Photographing onions

Amy Brinkley sets up a photo shoot of some chopped onions at her apartment Monday. She creates new recipes and puts them on her blog, The Blond Cook, which is gaining online popularity with visitors and companies. (Dylan Ray photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — While most people were focused on what to make for a large Thanksgiving meal last week, Amy Brinkley completed the latest assignments for her food blog, The Blond Cook.

“It’s crazy because I just started for fun. I never really expected this much from it,” said Ms. Brinkley of her rising food fame. “I never thought I’d be able to make a living off of it.”

She said the name “The Blond Cook” came from her clumsy early endeavors in the kitchen. “I made a lot of screw ups in the kitchen,” she laughed. “At first it was a joke about myself because I had screwed up so many times in the kitchen.”

Ms. Brinkley – who does have blond hair – finally started on the blog when she needed a creative outlet and a project to feel good about doing. She said it has been “a really good experience overall,” since she started sharing her recipes online.

While she has been a food blogger and posting her recipes online for anyone to use since December 2011, The Blond Cook has rapidly gained attention over the past 10 months. During a good month, her blog can reach 100,000 views, an impressive feat for a cook who works out of her small apartment here.

 As of Nov. 17, she works full time with her food blog, doing posts she was hired for that highlight brands such as Pepperidge Farm, Kahlua liquor and Kraft foods.

The latter recently hired her to do a video blog with their products, which will be released in late December. She joked that the company must have a lot of faith in her, saying, “They don’t even know if I can speak proper English, and they don’t know what my kitchen looks like.”

In addition to earning money for sponsored posts, she has various companies advertising on her blog.

She still works one day a week at the Outpatient Surgical Center of Morehead City, but she is now able to make her living from blogging. She said it was bittersweet to reduce her hours at her former job, but, in order to keep up with the demands of her blog, she had to.

The standard blog post takes her anywhere from four to eight hours between the prep work, concocting a recipe, buying the ingredients, preparing the food, photographing it and writing the blog post before publishing it online.

She also has some posts dedicated to alcoholic drinks, which still take her at least two hours to create and produce.

Ms. Brinkley can hardly believe where her hard work has taken her. “I still feel like I’m in a dream almost,” she said.  “I look forward to work, and I don’t really see it as a job; it is more like a hobby. But I do take it very seriously.”

If her job transition and rising online popularity hasn’t been enough, Ms. Brinkley moved recently to another location in Morehead City. She said that between the demands of her blog and the move, she had little time to consider what to eat for Thanksgiving.

She admitted that her favorite recipes involve comfort food, particularly during the chilly fall and winter months.

Ms. Brinkley said she first really started cooking when she was in her early 20s. She worked part-time at the Island Grille in Atlantic Beach and recalls talking to the chefs to see how they created the various plates. When she would return home at night, she would then try to recreate the restaurant dishes.

From there, she continued to expand her cooking skills. She considered a food blog for about three years before she finally moved forward with it.

She feels her experience can help others who want to pursue a passion. “Things don’t happen overnight, and if there is something you are passionate about, stick with it,” she advised. “I almost stopped when life caught up with me, but I’m glad I didn’t.”

Visit www.theblondcook.com to see what food, drinks and dog treats Ms. Brinkley has created and shared.

Contact Anna Harvey at 252-726-7081, ext. 227; email anna@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @annaccnt.

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