We had the good fortune of connecting with Roxanne Schwartz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Roxanne, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
We have to be willing to constantly evolve and that evolution also involves risk. I moved to Los Angeles from New York in 2019, away from all that was familiar and comfortable. It wasn’t easy, and it still isn’t. But taking risks builds resilience and independence, and the move has absolutely done that for me. Relocating has opened my eyes up to new opportunities and new connections. It’s also allowed me to let go of the idea that progress in life is linear. You make the path by walking it. If something is scary or feels risky to you, take that as a sign to try it.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Please tell us more about your work. How did you get to where you are today?
I started out taking pictures of the food I ate and made when I was studying abroad in Italy in 2010. I posted on Tumblr at the time (yes you read that right) and when Instagram came out, I quickly realized that was going to be a much better platform for what I was showcasing. I’m sure I would absolutely cringe at some of my first food photos, but I am proud of where I have been able to take my skills through the years. Not only did Grubshots start in Italy, but my love for food and cooking also flourished there. I had always loved and studied photography, and being able to express myself through food came naturally. It has become a source of relaxation, stress relief and an expression of love and appreciation for the people I cook for and go out to eat with.
What you are most proud of?
I am proud of my continuous curiosity and my commitment to being a forever learner. I taught myself photo editing and retouching, and am always trying to fine tune those skills and techniques. Most recently, I am very proud to have been able to highlight small businesses and restaurants during COVID. During the height of the pandemic, I offered pro-bono services to BIPOC owned food brands and products who needed photography for their social profiles, menus and websites. I worked with folks who took their passion project in COVID and turned them in to businesses and to see them still thriving today has been so rewarding.
What sets you apart from others?
I think what sets me apart is that my passion goes beyond Instagram and being a “food influencer” who gets “the hook up” all the time. I love food in my home as much as I love food out of my home. I love cooking as much as I love trying a new restaurant. Going grocery shopping is as thrilling and inspiring for me as searching for a new place to eat. Through Grubshots and the opportunities that have come my way, I have become a way more informed cook. I am constantly curious about how things come together, how certain dishes are made, and where ingredients are sourced from.
What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Early on I realized that food meant something different to me than the average person and I ran with that. My friends have deemed me the “food friend”. I had an amazing opportunity with The Infatuation where I worked for their restaurant recommendation service on demand. On a weekly basis, friends and acquaintances reach out to me asking for recommendations, even for places I have never been to! I love teaching people how to find the best restaurants in new cities. You don’t have to be a food influencer to find the best spots. For me, the best way to get to know a new city is through food, and I love sharing that knowledge. In some ways, it feels like I have been running Grubshots for so long. In other ways, it feels like I’m just getting started. I am inspired with every new restaurant I try, every chef I meet and every food event I go to, to continue to build out my platform. A mantra I remind myself when the “what’s next” gets overwhelming is that sometimes we don’t need to know what tomorrow will look like today. I try to acknowledge and embrace the uncertainty as much as I can.
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?
I feel like this question was made for me. I absolutely love giving tours with a food focus. They allow me to show my friends and family around LA, while highlighting some of the reasons I have fallen in love with this place. Here are a few dream days I would propose.
Day 1: I currently live in West Adams, so we can start on my side of town. Cognoscenti Coffee to wake us up, followed by a flakey freshly baked pastry from Tartine West Adams. To get some steps in and see a 360 view of the city, we’d climb the Culver City Stairs and catch our breath at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. Lunch would be at Lodge Bread Company or Mizlala`. After an afternoon nap, we’d hit up Sawtelle Japantown for some noodles at Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle followed by matcha soft serve ice cream at Project M.
Day 2: Farmers Markets here are extraordinary. You can see the city’s best chefs shopping for their restaurants while sampling seasonal produce yourself. We’d start the day at the Hollywood Farmers Market, and grab coffee and breakfast at any of the amazing food trucks there. A trip to LA isn’t complete without a hike at Runyon, so we’d work up a sweat and follow it up with tacos from El Zarape. We would catch a matinee movie at The ArcLight (if/when it reopens!) before heading to Thai Town for dinner. It would be a very hard decision between Sapp Coffee Shop and Luv2eat Thai Bistro. So hard we may have to hit up both.
Day 3: Time to head east and explore downtown. Courage Bagels is a must, so we would start the day off there. A quick stroll along the Silverlake Reservoir would be next to get some fresh air. Lunch would either be Wax Paper, Dune, or Howlin’ Ray’s if we were feeling spicy. There are a ton of cool things to explore in DTLA, but top of my list are The Broad, Grand Central Market, and The Last Bookstore. If we could squeeze it all in we would! Dinner would be a toss up between DAMA, Damian or Bavel. I think about that ‘nduja hummus and prawns from Bavel every day of my life. We’d end the night at Moonlight Rollerway, because who doesn’t love watching their friends attempt to roller skate and dance at the same time?
After spending a few days in the city, we’d explore the surrounding area. Maybe take a weekend trip to Joshua Tree and rent an AirBnB to stargaze. Go for a snow adventure in Big Bear. Wine taste in Santa Barbara. One of the coolest things about Los Angeles is the access to so many different landscapes. You can be on the beach one day, in the mountains the next, then in the desert by the end of the week.
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?
I would love to thank my close friends and family for not only being my support system, but genuine fans of my passion. You deserve some serious credit for all the times you’ve patiently waited with food on the table in order for me to get the perfect shot. Another shoutout goes to all of the food photographers and food influencers who I have connected with through the years. Thank you for allowing me to shadow you, for letting me bounce ideas off of you, and for being a tremendous source of inspiration.
Most importantly, a huge shoutout to my Mom and all of the strong female figures in my life. I was always surrounded by great food made with a lot of love. I still have my Mom on speed dial for recipe questions.