An American by birth and accent, JJ makes stuff, bakes stuff and writes stuff at 84th & 3rd from her home in Sydney. Working on the strategic and management side of advertising by day, she finds creative outlet in her food blog. A few years back, she changed the way she was eating and has been on a mission ever since to create healthy, unprocessed recipes that are both delicious and inspiring.
April Smallwood

13 Sep 2012 - 10:57 AM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

We talk to Jennifer of 84th & 3rd about travelling to eat, healthy blogs she can't get enough of, and a penchant for New York brunch.

What’s the most popular recipe on your blog and what inspired it?
My two most popular recipes are the gluten-free quinoa tortillas and vegan chocolate ice-cream. I'm neither gluten free nor vegan, but many of the things I make are. I experiment regularly in an attempt to recreate less-healthy recipes a wholesome way.

Who's blog do you most admire?
There are so many beautifully crafted, creative and utterly drool-worthy sites out there. Overseas, I want to dive into my screen on every post by EatLiveRun, and adore Cookie + Kate for healthy recipes that don't sacrifice flavour – the inspiration for my pumpkin and chestnut bread came from there. Chasing Delicious is too good for words.

Closer to home, I can't go past the amazing treats from Spicy Ice Cream, while Emma from My Darling Lemon Thyme and Martyna from Wholesome Cook have simple fresh dishes that I would eat every day.

What happened on that street corner of 84th and 3rd in NYC that inspired you to start a food blog?
We lived at 84th & 3rd and nothing particularly ground breaking happened there – well, aside from the daily choose-your-own-insanity of living in NYC – but I always said that if I ever had to name a business or a website, that's what it would be. There are two places in the world where I instantly take a truly deep breath – one is my mum's farm in upstate NY, the other is Manhattan. Those two places are about as opposite as you can get, but both are permanently ingrained in my soul, and as such, on my blog.

What do you eat more or less of now that you document and publish many of your meals?
Not surprisingly, I eat far more savoury food than ever gets published on the blog. Part of that is due to poor lighting in our apartment at night, so dinner gets eaten instead of photographed, the other part is that it’s far more challenging to create healthy sweet treats than savoury ones!

I've always been a big believer in brunch and that only intensified in New York. It is the perfect meal. You can have breakfast food, lunch food, savoury or sweet, and it is as acceptable to sit and dwell from mid-morning well into the afternoon over a pot – or three – of tea and a paper, as it is a Bloody Mary – or three – and a table of friends. I'm thrilled to see the Sydney cafe culture embracing brunch, or the all-day breakfast menu, as it tends to be called.

How have your travels expanded your food philosophy?
My husband, RJ, and I have always travelled to eat. We make lists of food before tourist attractions, and have been known to detour specifically for a meal. While in Spain a few years back, we had a last-minute stop in Valencia on the way from Madrid to Barcelona because we discovered it is the home of paella. In Stockholm, we hunted down kanelbulle like our lives depended on it, and one of our favourite cities in the US is Portland because they have happy-hour food specials. RJ is a very willing partner in crime.

Really experiencing a food culture can be a bit difficult, however, as I don't eat meat and haven't for about 15 years. It isn't an ethical decision and I don't have any problem handling it, cooking it, watching other people enjoy it, but just don't consume it myself. I've started using the entirely made-up phrase "vegaquarian" lately to explain how I eat, because, for some reason, people get it so much more quickly than "pecsatarian"! We are heading down to South America shortly and I have a feeling the no-meat thing will be a bit challenging down there; maybe it's time to try out a carnivorous lifestyle again – probably not, though!

However, choosing to eat unprocessed has impacted how I approach food more than my travels have. I've always had a great respect for small artisan producers and farmers, and it's very exciting to see how this trend is taking hold in Sydney. I try to support small businesses whenever possible in my search for healthier food choices.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter