I hope you all had a fabulous Easter weekend. While poor Amanda and I have been planning this interview for weeks, the Gmail gods just were not having any of our well planned correspondence shenanigans. BUT, I think the week after Easter is the perfect time for you to meet Amanda from the Williams Sonoma test kitchen and blog A Life Well Lived. How many of you searched web based resources for Easter menus? Unless you have very specific family recipes, I bet it was most of you. What Amanda does is make sure the recipes you see, WORK. And that is a CRUCIAL thing for you as someone who is making that recipe you happened to see online. Nothing like a sad ham to ruin your Easter! 

Read on to meet Amanda, and plan an entire trip to California to eat based on her recommendations. 

Amanda's Blog/ @AmandaFrederickson/ Snapchat a_frederickson


Women in Food: 10 Questions with Amanda: Test Kitchen Cook at Williams Sonoma

1.      Tell us about yourself and your business.

I am a test kitchen cook in the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen and founder/editor of the food and lifestyle blog A Life Well Lived. I am originally from Florida, with stints in Boston and New York, but I now call Oakland, California home along with my husband and rescue dog, Chumley.

2.      If you could define your food philosophy in one sentence it would be…

It is all about moderation

3.      What are your 3 must have foods in your kitchen?

  • Coconut quinoa. I am obsessed – I make a big batch on Sunday nights then eat it for dinner with some sautéed vegetables throughout the week.
  • Avocado.  In true California fashion, you can never eat too many avocados, especially when avocados become guacamole.
  • Caramel Almond butter from the brand Maranatha Foods. I am not proud of this, but I am pretty sure I eat a jar of this stuff a week. I am obsessed.

4.       It’s your birthday. What are you eating?

That is a hard question – maybe it should be rephrased as what am I not eating?!? On a perfect day my eating would involve all of my favorite stops in Oakland - the cinnamon toast from Trouble Coffee, chicken tacos from Cholita Linda, the olive fougasse from Firebrand Breads, and pizza from Pizzaoila. That is a lot of carbs but it is my birthday!  If I had room for dessert, soft serve from Curbside Creamery. Can everyday be my birthday?

5.      Signature cocktail?

It is a tossup between a good gin and tonic or a well-made margarita

6.      Food you can’t like no matter how hard you try?

Blue cheese and pork chops. Nope, can’t do it.

7.      What are your go-to resources for all things food (websites/magazines/groceries etc)?

I am a huge fan of the recipes on William-Sonoma’s site – not only because I have helped create some of them but that I can always trust that they work. I also adore the Australian magazine’s Donna Hay and Gourmet Traveler for their aesthetic and food styling.

In terms of sourcing my food, I am really lucky that I live near Berkeley Bowl which has everything and everything you could possible wish for in the food world. I also hit up Market Hall in Oakland which has a great butcher and fish monger. I try to do as much shopping as possible at my local farmer’s market but that is not entirely realistic so I piece it together with Berkeley Bowl, Market Hall and the farmer’s market.

8.      Food fad you wish would die a horrible death?

Bacon on everything. Don’t get me wrong, I love bacon but I don’t think I need bacon on my donuts or my cupcakes.

9.       Must have kitchen tool:

A Benriner mandolin and a chef’s knife

10. What’s the one thing you learned this year that changed the way you think about food?

I recently watched Erin Ireland’s Ted Talk and it blew my mind. She completely opened up my eyes on how food media (Instagram as well) should be more thoughtful about how they are portraying food, especially meat. Meat production takes a toll on the planet, our health and not to mention animal welfare. I am not saying to become a vegan but just being a little more aware of the glorification of meat products.  Which brings me back to question number 8! 


Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.