From Geeky Hostess to Published Cookbook Author:
Nerd For A Living Q&A with Minecraft Cookbook Author Tara Theoharis
As a kid, I was obsessed with both video games and cooking shows on PBS — and often wished that there were more kid-focused cookbooks.
Tara Theoharis has fulfilled that wish with her new family-friendly book, The Minecrafter’s Cookbook. By merging her passion for food with the infinitely popular, world-building game, Minecraft, Tara has created what seems like a perfect way to inspire kids to pour their world-building creativity into the food they eat.
We spoke with Tara about what led her to writing this book, how she got kids in on perfecting the recipes for the book, and the steps in her career that got her from blogger to published author.
Nerd For A Living’s Wendy Buske: You’ve just released your first book, The Minecrafter’s Cookbook – yay! How did the book become a thing? And what was your inspiration for diving head-first into the massively popular Minecraft world?
Tara Theoharis: Minecraft is such an amazing game that inspires you to create whatever you want, and cooking is the same way! Why not use Minecraft to get kids excited about cooking and experimenting in the kitchen?
The book teaches you how to cook all of the food found in Minecraft (steak, baked potatoes, cake, bread…), and also how to create fun treats inspired by Minecraft (grass block brownies, creeper crispies, marshmallow ghasts…). The world had so many possibilities, it was an absolute blast to write!
Wendy: It really does seem like a perfect match! As a former wanna-be kid chef, I was thrilled to see that The Minecrafter’s Cookbook was intended to be something kids and parents could use together. How much research went into keeping the recipes kid-friendly? Did you workshop or test-kitchen these recipes with any parents and their children?
Tara: I did! Before I started writing the book, I reached out to some friends with kids and talked with them about their favorite foods, Minecraft, and what they’d be interested in seeing in this book. Then, as I was creating the recipes, I did a lot of research on what types of foods were kid-friendly, and had the recipes tested by families. My editor has a Minecraft-loving son, so she was a huge help throughout the process as well.
Wendy: At what point did you find your way to Sky Pony Press, who published the cookbook?
Tara: I was actually approached to write the book! I’ve been creating geeky recipes on my site, The Geeky Hostess, for 8 years. When they wanted to create this cookbook, they knew I’d be the perfect author. It had always been a goal of mine to create a fandom-focused recipe book, so it was a dream come true.
Wendy: What first inspired you to begin blending food and fandom through The Geeky Hostess? Did you ever expect it to lead you writing your own cookbook?
Tara: When I started The Geeky Hostess, I had been working on some other “geek” and “gaming” specific sites, and wanted to create something that focused a bit more on my lifestyle. I wanted to learn how to cook, bake, and entertain better while keeping my geeky flair. The blog started as an excuse for me to learn–I had never made cupcakes from scratch when I started!
It was initially a fun excuse to try out recipes and become a better baker and party planner while getting some small payments from ads and sponsored posts. I had dreams of success, but never expected that I’d have multiple product lines, speak on panels, host events, or write a Minecraft cookbook!
Wendy: So, on top of being an entrepreneur and now published cookbook author, you also have a “day job” doing events. That’s A LOT to juggle! Can you talk a little bit about how you balance all of it – and how you manage your time?
Tara: I have worked hard to make my hobbies my job, so everything I do feels fun! My day job allows me to go to events, stream video games, and work with Xbox fans, and when not doing that, I get to stay up to date on geek culture and try new recipes and parties. Every once in a while, I also get to help my friends with their passion projects with some Kickstarter and marketing consulting. Even though I love what I do, balance is important. I know I work better if I schedule some time to myself–through morning workout classes, evening Netflix binge sessions, and weekend errands. I work everything into my schedule and keep to it as best I can. And To-Do lists. I’m the queen of To-Do lists!
Wendy: I’m obsessed with To-Do lists – so I can totally relate! Just one more question. Now that you’ve conquered creating Minecraft delectables, are there any particular games that you have your eyes on for the next cookbook?
Tara: I’ve dreamed of doing a Dungeons and Dragons cookbook–food for each setting so you can create the perfect menu for your campaign! I’d also love to do some non-gaming cookbooks–I’ve got some ideas in the works based on comics and even Broadway shows! Here’s hoping you see more books from me soon. 🙂
To keep up with all of Tara’s endeavors, follow her at @GeekyTara on Twitter and Instagram. You can also check out more of her recipes and fandom-meets-food content at GeekyHostess.com and follow @GeekyHostess on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.