Photos by James Hartley
Careers sometimes have a mysterious way of taking shape. For Brooklyn-based Julia Gartland, food was never a major part of her life until a series of health problems brought on by allergies put her diet into sharp focus. Over time, food became the center of her photography; from shooting and food-styling major editorial spreads to developing recipes for her gluten-free food blog the Sassy Kitchen. The Nourished Life presented by Panera explores the lives and work of those dedicated to healthy, sustainable eating to uncover new understandings of what "good food" really means.
With a list of newly discovered food allergies and a vegan diet to stick to, Julia Gartland had a small list of foods she could put on her plate. Having not grown up with a big connection to food, Gartland took to the internet to learn how to cook under these new dietary guidelines. "Through looking at food blogs, I learned how to feed myself again and started my own blog as a source of inspiration," said Gartland.
Though she's no longer a practicing vegan, Gartland's initial interest in food sparked a passion that's fueling her career today as a prominent food blogger, photographer, and food stylist. "I fell in love with shooting food and still life as well as cooking and developing recipes through that process," she said.
Gartland shops for the majority of her food at her local farmers market in Brooklyn. She's found both a community and inspiration in the seasonality that these markets offer. "I'm constantly craving lessening the gap between me and the source of my food," she said. "It's amazing to be in touch with what's going on seasonally. When you know the number of weeks something will be available at the market. You feel very connected."
at the farmers market, you see how flavors develop and change over weeks
Entering the food world through photography has given Gartland a unique perspective. She has major respect for the high concept cuisine of top chefs. However simplicity and quality of ingredients are what Gartland is most interested in. "I think people are constantly craving simple, good food that is exactly what it's supposed to be," Gartland says. "That's what I'm always looking for myself — whether it's in cooking or the recipes I write."
One look through a few of Gartland's recipes on Sassy Kitchen illustrates how clear her vision is. Healthy, fresh and simple yet inventive and original, Gartland's offerings are welcoming to experienced chefs and kitchen novices alike. Plus, her texture-rich, geometrically styled photos will have recipe-followers fighting over who gets to Instagram tonight's dinner first.
For Garland though, food is about much more than her career: it's how she connects with people. "The best way that I can connect with a person is cooking for them," Gartland explained, "that’s how I show love for the people in my life."
Gartland's go-to favorites in the kitchen are always changing with the season. In addition to making regular trips to the farmers market, she has a box of food sourced from local farmers dropped off to her Brooklyn apartment once a week from Quinciple, a food subscription service. Gartland says the always-changing selection of ingredients challenges her to forge new recipes.
In the produce-rich New York summer, Gartland has just one thing on her mind. "I love to make fruit desserts: fruit pies and fruit crumbles," she said. "It's something I don't even need a recipe for. It's my signature."
In finding a relationship with food, Gartland has not only carved out a path for her career, she's found a community. From a tight-knit group of New York City food photographers, stylists, and chefs to the people around the world who swap gluten-free recipes and tips via her blog, food is truly a connector for Gartland.