With an MFA in jewelry and metalsmithing, Carolyn has been successfully combining her love of food and the arts in the creation of Gastronomically-inspired jewelry for over a dozen years. Interspersed with creating artwork, she has written and been published in numerous magazines and just released her first book, “Oysters – A Global History” for Reaktion. Carolyn is hard at work finishing her second book, again combining her passion in, “Food As Art – The Aesthetics of Edibles” due for release in spring of 2019.  www.CarolynTillie.com

Carrie_on_Bench - Version 2

When did you first decide you wanted to make food your career?

I was in the middle of working on a Master’s of Fine Art in jewelry and metalsmithing when I became rather obsessed with the culinary arts. A week after I graduated, I enrolled in the Epicurean Culinary School in Los Angeles – at that time, the only school that offered part-time, evening courses.


How did you get where you are today in the food business?

I had a very circuitous route. After I got my certificate at Epicurean, a job presented itself as the Catering Manager to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion which entailed managing the events for the Los Angeles Opera, Symphony and Master Chorale. The Dorothy Chandler is also a city-owned facility so many city-sponsored events were staged there as well as the Emmy’s. In my short tenure there, I went through four different directors – three of whom walked out in the middle of large, 1,000+ seat events. But every four-day weekend I had was spent driving up to Napa and dreaming about being part of the wine industry and – frankly – working at Copia (which was my Holy Grail in that it combined food, wine and arts).


With no due diligence or any connections whatsoever, I just up and moved to Napa, assuming my ability to write and experience coordinating events would be sufficient. It took a while to finally get a job and for several years, I worked at various wineries in a number of capacities – from event coordination to executive assistant to wine club manager. I began freelance writing and was published in a handful of wine-industry magazines. It was only a decade after my graduation that I returned to the jewelry arts and began combining my love of food with my ability as an artist.

Ice Cream Bracelet

What is your favorite food experience?

Lunch with Julia Child, about nine months before she passed away. I was working at the Dorothy Chandler at the time and rubbing elbows with all sorts of Hollywood elite. But spending time in the company of Oscar, Emmy and Grammy winners were nothing compared to meeting her. She was obviously frail, but still held court like a regal queen, but approachable and laughing; full of gaiety and high spirits. I remember asking her what was her favorite snack and she whispered – in spite of her doctor’s orders – that she loved potato chips with a martini.


If you had one last meal, what would it be?

Jeremy Fox’s “Pea Consommé with Mint,” raw oysters from Cancale and Ireland, and Thomas Keller’s “Coffee and Doughnuts,”


What is the most exciting thing going on in food right now, in your opinion?

Exciting or sadly prevalent? I am excited by the fact that shows like “The Great British Bake Off” has made baking accessible again. It seems more and more are wanting to get back to the basics of home-prepared foods but – alas – the rise of the home delivery service like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron is keeping Americans from knowing how to shop, plan, and prepare meals without a service holding their hands through the process. I am fascinated to see more vegan-friendly, gluten-intolerant, ethnic cuisines being offered in the frozen food section of my mainstream grocery store so what was once exotic is becoming commonplace. It begs the question: What is next that will be exotic?

Capturefile: C:Documents and SettingsRichard Matzingerimages20082008_06_20IMG_4995.CR2 CaptureSN: 1721202431.000003 Software: Capture One LE for Windows

Capturefile: C:Documents and SettingsRichard Matzingerimages20082008_06_20IMG_4995.CR2
CaptureSN: 1721202431.000003
Software: Capture One LE for Windows

What advice do you have for young people who wanted a career in food?

Learn coding and the intricacies of social networking. Those who are succeeding are those who know how to play the online game of building followers, producing vlogs (video-blogs), and being more than just interested or knowledgeable about the food – they must also be great photographers, editors, writers, and have a working knowledge of the technology to promote them.


What condiment is always in your refrigerator.

Anchovy paste


What was your first cookbook?

Joy of Cooking – the 6th edition


What cookbook could not live without?

Joy of Cooking – the 6th edition


What is your go-to recipe for entertaining?

Alsatian onion tart


Where do you shop for food?

Living on the coast, I am sadly relegated to Safeway for family groceries (which includes far too many snacks like Flaming Hot Cheetos!), but I often seek out the meat markets in the Mission for interesting cuts of meat as well as Ranch 99 and Manila Oriental Market for unusual fresh fish. I’m sort of ashamed that salmon and crab are coming into the harbor nearby me and I don’t avail myself of that opportunity…


What (project) are you working on today and how will it impact your career/business?

I am finishing a manuscript on an abecedarian, “Food As Art – the Aesthetics of Edibles.” It has been a project that has been in my head for some time and investigates the history of food as an artistic medium; from folk art to kitsch to the gallery setting and the plate of Molecular cuisine. The upside is that I found a publisher to take on the topic while not as expansive as I would have liked. So I hope the impact will enable me to continue pursuing the subject matter in a fashion to expand upon it both in an investigative, literary fashion (articles) but also possibly as a curator for an exhibit or specialty, catered pop-ups as Tasha Marks does at the Victoria and Albert Museum.


What chefs or blogs do you follow?

I’m afraid I don’t anymore. A dozen years ago, blogs were all the rage and I became soured on the use of blogs as stepping stones as I literally watched some bloggers step on others to promote themselves. But those who have had staying power that I am impressed by remain David Leibovitz and Heidi Swanson.


What have I gained (or would like to gain) from being a member of the SFPFS?

I have gained a handful of close and meaningful friendships and look forward to being able to contribute and participate more as – again – my last stepchild is close to being launched and won’t need as much of my time.