Q&A with Chef Belinda

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Belinda Smith-Sullivan, author of the cookbook Just Peachy, is a chef, food writer, spice blends entrepreneur, and a commercially-rated pilot. She graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a degree in Culinary Arts. She has lived in France, Kenya, and South Africa and has traveled extensively throughout the world experiencing the foods and flavors of multiple cultures. She lives in Trenton, South Carolina, in the heart of peach country.

What books have you read recently that have made an impact on you?

Smith-Sullivan: Because of my type of writing—cookbooks—I do not have a lot of time to read fiction. And when not writing a cookbook, I am busy writing food articles or creating recipes for magazines. With that said, the last three books I read I have not been able to stop thinking about! All three authors have a special gift for drawing you in from the first paragraph and holding your attention throughout the story. All three books were about 800 pages long and I was never once bored, tired or wanted it to just end already! I am speaking of: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, and Beach Music by Pat Conroy

If you could make everyone in the world read one book, which would it be?

Any of the above!

Do you have a routine you follow when you start writing a book?

In my previous career I was a project manager, so I approach all tasks very systematically. Cookbooks are easy, in that they follow a very predictable format—usually food categories like salads, entrees, desserts etc. When a customer purchases a cookbook, they generally know what to expect—there really is not much mystery to it.

What was your favorite part about writing your latest book?

My first cookbook is about peaches—my favorite fruit. The fun part for me was developing all of the different, delicious and sometimes outside-the-box recipes!! Most people naturally assumed that the book would be full of recipes for pies, cakes and desserts. Everyone was surprised—even shocked—to learn that there are so many other ways to prepare and enjoy peaches!

Where do you prefer to do your writing?

Again, I prefer the structure of my well-organized, quiet office. However, because of the nature of my subject—food—I get my motivation outside the office. I love visiting farmers’ markets, local food producers and growers.

What are you working on next?

I am in the process of finishing my second cookbook.

What advice would you give to beginning writers?

Writing, no matter the genre, is a lonely journey. You have to be comfortable with spending a lot of time alone; and missing out on a lot of good times with friends and family. Learn how to say no!

Belinda Smith-Sullivan was scheduled to take part in the 2020 Virginia Festival of the Book. You can learn more about her work by clicking here, and you can order her books from a local bookseller by clicking here