If you don’t know Colu Henry yet, you’re in for a treat. A writer, author and cook who has worked in the food industry for over a decade. She splits her time between Hudson, NY and Nova Scotia, Canada. We were lucky enough to chat with her on all things and know you will be inspired by her as much as we are.
1. Let’s start at the beginning—when did you first fall in love with cooking?
I’ve been passionate about food my whole life, but really got into cooking in college when I started working front of house at restaurants in Boston. Once I graduated, I moved to New York and worked in restaurants there, as well. It was the one subject (other than majoring in musical theater) that I wanted to learn endlessly about, and although I chose an unintentional roundabout path, I gratefully ended up here.
2. You previously worked in fashion. How did you make the switch to working in food, and then the leap to writing your own recipes and cookbooks?
It was during my time in fashion that I took a good writing class and from there transitioned into doing PR for chefs and restaurants, where I learned how to produce photoshoots, “re-write” chefs recipes and be in the kitchen with them. I learned so much that eventually I said “I want to do this for myself!” Many stars aligned and I got my first book deal for Back Pocket Pasta, which came out in 2017.
3. We’re obsessed with your cookbooks, and how they make elegant home cooking accessible. So many folks feel intimidated by cooking because gourmet or sophisticated recipes seem like they require a kind of natural skill. Can you tell us a bit about the philosophy behind “easy fancy food”?
Sophisticated food doesn’t need to be stuffy and elegant recipes can be approachable. My goal is to empower home cooks to not get too hung up. If one of my recipes has inspired you to try something new in the kitchen, it brings me so much joy; if it gives you confidence, even better.
4. Is there any particular cook or cookbook that has influenced your work?
Laurie Colwin and Ruth Reichl. Laurie’s books came to me later in life at a time when I was searching for my voice as a cookbook author. Reading her helped open up my ability to express what I wanted to say, and how I said it. I could be funny and be myself. And Ruth, because Ruth! A true legend, I finally met in person a few summers ago. She lives up to the hype.
5. Where do you go or what do you do when you’re seeking inspiration?
We have a home in Nova Scotia near the ocean. It’s an incredibly peaceful place with no distractions. I get a lot of my writing done there in the summers. I love the act of storytelling through food, so being able to travel, eat and meet people also brings me joy, as well as ideas.
6. At Seek, we value personal style as a vehicle for creativity and self-expression. How would you describe your personal style?
Sweepingly, I’d say classic with a nod to the 70s and a passion for vintage. I also love putting together looks for special occasions. I had a holiday party last week that brought “Von Trap vibes crossed with a very posh English Christmas.” It was a winner! I also believe firmly that mixing high, low and vintage is key for creativity.
My friend, Hannah, recently shared this beautiful poem called The Mysterious Human Heart by Mathew Dickman. If you read it, I think you’ll understand quickly why it moved me so much.
8. What’s the best advice you’ve received so far and who did it come from?
My therapist told me to “Write from love, not for love,” and it made my brain explode. Any art or project should be approached like that. It allowed me to finish my book when I was in a rut.
9. And what advice would you give to someone who would like to turn their passion or hobby into a career, but is afraid to take the leap?
Keep a side hustle that provides steady income and gives you something to fall back on. Passion projects usually aren’t that lucrative, especially in the beginning. Keep at it and scream it from the hills! The more you put something out into the world, the more likely it is to happen.
10. Are there any projects you’re currently working on that you’re particularly excited about?
Yes! I’m working hard on my newsletter, which is a companion to Colu Cooks Easy Fancy Food and I’m also working on cookbook number 3! I’m also making loads of videos with my husband Chad, it’s fun.
To radically grieve. I lost my near 20-year-old dog this summer and it’s my first experience losing something/one that dear. Lean into, there is so much wisdom to gain.
- Instagram: @coluhenry
- Website: www.coluhenry.com
- Substack Newsletter: Colu Cooks
- Latest Cookbook: Colu Cooks: Easy Fancy Food
First Cookbook: Back Pocket Pasta: Inspired Dinners to Cook on the Fly
- Photographer: Chad Silver