We met up with star-blogger Julie Powell, creator of hit blog Julie And Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, and recent apprentice in a butcher shop. Julie is in town for the upcoming Toffie Food Festival this weekend. We asked her some questions:

What was your first meal on South African soil? Delicious slap chips at this quaint little place by the sea in Kalk Bay. If I could only remember the name!

South African food you’re keen on trying out? Biltong. And Ostrich meat! All types of meat.

Is this your first visit to South Africa? It is. But not my first to Africa. I’ve traveled to Tanzania. I wanted to experience a true traditional Maasai animal slaughter.

So, what are you up to now? Besides sitting here with you, I’m writing a novel. And no, it’s not food-orientated! It’s set in Manhattan in the near future. But i suppose food plays a part, as it always does in my life.

And the working title of this book? It has a working title that makes no sense.

Why did you decide to apprentice at a butchery? At that point in my life, after all that had happened with my blog and the runaway success of the Julie & Julia book and movie, I wanted a change in my life, a drastic one. I wanted to get down and dirty, quite literally. And what could be more hands-on than a butcher shop?! I felt drawn to the idea of a butchery and everything associated to it. It also had an aesthetic appeal. The whole process became quite cathartic. (Julie’s experiences in the butcher shop is documented in her second book Cleaving: A story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession.)

Why did you start your blog? Blogging is a good medium for a session. I used food and my blog to show what was going on in my life. I guess I’ll always use food in this way. Like my stint in the butcher shop.

What do you think was the success behind your blog? Not knowing what I was doing.

Why did you stop blogging? I think the Julie & Julia blog project had reached its natural end. I felt that if I continued, I would be forcing something that I had outgrown. I needed to focus on something new.

Would you start blogging again? Only if it felt right. My time in the butcher shop probably could have made for a very successful blog, and probably could have attracted a huge following, but it would have felt wrong, and I didn’t want to exploit what i had created with my first blog.

Any tips for those wanting to start a blog? Authenticity is key. Add to that an essential kindness and genuineness. It should be about the subject matter, not blogging for blog’s sake.

What blogs do you follow? Honestly, I don’t really follow blogs. But one I occasionally enjoy looking at is fashion blog Gofugyourself.com

Now on a totally different subject, what can’t you live without in your kitchen? If my knives aren’t sharp, I go crazy!

Magic ingredient you always use in your food? Sriracha sauce. I have to confess, it’s a guilty pleasure, and quite trashy too. I put it on ALL my food.

What do you feel like doing next? Moving to the countryside. Renovating a house.

Where do you find inspiration for your projects? Life. And everything it throws at me. The things I take on kind of have a way of finding me. But on a more superficial note, I find inspiration in popular culture… and television! I LOVE watching television, but not food shows, they bore the hell out of me!

Don’t miss Julie at The Toffie Food Fest this weekend!