I met France one evening after work in NYC to learn more about her recently launched website, Allo Maman, What’s Cooking. A mother-daughter team, France and her “Maman” Françoise work across 3,627 miles to develop recipes, share their love of food, and indulge in friendly cooking competitions each week. I came across Allo Maman, What’s Cooking on Instagram and immediately became hooked. Maybe it was the tagline, “I kiss better than I cook” that drew me in! The photography is absolutely stunning and the recipes are to die for. I just made the stuffed figs, which our family fought over to the last bite! Several other recipes on my bucket list to try are the eggs in a cloud and zucchini harissa shakshuka.
I lived in Paris for three years during a leave of absence from work to raise our children and I loved walking to the markets for fresh flowers and ingredients every week. The importance of “Art de la Table” is taken to a new level in France. Francoise, France’s mom is an interior architect who can transform a dinner table into a piece of artwork. Referred to as the “chef” in the family, Francoise has passed on her passion for cooking to her 4 children. France, the youngest of four girls, lives in Brooklyn. During the day she works as a Partner at Upstart Innovation helping clients grow their business.
Living with such an incredible cook growing up, France did not start to pursue her passion for cooking until last year when she developed the idea with her mom as a means to stay in daily contact. Each week they pick an ingredient to work with, create various dishes remotely, and share their creations with their fellow foodie community. France and I met to share our love of food, restaurants, travel, and exchange ideas about our growing food blogs.
Here is an abbreviated version of our discussion with France.
MM: I love your name, France. Your mom is Francoise. What is the story behind your name?
FB: My parents called me France because I was born in St Etienne (close to Lyon) and, if I had ended up a boy, they had decided to call me after the city I was going to be born in. When they learned I was a girl, they scaled their inspiration up to the whole country! They say they liked how gentle France sounded and how rare it is… there is a famous singer from the 60s called France Galle but that wasn’t the inspiration.
My name was a source of mockery when I was a kid but now, it’s an amazing business card – especially living in the US. When we lived in NY, one of our neighbors in our building on the Upper East Side named her daughter America. We met in the elevator a few weeks later and shared a good laugh when sharing both our names.
MM: You mentioned your family moved around a lot when you were young? Where did you live?
FB: We lived in Paris, Hong-Hong, and New York.
MM: What is your favorite memory around the kitchen table?
FB: My favorite memory around the kitchen table is our week night dinners with my 3 sisters and our parents… when, every night over dinner, we would debrief our individual days at school and (often strategize on the next move for the studies of my older sisters: talking about colleges and navigating American SATs vs. European Baccalaureate etc.).
MM: Do you have a favorite summer recipe you would like to share?
FB: We always make a simple fresh tomato and mustard tart. So delicious – everyone loves it because it balances the best of all worlds: fresh juicy tomatoes, tangy mustard, crunchy crust and yummy French Emmental cheese. I spent my August holiday in St. Tropez with my family and we made mini caramelized tomato tartes tatin. The recipe is on our website.
MM: Do you and your mom plan to spend some time together this summer developing recipes and cooking together?
FB: Yes, we usually develop recipes virtually as we live miles apart. What’s App is our favorite platform for recipe exchange and brainstorming. But whenever we spend time together, whether it’s over the Christmas holidays or during the summer, we cook together for the family. In the summer, we go to St. Tropez and cook a lot of recipes using fresh, local ingredients like rosemary, fresh heirloom tomatoes, figs, and peaches. We love to make the local dishes like Pissaladiere (a thin pizza-like crust with caramelized onions), tapenade toasts, French tians (A type of gratin) and ratatouille.
MM: Is there a cookbook in the future?
FB: Maman and I are enjoying our recipe exchange for the moment building a community of fellow food lovers on our Instagram and website. We also are contributors to feedfeed a digital online cooking community.
France shared several of her favorite photographs of her summer holiday in the South of France.