Ava King, Fresh Ideas and Food From a Young Chef
November 19, 2020
At the age of twenty years old Ava King is nothing short of ambitious, accomplished, and most importantly driven. A Pittsburgh native, now a full time student at FIT, Managing Editor of BlushFITs, and a working model. Ava seriously amazes and inspires us with her ability to manage her passion project Avas Kitchen, a cooking channel she manages through her personal instagram (@_avaking_ ). With her distinct chic sense of style and carefully curated mouth watering recipes, Ava finds and shows us the perfect balance between fashion and flavor. With this in mind, we wanted to know how Ava manages maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping herself on track with such an active schedule, so we started asking some questions…
Q: When did you become interested in making your own food?
A: I grew up with home cooked meals, so I knew from a very young age that cooking was a way to bring people together, and the best way to create a healthy lifestyle. I used to cook just to feed myself in between school, work and ballet. Now I cook to invigorate all my senses with freshness, color, texture and flavor which leads me to experience new ingredients and cuisines.
Q: Who was your biggest influence in the kitchen when you were young?
A: Every morning while I was getting ready for school I would watch Ina Garten and all the Cooking Competition shows on the Food Network. This was when I was still in ballet, so I never really thought about food as a career, but from watching these shows every day, it really stuck in the back of my mind. That’s how my love for cooking really flourished. I remember being so fascinated by the flavor combinations they would pull together for a dish. I would write in my notes on my phone to remember, and I still do that to this day. I am always on the search for new and interesting combinations while I am watching a cooking show or eating at a restaurant. I will write it in my notes and later on try to come up with my own recipe with those flavors.
Q: Who is your biggest influence now?
A:My mom will always be my biggest influence. I would not be where I am today without her. She constantly pushes me to be my best self in anything that I do, and she taught me the lessons to handle any situation that comes my way. Even though I have switched my path multiple times from ballet to fashion school and now to cooking, she has always supported me.
I grew up watching her entertain and be the most elegant host. She made it all look so effortless, and I knew I wanted to be just like my mom. I was inspired by how she did it all. My love for dinner parties and entertaining definitely blossomed because of her. Now I know how much work actually goes into it, but it’s always so special because my favorite thing is to bring people together and what better way to do that than by having them come to your home and cooking for them.
Q: Do you use cookbooks, and if so, what are your favorites?
A:Before I even started creating and sharing my own recipes, I was enthralled with every cookbook I could get my hands on. Ina’s cookbook was the first one I had, and I would try to learn everything I could from her. Now my collection of cookbooks has only grown. My new favorites are of course still Ina’s and she just came out with her new cookbook, Modern Comfort Food, but I am also loving Diana Henry’s, From The Oven To The Table and The Well + Good Cookbook and Susan Spugen, Open Kitchen, which has the best recipes for any time of the year. I will always be a huge fan of Samin Nosrat’s Cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat. It teaches you a lot of techniques on how to be a better chef, and I am always excited to learn new tips and tricks from chefs all over the world.
Q: Do you watch cooking shows or videos, and if so, what are your favorites?
A: All the time. Even if I have other work to do I will just put it on in the background because it just brings me so much joy. I love the classic cooking shows of Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten), Giada De Larentis, Molly Yeh. I also love a good competition, so my go tos are Top Chef, Holiday or Spring Baking Championship, MasterChef and my all time favorite is The Final Table on Netflix which brought all the best professionals chefs from around the world to compete against each other. It was very fascinating to watch how these chefs cook and look at the world of f ood.
Q: What are your favorite recipes now?
A: Right now I’m really loving some good comfort meals of homemade soups, stews, and chilis. I recently just made bone broth which is a family recipe that my grandfather would make all the time. He was a butcher and owned his own supermarket, so he would use the leftover meat from the store and create a big pot of healthy bone broth with fresh vegetables. It’s the perfect thing for when it gets cold. It's like a big warm hug when you eat it. You can also use the leftovers to add to a meat sauce for extra flavor and added nutrients!
Q: What do you do to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
A:Everyone's body is different and what works for me may not work for someone else, but I have been doing intermittent fasting and it helps keep me on track, especially when I spend most days testing new recipes. I take my health very seriously because I grew up as a ballerina, and now I model, so I eat fresh organic foods and create recipes that reflect my healthy lifestyle (with an occasional indulgence) to keep me energized and just overall healthy and happy. I feel better and can take on more when I eat well.
Q: What music are you listening to?
A: I know everyone says this, but I really do love a mix of everything. When I am cooking I love to listen to smooth jazz, Ella Fitzgerald, Micheal Buble or my all time favorite, The Beatles.
Q:How do you see the role of cooking at home evolving?
A: Quarantine has changed a lot of what we do, and I think a big one is how we cook at home. People were experimenting with more challenging recipes or just experimenting with what you had in the fridge, so it was inspiring to see people take the time to put love into their food. I always believe that there is nothing better than a home cooked meal, so I think after all of this, people will understand that their health is important, and it really does start with the food that we eat.
I spent the majority of my quarantine cooking and testing out new recipes but I also took the time to cook with my mom who taught me how to make special family dishes that I would always have as a kid and just never had the time to learn them.
There is nothing more important than investing in your health. Even if you take 30 mins to an hour to cook a homemade meal by yourself or with your family, it can do wonders for not only your body, because you control what goes in, but also your mind. I always feel a sense of calmness when I take the time to chop all my ingredients. Taking a step away from the stress of my work to cook something that nourishes my body and mind brings me back to a simple place.