Woman We Love: Julia Sherman of Salad For President

“A daily practice of making salad with creative people.” This is how Julia Sherman describes her blog turned cult following turned best seller, SALAD for President. That practice was where we first became obsessed with the recipes and dinner parties behind it all. Julia focuses on not just making salad cool and interesting again, but creating a community of artists and creatives that are just as passionate about that as she is. Suffice it to say, we’re huge fans. The recipes are not only beautiful and delicious, but a kind of storytelling in their own right. Plus, she’s just damn cool. (Follow her in Instagram, you’ll see what we mean.) So as she finishes up her book tour, we thought it was about time that you got to know her too.

SO TELL OUR READERS ALL ABOUT YOU. I am artist, cook and writer living in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn with my husband Adam, and my dog, Lucy. I studied photography at RISD, and then moved to Los Angeles with my husband, where I worked as a photographer on film sets, and ran an artist run space in a storefront that was also my studio. In LA I learned to love gardening and growing my own food, and solidified my place as the unpaid caterer of our young art world on the East Side of LA. We moved to NY (where I am from) in 2009, so I could get an MFA from Columbia. After I started my blog, Chopt Creative Salad Company hired me as their Creative Director, so now I split my time between SALAD for President and my job there. My first cookbook, Salad for President: A Cookbook Inspired by Artists, came out this Spring, and I am rounding out my book tour in San Fran/Bay Area this week (all the dates are on my blog).

WAS THERE A MOMENT OR EPIPHANY FOR YOU WHEN MAKING THE DECISION TO SWITCH OVER TO FOOD BLOGGING FULL TIME AND TAKE A BREAK FROM THE ART WORLD? I think the shift really began when I finished my MFA. This was a turning point for me, as it is a highly competitive program full of young artists climbing their way up the ladder in the New York commercial art world. I respect my peers and my professors who have been able to make that system work for them, but I soon realized that wasn’t it for me. I would have to work to find my place, and it wasn’t in selling objects in a gallery.
I was sick of the isolation of the art world. I realized my real talent is in the way I connect with strangers and that it was time for me to take a closer look at the things I truly loved doing everyday. I am really at peace when I am in the kitchen, much more than I ever was in the studio.
The name was meant to encourage my readers to take the work they love seriously, no matter how everyday or mundane. “Salad” as the conceptual basis for an entire project seems absurd at first, but if you pour your heart and soul into any simple act, it can be as important as anything. “Salad For President” borrows the language of a political campaign to elevate an everyday task.
WE LOVE HOW YOU SOURCE RECIPES FROM FRIENDS AND ARTISTS, IT HAS THIS COMMUNITY FEEL. WAS THAT AN INTENTIONAL PERSPECTIVE OR DID IT JUST HAPPEN ORGANICALLY? The blog started out as a catalogue of my own recipes, but as soon my friends started to offer up their ideas, I jumped. My art practice had always been intensely collaborative, so when I saw how the blog could be operate in that vein as well, I knew I was on to something.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR IDEAL KITCHEN SITUATION. A kitchen has to be well integrated into the social space of the house for me. I would hate to be isolated away from all the fun while cooking! I love having a gigantic kitchen island, so people can gather around while I cook. Of course, there has to be great light in the kitchen. I also like an eclectic mix of textures, colors and pattern. I am not a very streamlined, restrained person, so I prefer my space to be bright and a little chaotic, just like me. 😉

HOW OFTEN DO YOU COOK VS. EAT OUT ON A REGULAR WEEK? My schedule is so erratic, it is really hard to say. But when I am home in New York, I try not to eat in restaurants more than once or twice a week. That said, I end up going to lots of food events, and otherwise, I try to have people over and eat at home. It’s really important for me to feel healthy and grounded.
WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO OUTFIT FOR DINNER PARTIES? I love a concept white shirt and wide legged pants. I am really into having a bunch of variations on the basic white button down. It always feels put together and sharp, and it’s just flattering.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER WOMEN WHO ARE CONSIDERING A CAREER TRANSITION? Try and put your anxiety aside, and really spend some time doing what makes you happy. If you are going to be your own boss, you better be doing something that shoots you out of bed in the morning. Most of all, give yourself some time to just figure it out. You don’t have to have a plan right away, but you do have to stop giving a shit what other people think. That’s a lifelong goal, but a good one to keep in mind.
OKAY, NOW WE HAVE TO KNOW YOUR TOP RECIPES FOR SUMMER. I am obsessed with the watermelon, olive oil, salt and bronze fennel recipe from my book. I also love ceviche more than anything else in the world. This recipe (pictured below) I made recently with Raul de Nieves was so simple and so good!

Visit saladforpresident.com for more.

Photos of Julia by BriAnne Wills.