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Culinary Artist Samantha Santti Demystifies the Kitchen

When it comes to cooking, Samantha Santti has it all together. When she’s not baking + making delicious cuisine, she shares the love and teaches others to do the same. Her refreshing and practical tips help overwhelmed novices, and seasoned chefs alike find their groove in the kitchen.

While Samantha has culinary school and competition-winning chops, she’s convinced nothing is standing between you and foodie bliss but a little advice and inspiration. 

Dig into her story and the secret behind her success:

Tell us about You And The Kitchen!

You and the Kitchen is all about your relationship with the kitchen. I first started the brand because I wanted to write a cookbook. It just blossomed from there. I teach people how to be confident in the kitchen. It shouldn’t be a scary place. You shouldn’t dread grocery shopping, and you absolutely should not feel that cooking at home is more expensive than takeout. All of these seem to be commonalities I notice in my followers. These are the things I try to teach in addition to teaching people how to cook. Because cooking isn’t JUST cooking; there’s so much more to it. Once you conquer one thing, you can conquer the next. It’s that simple. 

What’s the best part about the community you’ve created?

I love that they know it’s a relaxed environment. Whenever I ask them questions about their skills or struggles, they’re honest. It’s so comforting to know that they’re supportive of one another, themselves, and me. The best part of the community is that it is really just that: a community. 

How do you stay inspired + avoid creative ruts?

I’ve considered myself a creative for most of my life. I’m always starting new projects (often too many at once) and wanting to create. If I’m in a rut or feeling uninspired, I just take a break. I’ll move onto something else or take a few days off. It’s not the end of the world! I know that I am way more productive and successful when I feel good, so I don’t ignore that. Listening to my intuition often leads me in the right direction.

How does baking bring goodness to your life?

It’s an outlet for me. It allows me to step into the kitchen and only focus on one thing. Back in college, I often baked when I was really stressed or anxious to help recenter myself. Aside from self-help, I love the joy it brings to other people. Just watch someone’s face when you hand them a homemade cookie. There’s nothing quite like it.

What do people NOT know about what you do?

I like to be very transparent and open about all the aspects of my brand. I do absolutely everything myself, and I share that with my followers. I tell them when I’m struggling or when I have a cooking fail. It happens to everyone. Also, most people don’t know I teach cooking classes on Zoom! They take a lot of work to put together (again, a one-woman show here), so I am not putting out as many as I’d like. However, they are one of the most fulfilling products I offer. 

What made you decide to start sharing recipes?

When I was about 13 or 14, I started my first business & baking venture. I would NEVER share recipes with others! I assumed that it would ruin my “business.” Now, I share almost everything. Once I went to culinary school and learned how true chefs were teachers first and chefs second, it opened up my mind. I realized how powerful it was to share my knowledge with others. I think that’s one of the many reasons I started You and The Kitchen. I didn’t want everything to be this huge, mystical secret. It’s just cooking for Pete’s sake. 

What’s one thing you never leave the grocery store without?

Ooo, this is a good one. It’s rare that I go grocery shopping and don’t pick up a baking ingredient, but that varies. I rarely leave the store without Fuji apples. I eat one with peanut butter almost every day and feel weird when I don’t have a bowl full of them sitting in my fridge.

Tell us about your go-to comfort recipe.

Probably chocolate chip cookies. I could reference so many comfort meals from my childhood, but I don’t cook any of them nearly as much as I bake chocolate chip cookies. I will never ever turn one down. Everyone’s family has their own. My mom and my grandma have vastly different chocolate chip cookies, and I wouldn’t dare choose a favorite, and I think that’s what makes them so special! They remind me of family, and to me, that’s comfort. 

What’s the secret to perfect chocolate chip cookies?

My biggest tip for chocolate chip cookies is making a batch and letting the dough rest in the fridge overnight. This will give them another flavor level and an extra chewiness that you didn’t know you were missing. I like to scoop them the next day and freeze the scooped balls of cookie dough. Then, I can have one absolutely any time I want one. All I have to do is wait for the oven to preheat. 

What’s your food manifesto?

Food is a magical thing. It brings people together like few other things do. It brings happiness and fulfillment and a sense of home when you need it most. Everyone should be able to walk into the kitchen and feel comfortable and, eventually, confident. 

How do you infuse the art of baking into your day to day life?

I’ve always been a creative. I’m often tinkering around with new recipes for all aspects of my life. Right now, I’m infusing a few sugars that I can make into syrups for my coffee. As much as I’d love to be experimenting and baking all of the time, it’s just not practical. Baking can get pricey, and I absolutely do not need to be eating sweets for all 3 meals of the day (sometimes, it does happen). I look for different ways to express my creativity, through savory foods, making t-shirts, or styling food photoshoots.

Tips for the aspiring home chef?

Be patient and PRACTICE. I know it sounds silly, but it’s true. You weren’t an expert driver the first time you got behind the wheel. Just take it one step at a time. If you’re brand new to cooking, my cookbook covers all of the basics. The best advice I can give is to start small and don’t be scared. Learning how to cook a chicken breast with vegetables might sound boring, but mastering the basics will open so many other doors for you.

You sell shirts too! Tell us more! Are you an artist? Do you print them yourself?

I am! I have always been artistic and loved using baking as an outlet for that. When I first started my business, I felt there wasn’t enough creativity in it for me. That’s when I got the idea to start designing and printing shirts. It’s insanely expensive for someone to purchase just a few custom shirts, so I taught myself to print my own. It’s another fun hobby for me, and I can create them just as I’d like.

Tell us about the Cookie Club.

The Cookie Club is a cookie of the month subscription program I started because I honestly just love experimenting with cookies. I create a unique flavor every single month, and only those who are part of the club can purchase them. I get so excited to launch new flavors each month and see them arrive at all the members’ homes. 

What about your business are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the fact that I have done all this on my own. Building my website was a struggle. I am not very tech-savvy when it comes to things like that. I would do a little each day (because I would get so frustrated with everything that I didn’t know), take a break, and start up again the next day. There are smaller aspects like graphic design and photography that I had to really work on, but not much frustrated me more than learning about SEO and webpage development. 

Put it out there: Biggest goal ever?

I would absolutely love to be a well-known and trusted “person in the kitchen.” I hate to confine myself as a “baker” and don’t quite consider myself a “chef.” I would be so happy with my own cooking channel on YouTube and to be featured on other platforms as a guest chef. Writing and developing recipes is a passion of mine, so I want to make sure that’s part of my job no matter which direction I head. I just want to share my knowledge and encourage others to step into the kitchen. 

Follow along with Samantha on Instagram at @youandthekitchen and on her site youandthekitchen.com!

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