Hi there I’m Kelly – a born and raised small-town Arkansas girl living in Italy who loves everything about traveling, grocery stores, vegetable gardening, and anywhere my next good meal is coming from!
I started Biting at the Bits as a way to celebrate my Mama who passed from Brain Cancer in 2020. From the time I was a toddler, she made me feel magic in the kitchen –everything from teaching me how to cook and bake to later on spending hours together on the phone talking about recipes when I lived thousands of miles away. I owe her my endless love, curiosity, and passion for cooking, canning, vegetable gardening, and bread-making!
My career as a private chef has roots in Arkansas, but really got started and blossomed in NYC (it’s also where Luca and I first met…he’s my guy and my favorite person in the world). Later on, it took me to Chengdu, China for four years before settling here in beautiful Italy — more down below on all of this if you’re interested.
Everyone’s Welcome (Cooking Nerds & Newbs Alike)
Whether you’re just learning how to cook, or you’re looking for a more natural approach to cooking, Biting at the Bits is the place for anyone who wants to eat healthier, less processed, better-tasting meals at home.
My goal is to help take the mystery out of the cooking and baking processes to cut through some of the unfamiliar (often intimidating) technique-y “stuff”. Hopefully, this helps you to enjoy being in your kitchen more often and gives you the confidence to not feel like you have to follow every single recipe to the letter!
Everything you’ll find here are dishes we actually eat in real life. Along with these recipes, I share my best cooking tips and everything I’ve learned working in the food industry to help you navigate your own kitchen and each recipe with a little more ease.
Tell Us More About Those Recipes!
You’ll find (mostly) made-from-scratch recipes that opt for ‘old-school’ over boxed mixes and pre-made ingredients, but I like to provide store-bought substitutions because I’m not a robot and we all get busy — and because some days (especially all of you parents out there) we just need a win…any win!
My recipes focus on Regional Italian Cooking, Classic and Modern Southern Cuisine, Regional Chinese Dishes, and yummy homemade Breads and Desserts (of every kind)! Simply put, the way I cook is a reflection of everywhere I’ve lived, the best stuff I’ve learned from others, and my favorite foods I’ve eaten during my travels around the world (sometimes combining elements from these cuisines to create something totally new and delicious).
Moderation is key and I can personally attest to the unique superpower of what a decadent dessert, a good glass of wine, or fried pizza can do to put a smile in your heart (especially on those days you feel like you’re having a nervous breakdown)! So, you’ll find lots of quick and easy homemade pasta, delicious pizza recipes, and even southern fried chicken because, for us, these kinds of dishes are also part of a happy and well-balanced life.
Basically, I cook what we love to eat — it’s totally diverse and just how we like it!
Sometimes you’ll find a recipe that was a client favorite, or maybe a vintage family dessert passed down a generation or three, something spicy I learned from the Sichuan chefs I worked and collaborated with, or one of the simplest and best-tasting lasagna recipes I learned from my family here in Italy. Anything goes as long as it tastes good!
Why I List All of My Ingredients in Metric & Gram Equivalents
I weigh and measure ingredients for every recipe which is why I write ALL metric equivalents in gram measurements. It’s easier to keep the scale on one measurement as opposed to switching back and forth between milliliters, fluid ounces, grams, etc. And it’s more accurate.
For this reason, all ingredient amounts called for which are listed at the end of each ingredient are provided in grams (even liquids). Feel free to use the tool within the recipe card to get the ml, fluid ounces, etc. measurements should you want to use these instead.
How Did You Come Up With The Name For Your Blog?
Countless times throughout my life, Mom would say, “Sugar, I bet you’re just bitin’ at the bits to…(fill in the blank)!” It was her way of letting me know she knew how excited I was, or how much anticipation (or anxiety) I was experiencing for my next move or for a particular project to start or come to an end. She also thought that a food blog should be my next project. So this is the only name that made sense to me♡.
If you’re curious about how I went from working in a career in advertising to starting this food blog, you can read more about it below.
If you’d like to work with me or just have a general recipe question, I’d love to hear from you!
DM me on IG @bitingaththebits, or email me at [email protected], and let’s create something meaningful, fun, and delicious together!
What You Won’t Find Here (My Promise to You)
You will not find AI-generated content or images here. Every recipe is 100% mine or will include the proper recipe attribution for the person who made it, or the resource where I took it from. I work really hard to create, photograph, and edit every detail of the content I post (even when it’s not perfect).
And I would never ask you to spend your money buying ingredients to make a dish that was based on fake food photos, or an auto-generated recipe. To me, that’s just plain dishonest and it happens every day (and way more often than you’d like to know).
Plus, I want you to actually know what to expect the dish to look like once you’ve made it! Lastly, I know many of you need to manage a monthly food budget, so you’ll also never find a recipe here that was purchased from a recipe bank and slapped on the site just to make money from ads.
How Did You Get From Arkansas to NYC, to Chengdu, to Now Northeast Italy?
In a previous life, I went to school for design and marketing, then took a sabbatical from school to work as the pastry chef assistant in a fine-dining restaurant (where I somehow convinced them to hire me without any previous professional kitchen training…it was an invaluable culinary education).
I ultimately had an advertising career in NYC that I mostly really loved (until I didn’t). Years later, I eventually resigned from advertising because the idea of cooking (or somehow getting back into the food industry) for a living was visceral and unrelenting.
I made the leap from ad-executive to cooking privately for families developing recipes and meal plans, teaching 1:1 and group cooking classes, catering events, etc. and I loved this period of my life (especially developing menus with recipes to help kids eat healthier more nutritious meals)…
Switching careers to follow my heart…
Making the decision to take the risk and go after my passion opened up countless opportunities (some I never could have imagined). They’ve taken me to some amazing places and allowed me to collaborate and work on projects with some incredibly talented people. I’m grateful and humbled by every single one of them!
After several years of private chef work…
I moved to China and opened a Western cooking school as part of an arts and education center for kids and adults in Chengdu, Sichuan. It was an amazing, super challenging, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that ended up being just as much an educational experience for me, as it was for all of my students!
Living La Dolce Vita (yep, I said it…that line’s as cheesy as it gets, but Italy really does offer ‘the sweet life’)
After a little over four (extremely hectic and intense) years in China and then a little over a year spent going home to care for my Mom, it was time for a more tranquil relaxing lifestyle where travel was easy and delicious food and ingredients were waiting around every corner! Since Luca is from Italy (and we both love it here so much), it was a move that just made sense.
It’s a cook’s dream to travel around Italy and meet the makers who are keeping generational traditions alive for so many delicious, storied ingredients and dishes. Everything from artisanal wine, tomato, olive oil, pasta, cheese, and salumi producers — it’s one of the absolute loves of my life to have these opportunities.
A Few Professional & Food Related Highlights With Photos (in no particular order)
Outside of private chef work, I’ve been fortunate to have worked on a few food-related projects and collaborated with some amazing companies, creative people in the food industry (way more talented than myself), and some NYC icons! Thank you all, it’s been a blast!
AMPAS Best Foreign Film Selection Event & NYC Russ & Daughters Annual Herring Festival
- Catered the 85th Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences Best Foreign Film Selection Event as part of an all-female team for the annual 3-day event at the Academy Theater Lighthouse International in Manhattan (where the “best foreign film” nominees are selected by a group of esteemed actors, directors, producers, and other industry people). I met Meryl Streep and she was pretty cool.
- Catered The Russ & Daughters Annual Herring event (assisting the talented guest chef Linda Steen that year).
CAMPBELL’S SOUP COMPANY (Camp Campbell Food & Innovation Women Entrepreneur Event)
I was Invited by then CEO of Campbell’s Soup, Denise Morrison to participate in a Food + Innovation Women Entrepreneur (Camp Campbell) event at Campbell’s Soup HQ to ideate and brainstorm about the future of food and the role that Campbell Soup could play (along with 3 other female entrepreneurs chosen from NYC (plus, lots of other talented women from around the tri-state area).
At the event, Denise sat with us at our table and she asked me to be candid about the pros and cons of Campbell’s Soup products. I told her that their products had been a staple in our home growing up (like everyone else I knew growing up in the South), but that I didn’t eat or use them anymore because of the high amounts of sodium and highly processed ingredients.
I recommended that Campbell’s try to find a way to reduce the amount of sodium and processed ingredients to provide healthier (potentially) organic options to old customers like me, or a new generation looking for better convenience options. (I’d like to think that I may have played a teeny tiny part in the new line of organic soups they introduced a year later, but I’m certain they were already working on that project well before my comment♡).
Equipment Tester & Regular Cooking Demonstrator For The Broadway Panhandler, NYC NY
I loved working with Norman and the entire team over at The Broadway Panhandler. It was like having a second scrappy NYC family where I was able to interact with people who were genuinely serious about food, cooking, baking, and learning how to cook or just up their skills. With its rich history of James Beard and Julia Child being customers and friends with the owners, BP was the quintessential premier cookware and equipment store in NYC. Anyone passionate about cooking or baking, from famous chefs to regular folks like you and me, were regular customers.
In fact, I met a lot of celebrities during my time at BP and if you’re wondering, they’re all just totally regular people who have put in the required time and effort to become really good at what they love doing — It’s the same with cooking…if you put in enough hours and effort, you really can become great at it!
I regularly tested new cookware, bakeware, and kitchen equipment along with electrical appliances for national and international brands (Kitchen Aid, Vitamix, WMF, Le Creuset, All-Clad, Kyocera, Cuisinart, Silit, Breville, Berndes, Swiss Diamond, just to name a few) and created recipes for regular cooking demonstrations for BP’s customer base.
Skillshare’s First-Ever Online Cooking Class
I was invited by Skillshare to be their first online cooking class for their digital platform. I had been teaching in-person cooking classes at their HQ in NYC and catering some of their employee parties, but this was a real honor to participate. My class (Southern Fried Chicken + Buttermilk Biscuits) is still active and running today and was filmed at my house in Brooklyn, NY (above).
They’re a really fun, creative, and talented group of people over there. It was the first time I had ever been filmed doing a cooking demonstration and it was totally intimidating, scary, and nerve-racking, but I got through it. And we ate the fried chicken and biscuits afterward :).
Independent Cooking Demonstrations at West Elm Dumbo Brooklyn, NY
West Elm had seen my Skillshare class and what I was doing with The Broadway Panhandler and invited me to come to their Dumbo, Brooklyn store to do a few independent fried chicken and jam-making (canning) demonstrations. This was a lot of fun and the team over there couldn’t have been more amazing!
Teaching 1:1 Private Cooking Lessons
Teaching private one-on-one cooking lessons in NYC to people who had never cooked before or who have rarely cooked was incredibly rewarding! Helping them go from timid and slightly (or even very) nervous in their own kitchens to gaining copious amounts of confidence is THE best. The ultimate reward is seeing how proud they are of their new kitchen skills and hearing stories about them cooking for their friends and families! I’ve been really fortunate to have had the very best clients that I can now call friends.
Designed an Immersive Western Learning Center and opened a Cooking School in Chengdu, (Sichuan) China
In 2014 I moved from NYC to Chengdu, Sichuan China to open a Western cooking school as part of a larger holistic English language center and to learn more about the amazing Sichuanese (Szechuan) cuisine and spend time with my family living there. It was an amazing and rich experience that I will never forget. I spent four years in total designing and helping open up this venture which included an art studio, yoga studio, café, Sichuan restaurant, small boutique, movie theater, kid’s play area, English classrooms, and my Western cooking classroom to teach kids of all ages and adults how to cook authentic Western cuisine.
This project was a design dream come true.
I poured all of my creativity into this place using every tool I had to design each space from the ground up (in a language I did not speak) with the help of so many talented local friends and artisans. Thank goodness for great partners (thanks Vivian for all your immense hard work (and your spicy chili oil wontons), none of this would have been possible without you!).
I had the opportunity to design everything from the cooking classroom workstations, and art room table and decorations, down to the seat cushions, pillows, the painted leather placemats, the boat for kids to read in, to the minibar, dining table, and even the kitchen sink in my classroom. Everything was possible in China.
But my favorite part was teaching adults and kids how to cook (look at those sweet faces!).
Getting to see how happy the kids (and adults) were while learning to cook or make something new, is the best feeling in the world. I’ll treasure the people of Chengdu for their enormous warmth and kindness (and of course their delicious food). I had the privilege of learning so much about how vast and complex the Sichuan (Szechuan) cuisine is from highly skilled local chefs who worked for our business and from my local friends and family who are excellent cooks.
Kitchen Surfing Fried Chicken
NYC is the best place to live for so many reasons — there’s always something creative and inspiring happening everywhere. I was invited by Boram Cho and the awesome team of chefs and creators over at Kitchen Surfing for a little fried chicken competition. I proudly took home 2nd place even though I wasn’t yet a chef officially working in their system! I’ll get around to posting the recipe soon…
More About My Time as a Private Chef in NYC (including photos of actual dishes I cooked for clients)
When you’re trusted with the keys to someone’s home and full access to their refrigerator (which by all accounts is a pretty intimate space), they become more to you than just a client. Each family’s lifestyle, food preferences, and dietary needs ran the spectrum (sometimes even within the same family). I’ve been very fortunate — I LOVE the families I worked with♡.
Below are just a few photos of some of the actual meals I prepared for my clients — wholesome made-from-scratch dishes that catered to a healthy lifestyle with well-rounded meal plans that included the occasional comfort food craving and desserts!
Who Were Your Private Chef Clients?
All of my clients had big jobs, and kids, with little to no time to cook for themselves so they were ordering takeout regularly. Some clients were kosher, others 100% organic vegan and gluten-free, while another traveled back and forth to Europe for work each week and wanted to cut out unhealthy “travel food”. I’ve created healthy meals and snacks that needed to travel well, created anti-inflammatory and alkaline meal plans in preparation for pre-surgery and optimum post-surgery recovery, and created completely organic-vegan-dairy-free-gluten-free meal plans for another.
I also developed meal plans to help clients lose unwanted pounds in a healthy and sustainable way while still really enjoying the food they were eating (and without them ever feeling like they were on a diet).
Working with such a diverse client roster was both challenging and incredibly rewarding to see it pay dividends for them.
Fun story — I once made Passover Seder eggs (beitzah (ביצה) and a roasted leg of lamb that were used in a family dinner scene in a Broadway play. Of course, no one except me and my client (the producer) knew but it made me happy on the inside all the same.
Helping Families Get Their Kids To Eat a Little Better
I can’t talk about private chef work and not mention the kids. I loved cooking for them! I was tasked with a few goals for creating kid’s meals depending on the specific needs of each family — ranging from creating whole recipes that would sneak more vegetables into each serving, developing meals that could help transition kids away from eating completely separate “kids meals” from that of their parents, and add dishes and snacks that could help transition some of them away from eating highly processed foods they’d grown to love (if you’re a parent, you’ve probably been here at some point♡).
What Every Client Had In Common
Each family was different, but what they all shared in common was an extremely busy lifestyle and a desire for their family to eat better, more nutritious whole foods at home. I think we can all relate to that. And while not everyone can afford their own private chef, everyone can cook, or learn how to cook a handful of simple meals that they can be proud of.
I hope to help give you the tools and resources here to be successful in the kitchen so you actually love the food you make (even if it’s as simple as a bonkers delicious grilled cheese sandwich or just learning how to make a better salad).
I’m Fairly New to Food Blogging
I’m fairly new to food blogging (as you can probably tell) and it comes with a steep learning curve (for everything from SEO to how to write a post that really helps you the reader take that recipe and get the best results on the first try). And, while I’m a one-woman show, I’m also lucky to get helpful advice from Luca my partner in crime of 14 years.
Biting at the Bits is a lot of work, but I really love it, and I hope it shows in the quality of the recipes. I invite you to come back from time to time to see the progress and to help us grow — and maybe find a new recipe while you’re here.
Whether you’re cooking for yourself, your family, or someone who needs to eat a little healthier, or you just need a really good pasta to make for a special date night, the ultimate goal is that you can find it here.
What’s The Inspiration for Biting at the Bits?
The brightest of all lights. This blog is a dedication to my pretty awesome Mama♡. She nurtured and inspired my curiosity and passion for being in the kitchen and instilled in me an absolute love for gardening, canning, cooking, and baking (specifically bread). As an adult, I’ve been able to use some of the same lessons she taught me as a child to help her leading up to and throughout her brain cancer diagnosis.
I was fortunate enough to be there to take care of her (along with help from my amazing cousin, Lorraine who did more for my Mom than is ever possible to list here. They shared a deep kinship and love for one another and I am forever grateful for her. I’ve never worked harder for anyone or anything in my life and I know that as difficult emotionally and physically as it was on everyone, it was an absolute privilege and a gift for me to be able to spend this time with her.
Before we knew Mom had cancer she was having health issues which prompted me to come home. Through food and nutrition (cooking unprocessed, natural whole foods), I was able to help lower the ammonia levels in her brain to non-toxic levels and keep them stable, reduce and stabilize her blood sugar, and see marked improvements in both her liver and kidney functions.
During this time she also began physical therapy to help further her recovery (we love you, Bill and Janelle you were THE BEST♡!). Eventually, because of these efforts, her health greatly improved. Before we knew she had cancer, along with the oversight and full approval of her primary care doctor, we were able to wean her off of all but one medication she had been on up to this point. For this last medicine, the Dr. reduced the dosage to the minimum amount explaining that although he could technically take her off of it, he wanted to keep her on it just in case I needed to fly home for an emergency and was no longer able to continue the cooking and care regimen for her. This is the power of food.
For me, knowing that the food I was preparing all those months, helped give her a better quality of life (and a bit longer one too) is something tangible and wrapped up with more love than I can even express here. This meant just a little more time with us kids, her grandchildren who she absolutely lived for, and her friends and family who loved her.
Mom wanted me to share this experience and these recipes with others so maybe it can help your family too. I haven’t yet added these recipes to the blog because losing her has been tough. But, I’m happy to say that I’ll be working on these recipes soon and hopefully, they can be a resource if you or someone you love needs them.
The room I grew up in. My Mom brought me into the kitchen to “help” her when I was barely even old enough to make a mess. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting on the countertop helping to stir the milk and butter into the mashed potatoes with a wooden spoon, licking the beaters and spatulas dripping with chocolate cake batter, and of her always reminding me to “pinch off a piece of dough and taste it first so you’ll know it’s good!”.
To this day, there isn’t a single dough that I make that doesn’t get a little “mama pinch” before being baked. One of my favorite memories is when she would make her locally famous cinnamon rolls. She’d sit me up on top of the counter, roll out the dough and then let me butter it (which to me felt like clouds under my tiny hands), and then we’d both sprinkle cinnamon sugar all over it together. I’d sit and lick my hands while she filled in the gaps that I’d missed. Above all, she had the most patience of any person I’ve ever known in my life and gave each of us kids absolute and unconditional love, no strings attached. This has been and will remain, the single greatest gift of my life. She taught us that anything is possible if we believed in it and worked for it. And yea, my Mom was totally imperfect like we all are, but she was extraordinary too and this was her superpower. The rest of my childhood was spent outdoors, mostly running around barefoot. And it was awesome.
The little engine that could. The heart and soul of our home is always the kitchen no matter where we are in the world. I’m pretty sure it’s the same for you too. It’s the engine that fuels our life, productivity, and celebrations — basically, it’s a large part of our most cherished moments. The kitchen is the BEST room in the house in my opinion.
Our family history. Like everyone else’s, our family history runs deep and wide and is full of excellent cooks and strong, resourceful southern women and men (including my Dad who’s an excellent cook.♡) who all were raised to know their way around the kitchen — teaching one after the other, how to survive and thrive on what Mama Earth gives us.
I hope to see you around here from time to time,