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Learning from food blogger Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook

Nami was born and raised in Yokohama, Japan and now lives in San Francisco with her husband and 2 young children.

Her website, Just One Cookbook, features quick & easy Japanese home cooking recipes with step-by-step pictorial directions. She shares not only traditional food, but also contemporary food that local Japanese restaurants in the US don’t offer, but are enjoyed by most households in Japan. She enjoys cooking and eating good food, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. You can also visit her online at Twitter & Facebook.

As a food blogger, where do you find your inspiration and expertise?

My inspiration comes from my husband and children.

Growing up my mom always made great home cooked meals and I want to provide the same for my children. I consider the time we spend together at the dinner table each day to be very important, and the key to keeping the family close and healthy. My mom always made sure that we ate well and the majority of the kitchen prep skills I learned was by helping her in the kitchen before dinner time.

I used to think as a chore because all my work was focused on prep and not actual fun part of cooking. However, since I left Japan I realized that I was learning how to cook at the same time from observing her in the kitchen through the years.

Though based on my own experience, when my children get a little older I will make sure to make the kitchen “chores” more entertaining so they would think it’s fun to be in the kitchen!

How long have you been blogging?

I started to blog from January 1st, 2011. But in 2010, I was sharing my recipes five days a week on my Facebook account for about a year. Facebook didn’t provide a good user experience for searching recipes so I migrated to blogging.

What are some life lessons you’ve learned through blogging?

My major learning lesson is time management and I’m still working on it.

I have two young children who need my attention all day and a household I still need to run outside of my blog world. I am extremely detailed oriented so tasks take me a bit longer to complete than others. It hasn’t been easy trying to manage everything that I have to do and often my blogging suffers.

I’m still learning to manage my time more efficiently so that I can complete everything that I want, without sacrificing the quality.

What inspires you?

When I dine in restaurants, I often taste the dish and then imagine what it would taste like with different flavoring, sauce, or method of cooking.

As new ideas flows into my head, I use my family as guinea pigs. I love the feeling when they reward me with a big smile while enjoying the food I cook and saying “oishii (tastes good)!”

Also, I get feedback from readers everyday about what they cooked and how much they liked it, and that’s been really a great inspiration and motivation to me.

How much time do you spend reading and commenting on blogs daily?

My English is not very good so I spend quite a bit more time reading other bloggers’ comments and posts. It varies a bit from day to day but I spend about 4 hours a day reading and commenting on my own blog as well as visiting other blogs.

What brings you the most traffic?

My number one traffic comes from visitors that come directly to my site. Besides direct visitors, I also receive quite a bit of referral traffic from Google search results.

What’s your favorite social network and why?

I like using Facebook. It’s worldwide and it allows me to connect with readers and fans easily and I often check from my iPhone.

To the beginning chef, what advice would you give?

Your cooking skills will come naturally after several trial and errors in the initial stage.

I spent my twenties learning various recipes by following cookbooks and magazine clippings.

If you are like me who’s more comfortable following directions than creating your own dish, then my advice to become a better cook is to stick with a cookbook or food blog that you trust after trying a few recipes. The cookbook doesn’t have to be by someone famous such as Thomas Keller, but needs to provide basic fundamentals for you to be comfortable in the kitchen.

Your cooking skills will come naturally after several trial and errors in the initial stage. The point here is to keep creating and making the food you really enjoy eating. I want my blog to be a great source for Japanese cuisine where people can trust my taste and directions are easy enough for beginners to follow.

What advice would you give to the beginning blogger?

For food bloggers, my advice is to spend time to learn your camera and take good pictures of the food. If you put a lot of effort into a dish that you know is delicious, make sure the picture does the dish justice.

For bloggers in general, I would say it’s critical to maintain good original content and keep the posting regularly. I know it’s hard to commit to publish on a regular basis, but readers spend their time to visit your blog and it’s a nice gesture for us blogger to make sure they don’t keep coming to the site and see stale content. I try to update my site regularly (Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays) so readers know when to expect new content when they visit.

Some of Nami’s beautiful food creations…

Bouillabaisse Learning from food blogger Namiko Chen of Just One CookbookGarlic Miso Chicken Wings Learning from food blogger Namiko Chen of Just One CookbookCalifornia Roll Learning from food blogger Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook

About the author: Blogger, entrepreneur, digital marketing consultant and recording artist. I make money online and teach others how to do the same.

44 comments… add one

  • Eddie Gear September 27, 2011, 6:44 am

    Wow Christian, You got this one Good. I’ve been wanting to have some Japanese food lately and the local restaurants are bad. I hope I can cook at home and have some good food. Love the chatter.

    • Nami | Just One Cookbook September 27, 2011, 8:46 am

      Thank you Eddie – I hope you will find some of your favorite dish in my blog. :-)

    • Christian Hollingsworth September 27, 2011, 12:08 pm

      Weren’t her responses just fantastic?! Aren’t her photos lovely and inspiring? Nami is wonderful. So grateful to have had her as part of the blog. She makes me want to be a much better blogger, in many ways.

  • Suzi September 27, 2011, 9:03 am

    What a wonderful interview. Congratulations Nami! I have made some of Nami’s recipes and they are delicious. Her photos are beautiful and the cooking descriptions are detailed and user-friendly.

    • Christian Hollingsworth September 27, 2011, 12:10 pm

      I think what I love most about Nami’s blog is that she always provides photos that do the photo the justice they deserve. Nami is pro photo status!

    • Nami | Just One Cookbook September 27, 2011, 5:58 pm

      Thank you Suzi! :-) I’m glad to hear you think my recipes are user-friendly. I try my best to make it clear so my kids can understand one day… ;-)

  • Shawn September 27, 2011, 9:37 am

    ‘Love the interview and learning more about one of my favorite food bloggers! Just One Cookbook is a great site and I cannot believe that Nami started it at the first of this year :) With her gorgeous photography and detailed but approachable recipes, I’m expecting a cookbook in her near future.

    • Christian Hollingsworth September 27, 2011, 12:10 pm

      A Just One Cookbook cookbook. I’m excited. Thanks for stopping by Shawn.

    • Nami | Just One Cookbook September 27, 2011, 6:00 pm

      Hi Shawn! Haha, no cookbook! Remember, it’s already called “Cookbook”? I just need 1, therefore Just One Cookbook. ;-)

  • tanja@tanjascookingcorner September 27, 2011, 10:48 am

    I trully enjoyed reading this interview! It is so nice to learn more about so highly talented bloggers like Nami!!! I am following her beautiful blog for a while now, and I am always looking forward to new posts. :)

    • Christian Hollingsworth September 27, 2011, 12:11 pm

      Have you been cooking some of her dishes?

    • Nami | Just One Cookbook September 27, 2011, 6:02 pm

      Thank you Tanja! You are one of the amazing cooks I know and you blog in 3 languages. I barely can maintain one language on my blog!

  • Cassie l Bake Your Day September 27, 2011, 1:05 pm

    I am a fellow food blogger and lover of Just One Cookbook. Nami is brilliant, I love her cuisine and her photography…I have a lot to learn from her. Thanks for a great article!

    • Nami | Just One Cookbook September 27, 2011, 6:04 pm

      Thank you so much Cassie! I definitely wish that I have a nice collection of desserts like you do. I do have a lot to learn from you! ;-)

  • Franziska San Pedro September 27, 2011, 3:14 pm

    Oh, I love the interview with Nami, will have to check out her blog now! The pictures look really good, yum. As a professional chef, I always love to get inspiration and learn something new (or be reminded of something old).
    So nice you promoted Nami on your blog, Christian.
    Her English is excellent (I am still learning too as a German, lol),

    Franziska San Pedro
    The Abstract Impressionist Artress

    • Nami | Just One Cookbook September 27, 2011, 6:14 pm

      Hi Franziska! It’s so nice to meet you and thanks for following me. :-) You are a professional chef! As I don’t have time to go to culinary school to get trained with all kinds of skills, I wish to learn more about cooking from you! :-)

  • Reem | Simply Reem September 27, 2011, 4:36 pm

    Congratulation Nami,
    Thanks Christian for a wonderful interview….
    Nami is not only a terrific blogger and a wonderful cook/photographer but also an awesome person and a great friend. This makes her site even more pretty…
    Also Thanks Nami for introducing us to wonderful site of Christian, there is so much to learn here.

    • Nami | Just One Cookbook September 27, 2011, 6:19 pm

      Hi Reem! You are so sweet – thanks for your kind words. :-) Christian is much (much) younger than me but he knows a lot about blogging and social media. And he’s very nice that he’ll answer questions you may have too!

  • Kim Bee September 27, 2011, 8:30 pm

    Congratulations to Nami for doing this wonderful interview. Nami Is an amazing blogger with lots to offer us in cuisine and photography. I adore this woman so much. I am happy she’s brought me over here so I can get to know Christian and explore his blog. I am new to the blogging world and it is intimidating learning all the in’s and out’s. Look forward to learning some things here.

    • Christian Hollingsworth September 28, 2011, 12:43 am

      Well thank you for stopping by Kim. Excited to get to know you better! When I go through blog comments and visit other blogs, I’ll be sure to stop by yours.

      There’s certainly a whole lot to learn in regards to blogging!

    • Nami | Just One Cookbook September 28, 2011, 10:46 am

      Hi Kim! Thank you very much for sweet words. You are always very supportive and I really appreciate it. I feel I only know a small portion of blogging world. Sure it’s a lot to learn!

  • Correen September 27, 2011, 11:46 pm

    Loved discovering this interview with Nami tonight…what a gal. Just recently published an interview with her too. :)

    • Christian Hollingsworth September 28, 2011, 12:47 am

      I’m excited to see the cookbook she’ll publish, and her face on national television as she teaches the world to cook through her cooking show! :) Now that would be grand.

      So great to hear you were able to post an interview with her. I feel like her thoughts are worthwhile to many, irrespective of niche or “type” of blogger. Her thoughts work and are applicable to all!

    • Nami | Just One Cookbook September 28, 2011, 10:48 am

      Thank you Correen for finding me here! :-)

  • Katherine Martinelli September 28, 2011, 2:09 am

    What a great interview, and such great responses! I am a huge fan of Nami and Just One Cookbook and am so happy to see her getting the attention she deserves. It’s truly hard to believe that she’s been at it less than a year since both her recipes and photography are so professional. Glad to be introduced to this blog as well! Can’t wait to explore.

    • Nami | Just One Cookbook September 28, 2011, 10:53 am

      Oh Katherine, thank you so much! I’ve learned so much from your blog since I discovered you this year and I appreciate your friendship too. :-)

  • Mark September 28, 2011, 2:24 am

    Whoa. That sushi looks absolutely DELICIOUS.

    I am so hungry now!

    On a side note: Nami, you spend four hours a day reading and commenting on blogs? Now that is what I call some serious networking.

    Food is also one of my loves, so I will definitely be visiting your blog…;)


    • Nami | Just One Cookbook September 28, 2011, 10:58 am

      Hi Mark! Thank you so much for your kind compliment.

      Well, I truly wish I have better English reading skill. I think you can read 5 blog posts while I’m still reading just one! ;-) But I’m reading mainly about food, so I also get easily distracted by delicious food pictures…Hehee. But it’s fun and I’ve been learning a lot about other cuisines from my blogger friends.

  • IL auto ins September 28, 2011, 5:14 am

    I wanted to thank you for this great blog,I will surely be back again to look at some other significant posts that you have in future.

  • Michael September 28, 2011, 8:25 am

    Wow – this is a great looking blog!

    My wife actually write a blog about food and recipes as well but she doesn’t have as much time to write on her blog so it’s taking her a lot more time to build up the blog and make it popular. However your blog looks great.

    I am sure one day she will want to get her blog to look like this one and have her blog nominated for food blog awards as well!

  • miami luxury oceanfront condos September 28, 2011, 11:20 pm

    I admire your natural talent in cooking Nami. It’s really hard to taste a food and then imagine how it would taste if cooked differently and then experimenting with some ingredients. For me that is awesome as I can’t do it by myself. I used to rely on cook books. I also watch MasterChef so I guess you must be in the competition also :) By the way, the pictures above look really delicious!

    • Nami | Just One Cookbook September 29, 2011, 2:39 pm

      Thank you. :-) I can cook Japanese food but I still need to learn how to cook other Cuisines and feel comfortable about it. I’m still working on it….especially baking!

  • Jocelyn Wilhelm September 29, 2011, 2:51 pm

    Oh my! {SLURP} What a tasty blog. Thanks for sharing and making me salivate.

    I too, like Namiko, always have a sit down dinner with my family. I enjoy cooking and from time to time, you see me blog about food too. One of my life-long dreams is to write a cookbook. Someday….

    Thanks for the inspiration, Christian and Namiko! Keep up the great work.


    • Nami | Just One Cookbook September 30, 2011, 12:49 am

      Thank you Jocelyn! I’ve never thought of writing a cookbook as it seems like it’s a lot of work. :-) I hope your dream will come true one day!

  • Maya@Foodiva's Kitchen September 29, 2011, 7:18 pm

    Christian, Nami is absolutely one of my most favorite food bloggers! Her dedication to her family and her blog, her attention to details and her sincerity is mind-blowing to me. If I met her in person first instead of just knowing her as a food blogger online, I know that I’m going to like her instantly too.

    Thanks for interviewing Nami here, I always enjoy reading her responses. Great one, Nami-san!

    • Nami | Just One Cookbook September 30, 2011, 1:00 am

      Maya, thank you for stopping by here and writing such sweet words. :-) I hope to meet you in person one day! Your creativity is one of rare talents and I always enjoy visiting your blog to find amazing creation!

  • Jens P. Berget October 1, 2011, 3:21 am

    Hi Christian,

    I really liked this, and even though Namiko has a food blog, I can truly relate. I have two small children as well, and time management has been very important to me.

    The pictures are awesome, and it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten any Japanese food (I’m a vegetarian). Looks like she’s doing a very good job with her blog.

    Thanks a lot Christian for introducing me to Namiko.


    • Christian Hollingsworth October 1, 2011, 11:08 am

      You’re welcome, Jens. So happy to hear you enjoyed Namiko’s thoughts. She’s talented, that’s for quite certain.

  • Lyn @LovelyPantry October 1, 2011, 10:41 am

    I loved this interview :-) It’s always a pleasure to learn about other food bloggers and to know I’m not alone when it comes to the challenge of time management :-) I’ll be following Namiko and looking into Just One Cookbook!

  • Andrew Gonzales October 10, 2011, 10:52 pm

    A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I’m not surprised your husband fell in love with you Namiko :) Many women can really cook but a few cooks perfectly. Thanks for the inspiration!


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