Katie Webster has mastered many forms of culinary art

Katie Webster’s blog, Healthy Seasonal Recipes, combines two of her strongest talents: recipe development and photography. She has spent two decades being creative in the kitchen on both fronts.

Webster started her career at Eating Well magazine, developing and testing recipes. She began to freelance when her children were born and in 2009, she started her blog.

“I started it as a side hustle,” she said. “It was an alternative way to build my brand as a recipe developer.”

Photo by Katie Webster.
Katie Webster is at home in front of the stove and behind the camera.
Photo by Katie Webster. Katie Webster is at home in front of the stove and behind the camera.

Prior to COVID, a lot of Webster’s energy went into freelance work. She had a portfolio of clients for whom she’d create recipes on a regular basis. Once COVID hit, she could no longer work with her team, and it became difficult to do all the work on her own. “Demand remained because people wanted to cook,” she said, “but I couldn’t keep up with it. Besides, my blog was taking off. Running a content site became more and more profitable.”

When she lived in Richmond, Webster fell in love with sugaring. The family’s backyard operation grew to include a sugarhouse and they bottled the sweet stuff and sold it to friends and on-line. Webster’s love for that process and for cooking with Vermont’s liquid gold led her to write “Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes” in 2015.

Webster loves all kinds of food but said that if she was going to write another cookbook, the subject would be soup.

“I love making soup,” she said, “but soup is also a fantastic way of teaching someone how to cook.”

Webster speculates that she could teach at least eight different classes on cooking soup. She also believes it’s a great way to create healthy food and is a relaxing way to spend time in the kitchen.

Although Webster just moved to Charlotte in December, she has strong ties here. Her grandparents lived in the house across the street from her, and her parents met in Charlotte. As a child, she spent her summers at the family’s Charlotte camp and her sister has lived here for years.

“I kind of think of Charlotte as the center of the universe,” she said.

One impetus for the move was falling in love with Cedar Farm.

“It is a house I had always admired as a child,” she said. “I mean, what little girl wouldn’t want their own Rapunzel tower? My husband is a builder, and we love home improvement projects so buying and renovating a historic home really appealed to us.”

In addition to preparing recipes, Webster’s blog requires photographing food. She was an art major at Skidmore College where she focused on photography. Her grandfather had been a photographer, and she got her first camera from him. Her mother was a painter.

Eventually Webster concluded that it wasn’t easy to make money in the art world, so she went to culinary school. She helped with photo shoots at Eating Well and discovered that she had a knack for food styling. That gave her a head start when she started her blog, although she had to adjust to using a digital camera instead of film.

“The elements of a beautiful image are the same,” she said. “Photography is my favorite part of what I do. I love the creativity, having a vision and spending time creating images that make people feel really inspired to cook something that’s good for them.”

Webster notes that photographing freshly cooked food can be a challenge, and for some meals, she has to have everything ready in advance. Cheese, in particular, has a very short window so Webster arranges everything prior to cooking so the moment the dish comes out of the oven, she’s ready to snap the picture.

Webster’s website has grown, and she is gratified to have readers from all over the world. Every Saturday morning, she sends out a menu plan for what she describes as easy weeknight meals.

Her specialty — finding ways for busy people to incorporate seasonal ingredients — was discovered serendipitously. In 2015, she was busy writing her cookbook and didn’t have much time for her blog, so she wrote a simple recipe for cucumber salad. It turned out to be the most popular thing she had ever published.

Webster has gained quite a following for her weekly recipes and the number of people opening her emails has been going up.

“My mission,” she said, “is to help busy people find simple solution-based recipes for making healthy meals using seasonal ingredients.”