We had the good fortune of connecting with Morgan Baker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Morgan, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Balance is the thing I am always striving for the most. More than working for a specific publication, more than a monetary goal, more than any single thing. This is so important because for a long time I had no sense of balance. I over-worked to the point of exhaustion and that was a really toxic headspace to be in constantly. I didn’t make the choice to find more balance in terms of work and life, that choice was kind of made for me when I stopped getting journalism assignments and my career began to shift more toward food media. There was about a year I wandered aimlessly, confused and scared about what would come next, and lost because my whole identity was wrapped up in being a journalist. That year forced me to slow down, and as cheesy as it sounds, that’s when I began to truly see what made me happy. I started baking bread and gardening. Once I healed myself from the loss of my first career I felt stronger and more sure of what would come next. Now I am able to do things I’ve never done before – like saying no! Like making time for my family, volunteer work, and all the things that bring me far more joy than I’ve ever felt.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I began my career in journalism because I wanted to tell stories and care for people. Caring for others is core to my identity. To be of service, to love, to nurture. To feed people by proxy through recipes is exactly that! It’s nurturing, loving, and deeply personal. Technically, the difference in what I do now vs then is pretty huge, but there are so many transferable skills — like my background in visual storytelling transferring to my ability to create a scene and finesse for a styled food shoot. I’ve stacked skills, I think. I studied photojournalism and worked as a visual journalist for years in short documentary and photography. I also have a bit of an understanding of studio lighting, which I now get to utilize along with my new skills of recipe development and food styling. Because I worked in the short documentary and editorial world I have a working understanding of production, so I am useful on set also. These stacked skills make me valueable! All these things have ping-ponged me to the career I’ve carved out today. I get to develop, style, and shoot recipes and food from home! It’s a dream.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is so easy for me because I love long beach! Truly, I think my city is one of the most special places on earth and it’s seen best from a bike! It’s mostly flat, so its easy to get around, too! I would take them to get bread and treats from Gusto Bread on 4th street, then we’d bike to Carrol Park for a picnic, then continue our ride along the beach and all through the neighborhood. We could stop for juice at Salud or tacos at Lolas. Maybe do some thrift shopping at the vintage shops on 4th street. Long beach has so much to offer!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Career-wise, I’d be nowhere without Susan Vu and Danielle Deitch. I was stuck in a really toxic job assisting someone who took advantage of me and crying on the 405 home daily. I felt so stuck and I couldn’t see a way out. I reached out to Danielle after working on a cookbook project together and asked to get coffee, instead, she said, “come test this cookbook with me!” That was my first real introduction to the world I am in now. From there I met Susan who mentored me, taught me nearly everything I know, and took the care and time to invest in me. I will always be grateful for kindhearted women who want to teach, help, and grow the community! I’d be nowhere without the opportunities they gave me and I am so grateful! Life-wise, I have a wide net of support from my partner who is my number one cheerleader and patient with all my twists and turns, my step-kids who always taste-test for me and help with the dishes, my friends far and wide. It’s cheesy what they say, but it really takes a village. I am constantly in awe of how much love orbits my little being.
photo of me by Christina Bacon