We had the good fortune of connecting with Christina Conte and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christina, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I think the most important factor behind the success of my brand is my determination. I feel so strongly about sharing the knowledge that I have from my unique background. I would love fellow Americans, and others around the world, to learn about authentic Italian and British food. It enthralls me everyday.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My “art” is my food and stories. I think one of the things that sets me apart beyond my background, is my unique perspective. Having been born in Scotland, with Italian parents and living in the US gives me a very different viewpoint on many subjects, but especially food and culture. When I began Christina’s Cucina, I didn’t have a clue about setting up a website and how to do things properly, so it’s been a “learn as I go” process, and I am still learning every single day. Trial and error is one of the ways I’ve learned, as well as advice from others in the field on how to improve on many different aspects of our business of food and travel. On top of learning how to run my site, things are constantly changing, so it’s not easy to keep up. One of the biggest challenges in this field is the fact that many people feel that photos and recipes can be taken and used at will. My photos have been stolen all over the world, and used for financial gain. My recipes (which I always give credit to where they came from, whether it’s my Nonna or a cookbook) are often copied in full and used on others’ sites; it is beyond frustrating. I want everyone to think about where recipes come from. When looking online, ask yourself: does this person have the background and/or experience to share such a recipe from the top of their head. Like me, many have not gone to cooking school, so I would question whether they are sharing family recipes or simply copying and resharing in order to make a profit. For example, there was the recipe site that put ground beef in an apple pie (instead of mincemeat). It’s a huge site that people are turning to for recipes thousands of times a day, but clearly, they are not reliable. When these people and websites lack conviction and passion in food, sadly, so do the recipes. It disappoints me that home cooks end up using recipes that don’t work and end up blaming themselves for the failure. Sadly, the internet is chock full of these sites and recipes (and growing every day), so it’s difficult to sort through to find the solid ones. One thing I want to shout from the rooftops is that my recipes actually work! If followed as written, perfect results can almost be guaranteed because they are tried and tested and often have been made hundreds of times. I believe that this is one of the other reasons for my success. People who have tried one of my recipes come back again and again because they see the results; they trust me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
(Given Covid, these are places I went to before and hope to visit again in future.) There is so much to see and do and eat in Los Angeles, it’s always hard to narrow it down my very favorites, but there are some that always come to mind first. I love to visit the Huntington Gardens in San Marino, it’s just a world class spot, and I feel it’s not given the attention it deserves. The LA Arboretum is another beautiful spot to discover Hiking in our local mountains, no matter if it’s in Burbank, Hollywood, Altadena or Malibu, it’s an adventure. I recently went horseback riding in Malibu and that was so much fun! Going for afternoon tea at The Millenium Biltmore in downtown LA is like a getaway to another place and time, and I highly recommend it. Aroma Coffee and Tea Company in Studio City is a wonderful spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The atmosphere and food make it a place I return to often. Korea Town is a great place to go for authentic Korean barbecue, and a fun night out. I recently joined Ale Gambini (Italian food expert and cookbook author at A Queen in the Kitchen) and Cynthia McCloud Woodman (trained chef at What a Girl Eats) to head the California chapter of the Tiramisù Academy from Treviso, Italy! We will be holding local events (when it’s safe) to promote and enjoy all things Italian, like food, culture, and travel! I would say if you love Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy, join our Tiramisù Club; it’s not just about tiramisù! (Get more info on Facebook: Tiramisù Academy California.)
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Just recently, I gave two of my good friends, Debbie Langley and Joyce Boehm Hughes, a thank you gift basket as a way of acknowledging their suggestion that I start a website in 2011. Had it not been for them, I never would have given it a thought. My lovely friend, Melissa Lanz (owner of The Fresh20), has been instrumental in helping me to grow not only my site, but also has given me tools in being a brand new business owner, which have been extremely useful. Last, but surely not least, my wonderful friend, Henry Acuña, for his fabulous suggestions and advice whenever I have needed it. He’s like a coach, advisor, mentor, agent, and cheerleader all rolled into one!
Other: Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/christinascucina/_created/