Hello and welcome to Salima’s Kitchen, aka, my kitchen!
I’m so happy you stopped by. I’m Salima Benkhalti, a former Private Chef, food photographer and recipe developer living with my husband Steve and dog Mac in Olympia, Washington.
As a photographer, I’m super passionate about capturing the elements of food that we all know and love. Sometimes this means taking a torch to my pizza to capture that bubbly brown melted cheese, piping homemade frosting until the peaks are just right, or showering a pastry in powdered sugar until the entire kitchen appears covered in snow.
As consumers, we are constantly being bombarded with food media, so my mission is to highlight food in a unique and authentic way. My ongoing goal is to make anyone looking at my pictures feel hungry 😊.
Here at Salima’s Kitchen, the focus is all about flavorful & approachable recipes, usually inspired by my Moroccan and Puerto Rican roots. Because these cuisines are new to many home cooks, I like to share tips and tricks to help you feel comfortable making dishes for the very first time.
My Food Blogging Story
If you’ve been following the blog for a few years you know that Salima’s Kitchen originally started as a place to share my family recipes when I wasn’t busy teaching second grade. The original life plan was to go to college, graduate, and teach elementary school. Looking back, it’s funny how much has changed!
Growing up in a multicultural family, food was always a central part of our home. When I started 7th grade, my mom sat me down and told me I was now responsible for cooking dinner once a week.
What was intended to be a chore quickly became one of my favorite activities.
Once I graduated college and moved away from home, I really missed the Moroccan and Puerto Rican recipes that were once a staple in my diet. This blog (and my Instagram account) became a wonderful way to not only share and record these recipes, but to meet like minded people who also have a passion for cooking!
Eventually I built up the courage to move away from teaching and pivot into the food world.
I spent a few years working as a Private Chef in the Portland metro area, creating custom dining experiences for clients. Working as a Private Chef taught me so much about presentation, cooking in a professional setting, and designing custom recipes.
During this chapter I spent countless hours testing, writing and shooting recipes, and sharing them through this blog. I got into photography to market my business as a Private Chef and fell completely in love with the process.
My love of food and photography continued to grow as the years went on. Eventually I decided to focus on growing Salima's Kitchen as primarily online business.
Since then, I've been privileged to work with many amazing clients who grow their businesses and online presence using my photography and recipes.
The last 5 years have been so rewarding and I am forever thankful to every single one of you that has made a recipe, left a review or comment letting me know your thoughts.
What Is A Food Photographer?
As a food photographer, my job is to create and capture food for restaurants, cookbooks, websites and brands.
You’ve likely been exposed to many different forms of food photography such as:
- Restaurant menus (both physical and digital)
- Online food & grocery delivery apps
- Commercials for restaurants & food brands
Food photography is an effective marketing tool as it helps to tell a story about a product, business or individual. The way a particular food or product is photographed determines how we feel about that item, creating a lasting impression.
I think it’s easy to say that most of us feel more excited ordering off a menu where we can actually see the food. There’s something about food photography that triggers our emotions, making it a very effective tool.
Credentials & Brand Partnerships
- 3+ years of work as a Private Chef providing custom dining experiences to clients in the Portland metro area
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Education, Pacific Lutheran University
- 5+ years of commercial photography experience for local and national brand campaigns with companies like Toby's Family Foods, PDX Meal Prep, Stellar Juices and more
- Recipe Development & Partnerships with: S. Pellegrino, Albertsons, New Seasons Market, Mutti, Bush’s Beans, Annie’s, The FeedFeed, Jimmy Dean and many more
Where to Start
Start by checking out my recipe index for links to all of the different recipe categories and dietary preferences.
The recipes on this site are designed to inspire your culinary curiosity.
I always encourage readers to use what you have on hand, modify directions as you see fit and explore the ingredients in season locally where you live.
Cooking Moroccan and Puerto Rican recipes is a craft I have been developing almost my entire life. Being able to share classic family recipes like this Moroccan harira, my mom's flan or these empanadillas is a creative outlet that feeds me just as much a it does you!
You can also keep up with me through the Schmooze & Booze podcast, where my cousin and I catch up weekly to talk about life over a glass of wine.
5+ years of photography and recipe development means lots of experience working with brands.
I provide food and product photography / videography, as well as recipe development services to national food labels.
Interested in hiring Salima's Kitchen to feature your product?