By Emily Hamann
The Bellingham Business Journal
Samantha Ferraro is a cook, blogger and new Bellingham resident.
She runs the food blog LittleFerraroKitchen.com, and has won awards for her food photography and was recognized by the Los Angeles Times for her recipe for her recipe for Jewish rugelach cookies. Her website gets around 50,000 hits per month; she has readers all around the world, as well as an avid following on social media. This spring she and her husband relocated from Seal Beach, California, to Bellingham. When she’s not blogging or cooking, she has a full-time job as a supervisor at a grocery store. Last month, she sat down with The Bellingham Business Journal to answer a few questions.
Responses have been edited for space and clarity.
Can you start by talking a little bit about your blog and how you got started?
My blog is called Little Ferraro Kitchen. I’ve had it for about four years. I was going through this transition, because I had just graduated school and I needed some kind of outlet, and cooking was always my outlet. I come from a really diverse background. I’m Jewish and I’m originally from Brooklyn, New York. Then my mom and I moved to Hawaii, which was, like, the most drastic thing.
I was the only Jewish girl, it felt like, in the school. But anyway, I lived there for 10 years, and I met my husband there and then we moved to California and we lived there for 10 years and now we’re here. I kind of took all these different cultural things that were a part of my background and I wanted to express myself in a creative way and I did that through cooking. I started cooking. I shared my recipes online. I didn’t think more than my husband and family would read it. It gradually grew.
How did you learn to cook?
My mom is a really good cook, and she’d cook a lot of Jewish and Turkish and Mediterranean food. And it wasn’t until I was really in my 20s I was like ‘I need to rekindle this.’ So I started asking her for recipes. I’m a self-taught cook, I never went to school or anything. I kind of get inspiration from my mom’s cooking or my family’s cooking or traveling, or my background, or trying to learn more about my culture.
So how do you go from being just a good home cook to building a blog that has a following?
I was reading other blogs, and I was like ‘I want to do this. I love cooking and I want to share this with someone.’ And I started with the program Blogger. And I worked with that for a while and I was typing recipes in, that’s all I was doing, I would type a recipe in and then take a picture and put it in.
So I was doing that for a while, then I was inspired to expand the look of the blog.
So I got someone to help me design it. As far as social media, I do all my own marketing. I’ll schedule a bunch of posts on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and try to get the word out and do my own email blasts. And then I’ll try to maintain the site.
What do you think it is about your blog that resonates with people?
I think I try to keep it real. And I love to be as authentic as I can be with cultural recipes, and I’m willing to ask others, ‘Like is this your culture? How do you do it? Do you have any tips?’ I’m all about sharing recipes and ideas.
I’m keeping it real, and honest. Good solid food, real, wholesome food.
Where does the revenue come from on your blog?
Different places. I’m part of an ad network. So, if you go on the site you see ads on there. And I try not to make it overpowering. So, the more people who view it, that’s how I generate income. I also contribute to two — actually, I’m just about to sign a contract for a Jewish website called the Joy of Kosher. I worked with them a few years ago, but we reconnected recently again.
And then I’ve been a regular contributor for, it’s called The Nosher, another Jewish website.
So if I do posts, or recipes or food photography, we set a budget, and I’m like their client. And then I’ve worked with other companies who will contact you, different brands, like the Hatch Chili Network will be like ‘I’d love for you to make a recipe’ so I’ll do things like that for them, and we’ll both promote it.
So you build a recipe using their product?
Yeah exactly. I’ve done some with Hatch chilies, for example. They sent me like 10 pounds of roasted chilis.
I’ve heard that those kind of sponsored posts are the bulk of a lot of blogger’s income. Is that true in your case?
Yeah, definitely. But you try and make it not … you don’t want to sound like a commercial. So, for me, I’ll only use things that I would use anyway, or that I already enjoy, because I want to convey that.
How much revenue do you get from your blog?
It really ranges. For a recipe and photography post, it can range anywhere from $200-$350 per post. I get a couple hundred a month from the ads.
What brought you to Bellingham?
My husband and I wanted a slower pace of living, and we were looking for something that was local and more farm-esque. He came up here in March. And I remember I texted him, I was like ‘Is that the place?’ He was like, ‘Yes, this is it.’ I was like OK, let’s do this. That was the end of April. We love it here, oh my gosh, it’s amazing. It’s so beautiful, everyone is super nice.
What are the biggest differences between Bellingham and Southern California?
We cannot believe how much local food there is here. The beer. And aside from the amazing beer — which, I just had that raspberry lager that Wander and Kulshan are doing; that’s awesome — we’re eating local bread like no tomorrow. Local pasta. Local produce. I’ve never had so much local food. We’re in heaven right now. Have you been to the farmer’s market here? Oh my gosh, I’m obsessed. I go literally twice a week. To the Fairhaven one, then the Saturday one.
Do you have a favorite local food producer that you have discovered since moving here?
I love bread. I’ve been obsessed with Farm and Avenue bread. Those two are ridiculous. The Bitter Baker — I’ve used her stuff. We just went apple and blueberry picking in Bow. And I made some — actually, I’m going to post them on the blog — little Turkish bourekas, which are normally savory but I made them sweet with apples and blueberries and I poured some tahini over it. Kind of a mash up of Turkish and local food.
What’s your secret for taking great food photos?
There’s some food photographers that are solely about the food photography part of it. I keep it simple. It’s literally a window, I have a little card table, and I either have a chopping block or some kind of backdrop.
And then really colorful food, super simple, some garnish. And that’s it for my photo setup. I don’t like getting too many props or too many things because I feel like it takes away– and plus, the food gets cold. I’m going to eat; I don’t have three hours to take a photo. This is how it really is. Honestly, I keep it real.
I did this Julia Child series, so I was researching her a lot, and she said something like, if the food is beautifully placed you know somebody has been touching it. I was like, exactly!
I like rustic, simple.
What’s next for you as a food blogger?
I’d love to get involved with Bellingham a little bit. I think it would be so much fun to teach some cooking classes. Or introduce Bellingham to Jewish food, or use local ingredients to do that. I think it would be a lot of fun and people would be interested in it, like during the holidays.
I’d love to do something with the farmers market. I’m going to look into that for next year for sure.