk about your recipes. How many recipes do you think; if you even know. How many recipes do you have on your website?

Sarah Fennel: I mean, I don’t even know. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Yeah! I mean, starting in 2010.

Sarah Fennel: Like hundreds. Yeah.

Juli Bauer: Seriously. Easily.

Sarah Fennel: I can’t tell you. I think it’s around 400. Yeah. I mean, it’s a lot. And every year towards the end of the season, I’m like; oh my god, how am I going to think of things next year? {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Sarah Fennel: It’s 530. That’s very cool.

Juli Bauer: That’s amazing. Yeah.

Sarah Fennel: But somehow you just think of more stuff.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. People always say that. They’re like; do you think you’ll ever run out of ideas? I’m like, no. There’s always something new. You change two ingredients, two spices, and you have a completely different dish. So the possibilities are 1000% unlimited. They’re just so completely unlimited.

So, and I always hate this question because it’s very difficult when you have that many recipes on your blog, but I think it’s always great for people to have something to look for when they first start on your blog, and they’re like; I don’t even know where to start.

Sarah Fennel: Are you going to ask what my favorites are?

Juli Bauer: Oh my god yeah!

Sarah Fennel: Oh I’m ready.

Juli Bauer: Ok. Ok good.

Sarah Fennel: {laughing}

Juli Bauer: So, top; I wanted to start with sweets. So top 3 favorite sweet recipes.

Sarah Fennel: Totally. Ok, so definitely, these are really new. Tahini chocolate chip cookies. They are just; oh my god, Juli, they’re so good.

Juli Bauer: I saw those when I was looking through your recipes.

Sarah Fennel: They’re so good. And they’re not; so tahini is just sesame seed paste. It’s like peanut butter, but for sesame seeds. And it’s not super, super strong, it’s just this little bit of nuttiness, but these cookies I tested. I’m not even joking, I think it was 15 times. It might have been 16.

Juli Bauer: Oh my god.

Sarah Fennel: Because I just, I wanted them to be perfect. And they’re so good. They’re like, just chewy. It tastes like a cookie that you’d get from a bakery. They’re amazing. And then I have a brownie recipe that is a gingersnap molasses brownie. So it’s super, super fudgy. It’s got a lot of ginger in it, so it’s really nice and punchy. And it’s just so good for fall. And then, god the third one; I’m struggling. Because…

Juli Bauer: I know. I don’t know how you even chose so far.

Sarah Fennel: Yeah. Ok, so my mom has this amazing, amazing carrot cake recipe that we’ve been making every single birthday I can ever remember. And on the site it’s called the best carrot cake in the world. And it’s this incredibly moist carrot cake that’s make with cinnamon and coconut and pineapple and raisins. Tons of carrots. It’s just so good.

Juli Bauer: Yum!

Sarah Fennel: It’s really good. Yeah.

Juli Bauer: OK, what about your three top favorite savory recipes.

Sarah Fennel: Ok, so for savory, I have this soup that my boyfriend Alex has nicknamed dope soup, because it’s dope.

Juli Bauer: {laughs}

Sarah Fennel: And on the site it’s called Thai Coconut Curry Soup.

Juli Bauer: Yum! Obsessed already.

Sarah Fennel: Oh, it’s so good. And what makes it so good is you basically boil for two hours. Just like a simmer, but the flavors just get so concentrated and it tastes like something that came out of; at least what I think, is a Thai kitchen. I really like it.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Sarah Fennel: So definitely that. And then I have a, let me think. I’m literally looking through all my recipes right now.

Juli Bauer: I am too! {laughs}

Sarah Fennel: Yeah! {laughs} Oh, the coq au vin that I have is one of my favorites. I think with savory recipes, I really like those really sort of fall, comforting flavors. But I do; I mean, I’m not someone that loves 3 pounds of cheese or a quart of heavy cream. I like doing lightened up comfort foods. So the coq au vin is awesome. It’s with these cheesy cauliflower grits. It’s basically just grits made with cauliflower and that’s probably on rotation once a month during the cold months at our house. Love, love, love that one.

And then I would say probably this sandwich recipe that I have. That’s called the green thumb sandwich. And it’s this beautiful green veggie sandwich. It’s got an herbed goat cheese, cucumber sprouts, avocado, green peppers. It’s just so good. It’s like a garden in a sandwich. It’s so pretty, too.

Juli Bauer: Yum. What do you think are the hardest recipes to photograph? Do you have; you know you’re making a recipe, and you know; ok. This is going to suck.

Sarah Fennel: Yeah.

Juli Bauer: I get nervous with drinks. Just because the ice melts, or if you have a coffee drink, it separates from the cream. Do you have any ones that you don’t look forward to making, just because you know the photography is going to be tough?

Sarah Fennel: I’m with you on drinks.

Juli Bauer: They’re hard.

Sarah Fennel: Drinks are really hard. And it’s hard, too because it’s like a glass or a mug, so…

Juli Bauer: Reflection.

Sarah Fennel: it reflects. Yeah. So drinks for sure. And then I think probably bars. I mean, brownies I think are naturally awesome because they have chocolate. But any sort of bar recipe, a lot of times I find myself staring at it and being like; ok, you just look like a block.

Juli Bauer: Totally!

Sarah Fennel: What do I do with you?

Juli Bauer: A blob of goo.

Sarah Fennel: Yeah. I’d say probably those. I think my favorite thing to photograph is cakes. I absolutely love photographing cakes. Just because, I don’t know, naturally they have this great height. There’s usually this awesome texture to it. You can decorate it in so many ways. People just love cake. I just; yeah, I love photographing cakes.

Juli Bauer: I think people love staring at cakes, for sure. Even if they’re not going to make them.

Sarah Fennel: Right.

Juli Bauer: And I feel like most people, a lot of times when they see desserts, they’re like, I’m not even going to make that, I just want to stare at it.

Sarah Fennel: Yeah.

Juli Bauer: That’s at least how I am. I just want to stare at cakes. They’re so tall.

Sarah Fennel: I’m with you. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Sarah Fennel: I know, every time I make a cake, I’m like; ok I need to do something with this right now, because I’m going to eat it all.

Juli Bauer: I know! Ok that’s a great little segue. So, let’s talk about being a food blogger, especially a dessert blogger, where you’re around desserts on a regular basis. And you are in incredibly great shape. It looks like you love to do yoga.

Sarah Fennel: Oh my gosh! {laughs}

Juli Bauer: You’re in such good shape. And you always have these cute little body suits, and you’re almost high waisted jeans. And you just look fantastic. You should start sharing some of your outfits, because they’re all adorable.

Sarah Fennel: You’ve inspired me. I love how you do your outfits on your blog.

Juli Bauer: Oh! Thank you. Well you should definitely share yours, because I think people would love that. So, how do you stay in shape? And I know you’ve talked about this on your blog. I saw a post about it, where you actually talk about things that you do. But can you tell people? Because being around sugar, as we know, is very addicting. So it’s sometimes hard to shut it down. Especially when you’re making such amazing desserts, and you’re tasting as you go. So how do you keep yourself in check during these days of making multiple desserts sometimes.

Sarah Fennel: Let me tell you, it’s hard. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Yeah! For real.

Sarah Fennel: I would say, I mean, I have a huge sweet tooth. So I need to eat dessert. It’s just something; a day is not completely unless I can have a little bit of sugar. But I think the thing that I always strive towards is making sure that I’m really careful with my proportions. Like my serving sizes. So because I’m going to be eating dessert every day, or almost every day, I make sure that I have only a small cookie. And almost by the fact that I’m making dessert every day, it makes it less of this; oh my god I need to eat this right now.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Sarah Fennel: Because I’m like; yeah, but tomorrow I’m going to have cake. And the next day I’m going to have a brownie. So it makes it easier for me to, I guess, curb my sweet tooth. But I think the biggest thing is, at least that I’ve noticed for myself, is when I don’t allow myself that bite of brownie or that cookie, I end up usually snacking on other things even more. So I really try to really listen to myself, and my body, and what I want. And be like; ok, do I want that brownie? Ok, yeah, I’ll have that brownie. But you know what? I’m just going to cut a small piece of it. But I am going to give it to myself. And you know, by doing that I feel like it’s a good balance of giving your body what you want, but not overindulging.

Juli Bauer: And when you make your desserts. So when you made these tahini cookies, 15 f*cking times.

Sarah Fennel: I know.

Juli Bauer: You are insane. I tried muffins twice, and I was like; f*ck this I’m done. I can’t. I don’t care.

Sarah Fennel: Right! Right.

Juli Bauer: But do you usually taste as you go? Or do you fully just make the dough, maybe not even taste the dough, and just make the cookies. Because I have a hard time not tasting raw eggs {laughs} in a dessert as I go. I have a very hard time not licking the spoon.

Sarah Fennel: I know. I mean I definitely did, and I felt a little sugar high after that day. But {laughs} yeah, I really do try to limit myself. And then once the cookies are baked, I’ll have a bit of it. And limit myself to one bit. Because I know later in the day I’m going to want an actual full cookie.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Sarah Fennel: But I do, I taste everything that I make. And I think one thing that’s really helped, too, is as I’m baking, if I know I have a lot going on that day, I’ll chew gum because it makes it so I won’t just pop stuff into my mouth as I’m going. But again, I never want to feel like I’m really limiting myself.

Juli Bauer: I’m the same way.

Sarah Fennel: It’s just trial and error.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. And I know you talked about in your post, because you talk about this in a post. You talk about drinking a lot of water, and make sure you’re eating a ton of vegetables. And that really kind of helps with that. And I do the same thing. I try to make sure I’m actually craving the sweet, and it’s not just the sugar demon taking over. So drinking that water, and making sure I’m actually satisfied before eating the dessert and just going ham on it is so important. Because sugar is not the enemy; our brain is. And that’s what will keep us so addicted.

Sarah Fennel: Yeah!

Juli Bauer: So what kind of exercise do you do?

Sarah Fennel: I do a mixture of HIIT routines; you know, like BBG and things like that. And then like a hot vinyasa yoga. So when I was living in Boston, I went to Core Power. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it; Core Power Yoga.

Juli Bauer: Yeah, we have a ton here.

Sarah Fennel: Oh, I absolutely loved them. And they have this class, it’s called yoga sculpt. And it’s basically like a weight and HIIT class with yoga transitions. And it just to me feels like the perfect workout. Because you get that cardio, but then you get your muscle training in, and then you also feel like you’re stretching with yoga and doing this sort of mind/body thing. I just absolutely love it. But in Detroit, because there is no Core Power. Which, Core Power if you’re listening, I will be your Detroit rep. I want this to happen. But I mostly wake up and I am not a morning person, and I just force myself to do a short HIIT routine. And I’ve found that I just started to crave it over time. The more I incorporated it into my routine, the more I was like; wait, I didn’t do that today. I want to do that.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Sarah Fennel: Yeah. And then recently I’ve also done, like Monique, Ambitious Kitchen, she has this company called Healthy Glow Co, and they have some really great workouts on their site that I’ve been trying out. They have this one lower body, I think it’s called working twerking chipper. And it’s awesome. My legs are so sore every day I do that.

Juli Bauer: That’s awesome.

Sarah Fennel: Yeah. But I mean, working out is not something I’ve done my whole life. Like I did track in high school, and did dance and all this stuff. But I had a really hard time finding a workout that stuck. And it just; it took a lot of time for me to figure out sort of what my body wanted. I’m one of those people; and I think you are too. When I workout, I want to sweat so much. I want to feel like totally exhausted at the end. I love that feeling. And so I’ve just tried to find workouts that get me to that point. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Yeah. Absolutely. I always want to feel like I had a good sweat, whether that’s a yoga sculpt. Just anything I’m going to feel super sweaty afterward. Because if I didn’t get a good sweat, I don’t feel like I got quite a good enough workout. And I know you don’t need to sweat a crazy amount every single time, but that’s what makes me feel like I really earned my workout that day.

Sarah Fennel: Yes. Totally.

Juli Bauer: So, before we end the call, I want to talk about just kind of some of the questions that people had on Instagram. I want to know if you have any tips for a new food blogger. Because obviously you give these types of tips at your workshops. But for someone who is listening and can’t make it to your workshop, do you have any tips of what kind of camera to start out with? Lighting tips or props? Lightroom versus photoshop. Any tips for new blogger or photographer.

Sarah Fennel: Absolutely. I’m so glad you asked, because I’m so excited about this. I haven’t promoted it at all yet because I don’t want to get people too excited before it comes out. But I’m actually going to be teaching online; it’s like an online food photography school. So it’s this one-time price that you pay, and then it’s a 4-week course that you get access to videos every week. And we’ll go through lighting. We’ll go through cameras. We’ll go through set ups. We’ll walk through Lightroom and how to use it, and how to edit on your phone. Basically, it’s like everything you want to know about food photography in a four-week course.

And then after the course, you have access to it forever. So you can go back and look through stuff. So I’m so excited about that.

Juli Bauer: That’s awesome.

Sarah Fennel: Yeah. So, if you are interested in that, feel free to, on my website, I have a contact form. Just email me, and I can get you on the list for that.

Juli Bauer: When are you hoping to come out with that?

Sarah Fennel: So I’m hoping to come out with it in December. I am going to be hosting a free webinar that’s kind of like a little teaser. And in the webinar we’re going to be talking about the three angles that you should always use for food photography. The four things I do to every photo I edit. And then also we’re going to talk a little bit about marketing, because it’s such an important aspect of food blogging. I mean, you can take great pictures, but where do you go from there if you don’t know how to reach out to people about them?

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Sarah Fennel: So it’s a little bit of everything. I’m really excited. That free webinar is coming out the first week in November. So again, if you want to get on the list for that, it’s totally free. Just feel free to contact me through the blog.

Juli Bauer: Fun! That’s so exciting.

Sarah Fennel: Yeah! But you know, I think overall, if I had a message to aspiring food photographers or food bloggers or people just starting out, it’s that I think that anything that’s worth doing in life, or anything that’s going to make an impact in your life is going to be a lot of hard work and effort. And I think, especially in the blogging world, so many people assume that it’s easy because it’s posting beautiful things on the internet. But there’s a lot of energy and effort that goes into it. So, you know, if this is something you want to do, then harness all of your energy, and just really put all of that energy into creating and making it work.

Juli Bauer: And this is my own personal question. Do you prefer photoshop or light room to edit your photos?

Sarah Fennel: I’ve gone back and forth. I started out with Lightroom, and then I felt like I couldn’t get the photos looking how I wanted, so I moved to photoshop. And then I was like, oh my god it’s taking me so long to edit in photoshop. So I basically retaught myself light room and found different ways to work within Lightroom. So now I work exclusively in Lightroom. It’s faster. It’s easier. And it’s a lot more user friendly.

Juli Bauer: Yeah, I feel like it’s so much more user friendly from the minimal time I’ve spent on photoshop, I just feel so lost. Not having any background in it.

Sarah Fennel: Oh totally. And with Lightroom, too; with photoshop as well, but with Lightroom there are so may great tutorials out there. So I would suggest literally going onto YouTube and typing in Lightroom tutorial, food photography. And just studying all the little buttons and doodads that are in Lightroom. Just playing with it.

Juli Bauer: That’s totally how I’ve learned things. I’m like; how do I whiten my teeth on Lightroom? Google; YouTube; easy. {laughs}

Sarah Fennel: Yes!

Juli Bauer: So do you have any; obviously you take your camera everywhere. Do you have any fashionable camera bags that you like to use? Or do you just use a straight up camera bag that it comes with? How do you stay cute while you’re taking your camera everywhere?

Sarah Fennel: Um, I love the company Ona. They have great leather photography bags. They have some totes, some crossbodies. I think they also have some backpacks. But they’re specifically made for photography. So the entire inside is cushioned, and they’re just really beautiful. Definitely recommend that, but also I’m not going to lie, I usually throw my camera into my normal big tote bag. And throw in a chunky scarf with it, and just let the scarf sort of {laughs}.

Juli Bauer: Hold it.

Sarah Fennel: Yeah. But god, it is hard to look cute when you’re carrying around a camera.

Juli Bauer: And those cameras are huge.

Sarah Fennel: I know.

Juli Bauer: They weigh a lot. Do you take them everywhere when you travel as well? Just keep it in your purse with you.

Sarah Fennel: I do. Yeah. And for a while I didn’t. For a while, I used a tiny little point and shoot camera. And every time I came back from a trip, I found myself being like; ugh, I wish I had…

Juli Bauer: Disappointed.

Sarah Fennel: Yeah, I wish I had taken the big one. So I just suck it up and carry around a big camera the whole time.

Juli Bauer: That’s what I’ve been doing. I carry my little point and shoot, or take pictures on my phone. I’m like, ok Juli, you’ve got to start stepping it up and just take around your 50-pound camera. That’s just kind of what you have to do.

Sarah Fennel: Yes. You’ve got to do it.

Juli Bauer: Ok, I have one last question for you. This is such a serious question. Have you ever put soap on your desserts so you didn’t eat them?

Sarah Fennel: {laughs}

Juli Bauer: {laughs}

Sarah Fennel: Oh my god. First of all, this is an amazing question. I love it.

Juli Bauer: {laughing}

Sarah Fennel: I can’t say I’ve put soap on my baked goods, but I have thrown them into the trash, or put water all over them.

Juli Bauer: Ok, water. I mean, water does the trick.

Sarah Fennel: But, ok, I made these churros one time, and they were so good. I was like; too much. I ate like five of them, and I was like, I need to stop. Threw them into the trash. My sister’s boyfriend at the time came over that night. They went out, they got drunk, they came back. And the next morning, we were all sitting down at breakfast; and he was like; I can’t believe we ate trash churros.

Juli Bauer: {laughing}

Sarah Fennel: They ate the churros out of the trash. I was like, are you guys serious? So you can’t just put it on the top of the trash. You have to put something else on top. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Exactly. I will put them in the trash, and I will pour soap. And that’s totally a Sex in the City Miranda move, but I have done that.

Sarah Fennel: Yes, with chocolate cake.

Juli Bauer: Yes. I’ve done that. Or I’ll put soap in the dish that I was mixing it in, so I won’t keep eating the batter. Get your life together, Juli.

Sarah Fennel: But you know what’s so funny, with the batter bowls, I’ll be filling up the water, and as the water is filling up, I see at the top of the bowl, I’m like; oh but that hasn’t been touched yet! And I just grab that little bit before the water gets to it.

Juli Bauer: I know. I know.

Sarah Fennel: It’s a struggle.

Juli Bauer: The struggle is real. But you are obviously crushing it, because you make the most beautiful desserts and you look fantastic and you look glowing all the time. So you are crushing the life game, Sarah.

Sarah Fennel: Aww, thank you so much.

Juli Bauer: Yeah, thank you so much for coming on. Tell everywhere where they can find you.

Sarah Fennel: You can find me on BromaBakery.com. It’s Broma bakery. And all my social media handles, it’s also @BromaBakery. Again, if you’re interested in learning more about food photography, I would love to have you for this webinar. So feel free to email me too if you have questions.

Juli Bauer: Yeah, you might have an email from me to sign up for that. Because I would love to learn from you.

Sarah Fennel: Ok!

Juli Bauer: And, I might have to stop in at one of your workshops because that sounds super fun.

Sarah Fennel: You have to help me out with figuring where we should go.

Juli Bauer: Ok. I’m happy to do that.

Sarah Fennel: Thank you so much.

Juli Bauer: Yes! Thank you. You hold on the line for a second, I’m just going to end this. Thank you guys so much for listening to this episode. Don’t forget to rate, review, and subscribe. And I will see you guys next time. Bye-bye.

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Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.

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4 thoughts on “Interview w/ Sarah from Broma Bakery – Episode 59: PaleOMG Uncensored Podcast”

  1. Hi there,
    This is my first time writing a comment/request on a blog or podcast, but you’ve really resonated with me regarding your skin! (Among other things; basically I think you’re great) I’m 28 years old, I’m an athlete and do CrossFit (new to it but love it), and I’ve had skin problems all my life. I was hoping by now it would go away, but of course it hasn’t. I’d love to know more about your journey with your skin because it looks amazing now! What products work and don’t work, did you used to pick at your skin (because I sure as shit do), etc. I’ve seen some posts on IG, but I’m not avid at social media so podcast is the best way for me to learn and grow. Thank you!!

  2. I just had to come by and say that I LOVED this interview… the questions were great, the information was fantastic, loved the tid bits from you both. Thank you, hands down one of my fav episodes <3 <3

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