On this episode of “Dishing with Stephanie’s Dish,” Stephanie interviews Trent Pheifer, blogger and aspiring home chef from, “Store Bought Is Fine” who found inspiration from celebrity chef Ina Garten. From cooking their way through Ina’s recipes to meeting her in person at a Paris restaurant, Trent shares his love for her simple and flavorful recipes, including a unique dish featuring roasted grapes and sausage. The episode also dives into content creation challenges and finding a balance between creating enjoyable content and striving for perfection. Listen to Trent’s inspirational journey of self-discovery in the culinary world through the books and recipes of Ina Garten. Follow @Storeboughtisfine on Instagram.
Here is the Episode Transcript:
Hello, everybody. Welcome to Dishing with Stephanie’s Dish, the podcast where we talk to cookbook authors, people obsessed with food. And today we are talking to Trent Pfeiffer, and he is an Instagram influencer, I think we dare to say, and also a recipe cook and a man who is on a mission. Store bought is fine. It’s his handle on instagram. And Trent, you are cooking all of the dishes from Ina Garten’s Cookbook and her shows.
I am. It’s been quite a journey. I think I’ve been doing it about seven years now.
Okay. You are my jam. I just want to hear all about how this started.
Yeah, so it was one of those things where I didn’t know how to cook at all. I was around 30. I was dating someone at the time. I was kind of getting in the kitchen. Wasn’t doing a lot of great cooking in the kitchen. And it was about this time that I read Julia Child’s my Life in France. And at the same time, my roommates and I were binge watching The Barefoot Contessa. Not making any of the dishes, just binge watching. It’s an aspirational lifestyle. I think it’s great entertainment. When I started getting into cooking, I was making all of these recipes from online sources, from Ina, and the online source ones kept failing for me. And I don’t think it was the recipe, the online recipe developers or anything. It’s that I didn’t have the basic skills in the kitchen. And the one person whose recipes had always kind of worked out for me, even though I didn’t have the skills, were Ina’s. So I thought maybe I would take a page from Julia and Julia and just cook my way through all of Aina’s garden’s recipes and in the process, hopefully get my cooking education.
I couldn’t love this more because that trajectory of finding Julia Child through her memoir, her biographies, and then kind of going into cooking after that was sort of how it happened for me.
Oh, I love that.
I wasn’t a great cook, and I’m a home cook, and I felt like Julia made things feel so accessible. So I went back and started to watch some of the shows, and then I stumbled along. Food Network twelve years ago, I think around that time, I in a garden show, The Barefoot Contessa, and I, too, was like I was trying to cook specifically, like, these beautiful Martha Stewart magazine recipes never worked out. I always was disappointed, and Ina’s 100% always worked. And what’s unique is the things she and Julia have in common is I think the two of them have tested more recipes in their books than anybody else. Oh, yeah.
And I think that’s the secret to their success is Ina always watches somebody else make her recipes and then incorporates that feedback into the recipes. I think there are very few recipe developers or chefs that I will host a dinner party never having made the dish and know that it’s going to be phenomenal for my guests. And Ina is that person where I’m like, I’ve never made this, but it’ll be fine.
And you just have a huge level of confidence that she’s tested it, so you know it’s going to be good. And even her simple recipes and how she approaches food, too, really speaks to me because it’s not, like, simple, but it’s always elegant, just in its perfection and its simplicity. But it has just enough things and not too many things.
Yeah, and I think that she’s just distilled it in a way that with simple ingredients, you can make these great things. I think one of the biggest lessons I ever learned was roast, eating vegetables. She has a lot of roasted vegetables where it’s just salt, pepper, maybe squeeze of lemon juice. But how phenomenal that on itself can be. I grew up with boiled Brussels sprout and a lot of veggies that didn’t have a lot of flavor. And I think that Ina has perfected that, making it as simple as possible. Some of them are complicated, making them as simple as possible, but still making them, like, showstoppers or something that your friends are going to after eating over at your place.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Ohio, so kind.
Of I’m from the Midwest, obviously. Minnesota.
You seem a little Midwest bound.
Where do you live now?
I’m in New York City. I’ve been here about 14 years now.
And what is your day job? Life. And do you do this all the time?
No, this is not my full time job. I actually work for the Advertising Council, which is a national nonprofit that does public service communication efforts to move the needle on some of our most pressing issues. A lot of people know us.
I’m in advertising.
We play your ads on my radio station all the time.
I love that. I love that. Yeah. So I’m on the fundraising team. We oversee our board of directors and our fundraising for the organization. So that’s my day job. So this is just my side leg project, just my passion project. I really thought this would be something that I would do for a couple of months and then move on to the next thing, but I really found my passion and love for food throughout this project. So it’s a balancing act, working a full time job and cooking as much as I do.
How much do you cook?
At a minimum, four recipes a week. That doesn’t seem like much, but yes, it does. Well, if you’re really thinking about okay, well, there are seven days in a week. How many, like, going out to eat, like, how many meals, lunch, dinner. So I try to do four and then two to three evenings during the week.
Okay. So what attracted me to your Instagram was an article that I saw that said ina Garten’s biggest fan, his ten favorite recipes. Was that intentional, or did they just pick this up from you? Or how did this all come together?
Yeah, no, they reached out maybe a couple of months ago, and they were like, so I’m pitching this story. It’s going to be Aina Garden’s biggest fan. Spend all day, every day talking about Ina. It is near impossible to pick a top ten. I mean, she has nearly 1300 recipes between her books and show, but sometimes I just have to be like, you know what? This is my top ten for the day. It might change tomorrow. There might have a craving that changes something. Sometimes I forget that I made a recipe, and I’m like, oh, yeah, that’s one of my favorite. It’s not in the top ten, but next year could be a different list.
So you had, I think, two of my top ten. You had the coconut cake, which I won a competition on the local television station, competing against the host with basically an adaption of her recipe.
I love that.
And then you also mentioned, I think the roast chicken. Perfect roast chicken, because everybody needs that. I think the roasted carrots with the goat cheese might have made your list or it made my list.
I’ve been doing a bunch of top ten lists and ranking lists, and the carrots with goat cheese, I think is on my favorite salad list.
Is there a recipe that when you made it, you didn’t think you’d love it, and then you loved it like you got surprised by it?
There’s one that I always go to, and it is her sausage and grapes. It was probably the first year, maybe early in the second year of the project, and I looked at this recipe, and I’m like, roasted grapes. What’s? I don’t know, sweet, savory, but, like, sausage with cooked grapes, it just didn’t appeal to me at all. I was like, you know what? Let me give it a try. And I absolutely loved it. It was that sweet, savory pairing. I feel like the roasting of the grapes concentrates their flavor, making it, like, almost like a wine that goes with the sausage and the balsamic vinegar that’s in there. It’s just such a fabulous dish. And I know that it’s a great one because every time I mention this as one of those dishes, everyone’s like, eh, that doesn’t sound great. And then they’re like, I tried it. It is phenomenal. It’s just one of the, I think, hidden treasures in Ina’s repertoire of recipes.
I love it. Now, as someone who’s a creator, do you have anxiety about getting the perfect picture, or are you on the video train? You have a couple of videos, but are you feeling pressure to do more?
Yeah, I live by anxiety. I feel like that’s what propels me in everyday living. So there’s a lot of anxiety that goes with it, and I think what’s happening? Well, I know what’s happening is the algorithm, Instagram, Facebook, they’re all trying to be TikTok and so they’re pushing everyone toward video content. I enjoy doing some videos, but because this isn’t my full time job so what I did is I was like, you know what? They’re pushing us towards video. I’m going to do a whole Beyonce series where I do recipes inspired by her songs and I’ll do videos for everything. And I did a whole month of them. And I can’t tell you it was my least favorite month of the entire project. It was just too much work and I had to remind myself, why am I doing this? The following is great and the community that’s been built is wonderful, but I am doing this because I enjoy it. And as soon as it’s not an enjoyable thing for me, I need to stop doing it. So I went back to filming a video every once in a while, doing mostly photos and finding this balance that I can live with. Even though I’ve seen my numbers grow or drop. I mean, or kind of stagnate over time, at least I’m happy doing the thing I’m doing.
Yeah. And I do think that’s sort of the bane of our existence as creators too. You start out because you love something, then you catch fire and you’re just on the content churning wheel and it becomes a job and it’s not as fun and so why are you doing it? None of us are probably getting rich in the content sphere unless you’re maybe Mr. And Mrs. Original YouTuber. Yeah, I’m always like a day late and a dollar short on the latest format, so I’m never going to win there. How about I just enjoy my life and if I can inspire some people along the way or maybe drive a little traffic to my website with clicks. Great.
Yeah, that’s how I feel. Do you do videos often?
I do, but I also find them exhausting. I call them the hands videos and those look simple, but they are hard to do with the stop motion and everything else. Then there’s the like, I’m going to tell you all about my interpersonal feelings journeys videos that kind of nauseates me.
Mine are like the sloppy in betweens where I realize halfway through that I can’t get the jar of something open because I haven’t pre planned and opened it. So I do some too.
That’s where I find that I get a little stressed because of the desire for perfection on video. If I forget to add something or something’s not quite working for me. If I’m not filming myself, I can figure that out and I’m not worried about it. And the photo turns out great, but as soon as it happens on film, I’m like, oh God. Or what happens would like to admit is do I go to stop the recording and realize after ten minutes that I haven’t been recording at all, and.
I’ve missed every I have done this a million times. I have done this a million times where I am in the middle of something, and all of a sudden I realize I haven’t started the video. Yes, and you’re halfway through making it, so you’re not going to start again.
And that’s the thing. I don’t have the time. The thing that I’ve loved about this project is that it allows me to just keep trying new things. Yes, there are certain things that get in my regular rotation that I’m making all the time, but I love trying new things, and I don’t want to repeat a recipe for a second time in two days or whatever it is just for a video. At that point, it’s becoming a photo, and everyone will just be happy with that.
Someone asked my kid once what her favorite recipes were that her mom makes, and she just said she had one. That was embarrassing. It was like an Asian tuna salad. But then she said, my mom never makes the same thing twice, so I don’t know.
Yes. And that’s where I am. Somebody’s like, oh, you must make that all the time. It’s so good. And I was like, yeah, I made that that one time. I’m sure I’ll make it a couple of years from now. The crazy strikes again.
So have you met Ina?
Tell me about that experience and how that came about.
So it was a pretty magical experience. Last day in Paris, we went to a restaurant, a tasting menu restaurant called vergu. And I walk into this restaurant, and it is a restaurant that’s no bigger than a decent sized living room. I walk in, and immediately I look in the corner, and it’s Ina and Jeffrey having dinner. And so blood drains from my face. My friends are like, what’s wrong? And I go, oh, my God. Aina and Jeffrey are in the corner of this restaurant. So they see us at our table. We’re across the room. Again, not a big room. And my friends are like, do you want to face her? And I was like, Absolutely not. I will not be able to concentrate on anything during this dinner if I’m facing her. So we faced away. My friends were in PR. They’re like, okay, let’s wait for them to pay the bill. And then we’ll go over and say hi to her. So restaurant starts clearing out a little bit. We see they’re paid their bill. We go straight over there, and I introduce myself. And I’m like, I am so sorry to interrupt your dinner, but I’m a huge fan, and I’m cooking my way through your recipes. And she nods, and Jeffrey nods, and I go, yeah, my Instagram account, store bought is fine. And she turns to me and she goes, oh, I heard you were in town, and then turns to Jeffrey and goes, oh, we’ve corresponded online before. I about died in that moment that she one knew I was in Paris and that she, too, remembered my experience. So we had a lovely conversation about how great the dinner was, our trips to France, and at the end, I was like, can I get a photo with you? She’s like, yes, we just got a cab. We’ll give you the heads up when it’s here, and we get a photo outside. And she couldn’t have been nicer. Her and Jeffrey were so unbelievably sweet. I think so often you worry about meeting the people you idolize because can they really ever live up to who you’ve built? They’re all humans. Can they really live up to your expectations? And she did in absolutely every single way, got photo with her. She thanked me for what I was doing. It was just such a magical it was kismet. It was meant to be. She loves Paris. I love Paris. We both live in the city or near the city and have never run into each other here. I just think that it was meant to be, and I’m so thankful for that experience.
Well, I’m so thankful that you’ve spent this little moment with us today. All the listeners of my show know I’m a huge fan of ina. And so when I saw your Instagram and started following it, I was like, I have to talk to this man.
Amazing. Well, thank you so much for having me. This has been absolutely wonderful.
It’s great. It’ll take me a couple of weeks to share it, but when I do, I’ll tag you. And thank you just so much for sharing yourself.
Yeah, no problem. If you need anything else, any other blurbs pictures, anything, feel free to reach out.
Store bought is fine.
Yes. Thank you so much. Awesome. Thank you. Talk to you soon.
Bye bye. Our channel.