How This Blogger Turned Her Picky Husband Into a Gourmand

Rachel Tepper Paley
·Editor

Every week, we spotlight a different food blogger who’s shaking up the blogosphere with tempting recipes and knockout photography. Today, we chat with Emily Stoffel of The Pig & Quill, a blog that documents her ongoing battle to expand her husband’s culinary horizons. (She’s winning!) Swing back all week for a new recipe from Stoffel every day.

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All photos courtesy of Emily Stoffel

Before The Pig & Quill blogger Emily Stoffel could even crawl, she had a nose for good food. It all started in the Chinese restaurant her grandfather managed in Sacramento, Calif., where as an infant Stoffel spent much time. “I literally grew up in a highchair in front of a fish tank, greeting guests as they came in,” Stoffel told Yahoo Food. Delicious dishes became such a focal point of life that, as a toddler, an angry Stoffel once confronted her parents for having a late-night nosh without her. “I climbed out of my crib, went downstairs, and was like, ‘Why are you eating without me?’ I was really pissed off.”

Stoffel cooked all through college at California Polytechnic State University, first for her roommates and later for the man who would become her husband. But back then, her partner wasn’t an easy customer.

“When I met my husband, Chris, he was a notoriously picky eater,” Stoffel recalled, though she didn’t truly learn the depths of his fussiness until their first date at a neighborhood restaurant in St. Luis Obispo. “He ordered a filet mignon, well done, and I about died,” Stoffel said with a laugh. “It came topped with caramelized onions and a demi-glace, and he promptly took his knife and scraped all the onions and sauce off his steak to the side. I was like, ‘Oh my God, my hopes are dashed.’”

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Stoffel’s raspberry basil gingerade fizz.

But Stoffel, knowing a good challenge when she saw one, didn’t walk away. Instead she doubled down on the relationship, certain she could change Chris’s picky ways — the result, she thinks, of a childhood diet of bland 80s food. The next time they went out, Stoffel ordered a steak… medium rare.

“I was like, ‘Just try a piece! It’s so much more flavorful. And he was like, ‘Ehhhh…’” Stoffel remembered. But Chris surprised her — and himself — by declaring the dish remarkably tasty. (Imagine that!) Stoffel knew then that she could bring him around. “Now he orders a medium-rare steak,” she said proudly.

Over the years, Stoffel prodded her husband to try more and more things. Until recently she worked full-time in the PR field, although by 2012 cooking took up almost all of her free time. The next logical step? Start a food blog.

Spicy Caramelized Spam and Scallion Pasta
Spicy Caramelized Spam and Scallion Pasta

Spicy Caramelized Spam and Scallion Pasta.

Stoffel’s recipes are often Asian-inspired, influenced by her Chinese heritage and love of flavors from Japan, Vietnam, and India. But she’s hardly a purist: “I don’t routinely make a traditional Chinese meal, but I’ll take a fried hot dog sandwich [and] smother it in soy sauce mayo and give it a kind of junky Chinese or Asian spin. Also adding a fried egg never hurts.”

But beyond the occasional indulgence, dishes on The Pig & Quill tend to skew healthy. After all, the Stoffels are now parents to a baby girl, Lana, and setting a good example is important. “Eighty percent of it is whole foods and [inspired by] mindful eating,” she said, like herbed Asian quinoa salad and roasted cauliflower tacos.

Mochiko Chicken Tacos With Tangy Umeboshi Mayo
Mochiko Chicken Tacos With Tangy Umeboshi Mayo

Mochiko Chicken Tacos With Tangy Umeboshi Mayo.Photo:

Although Lana isn’t eating solid food yet, Stoffel hopes one day to share a love of food with her daughter. But for now, she’s content to push Chris’s culinary boundaries.

“I always share my victories that are Chris-approved,” she said, adding that now he eats pretty much anything. “He’s such a great guinea pig. He’s incredibly kind, he’s always praising my food when talking to other people. I think it’s great.”

Circle back to Yahoo Food for a new recipe from The Pig & Quill every day this week.

More bloggers who should be on your radar:

When Getting Pregnant Upended This Pastry Chef’s World, Life Truly Began

Indian Simmer What Americans Totally Don’t Get About Indian Food

How a Food Blog Helped Unite a Family 6,844 Miles Apart