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Meet Ashley Pelaez of Millennial Kitchen in Valencia

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Pelaez.

Ashley, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I have always had a love for cooking & eating. Growing up, I spent a lot of time watching shows on the Food Network. When other kids would watch Saturday morning cartoons, I was excited to see the newest episode of Barefoot Contessa or Iron Chef. That love for cooking and learning about food only grew stronger as I got older. I would cook for my family pretty often once I was old enough to operate a chef’s knife and gas stove safely. When I moved out of my parent’s house to go to college, I found myself cooking more than ever. My love for cooking combined with my love for sharing my life online (like most millennials) turned into me sharing snippets of my cooking on Snapchat. This was back when Snapchat was really new and cool. I would share little clips here and there and my friends really seemed to enjoy it. I would get questions about what I was making and positive comments from those that enjoyed watching me cook. As the years went on, Instagram took over as the ‘cool’ social media platform so naturally I took the leap and began posting more on Instagram.

The questions and comments kept rolling in, so I kept posting. Eventually, I realized I should have a separate account for my food and at this point, it was just a fun hobby. I heard of people making money on Instagram but never intended to be an ‘influencer’. At this time, I also set up a blog to house all of my recipes and photos. As time went on my page and my blog began growing. I was taking more time for content creation, posting recipes that I was creating, and took some courses on photography to improve my photos. Here we are almost three years later and it’s become my full-time job. The cheese side of my business began about a year ago when I was seeing cheeseboard influencers making money through making cheeseboards. Cheeseboards have always been my passion since I was very young and last year I realized I could sell them and make a nice profit. Now I sell cheeseboards regularly and cater events in town while also creating new content for my Instagram and blog.

Has it been a smooth road?
It definitely has not been a smooth road. I luckily had the talent when it came to kitchen skills and recipe development, but the rest was a struggle. I was never that great with photography, so learning how to take (and edit) beautiful food photos was a big challenge. In the beginning, my photos were taken very poorly with bad lighting, horrible angles & no editing. That was one of the first things I realized I needed to work on if I wanted people to actually want to make my recipes. I really had to learn about lighting and composition in order to take photos that made the food look really delicious and inviting. My photos certainly have improved over the last three years but it is still a long road ahead until I get to a place that I’m happy with. Something else I’ve struggled with that I think every food blogger struggles with, is making constant comparisons.

It can be very difficult to see other people have their page grow exponentially faster than yours, or take photos that are more beautiful than yours or create recipes that sound more delicious than yours. I try to remind myself that I’m different than everyone else and I’m on my own path but even I’m guilty of comparing myself to other bloggers every once in a while. Lastly, learning to take my Instagram and blog from a passion project to a money making business was incredibly difficult. You don’t learn these kinds of things in school so I had to figure out, on my own, how to make myself profitable and how to run a nontraditional business. I am learning new things each and every day so as long as I can say that the struggles are all worth it.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Millennial Kitchen – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
My Instagram and blog are centered around the idea that I want to teach millennials how to cook. My degrees are in Education so I have always wanted to teach. Through sharing my recipes, I try to inspire people to get in the kitchen. In the age of Postmates it can be so easy to order whatever you want with just the click of a button but that really isn’t great for our bodies or our wallets. I specialize in easy to follow recipes with commonly found ingredients and simple techniques. I also share step-by-step videos of recipes as well as basic kitchen techniques to teach my followers and readers. I am also known for my cheeseboards. I create beautiful cheeseboards that have caught the attention of enough people that I am able to make a living selling them year round and for holidays and events.

There are two things I am the most proud of. First, is the fact that I have changed people’s lives by giving them the tools and resources to teach themselves how to cook to feed themselves and their families. This is something that I have always been proud of and has excited me, but knowing that I’m helping families to relieve a huge source of stress during a global pandemic is honestly the most rewarding feeling. I am also especially proud of the growth I’ve made with my cheese business. I began selling small cheeseboards just around the holidays and that has transformed into selling them regularly, as well as for events. I strive to be personable and relatable to my followers and readers to show them that you don’t need any formal training or a fancy kitchen to make a delicious meal from scratch and I believe that its what really sets me apart from others.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
What I love most about Los Angeles is the accessibility to incredibly delicious and diverse food, made by people who love what they do. Being able to taste food from around the world without having to leave LA is really something special. My least favorite thing about LA has to be the traffic. And the parking.

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