nutritious and fun bento box ideas and photos, healthy recipes and tips for making your own bento box lunch

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Interview with Debra

Posted on October 16, 2010 by Debra

Have you ever visited the Food Lover’s Website

Correen and her team have a fabulous food websiten.  It’s a plethora of foodie information and yummy recipes!  And they also have interviews…like the one Correen did with “your’s truly!

Debra and I ‘met’ via Twitter. Gee it really is a small world when you sit to think about it for a minute or two. She’s the Bento blogger, I’m the gawker. I get so thrilled to see what she is up to…my absolute faves are the photos she includes on her posts…beautiful, fun, inspiring! I’ve yet to create anything as stunning, yet a gal can dream (and gawk :) ), huh?

A brief Twitter DM, a couple of emails…now here we are reading this wonderful interview with Debra from Hapabento.com. Enjoy and please make it a point to check out what Debra is doing to make food blogs awesome to visit on the wild world of the web!

Tell us a bit about your blog. What made you start blogging?

Early in 2009 I began posting photos of my bento box lunches on Flickr. I had recently rekindled my love of cooking and bentos and was pleasantly surprised to find a thriving “bento community” out there. “Hey! I wasn’t alone” And I when I discovered the many bento blogs out there… I wanted to give blogging a try too. I now consider blogging as another form of creativity and an outlet for my artistic nature.

What are your best suggestions on how to present food in a bento box?

Hmmm, that’s a tough question. I just do what feels right at the moment with the foods that I’m working with. And I’m still learning.

If you were to take a peak at my earlier bentos, they are styled very differently so you can tell than I’ve evolved …but again, I’m still learning.

However, I would advise a new bentoist that the quality of the food is the most important factor. Fresh, healthy, and perfectly executed cooking is key for presentation. It just looks “good to eat!” I would also add that you shouldn’t worry about making your bento look cute either. At least not while you’re first starting out.

“Kawaii-cute” bentos are on another level, and there are many talented kyaraben and charaben artists that succeed in combining both cute and healthy elements in their bentos. Alas, I am not one of them. (and I’m very jealous) So for my bentos, I usually sacrifice “cute” in favor of taste and wholesomeness. But if you have the knack for molding perfect Hello Kitty rice balls, I say go-for-it! Because I LOVE a cute bento. And I support the idea of heart and flower shaped veggies for fussy eaters.

Name the three foods and or kitchen gadgets that you like to work with the most. Why?

My number one favorite kitchen gadget is my apron! It’s made from an old cotton rice bag which I bought from a flea market over 20 years ago! It’s horribly stained and faded but I love it’s large, handy pockets which keeps my bento tools and chopsticks close at hand.

Which brings me to my number two favorite gadget… my Japanese cooking chopsticks or Saibashi. I stir, flip, turn, and grab.  They act like extentions of my fingers. Can’t bento without them.

The third gadget that I love to work with is my toaster oven! It’s my little miracle worker…it toasts, bakes and roasts! A handy tool that cooks just the right amount of food without having to crank up the large oven.

Please share one of your favorite recipes and let us know why you love it.

My favorite recipe is for nimono, a Japanese simmered dish using a variety of meats, root vegetables, tofu and eggs. It’s versatile and can be applied to your favorites. Being a vegetarian, I flex this recipe to suit my nutritional needs. This recipe works well for meals outside of the bento box as well. This dish was a staple of my mom’s recipes when she packed bento boxes for my lunches.

The photos on your site are stunning! Please give us your top three tips to taking a quality photo.

Stunning? I’m always shocked when I’m told that! Whenever I see those sexy food photos on the various food-porn sites, I’m envious. So I thank you for liking my shots! I guess my best advice is the lighting. Use natural sunlight when possible. I live in Seattle so I”m out-of-luck and instead use inexpensive, hardware store shop-lights that I clamp my kitchen cupboards. These additional lamps flood my shooting area, a shoe box lined with textured paper (really), and I also turn on all available lights! :) Secondly, shoot close-up at an angle instead of directly overhead. Thirdly, my best photography advice is the food itself. Again, it’s all about freshness, variety and cooking technique. A melange of textures and colors provides visual interest which gives a food photo its deliciousness.

I live, work and play in beautiful Seattle,WA. where my husband and I enjoy exploring new places to visit and eat. I’m a vegetarian and he’s not which leads to to some incredible dining discoveries! We are both from Hawaii, the “melting pot” of America, where we learned to enjoy cuisines from many different cultures. If you’re wondering how long ago this photo of me was taken…well, I can tell you that I still have the same haircut!!!

Finding Debra on the Web
♥ Her wonderfully creative blog…HapaBento.com
♥ Follow her on Twitter… @HapaBento
♥ Become a Facebook Fan…Hapa Bento

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12 to “Interview with Debra”

  1. Nicole O. says:

    What a great interview! Very interesting to hear some background on you and your bento ^_^

  2. Lina says:

    OMG … I never thought that you are living in Seattle, I’ve been living in Bellingham for 6 years, I am so excited to found out that we are living in the same great state of Washington … *cheers* …

  3. Great interview full of helpful bento wisdom, Debra! Loved your points about fresh and healthy foods being the best and most beautiful way to bento :)

  4. Lia Chen says:

    Great interview Deb! Your bento always so fresh, so healthy, so delicious, and so pretty. Really inspiring! You are one of the best bento makers that I know. You are so creative to combine all the food elements in one bento and present it in an elegant way (^.^)

  5. Ecolicious says:

    Great interview. I also love your stunning photos. I really want to learn to do this, but I’m not even sure where to start.

  6. Debra says:

    Hi Ecolicious. Thanks a lot. Please visit my bento basics page for more information on how to get started with your own bentos. http://www.hapabento.com/get-started/

  7. Good interview! this proves that you’re famous now :) congratulations.

  8. Karen says:

    Great interview! Congrats! :)




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