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IAM2035 – Food Blogger Brings Culture to Your Kitchen

Podcast Interview with Alexandria Drzazgowski

In this episode, we have Alexandria Drzazgowski, the food blogger behind The Foreign Fork.

Alexandria discusses her entrepreneurial journey of cooking a meal from every country in the world, her project that started in 2018, which has resulted in more than 400 recipes from over 95 countries.

Highlighting her recent accomplishments, she shares about her cookbook titled ‘Culture For Your Kitchen', and the launch of another blog, ‘The Domestic Spoon'.

Alexandria also expresses her secret sauce – perseverance and grit. Additionally, she provides useful tips for aspiring entrepreneurs, emphasizing the importance of a ‘wins' notebook to fuel motivation on tough days.

Website: www.foreignfork.com

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Full Interview:

Transcription:

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Alexandria Drzazgowski Teaser  00:00

And so, at the time, my now husband had encouraged me to start a notebook where every time something good happened in the business, write it down. And that way I could have on the days that I was feeling really down. I could open up that notebook and go back and look at all of the wins that I had accomplished over time and just give me a little bit of fuel to my flame when I was feeling down and out.

Intro 00:22

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of. This is the I Am CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:53

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I Am CEO podcast. Have a very special guest back on the show today. I have Alexandria Drzazgowski. Alexandria, it's great to have you on the show.

Alexandria Drzazgowski 00:58

Hi, thank you so much for having me back. It was so fun last time, so I'm excited to be here again.

Gresham Harkless 01:03

Yes, absolutely excited as well. And I'm looking forward to talking about all the awesome things you've been working on. But of course, before we jumped into that, I want to read a little bit more about Alexandria. So you can hear about some of those awesome things.

Alexandria is the food blogger behind The Foreign Fork, a project where she is cooking a meal from every country in the world.

After backpacking to 15 countries in Europe and taking cooking classes in each one, Alexandria decided to take her project of cooking around the world home with her. She started her blog in 2018 and to date has cooked over 400 recipes from over 95 countries.

The Foreign Fork has been featured in BuzzFeed, the Detroit News, and Elite Daily, and is the recipient of the Saveur Blog Award for Most Groundbreaking Voice.

Most importantly, Alexandria is proud to have helped over five million readers across the world put some culture in their kitchen. Alexandria, are you ready to speak to the I Am CEO community?

Alexandria Drzazgowski 01:55

I definitely am.

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Gresham Harkless 01:57

Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Hopefully, I didn't butcher that blog award too bad. They practiced it so many times, but I feel like it just didn't flow out the way that I wanted it to.

Alexandria Drzazgowski 02:03

You did great. You did great.

Gresham Harkless 02:06

Perfect, perfect, perfect. What I wanted to do to kick everything off was rewind the clock here a little bit more on what you've been working on, what you've been doing since we last spoke in a little bit more of your CEO story.

Alexandria Drzazgowski 02:14

Yes. So, just a little recap. I have a food blog called the Foreign Fork where I'm cooking meal from every country in the world. So, I have been cooking through all of the countries since we last spoke in 2022. I've still continued on that journey. I believe last time we spoke, I was also doing recipe development for food bloggers and other brands as well.

I still do that too, although I have tried to take more of a focus on building the content side of my business. So while I still do those things this year, my focus has been even more so on building my website, building my social medias and things like that. But yeah, it's been a great journey so far. And since we last talked.

Gresham Harkless 02:54

Nice, I absolutely love that. And just, especially here in your journey, if you of course want to check out the previous podcasts, episode number 1451 of the podcast and Alexandria is doing so many phenomenal things. And I think what I really loved is I always say it's really cool to hear what you do.

And of course, that's very important, but it's even more important to hear the why that you do. So I love kind of hearing your story about what led you to do all those awesome things and how you've been progressing from there.

Alexandria Drzazgowski 03:18

Thank you. Yes, the why is definitely a huge part for every business.

But I feel like for mine, it is so integrated into the content that I'm posting every single day. I just loved traveling and learning about different people and different cultures around the world and feeling connected to people through food.

And so, wanting to bring that home with me. me and wanting to bring that into the homes of other people. It is such an integral part of my business's mission to cook foods from around the world and share their stories and make sure that those stories are touching other people in the same way that they touched me back in 2018 when I started the blog, too.

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So, I'm glad that the why was prevalent to you because it's definitely a big part of the business.

Gresham Harkless 03:58

Yeah, absolutely. And I, I just love like even going through the site and everything and seeing, of course, that you can pop in, I think, into your ingredients if you have specific ingredients, but you can also drill down and see like the back story behind, the things that you're cooking and the things that can be created.

And I think, like you said, I think even in the interview that As much as it's great to hear about the things that are created and how to create them, it's probably even more important to hear the things on the back end and the stories behind that too.

Alexandria Drzazgowski 04:24

Yes, definitely. It is it's very fun for me to be researching the back end of all of the recipes as well. That is something that I've actually, for a lot of bloggers that are posting food from just in general, just posting food on their websites.

That is not something that they dig into very much is the history behind the food. And so when you talk to some SEO experts or things like that about the content on my website, one section that they say is this really necessary?

The history of the food? And I'm like, for most people it's not, but for my site, it is very necessary to have that history of the food on there because it's the whole point about why I'm doing that. And I feel very passionately about that, that the history of food is a really integral part of enjoying it.

Gresham Harkless 05:04

Yeah, absolutely. And do you find that from a lot of readers and people that visit your site that, they, I don't know if you have that exact same experience, but you almost feel like, especially around, I imagine around COVID time and when people weren't able to travel just to get that little taste, I guess for lack of a better term and pun intended of the culture, the history of things that happened in different parts of the world was something that kind of brought that to your kitchen or to wherever you end up eating it from.

Alexandria Drzazgowski 05:29

Yes, definitely for COVID. It was that was when that was when I coined my tagline, put some culture in your kitchen because that was the thing that I'd always loved to do was to travel and learn about other cultures and other places and during COVID that was not possible.

So, using the blog as a way to bring the world to me when I couldn't go to the world, bring the world to my readers when they couldn't go out into the world was something that was really exciting.

And. Because of that, I actually in addition to the website, since we've last talked, I also published a cookbook called Culture For Your Kitchen. And that was another way that I tried to solve that problem of people being so, they weren't able to go out into the world and I wanted to help solve that problem in other ways too.

So I made a cookbook for that reason to help bring some culture to their kitchen and that's the name of it as well as culture for your kitchen.

Gresham Harkless 06:17

Nice. I absolutely love that. And yeah, I was going to actually ask you about that because I was watching. or looking at your Instagram and just hearing your story and your journey and how that kind of came to fruition in this cookbook and another way that you're able to connect and serve your clients is absolutely awesome.

Alexandria Drzazgowski 06:31

Thank you so much. It was a lot of fun, a lot of work to make that cookbook, but it was a lot of fun as well.

Gresham Harkless 06:35

Yeah. How long did it take you, from I guess inception of the idea is actually getting that published.

Alexandria Drzazgowski 06:42

I actually did it a lot quicker than most people do it. I self-published the cookbook.

And I went on a blogging retreat with some fellow bloggers where we just all we do it every year.

So she walked us through the process at the end of September, of how she made her cookbook, and it inspired me so much that I came home and in a month I had tested, photographed, and written 30 recipes from around the world.

I wanted to get it out by Christmas. I wanted to have it on sale by the middle of November, just because I thought that was a great time to launch a product. And so, in between, basically, the beginning of October and the beginning of November, I made the cookbook, designed it tested all the recipes in it, worked with 30 different food professionals from countries around the world to make sure that all of the recipes I were putting in the book were approved by them, that they were great representations of their country

So I really hustled that one out, but I did get it on sale by the middle of November so that people could buy it as Christmas gifts and it worked out well.

Gresham Harkless 07:24

That's awesome. So, I know we touched a little bit upon like the different ways that you serve your clients and you work with them. Is there anything additional that you want to touch on or maybe something that you might be working on that you're doing to help support the clients that you work with?

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Alexandria Drzazgowski 07:35

Yes. So, Just as a recap my business kind of has two halves to it. The one half of it is that I put content on my website. And that is for people that are just browsing on the Internet that are looking for a recipe. My recipe could come up on Google or on Pinterest. They can pull it up and then cook based off that recipe.

That is free to anyone that wants to use it. The way that I make money off of that is by display ads. So I work with an ad agency. That puts ads on my website and every time I get a reader that scrolls by an ad I get paid for that reader. So that is one, that's not a client because they don't pay, but that's quote-unquote some of the people that I'm helping on that side.

And then the other side is that I do recipe development, food photography, and videography for other brands and sometimes other bloggers, although I haven't done that much this year. I've been trying to focus more on my website and then working with brands as well. So for brands, I will do sponsorships and make content for them to put on my social media to promote their products.

Or if they want me to do recipe development photography for them, I will as well for them to put on their website. So that has more or less stayed the same, although I do have a project that's launching by the time this podcast comes out, it will have already launched. And I'm actually starting a sister site or another website for the Foreign Fork.

And it is going to be called the domestic spoon, basically the opposite of the foreign fork. So, I adore cooking recipes from around the world, but I also cook a lot of things in my kitchen just for fun. That have never had a place on the Foreign Fork because the Foreign Fork is only global foods from around the world.

And sometimes I'll just make cupcakes or, something a little bit more homegrown that never finds its way onto the foreign fork. And so I started also. The Domestic Spoon, which will be a second blog. That will be for all recipes that are not touched by like the global topic. Just some fun appetizers or snacks or desserts that are made in American kitchens.

Those will be on the Domestic Spoon.

Gresham Harkless 09:34

Nice. I absolutely love that. And, excited about, getting that launch and what that's going to look like. So what would you consider? You might have already touched on this year, your secret sauce. It could be for yourself, your brands are a combination of both.

But when you feel sets you apart and makes you unique?

Alexandria Drzazgowski 09:47

So as a food blogger, a specifically food blogger. That's cooking food from around the world. I did talk last time about how I think most of my secret sauce comes from the care and attention that goes into making sure I'm representing countries accurately because that is something that is hugely important for my nation, for my business.

I would say that is one-half of my secret sauce. And that's what we talked about on the last podcast. But I think the other part that is really been vital to my success is just the fact that I have a lot of grit and a lot of perseverance.

Having grit is really, really important to keep yourself pushing. And there are a lot of people that I have seen come in and out of the food space that were so talented. They had better photography than me. They had better videography than me. They had recipes that looked incredible. And they had opportunities to be so successful.

But they didn't quite have the same follow-through. And in the end, the follow-through is always what keeps someone being successful.

Gresham Harkless 10:44

Nice. I absolutely love that. So, I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or even a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Alexandria Drzazgowski 10:56

Yes. Okay. This is something that probably is very intuitive to a lot of people. And so it might sound like a silly hack. For some, but it's something that I've started doing this year. So if it helped me, hopefully it will help someone else as well. But this year I have started building out my days based off of tasks.

So my day-to-day can look very different depending on what I'm doing. I could be recipe developing in the kitchen. I could be photographing and doing video a bit. a day. I could be doing social media, writing emails, managing employees. There's a lot that kind of it's all very different from each other.

All the things that take to run a food blog. And so prior to this year, I would always just do what felt like it needed to get done that day. And so sometimes that meant going from being in the kitchen to then recipe testing to then going into a meeting and then doing my hair so I could be on social media and then going back and forth.

And so this year I have built out the days where Mondays are my admin days. Tuesdays are my recipe test days. Wednesdays are my photography days. And it really helps to not have to be code-switching in the middle of the day. It helps me be more effective. And is very intuitive so it took me a long time to feel like I get a lot more in a week now, when each day has means to get done.

And I just repeat that every single week.

Gresham Harkless 12:09

Yeah, that makes so much sense. So, what would you consider to be what I call a CEO nugget? A little bit more word of wisdom or piece of advice. I like to say it might be something you would tell your favorite client or if you happen to a time machine you might tell your younger business self.

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Alexandria Drzazgowski 12:21

Yes. So, one of my favorite things that I have done for myself as an entrepreneur over the last couple years is actually something that I did not come up with. It's something that my husband encouraged me to do back when we were still dating. And at the time I was putting in so much work and at the time the Foreign Fork was not my full-time job.

So I was doing a lot of work on nights and weekends, and I was putting so much time and energy into this business and it hadn't turned a profit yet. And I was just feeling so down and out about the whole thing. I've spent like a year and a half on this and I. You know what I mean? It's still isn't quite keeping up with what I want it to be.

And so, at the time, my now husband had encouraged me to start a notebook where every time something good happened in the business, write it down. And that way I could have on the days that I was feeling really down. I could open up that notebook and go back and look at all of the wins that I had accomplished over time and just give me a little bit of fuel to my flame when I was feeling down and out.

And so to this day, I still have that notebook and I still write in it. And it's not every day, but it's, once a month, something awesome might happen and I write it down in there and a couple of weeks ago. I hadn't used it in a long time in terms of looking back on it because I've been feeling pretty good about my business.

But a couple of weeks ago, I was feeling down. And so I went and flipped through and started looking at some of the things that I written in there in 2018 2019 and some of the numbers that I was excited about for an entire month. I have in a day now, and it's really easy to lose that perspective and kind of forget where you started, where you're in the throes of trying to keep your business running and keep it moving forward.

But having that notebook that I've had for 5 years now and looking back on. Where I had started and where I am now, it definitely fixed my cranky mood. So, I highly recommend that for any entrepreneur, keep a notebook of your wins.

Gresham Harkless 14:16

Nice. I love, love, love that.

So now I want to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. Our goal is to have different quote-unquote CEOs on the show. So Alexandria, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Alexandria Drzazgowski 14:28

Oh, I think being a CEO always means something different to me, but I think this year being a CEO has meant being a visionary and looking ahead into the future.

There are a lot of arms with my business and as my business has continued to grow, there have it's sprouted more arms. There's more things. That there's more directions that my business could go, or there's more things that need to get handled.

And so being a CEO this year mean meant for me hiring people to manage those day-to-day things and then using my perspective and my experience and my strengths to figure out where I want the business to go, look into the future, decide what I want the Foreign Fork to focus on decide maybe that I want the domestic spoon as well, those kinds of things.

Just so that you can keep your business pushing forward in the right direction. So for me, this year, it's been being a visionary and being the one to lead the path.

Gresham Harkless 15:21

Yeah, that makes so much sense.

Alexandria. Truly appreciate that definition. Of course, I appreciate your time even more. So what I want to do now is pass you the mic, so to speak. Just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course, how best they can get out of you, get a copy of your book and find out about all the awesome things that you're working on.

Alexandria Drzazgowski 15:38

Yes, of course. Thank you so much for having me. If anybody listening wants to learn more about cooking food from around the world, you can go to foreignfork.com. Foreignfork.com is where all of my recipes are hosted.

You can also find a link to my cookbook there and I'm on social media @foreignfork.com on Instagram, Tiktok, Pinterest, Facebook, Youtube, all of that. And again, by the time this podcast launched, I will also have the domesticspoon.com that will be just everyday desserts and dinners for you to make. So feel free to check that one out too.

Gresham Harkless 16:11

Nice, nice, nice, super excited about all the awesome things you're working on.

So thank you so much, Alexandria and all the awesome things you're doing your time today. And I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Alexandria Drzazgowski 16:20

Thank you so much for having me. It was so much fun and I really appreciate it. And I hope you have a great day, too.

Outro 16:24

Thank you for listening to the I Am CEO podcast. Powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I Am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Check out the latest and greatest apps, books, and habits to level up your business at ceohacks.co. This has been the I Am CEO podcast with Gresham Harless, Jr. Thank you for listening.

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Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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