Gluten Free Girl & The Chef Cookbook Promo Video

Portrait of a Gourmand – A gourmand is simply, someone who takes pleasure in food and eating. This is a continuing photographic series of gourmands, from all walks of life. There are many gourmands that inspire us in profound ways that make us experience and think about food differently. These portraits essays and interviews share their amazing stories.

Shauna James Ahern’s journey from suffering celiac disease to re-discovering food is a remarkable one. For the past 5 years, she’s shared her path to healing through candid and intimate essays on her popular blog, Oh her personal food website, Shauna created an incredible community of readers from all over the world which has morphed into a powerful  gathering place of healing, eating well and how to life a fulfilling life without gluten.

Since then, she’s met her soul-mate, Chef of 20 years and now husband, Daniel Ahern.  The synergy between these two amazing, talented and compassionate people have turned the blog into a newer, more complete direction, now appropriately called Gluten Free Girl and The Chef.

Together, Shauna and Daniel explore the world of gluten free foods and share fantastic recipes that are explode with flavor and fresh, local produce. And of course, on the other side of their rainbow is the real pot of gold, their 2 year old daughter Lucy.

Their fascinating story, incredible recipes and passionate gluten free lifestyle has now resulted in a new cookbook titled,Gluten Free Girl and The Chef: A Love Story with 100 tempting recipes.

What encouraged you to start a blog?

{ Shauna } – After I was diagnosed with celiac at 38 years old, after years of feeling lousy, I was compelled to write about my experiences. Since I so immediately felt better after going gluten-free, I knew that I never wanted to eat the stuff again. It felt natural to me to turn to all the foods that are naturally gluten-free and celebrate the experience of eating again. And there are so many foods that are gluten-free that I had never eaten before: amaranth, fish sauce, millet, smoked paprika. I started going to farmers’ markets and buying foods in season. I found good olive oils and discovered a world beyond tv dinners, deli foods, and the same 8 dishes I made over and over again.

Since I had always been a writer, I did what I knew: I wrote about it. I started taking photographs because the world looked so beautiful to me after being so sick, and I wanted to capture that light. However, I didn’t know that I was writing a food blog. This was back in 2005, when there were only about 100 of us doing this. I thought I was just keeping a space where my friends could come to read my long emails when they had the time! When I first started getting comments, I was astounded. Who were these people? I found their blogs and left comments. Other discoveries arrived. More people came to mine. Slowly, I found a community .

I write from this place, and from that joyful sense of discovery. I write so that no one else has to be in the dark as long as I was.

How has cooking and feeding in your kitchen changed since you became parents:

{ Daniel } We’re more conscious of what we are feeding each other because Lucy eats whatever we eat. We’re feeding three, not two.

Having her be part of this, and feeding another mouth, has made us more conscious of how we can best spend our food money. Before she was born, we would buy expensive olive oil on a whim, or some fabulous new spice we had never tried before. Now, we plan our meals with her nutrition and our much-tighter budget now that she is around. We can see why family cooks have far different concerns than single cooks.

{ Shauna } The process is a lot more imperfect now. We stand at the counter to chop onions and poach eggs while Lucy re-arranges dishes and reaches for the mortar and pestle to listen to the sound it makes. She wants to be part of everything — the chopping, the smelling, the sizzling, the stirring. There’s usually something dumped on the counter that we didn’t expect. It might take longer to cook a dish than it did before, with more stops and starts, but it’s far more fun. We love that she’s there to be part of making every meal she eats.

We think that has something to do with the fact that she eats so well. (And she’ll probably turn picky after I write that sentence!) She sees part of every stop of the process, from shopping to sitting down at the table with us. She really does love food.

What have you learned so far as parents and from feeding Lucy?

{ Shauna } We’ve grown more humble through feeding her. It used to be that we were amazed when we were in the grocery store and saw carts full of packaged foods and kids hanging off the end of the cart. We cooked everything from scratch, and elaborate meals at that. Why couldn’t everyone else?

There’s nothing more humbling than having a child. You don’t sleep much anymore, you’re changing diapers, your house is cluttered with blocks and dollls and leftover rice underneath her chair. As much as we love food, there are very few meals that require hours of preparation these days. Even when she’s asleep, Danny’s tired from working at the restaurant all day and me from being on the computer after wrestling a toddler to sleep. We still cook from scratch, but it’s more like brown rice from the rice cooker, a roasted chicken, and some broccolini that we throw into a hot skillet with olive oil and garlic for a few moments.

That’s let me see that the goal isn’t to make the most impressive or elaborate foods. The point is to cook, and to sit together at the table.

{ Daniel } We want to give her the best food we can. Looking back, I don’t want to feed her the crap I ate. McDonald’s, boxed macaroni and cheese. my mom was a good cook, but she just had a LOT on her plate by the time I came along. (I was the the fifth of five children.) There was a lot of junk food in the house at times.

I want to take the time to cook. I want to teach her how to cook. I want her to enjoy it. People are running through their lives and they don’t stop to enjoy this. that’s just dumb.

What do you hope to teach Lucy about food?

{ Shauna } Danny and I fell in love through food. We both feel that food is a joyful way to be alive to our senses, to play, to discover, to truly live in the moment.

We eat three times a day. Why not make those moments memorable? We hope she knows that a thick slice of a ripe tomato grown in the garden and dusted with sea salt is just as good (and probably better) than an expensive meal in a trendy restaurant. And we want her to know that everything should be in moderation. We try to eat as much as we can in season, but frozen blueberries in the winter taste bright in a pie. Plus, sometimes you just need some potato chips. We hope she knows how to pick the good ones.

{ Daniel } We want to teach her to respect food. We want her to know that food doesn’t just come from the grocery store. People grew her food. Hands picked it. Workers packed it. It takes hard work for food to get to us and for us to make it.

We also want her to respect other people’s cultures. Eating food from around the world, and being brave about foods that may seem strange, is a great way to understand the way other people live.

What did you learn from writing a cookbook together?

{ Daniel } It’s a hard, long process. You have to be sure of what you’re doing all along the way.

I know a fair amount about cooking, and I’m always pushing myself to learn more, which sometimes makes me think I don’t know that much. Then I think about the general person who may not know a lot about food. my mother, at 80 years old, still calls me for advice about roasting a prime rib. How many times has she made one by now? She still doesn’t trust herself.

Knowing this gives me more confidence, but it also makes me want to teach more people. The cookbook was a revelation. I thought the only way I could nourish and help people was feeding them directly. But going out to dinner is a luxury. Now I know I can feed people in a different way.

Restaurants are all about rushing and cooking from muscle memory. Writing a cookbook I actually had to sit down and think, “What? Why do I do it that way?” I became a much better cook for that reason.

{ Shauna} I learned so much that it’s hard to even say.

One of the best gifts of this was learning more about Danny. The biggest section of the book is called At the Restaurant. It’s a day-in-the-life of a chef, with an essay followed by four recipes for every single part of his day. He talked and I typed, which meant I learned his stories. No one had ever asked him about the dishwashers in the restaurants where he has worked over the past 20 years, or why he grows so angsty when plates come back with a few bites of food left over. He was honored. I learned him.

Oh, and I learned SO much about writing recipes. Recipes are really stories, a clear guide to someone standing at the stove. I used to write recipes with far more of my own personal flourishes, thinking that made them better written. However, I also wrote ingredients out of the order of how they are used, left out steps, and forgot to show people how to tell when food was ready to come out of the oven. Danny helped me to see that the point is to write a recipe well enough that people could make the food!

Our book editor kicked our asses. He was tough, meticulous, demanded more from us, and sometimes left me infuriated. He was right. He’s excellent. We learned how much we owe our editor.

I learned that we need to choose recipe testers carefully. That’s an art.

Mostly, we both realized that we want to write cookbooks together for years and years to come. There is still so much left to learn.

More on Portrait of a Gourmand series:

  • Shauna James Ahern & Daniel Ahern of Gluten Free Girl and The Chef
  • Chef Hasty  Torres of Madame Chocolat
  • Martin Reed of I Love Blue Sea
  • Dan and Jael Rattigan of French Broad Chocolate Lounge
  • Amy Scattergood  of LA Weekly Food Squid Ink
  • Todd Porter of White On Rice Couple
  • Helen DuJardin  of Tartelette


{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Clare - An American in Ireland

    I just watched the video of GFG and the Chef and all I can say is WOW. I am absolutely blown away by how beautiful it is – I mean, WOW!!! You two are so insanely talented and I look forward to more videos in the future. Thank you for bringing their story to us in such a touching, entertaining and thought-provoking way.

  2. DianasaurDishes

    Fantastic photos, video and interview! So excited for Shauna, can’t believe I haven’t actually met her in person yet!

  3. Julie

    What a wonderful profile, and great photos! Thanks for allowing us to get to know this lovely family a little better.

  4. Sara

    so lovely to read this interview of a couple I find quite inspiring. Great pictures as well, you guys! I love this part of your blog, keep it up!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Sara- thanks and we love sharing the PoG series too. We’ll definitely keep posting them!

  5. Melissa

    Wonderful way to share this journey. Pictures are stunning and the story engaging.

  6. GFree_Miel

    Everything about this is so beautiful and touching.

  7. Winnie

    The video is truly magical and the interview and photos are too. You can not help but love this little family- thank you for capturing their “essence” so beautifully!

  8. Kristen

    So lovely…from the interview, photographs, right down to the people. As always, you captured this magically!

  9. susan salzman

    what a beautiful video. your images are inspiring! i was touched! food is the one constant that brings us all together. these two have proved this. they are truly blessed!

  10. Food for 7 Stages of Life

    You both are wonderful parents and your daughter is absolutely adorable. Loved your family pics and can’t wait to read your book

  11. Gaby @ What's Gaby Cooking

    This video was beautiful! I loved every second of it. Its amazing that you can feel their love for each other and their amazing food by just watching the video.

  12. Shaina

    I absolutely love this. You did a wonderful job capturing their essence. I can’t wait for the book to come out. My dad has been slowly changing to a gluten-free diet, and I’m hoping this will help him embrace it.

  13. Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle

    I already loved this story before reading it; when I saw @sweettartlette tweet a video you had done on Shauna, Daniel and Lucy. I enjoyed reading of the learning experience of how having a child can change how you look at food. I’m not a pill; my kids had McDonald’s but in our home, I just didn’t buy a lot of prepackaged foods. Single parenting will do that; keeping the budget in check meant we ate at home and my girls helped with preparation from an early age.

    While they did not laud me each day for loving that process; it did impact their life experience and are now accomplished cooks for their age…something that would not have happened had I not been ‘forced’ to regularly cook for our family. It was a blessing!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Barbara- looks like you did a wonderful job in preparing your children for the food world. Kudos!

  14. Karen Robertson

    You definately captured their charm and warmth…and that Lucy is something else. Even on the day I visited, our first time meeting, my daughter and I were welcomed with open arms by all three. We felt like we had known them forever–blogs have a way of doing that. Shauna and Danny’s new book will be a great addition to the gluten free category –raising the bar for the rest of us–but that is what we need — recipes that you know are worth your time, money, and effort. I had a chance to see this one already and it is a winner.

    1. Karen Robertson

      Thank you

  15. carrie @

    Beautiful! What a lovely piece on Shauna, Danny, and Lu! They are such an amazing couple and I have learned so much through them! Life gluten free does not have to be complicated, hard, or frustrating. It is absolutely delicious!

  16. Rasa Malaysia

    Love the video you guys did — so much love and real and down-to-earth. Great job!!!!

  17. Lauren

    Gorgeous. Shauna and Danny are amazing, and it’s always nice to learn more about great people :). The photos are dreamy and you two captured them perfectly. Love it.

  18. Ann B

    I so love these profiles – thank you for sharing them with us!

  19. GlutenFibroFree

    I can’t wait to pick up a copy of the book, from what I’ve seen and read, it looks great

  20. Prerna

    Beautiful post and marvelous pictures!
    Thanx for introducing me to Glutenfreegirl!

  21. Lauren

    Beautiful story, photographs, and video! It never ceases to amaze me what type of power food can have.

  22. erin @Naturally Ella

    Absolutely wonderful.

    I don’t think I could have asked for a more perfect way to start my week than watching the video- I had tears welling up the whole time. Such a great portrait of a wonderful family. I can’t wait for the book!

  23. Tokyo Terrace

    This is so great- the pictures are so warm and loving, no doubt due to the warm and loving people in them. What a great read to start the day!

  24. Fuji Mama

    I think this is my favorite Portrait of a Gourmand yet! Not only is it well written, but it is so inspiring. It’s so nice to see parents out there with their viewpoint on feeding children.

  25. Cookin' Canuck

    What a wonderful interview with Shauna and Danny! Along with little Lucy, they look like such a joyful family who are very comfortable with who they are and how they work as a unit.

  26. bunkycooks

    This is a beautiful story and an amazing video to go along with it. You have really captured something special with this post!

  27. Vivian

    How beautiful! The whole family is such a picture of warmth and happiness. I am excited and can’t wait to see their new book.

  28. Phoo-d

    Wow. You guys knocked it out of the park with this one! (And made me homesick to boot!) The video is such a beautiful testament to the love and passion of Shauna and Danny. Simply marvelous.

  29. Fran

    What a wonderful story and a beautiful family. They make being gluten free seem so “doable” and enticing. I meet people so often who are looking for gluten free products when I’m at work and always feel badly that their diet is so restricted, but after reading this post and the one on Shauna and Daniel’s blog and seeing the photos and video I realize I am the one that’s been restricted — in my thinking.

    Thanks for introducing Shauna, Daniel and Lucy to us!

  30. Sophie

    Gorgeous, gorgeous family pictures. I especially like the shot of Lucy and the tomatoes – she’s going to grow up a real food expert!

    I’m intrigued by the book now – looking forward to reading what a day-in-the-life of a chef is really like.

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