July 12th, 2024

Celebrity chef a fan of live events

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on March 16, 2024.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Analog Books co-owner Penny Warris, at left, speaks with celebrity chef and author Anna Olson and one of her fans at the Home, Garden and Leisure Show.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The southern Alberta Home, Garden and Leisure Show 2024 hosted celebrity chef and author Anna Olson to perform a few cooking demonstrations on the main stage and give those in attendance an opportunity to get their books signed as well.

During a meet-and-greet prior to her first cooking demonstration on Thursday, Olson sat down with the Herald and said she was very excited to be in Lethbridge and had already experienced a warmed welcome by a few members of the community.

“I’m very pleased to be here, I feel like I’ve met so many people from Lethbridge over the years but this is actually my very first visit to Lethbridge,” said Olson who also appeared at the show on Friday.

 She said Lethbridge reminded her of Welland, her hometown in Ontario but on a much bigger scale because Lethbridge is twice the size and has a lot more going on.

 Olson added that she could see a show like this being a big draw and was happy to be taking part as she loves to participate in live events.

 “I love doing events in person. While I’ve spent my career sharing baking recipes and tips on television and now on YouTube and social media, it’s a live audience that I’m able to actually learn from,” said Olson.

 She said in terms of what people respond to, what kind of questions she gets asked, what the current trends are, they are set by her viewers and readers and not her.

 “So that’s exciting for me and to be able say hello and meet people in person. I love that young people watch and connect with baking, as baking is about sharing so that’s why it makes perfect sense to be here,” said Olson.

She added that being in front of an audience makes it easier for her to focus on her baking, because doing it in front of a camera without people reacting requires a lot of energy.

“I thrive on that live energy. I will say it’s a challenge to talk to a dead camera and you have to kind of pull a little extra energy because you don’t know what response you’re going to get,” said Olson.

 She admitted she still gets a bit nervous in front of an audience but that usually fades away once she gets going with a recipe.

 “I still get the butterflies, it’s the energy and the wish to succeed, you don’t want to fall flat. Usually, the first couple of minutes I’m nervous and then once the food is in front of me and it starts coming together then I fall into my happy place,” said Olson.

While speaking about the reasons behind people of all ages being interested in baking, Olson said she believes it is because it could provide an escape.

“Baking like any sort of leisure pursuits, it takes you out of your mind space, away from the things that you stress about because you have to pay attention,” said Olson.

 She explained that it helps people to focus on the task and therefore everything else in their mind seems to quiet down.

 “If you get lost in your own thoughts, you’ll mis-measure an ingredient, you forget to set your timer, so it allows you to focus on something so you don’t focus on the things that may cause you stress,” said Olson.

 She said baking also provides people with a sense of fulfillment after successfully following a recipe and being able to enjoy the end result. As for her, she is on the other end of that – she writes recipes for others to follow after experimenting in her kitchen.

“I create a recipe in my kitchen alone and people have asked me why I don’t have someone to do the dishes, and I do it that way because everybody has to take care of their own dishes. I want to cook the way we all cook and if it makes me more efficient that improves it,” said Olson.

 She explained that once she has a recipe at a point where she is happy with it, she sends it to her testers.

 “I send it to my recipe testers without photos or side notes and they recreate the recipe and then we compare and determine if my instructions are clear enough,” said Olson.

She said the writing portion is actually her favourite part of creating recipes and that is what led her to becoming an author, which in turn is how she ended up in television.

“I was writing books before I started in television, in fact that’s partly how I got into television. I came out with my first cookbook with my husband. I’d say my heart is in writing because that’s the heart of what I talk about on camera, the written recipe,” said Olson.

She said her true passion is actually writing books and if everything else were to fade away, as long as she could keep writing books she would be happy.

“A lot of people don’t realize it takes over two years to write a cookbook. I had Baking Wisdom come out just a year ago, but I’ve already got another manuscript and photos for my next book,” said Olson. “I haven’t even received the first edits and I’m already pulling together the outline for the next book and that one probably won’t even come out until 2027.”

Olson’s books are available at Analog Books. On Thursday had the opportunity to take a moment and talk to fans and sign autographs at their booth during the show.

The southern Alberta Home, Garden and Leisure Show concludes today. It runs from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Agri-food Hub and Trade Centre.

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