Culinary inspiration strikes in unexpected ways. For Kathy Strahs, it all began with the gift of a panini press from her sister in 2007. A passionate and talented self-taught cook, Kathy had flirted with all kinds of cool new cooking equipment and tools. But alas, the ice cream maker, the crepe machine and the pizzelle iron were each used once or twice before making their way to “the appliance wasteland that is my pantry,” she jokes.
Kathy’s determination to break that cycle led her to start Panini Happy, a blog where she creates recipes for her panini press, tests them, photographs them and shares them with other panini enthusiasts. Five years and hundreds of recipes later, she wrote and photographed her first cookbook, The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, 2013).
Her next culinary “light bulb moment” occurred when she realized how often she turned to her square 8×8-inch baking dish to prepare meals. Not too small, not too big, it was just the right size for Kathy’s family of four—and recipes doubled easily to fit a 13×9-inch dish for a larger crowd. Inspired by the chance to create another innovative cookbook, Kathy and her husband Michael brainstormed 30 recipe ideas within a matter of minutes. The 8×8 Cookbook: Square Meals for Weeknight Family Dinners, Desserts and More—In One Perfect 8×8-inch Dish was born.
A former marketer with an MBA from Stanford, Kathy launched her own publishing house, Burnt Cheese Press, with The 8×8 Cookbook as the company’s first title. In addition to her roles as author and photographer, Kathy spearheads the book’s production, financing, promotion and distribution. Following a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.com, Burnt Cheese Press will release The 8×8 Cookbook in November 2015.
Kathy’s innovative recipes and mouthwatering food photography have been featured on Oprah.com, the websites of The New York Times, The Washington Post, PBS, Essence, The Huffington Post, Saveur and TLC, in Pillsbury Magazine, San Diego Family Magazine, the Associated Press and highlighted in The Wall Street Journal. In addition to Panini Happy, she also writes the Cooking On the Side and Sunny Days, Good Food blogs.
Kathy has been named one of the top Mom Food Bloggers by Babble.com several times. She is also a frequent cooking contest judge, including the Bacon & Beer Classic, the Grilled Cheese Invitational and the World Food Championships.
Kathy is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), Les Dames d’Escoffier, San Francisco Professional Food Society, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA).
Kathy, Michael, and their two children live in the Silicon Valley.