We had the good fortune of connecting with Kate Robertson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kate, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I love and hate this question. There’s no short answer. I was born in a small town in southeastern North Carolina, and lived in the Piedmont region of the state until I was five. Then my family moved to Atlanta, then to the Philadelphia suburbs. Then back to Atlanta. Then back to Philadelphia. I went to college in southwestern Virginia, grad school back in North Carolina, and then moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 2015. And no, my parents weren’t military.
These days, I find myself saying I’m “originally from North Carolina, and grew up in Atlanta.” But really, I can’t identify one place I’ve lived as my hometown. If I had to give one answer, I’d say I’m from the South.
Moving around so much wasn’t always easy—leaving friends and familiar places and whatnot. But if all our moves taught me anything, it’s adaptability and dealing with change very well. Being “the new kid” doesn’t give me anxiety. Moving to Chattanooga not knowing a soul didn’t scare me. That’s not to say I wasn’t nervous. I was, because I was on my own. But I wasn’t scared or anxious. I knew I’d find my people and be happy, like I always did.
July will mark six years in Chattanooga. It’ll be the longest I’ve ever lived in one place, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I hope one day my future child(ren) will be happy to say they’re from Chattanooga.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I started my blog as a little Google Blogger website my sophomore year of college. At the time, it was just a way for me to keep my friends and family up to date with my life at college, and later grad school. It was a little bit of everything and didn’t have a ton of direction—very reflective of school at times, to be honest. Then I moved to Chattanooga, and my blog started what I now call its first evolution. I started to focus on my city’s food scene, and other general things going on here. I wrote food and “things to do in Chattanooga” roundups, with an occasional recipe of my own mixed in. Over time, recipes and more food-centric posts became a larger and larger part of my content.
Then the 2020 lockdown happened, and I couldn’t really go out and do a whole lot around town. There wasn’t anything to go out and do, since everything was closed down. So, I cooked and baked a LOT, and blogged the recipes. I tried new recipes, learned how to bake sourdough bread, tested out some weird ideas, and loved every minute of it. In my world of working from home and only leaving the house to go to the grocery store or my fiance’s house, I found so much joy in cooking and baking—more than I had before. Except I missed sharing with my coworkers or friends at a tailgate.
In the beginning, I always told myself I didn’t want to be “that” kind of food blogger. I always enjoyed cooking and being in the kitchen, but it didn’t “feel right” to me, for some reason, until the last year or two. Now, I embrace it. Trying new ideas and recipes tickles my creative bone in ways my day job doesn’t. I love trying new ingredients or products, or learning a new technique, or just baking a snack cake because I need a pick-me-up. I’m proud to call myself a Southern food blogger.
The best thing about being a food blogger is that I’m always learning—in and outside the kitchen. I’m not a trained photographer or designer, but I do all my own photos and content. I work in marketing by day, and I’m always reading about new strategies and tactics I can implement. I’ve toyed with video, but I’m nowhere near comfortable enough with it yet. Every aspect of being a food blogger challenges me in some way, and I’m always up for a challenge.
For a lot of people, cooking and baking can be intimidating or overwhelming, or they don’t know where to start. I’m certainly not an expert, but I do know how I can help. I want my simple, Southern recipes and content to help people feel confident and comfortable in the kitchen, and to get people excited to try new recipes, get creative, and make something that’ll make them happy.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh wow, how long do we have here?
As for things to do, I would for sure include a Chattanooga Football Club match. CFC is our professional soccer club. It was founded in 2009 by Chattanoogans, for Chattanooga. I wasn’t a soccer fan until I went to my first CFC match in 2015 (just a few days after moving here, actually). The guys on the pitch play their hearts out, and the supporters literally never stop singing and cheering for 90+ minutes. Of course the matches are a little different now, thanks to the times, but CFC matches are some of my favorite events in town. I’ve met many of my closest friends and my fiance thanks to CFC!
Additionally, there’s a TON of hiking around Chattanooga. There are some great trails as close as 10 minutes from downtown, and even more further out. Sunset Rock on Lookout Mountain is a Chattanooga must, and the hike from Craven’s House is enjoyable. Signal Mountain has some lovely hikes and views, as well, like Edward’s Point. If you’re willing to drive about an hour out, Foster Falls in Sequatchie is stunning after a good rain. Fall colors out here are something else.
Coolidge and Renaissance Parks are iconic. They sit on the north side of the Tennessee River, are luscious and green in the spring and summer, and beautifully colorful in the fall. Grab some takeout from any number of the restaurants along the Northshore and have yourself a little picnic in one of the parks.
The Sunday farmer’s market is one of my favorite things about Chattanooga. In the spring, summer, and fall, I do a majority of my grocery shopping here. Berries, peaches, apples, tomatoes, squash, flour, greens… you name it, it’s probably at the market. In addition to locally grown produce, many makers, craftsmen, artists, and other business owners set up booths and sell. Stationery, woodworking, photography and art, home products, soaps, pottery. I’ve bought many birthday and Christmas gifts at the market.
Okay, now for food and drink spots. I literally can’t pick favorites when it comes to food and drink here, because there are SO MANY good places. But for time’s sake, here are some of my highlights: Bleu Fox Cheese Shop, Unknown Caller Bar, STIR, FEED Co Table & Tavern, Easy Bistro, Pizzeria Cortile (Neapolitan style), Pizza Bros (New York style), Dub’s Place Burgers, Niedlov’s, Mayfly Coffee, Naked River Brewing Co., Hutton & Smith Brewing Co., Taqueria Jalisco, Sleepyhead Coffee, Mean Mug, and of course Clumpies Ice Cream Co.
I have plenty more recommendations on my Instagram and blog.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Oh my… so many people I could shoutout here! I’ll keep it simple:
My parents, for always encouraging me to go after what I want, to be unapologetically myself, for teaching me the values and rewards of hard work, and being my biggest supporters and cheerleaders.
My closest friends, for keeping me sane, making me laugh, sound-boarding ideas, inspiring me to be my best self, being there for me when life gets tough and also telling me when to put on my big girl pants and handle it. Surrounding yourself with good people only makes life better.
My fiance, for his never-ending support and motivation, his wisdom, never telling me I’m crazy, and keeping me from starting a thousand projects at once.
Photo of Kate at pink polka dot wall by Ray Soldano.