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Life & Work with Anina Belle Giannini

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anina Belle Giannini. 

Hi Anina Belle, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Bonjour, my name is Anina Belle. I am an American/Canadian who fell in love with a French Chef during a university exchange to Nice, France. We lived together for 8 years in Nice and Antibes, France before our careers in luxury hotels took us to Montreal, QC and then Washington, DC. We have been married 11 years and now live in the suburbs of Washington, DC with our 4-year-old daughter and one-year-old son. Despite a very full life with young kids, a dog, and a rewarding job in luxury hospitality, I actively seek out ways to recreate the “joie de vivre“* that I enjoyed so much when we lived in the South of France together. 

I started Le Chef’s Wife blog in 2018 as a way to document our family recipes and traditions for my daughter. Along the way, I discovered that I really enjoyed learning to cook from my husband! I began to love teaching the tips and tricks I learned with readers. 

A fun day off for us is deciding on a recipe, opening a bottle of wine, and settling in the kitchen to cook together. Our daughter loves to help out and will run into the kitchen saying “Let ME help you!” anytime she hears me taking one of our cast-iron pots off the shelf. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Le Chef’s Wife has grown very gradually. There has never been that “wow” moment where it just took off. I kept at it and became better at my craft. I used to write a blog post every month or so, then it was twice a month. Now it is once a week. Over the years, I have honed in on the story I wanted to tell and also got better at telling that story. I love French Riviera cuisine and realized that not everyone knows what French Riviera cuisine is in the USA. Most people, when they think of French cooking, think of Julia Child-style cooking. French Onion Soup, Boeuf Bourguignon, Coq au Vin. These are actually classic dishes of the Burgundy region. Lots of butter and lots of cheese! When I think of French food, I think of eating a Salade Niçoise at a beach restaurant in Nice. I think of grilled Branzino with a fresh Vierge Sauce made of olives, tomatoes, capers, and pine nuts with lemon zest, or of les Petits Farçis, assorted vegetables stuffed with a savory meat filling that are baked until they melt in your mouth. This is the French cuisine I know and that we cook at home. I started lechefswife.com when I was on maternity leave with my daughter but continued with it as I returned to the workforce and after I had my second child. I actually found that I had a burst of creativity after each child that helped me to move forward with my blog. I don’t have very many free minutes in the day between my full-time job and my young family, so I had to become really good at focusing on the essentials and taking advantage of small windows of time. It helps that I love to cook, I love to write and I love to take photos – I am happy to work on my blog during my “free” time. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I translate the fancy French cooking of my husband, a renowned Chef, into recipes that busy people like me, with no culinary training, can follow to find success and satisfaction in the kitchen. My blog, lechefswife.com is a resource for home cooks and Francophiles. Readers find seasonal French Recipes, inspired by the French Riviera, explained simply. I strongly believe that French food does not have to be intimidating and that delicious, seasonal, restaurant-worthy meals can be prepared at home by even the most inexperienced cooks in small kitchens. In the past year I have begun hosting cooking classes on zoom with my husband for Alliance Française DC. This is a new addition to the blog that I have absolutely fallen in love with. We have lots of fun cooking together and also love the interaction with the participants. 

My most popular recipes are my French Baguettes for beginners (truly – you can cook them in under 2 hours start to finish with zero bread baking experience!) as well as my Branzino with Vierge Sauce, the Moelleux au Chocolat, and the Soup Sunday Challenge I started this winter. We have built a community of people who are making a pot of soup every Sunday together. J’adore! 

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
There are a LOT of food bloggers out there, most who started before I did, but I do believe that there will always be space for food bloggers that offer a unique story or perspective. I personally love to travel the world through cooking. I can’t wait to travel freely again but I do think that people will continue to cook at home and look to cook creatively at home. My goal is to show another side of French cooking to my readers. A lighter, brighter side of French cooking that brings in the best of Provence, Italy, Spain & North Africa together to create a cuisine that you want to eat every day. 

The French Riviera is a mindset, une manière d’être, more than just a destination. In my experience, it is about living each day as if it was that perfect summer day that you never want to end. Sun-kissed, deliciously slow, and luxurious with soupçon of glamor. 

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