Pascale Beale, Writer & Chef
MEET PASCALE BEALE
Once the rock starts rolling down the hill, there’s no stopping it. Pascale Beale has built a tremendous amount of momentum, which all began with a love for food. Food is integral to the human experience. Why not enjoy food when it’s intrinsically tied to your daily survival?
Pascale is the definition of self-made. This force of nature has single-handedly created a successful career in commercial property development while regularly hosting cooking classes and farm to table wine dinners. She has also written and produced eight cookbooks, in addition to building a social media presence, all while raising two children. Originally from London, Pascale is equal parts French and English and enjoys sharing the culinary mastery of both cultures.
GET TO KNOW PASCALE’S KITCHEN
Pascale’s Kitchen is a unique culinary online boutique based in Santa Barbara, California. From delicious lifestyle classes showcasing the fragrant seasonal produce of local farmers’ markets to an enticing line of Mediterranean cookbooks, creative items for your cook’s pantry, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, unique gifts, copper cookware and more. Pascale Beale brings you the essence of cooking in California, the Mediterranean and beyond.
LET’S DO THIS
LDT: What path led you to Santa Barbara?
PB: I went to university in London where I studied business and marketing, nothing to do with food. I went to university knowing what I wanted to do.
I wanted to work in commercial property development. I’ve been walking around building sites since I was two. My father is a property developer. It was in my blood. I was fascinated by that whole world and went to university to study things that would tie into that business, to give me the components I needed like financial tools, accounting skills, economics, and marketing.
After I finished university I came here to America to work for one year and I never went back. Laughs.I came to California. I went to LA and ended up working in commercial property development for thirteen years. While I was in that business, I cooked all the time for meetings with our clients. We would host all these dinner parties and I kept books of all the dinners. There are books where there were 200 dinner parties in a year.
Then people would start saying to me, why are you doing this property business instead of this food business? Why don’t you open a restaurant?
People who are interested in food sometimes think about opening a restaurant. I quickly realized that I did not want to open a restaurant, but still had a huge interest in the food industry. After my daughter was born in Los Angeles I moved to Santa Barbara. The opportunity presented itself to open a small cooking school, which I did.
I still had a foot in financial management and opened the cooking school at the same time.It was a small school, not vocational or professional.Then my son was born here in 2000. The school grew and then in 2004 I wrote my first book. There was a gap between my first two books. Book number two came out in 2008. I also started writing for Edible Santa Barbara and pieces for other publications.
I’ve always been passionate about the arts and I found food to be an extension of the arts. I like sharing it with people. It’s one of the things that gives me great pleasure, is being able to share that with people. I love nothing more than sharing that around a dinner table. I think that people don’t do that as much as they used to and that is a loss.
So the cooking classes, since day one, have always been structured around a three-course meal. I don’t do classes where you learn how to do ten soups or something. You don’t eat ten salads or soups simultaneously. The timing, putting a meal together, that’s something a lot of people find challenging.
I focused the classes on how to put the meal together and the timing. Everyone arrives. We prep together, we cook together, and we eat together. These are hands-on classes limited to 8-10 people.
I also do big demo classes. That’s a different format, with a different setup. The demo classes will have 15-60 people in them.
The cooking school has never been huge. Deliberately. I have two children, I’m a single mother. That has its own challenges. Trying to run a business, and do all the other things and take care of your kids. The nature of the school changed because of that too. I want to be at home with my kids in the evening so I tend not to teach evening classes anymore.
Writing has really been an extension of the classes. I wrote new recipes and menus for every class I taught and used that information and catalog of recipes to form the basis for many of my articles. I think writing about food and my love of writing have come together over time. I started writing books and a food blog called The Market Table, and the writing has grown, and grown from there.
My first series of books were called, “A Menu for All Seasons.” There were four books, one for each season. After I finished the menu books, I wrote a book about my favorite food, a whole book about salad called “Salade: Recipes from the Market Table. I think the writing has become a huge part of my life. The books seem to be getting bigger and bigger each time. After Salade, I wrote a book called Les Fruits – which explores savory and sweet cooking with fruit.
“Salade,” “Les Fruits,” and my current book are all ingredient-driven books. More and more people are going to the farmers market and getting CSA’s and they get their box and they say, “Oh! What am I going to do with all of this or that?”
The third book in the market Table series is called “Les Legumes,” so vegetable dishes from the market table. That’s going to be a whole book of vegetables and it will be out at the end of September, early October. So we are in full production mode right now. There’s a lot to do.
We just finished photography on Friday. We do all of it here. The garage converts to a studio. We have all the lights and everything set up, so it’s a big production schedule.
Now it’s writing time. Then once I finish writing, we go through the rounds of editing, and then proofing. The turnaround is pretty quick, which is the advantage of working with a small publisher. We can get the books out pretty quickly. This is my seventh book in nine years.
I think running your own business… If you run your own business and you’re trying to grow a small business into something much larger, and you’re working on multiple platforms, it becomes all-consuming. My children – if you ask them, they‘ll tell you I’m a workaholic. It’s just… I’m passionate about what I do. I really believe in these projects and I want them to be successful. To be successful, you need to put in the time.
In retrospect, I think if I had really analyzed… I’m going to start a cooking school and do the food writing. And thought about what that meant. I don’t know if I would have done it.
When you start something you don’t necessarily know the time commitment that it is going to represent. I had two small children at the time. When I started the school, my son wasn’t even born. So it’s grown and I don’t know that I sat there and thought… Right, I’m going to start this school. And I want it to grow to x size in a certain period of time.
I wanted to start a cooking school, so I did.
I actually am still involved in commercial real estate and that, in the last three years, has grown again. There was a big lull. It’s cycled back and I’m involved with it again. I feel like I’m juggling multiple disciplines and multiple businesses at the same time, but it’s what I need to do so… that’s definitely what I do.
LDT: What is a typical day in your life?
PB: A typical day. I don’t know that there is a typical day. I’ll give you a typical day in terms of book production.
So for example, if we’re shooting, it requires doing the page layouts. I do all the styling for my own books ahead of the photographer getting here. I lay out each of the shots with the props we’re going to use and then I have an amazing friend, her name is Sherry Manello. She comes and helps me prep all of the food.
We prep each of the dishes before the photographer turns up. We shoot six to eight dishes a day, which is quite a quick production.
Typically I’m normally up at 6:00 am. I always have breakfast with my son, get him off to school. My daughter’s graduated from high school. She’s doing her gap year and working out the direction she’s going in. Once my son goes to school, then it’s full bore.
I’m used to working, I don’t know… eighty plus hour a week. We normally finish shooting around five, but if it’s a multiple day shoot, I have to prep for the next day.
If I’m writing, which is the next phase. What I’m about to go in to. I have about 250-300 hours of writing to complete before the book ships. So I’m going to be attached to my typewriter… laughs… my computer for the next few months. That’s probably going to be six to eight hours a day of pretty solid writing.
Part of my day also includes handling social media and what goes out on the different Pascale’s Kitchen platforms. First thing in the morning I normally look at 15-20 different food sites where I try to find articles and things that are interesting, that the followers of different platforms will enjoy. I try to curate a few of those things and put them out onto each platform.
We also have a YouTube channel for cooking videos. We’re getting the videos ready to go out and everything that’s tied in with the marketing of those. Definitely a component of every single day is the marketing of the brand and everything that needs to happen to promote the brand. That’s an important aspect of this job. It could be a full-time job by itself.
There are so many different aspects to my job… I’m trying to think of all the different things that happen for all the different types of events I do. For example, I do events with different entities, particularly with wineries. I work with them to do something tied into one of the books and/or products. I have one coming up in May. It’s a farm to table cooking class/ lunch and book signing. The winemaker will also be there to provide a wine tasting lesson. This type of event requires advance marketing, food prep, transportation to the site, set up, giving the class, breaking down the event, and then follow up social media coverage. I also have a place in Los Angeles that carries my books. They like me to come down and do a book signing. I bring samples of the food and talk to people. This also requires press releases, marketing before, during and after the event. It’s the management of all of those things as well.
When the new book comes out, there’s a book tour to schedule. The scheduling of all the events comes down to me. I do not use an agent. I talk to a lot of the stores and places that carry my books – talking to them about doing promotional events and usually build a book tour from those contacts.
The positive side of being with a small publisher is I have complete editorial control. The books look the way I want them to look. I have a huge free range with what I can do with the books. The challenging side is there’s not a huge team there. There’s not an enormous team to handle social media. So that falls on me too. This has become a multi-faceted job. I definitely went the non-traditional publishing route as I don’t have an agent to represent me and I negotiate my own deals.
Book publishing, in general, has gone through a revolutionary change in the last ten years, to print on demand and ebooks. The whole nature of the industry has changed. So it’s been an interesting learning curve and you have to be flexible.
Doing the books… it’s everything from shopping for the food, to testing recipes, to finding props. I’m always finding nice linens and plates to shoot on. I have an idea of what I want the finished dish to look like. It’s also very much a creative process with the photographer. We’ve worked together for twelve years and he has shot all of my books. It’s an easy collaboration and integral to the final feel of the project.
LDT: What is your rose? Thorn? I.e. what frustrates or challenges you in your work? And what is the most valuable, exciting part?
PB: The thorn… hmmm. Well, there are a few. With regards to the books, doing the index. My least favorite job. It’s just a chore that has to be done. Part of the reason I work on the indexes… there are indexing softwares and there are people who write indexes. There is nothing worse than an index that doesn’t work and cross reference things properly. That is a challenging task. It’s the last thing that you get done.
The fun part: It always starts as an idea. The foundation for the book that I then explore and expand on.
So the inspiration for all of this comes from different places. A lot of it is walking in the market. I like creating new dishes and working out new flavors and discovering things. And even revisiting old ones. In this book, in the root vegetables chapter, I make mashed potatoes. I hadn’t made mashed potatoes in ten years. It was as if I was eating something my grandmother made again. I make slides of all the recipes. I do a lot of sketching. I sketch dishes in my head. I get inspired by what I find in nature.
I think that’s one of the great pleasure about cooking. There are certain foods you associate with memories and things that happen in your life. For me, food has a very emotional element to it as well and I think there’s something nice about being able to give people pleasure. It’s not complicated. I don’t like complicated food.
I want food to taste natural. I’m trying to get young people to cook. I get a little disappointed when I hear, oh, I just go and buy food. Cooking is not an essential life skill.
Finally, holding a finished book in my hands when it first arrives. Unpacking the book and holding it in your hand. All that work that has come to fruition. The launch of a new book, that is a very special moment. I look forward to it each time. That is definitely one of the joys of doing this.
LDT: What do you feel most proud about in your current role?
PB: I’m proud of my books. I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve with them. And I think I’m sort of… I’m optimistic about the future, in terms of what these represent going forward.
I don’t think of being proud of something. I‘m happy with these books. I suppose I’m proud of them, but I never think about it in that way. I think about it as a creative process and that’s an ongoing thing. One of the things I love.
It happened again today. I got an email from somebody. I love getting feedback from people that have made recipes in my book. They tell me that they enjoyed the food, their family enjoyed the food. That gives me great satisfaction. This lady wrote to me today to say she bought the salad cookbook and her family told her she had made a great dish. It makes me feel like it’s getting passed on. It’s going out into the world.
People are enjoying the things that are created, that’s very satisfying.
LDT: What is your target audience? Who do you mainly work with?
PB: I would say, the bulk of the people who buy the books are probably between ages 30 and 70 – pretty wide range. If I look at my YouTube demographics, then the split is probably 75% women, 25% men. There are many men who come to my classes too.
The social dynamics of all men or all women in the class is an interesting thing. I would love to appeal to younger people. I think that’s one of the goals – really trying to reach a younger audience. People leaving home, going to college, teaching them about eating healthy food… trying to reach those people. Part of doing the videos is doing that. I keep telling my kids they should re-post.
My son was horrified that I have a YouTube channel. He said, you’re not going to do anything silly, are you?!
I’m not the silly one. Laughs.
LDT: What is your outlet from work? OR What is your passion, what gets you out of bed in the morning?
PB: My work gets me excited, so that gets me out of bed in the morning.
What’s my outlet? I think it depends on the time of year. I like being outdoors. I like going for long walks. I love walking. And hiking in the winter. The advantage of being in California is you don’t have to be in cold weather all the time. My mother comes from the French Alps so I grew up skiing when I was tiny, tiny. I like being in the snow for short periods of time.
I think being outdoors, being in nature. Going for a walk on the beach here is just spectacular. And being able to spend time with my kids when not tied into some electronic device. That’s nice. It doesn’t happen that often, unfortunately.
It might sound counterintuitive – one of my ways of decompressing is having a dinner party. Very much so. Often it happens… it’s very impromptu. I quite like impromptu dinner parties.
I’ll be at the farmers market on Saturday. I’ll buy a whole bunch of stuff, get home and realize that I’m not going to be able to eat all of this food. I’ll call my friends and organize a dinner party.
In the summer when it’s warm outside, we do summer lunches in the garden. It’s like being on holiday. Everyone turns up. I always have to borrow chairs. The table gets longer and longer. We put everything in the garden and we have a long leisurely meal in the garden. That’s very much a way for me to decompress.
LDT: How do you maintain work-life balance?
PB: If my kids were answering that question for me they would say there is no work-life balance. I work a lot.
I think that’s very challenging, particularly right now. Trying to produce the book and all the other elements of the business, the multiple businesses, it’s very challenging. You have to almost schedule the time and then if you come up and think, oh god. I need to put in a couple of hours.
What is supposed to be the life part? It just gets pushed aside because you focus on the work part.
My mother lives here. So we’ll go out to dinner. We’ll go out to Santa Ynez. We’ll go to Los Alamos for a meal on the weekend. It’s like a mini holiday. It’s nice to get out of town.
I find if I stay here, I tend to work. So to get away. If I have a little more time to get away, it is a great way to decompress.
LDT: What do you want to do next? What is your next goal or initiative?
PB: Well it’s multipronged, the next goals. Grow the online business is one. Grow the YouTube channel is another.
Really to try and reach a greater audience with the new book, which I think will then engender a greater reach for these previous books. They’re all a part of the series… have that go to a completely different level, that is one of the big, big goals.
Now we have national and international distribution. It’s really getting the books out there in front of everyone. That’s the big goal. I’d like the NY times to write about the book in a positive way of course. Laughs.
I think the statistics in book publishing are absolutely staggering. There are 20,000 cookbooks a year. Less than 5% sell more than 500 copies. In that sense, all of my books are in the top five percent, because all of my books have sold more than that.
You look at the top ten best selling books in any one year. You have Ina Garten’s books, who sell one million copies, number ten is normally under 100,000 copies. That’s a huge spread in different titles. If you sell more than 10,000 copies of a single book in a year, you’re doing very, very well because there’s so much competition.
It’s so many different avenues. All these different things. Those are the goals just for the work front.
I always have goals for my kids because I’m very proud of my kids, so I want the best for them.
That’s an adventure as well being a parent in today’s world … it’s so, so different. A lot of this conversation has been about social media. I think for young kids today social media has been a big part of their lives. That has a very different impact on kids lives now. Even in the last ten years, things have changed.
Who knows what’s going to exist in the next ten years. Let alone when I was a kid, obviously. Now things are accelerating so quickly with technology… Look at a smartphone. Look at this and what this can do. Compared to the phones fifteen to twenty years ago. When I first came to the States, none of this existed. We still had funky fax machines with mylar paper. It’s accelerating so quickly…
LDT: How do you think your market or industry is going to change in the next 5 years? 10 years?
PB: That’s a very good question. That’s a hard question to answer.
Ten years ago they said that books were history. Everything is going to be an ebook. Nobody is going to buy books. Cookbooks are one of the book industries that is doing well.
I think there has been this resurgence in people cooking. Yes, people look at things online. You Google a recipe or anything else. But people still buy cookbooks.
There’s something about holding a book and going through it. It’s what I do. It’s what I love. I love researching them.
LDT: Where are cookbooks going in the next 10 years?
PB: The whole food writing industry has changed tremendously in the last ten years. Look at the food magazines of this world. The gourmets, the magazines that have gone by the wayside.
It has changed because they have had to adapt to an online platform. So you have magazines that don’t exist in physical form anymore. You’re getting all of that information from the internet.
The way people write for those things… they’re not having to go to an office. They’re not based in that magazine’s office. They’re writing remotely. People send in stories from all over the world. You work for many different identities. It will keep growing that way.
I think video will grow, and grow, and grow. All the platforms that are based and tied into that will have an influence on how people access that information. So you think five years. Look what’s happened with Snapchat. What’s the next Snapchat? What’s the next YouTube?
All of these platforms will happen in a short space of time and all of these industries that market their products will have to be flexible enough and tie into those new platforms to be able to get their information out to people. The world is absolutely shrinking. You can access information 24 hours per day anywhere in the world.
People get frustrated because you didn’t answer a text in five minutes. It’s instantaneous information all the time. How do you optimize it? That’s going to be one of the key questions if you’re running a business. How do you make money on that? How do you monetize something.? That’s going to be one of the big challenges.
I have a few more books planned behind the one that’s coming out later this year, but who knows what will happen. Does there need to be a video component to each book that’s tied into that? Who knows what is to be discovered, to be worked on?
LDT: What kind of connections are you looking to make or need?
PB: From a purely marketing point of view… This business, there’s so much competition.
You happen to know the person who is the food editor somewhere and they take a look at your book. I have lots of contacts now on the west coast and that’s growing. So I will draw on all of those contacts again and radio… I think they now know the products, they know the books.
For the next one, that will be a great avenue to go out to them and say, ok the next book is ready. Can we do an interview a piece on the book?
All of those people will say yes, but now it’s going further. Getting it in England, Australia. Really taking this to a completely different level. Really being able to facilitate that. Meeting other people who do the same thing. Being able to share ideas with people. To discover. I think that comes with traveling. Really being able to travel more. I want to go to Australia. There are great things happening over there.
I go to Europe a lot so I’m quite familiar with that. There are regions I’ve never discovered that I would love to explore.
Discovering a culture through its food is one of the great pleasures that I have. That’s something I would like, to make contact with more people like that.
There are so many things you learn about a culture and how they share their food.
My food is mainly based on the Mediterranean but I draw on Greek, Turkish, Italian, French, Spanish, all of the food that surrounds the Mediterranean.
I’m fascinated with food history and how it’s evolved. That’s a whole other avenue. There’s a whole other book there, but that’s in a couple of years.
LDT: When do you feel the most creative?
PB: I’m an early morning person. I go for walks. When I walk, stories often come to me. And then walking through the farmers market. That I walk through the market, I look at things. I think about things and it will inspire me.
When I’m traveling I get inspiration too. Definitely a morning person.
LDT: If you had more time and resources, where would you like to be able to focus your energies?
PB: If I could just do the food writing. And do the books, and travel to do that. I would love to do that. The other parts of teaching. I do like teaching. I like the interaction with people. I like meeting people. I like teaching a lot but it’s hugely time-consuming.
Each interview on Let’s Do This features a guest question from a previous collaborator. This question comes from Pam Tanase, Co-Founder of WorkZone, a coworking space in Santa Barbara, CA.
Pam Tanase: How do you find ways to keep improving upon what you can do? Everyone has that wheelhouse they operate in. How do you keep finding ways to expand that and branch out to gain new skills in different areas that maybe have been either scary, or oh, I can’t do that. How do you go, ok I’m ready?
PB: I read a lot.
So it goes back to marketing again. The social media. All the different platforms was something that I didn’t know that much about, as to how to optimize it. How do you get that information? So at that conference (the food writer’s conference I went to), that’s what I focused on. I needed more information.
I will find a way to find the information. It’s research, reading, talking to people, reaching out to people who have those skills. What do you do? That’s how I do that.
A case in point right now: SEO. Search Engine Optimization. It’s something that is absolutely a part of my business. And it’s something I need to focus on. I need to understand it. It’s still an enigma with how it works. I spoke to someone about that. We as a company have hired people to work on the SEO for our site. I don’t know how successful that was. We’re still learning about how that works.
My publisher is also a marketing company, so the content they produce is very high quality. They also design websites, business cards, any marketing material you need. They have a book division with the publishing house. I think when it comes to the SEO, we like to have a lot of control over the information that is going out. However, I think sometimes you have to be able to let go, and that can be challenging. I have the brand, Pascale’s Kitchen is me. It’s a reflection of me. Anything that goes out underneath that brand banner, I want to know what that is. It has to be something I would say or do. I’m not just going to hand that over and relinquishing that is challenging.
LDT: What’s your question for next interview? What do you want to know?
PB: I have a sixteen-year-old son. We’re already starting these conversations about college and I look at education. What does education provide? And does it really prepare you for the job you have?
I think the world has changed so much. My question is, did your education prepare you for the job you have today and do you think it’s valid? How do you think education should change to be able to prepare the new generation going forward?
I think education should radically change. Education is a key thing for me. I’m always curious to see if people think education prepared them for their careers, and what did they learn from that?
LDT: Who or what kind of people would you like to read an interview from on Let’s Do This?
PB: I like hearing about the challenges people have overcome. I think if you hear about how somebody has overcome a challenge and how they’ve managed to create what they’ve created. That knowledge is very helpful for people.
LET’S DO THIS! STOP, COLLABORATE & LISTEN
If you’re interested in a future collaboration or learning more about Pascale Beale & Pascale’s Kitchen, you can connect and follow the journey using the links below.
MORE ABOUT PASCALE’S BOOKS
“Les Légumes: Vegetable Recipes from the Market Table”
AUTHOR: Pascale Beale
FOREWORD: Cat Cora
Pascale Beale’s latest culinary treat, Les Légumes: Vegetable Recipes from the Market Table, (the third in the Market Table series) revels in cooking with vegetables throughout the seasons. Grouped by key ingredients in 12 chapters, with stunning full-page photos of every recipe, delightful anecdotes, practical tips, and uncomplicated recipes that work every time, Les Légumes transforms vegetable dishes into the highlight of any meal. The book is a compendium of more than 100 healthy, tempting plant-based dishes, brimming with vibrant hues, innovative ingredients and creative flavor combinations.
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“Les Fruits: Savory and Sweet Recipes from the Market Table”
AUTHOR: Pascale Beale
FOREWORD: Karen Steinwachs
Pascale Beale’s latest book is all about fruit: 240 mouth-watering pages filled to the brim with new recipes that show cooking with fruit in a new light; from a multitude of delicious salads such as Apple, Fennel and Watermelon Radish, Citrus Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette, main courses featuring succulent dishes as an Apricot and Lamb Shank Tajine or Citrus Salmon to myriad desserts such as an Eton Mess, a Pear and Pomegranate Pavlova or perhaps an Apple and Pear Strudel, all these dishes celebrate fruit in all its guises.
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“Salade: Recipes from the Market Table”
AUTHOR: Pascale Beale
FOREWORD: Tracey Ryder
216 pages filled with new recipes of delicious salads fresh from the market table, all beautifully photographed. From delicate greens and hearty grains to luscious vegetables and fruit, these bold and innovative combinations of fresh, seasonal ingredients are a mouth-watering celebration of salads.
Salade was selected by Omnivore Books for Evan Kleiman’s (KCRW Good Food) list of the best cookbooks of 2014, and has been nominated for The Art of Eating Prize. The first edition sold out in 17 weeks, but fear not, the second edition is here.
“In Salade: Recipes from the Market Table, that pleasing whole is made up of deliciously lovely studies on the salad in its countless forms. Throughout the beautifully photographed pages, Pascale inspires us to think about salads in many ways: as daily rituals, healthy side dishes, or as hearty meals that can feed a crowd.”
—From the Foreword by Tracey Ryder,
Co-founder Edible Communities
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