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Crafting Culinary Delights and Urban Adventures: A Profile of Carla Cardello

In the bustling world of culinary innovation and urban exploration, Alloy 26 member, Carla Cardello remains a leader of creativity and inspiration. As the mastermind behind the esteemed Homemade in the Kitchen Blog and the captivating City Life Adventures Photography business, Carla's journey is a testament to passion, adaptability, and artistic ingenuity. 

A lot has changed since we last checked in with her.

Central to Carla's success is her ability to adapt and evolve in response to changing circumstances. As the pandemic disrupted traditional avenues of client work, Carla seized the opportunity to explore new revenue streams, including selling her captivating city photographs online and at local art markets. Also, since the pandemic, there has been a growing interest in cooking for one or two people, and Carla has been focused on crafting recipes tailored for small households.

“With everyone being at home and cooking small batch, my blog traffic really skyrocketed. It was right before Easter, so I was doing a lot of recipes like small, little hams and little lamb chops for Easter dinner,” Carla said.

This niche hasn’t gone away. If anything, the concept has gained traction with rising food costs and when considering how to eliminate food waste.

Carla says, “There are empty nesters, or unfortunately widows. Whatever the reason, lots of people are back to just cooking for themselves again. So, there's a market for that… cooking and recipes for one.”

Carla is committed to addressing the unique needs of her readers. She emphasized the importance of minimizing waste and maximizing flavor, ensuring that her recipes remained accessible and approachable.

“I really consider the ingredients in my recipes,” Carla said. “For example, I just made small-batch blueberry muffins. Instead of using only egg whites, like a lot of other blueberry muffin recipes, my recipe calls for the whole egg so there is no yoke waste.”

She also uses the whole egg in her cake recipes, highlighting that there is no difference between a white or yellow cake other than the yoke. They both are vanilla-flavored.

Carla focuses on creating recipes with pantry staple ingredients. “I try to keep the ingredients kind of basic… in my personal cooking I use stuff like miso, tamarind paste, anchovy paste… but my readers won't do that.”

She suggests recipes that have similar ingredients to help minimize food waste

“I know cabbage is a hard one, because even the tiniest cabbage, I still get like two or three meals out of it. So, in those cases, I try to pair up recipes.”

One of the hallmarks of Homemade in the Kitchen is Carla’s ability to create recipes that cater to various dietary needs without compromising on flavor. From gluten-free treats to vegan delights, she ensures that everyone can find something to enjoy. Her commitment to inclusivity in her recipes has earned her a loyal following and numerous accolades in the culinary community.

Carla has worked with several notable brands. Some examples are Sabra Hummus, Primanti Bros, and Mrs. T’s Pierogies. Carla had partnered with Mrs. T’s Pierogies to create this Pittsburgh Pierogy Nachos recipe!

Some of her other brand partnerships have included:

-             New York Beef Council in relation to

-             Red Star

-             Nielsen Massey Vanilla

-             Musselman’s Apple Butter

Whether Carla is in the studio, photographing her recipes, or out in the city, you can expect to see her with her camera.

“I'm a Canon girl,” Carla says.

She discussed her approach to photography, mentioning her use of all-natural light and minimal equipment.

“I do own two lights for when the occasion calls,” Carla explains. “If I have to use a white background for a product shot, or very occasionally if I have to shoot at night to meet a deadline. All-natural light is so much easier. For editing too… I feel like it’s easier.”

The key factors are knowing the artistic style you want to portray, finding the right time of day, and locating where the sun will be at that time.

She explains that there’s a lot you can do with natural light, especially regarding shadows and contrast,
“…depending on if you're by a south-facing window, the light's more dynamic, whereas west or east, the light is softer and straighter. On cloudy days, light is diffused so it’s not as harsh. When I shoot on rainy days, I'll go darker, and moodier with my stuff…darker background, darker props.”

Carla keeps it simple. She shoots handheld and avoids lugging around her tripod whenever she can.  

She shares, “In the studio, I have a macro lens to help get the close-ups…I use four lenses for the city stuff.”

Carla has a super wide, a regular, a mid-zoom, and what she calls a super zoom lens.

“Super zoom is what I used for the eclipse,” Carla said.

Being a photographer requires you to be innovative, and to improvise. The image below shows Carla photographing the 2024 Eclipse in totality with her makeshift Eclipse camera lens.

“I had to make one. I usually am all about buying it, especially when it comes to mitigating the risk of damaging the camera, but the filter that you can buy works by screwing it on,” Carla explains.

“I have a clear UV filter on my camera lens, and I was afraid if I bought the solar filter and tried to put it on, it wouldn't come off, so I didn't want to take that chance.”

Carla shares how she created her own lens for the occasion.

“I took a lens hood. Then, I bought the special solar paper. It’s basically the same paper that's on Eclipse glasses and taped it to the end. Once it's all taped, you have your lens hood. Lens hoods just easily slip on…So with the solar paper, as long as there aren’t any tears or holes you're good to go!”

Check out the results of Carla’s work from the rare Celestial event below!

Just like the moon, we all go through phases. Sometimes we’re full, sometimes we only show a fraction of our potential.

“Sometimes there is no motivation,” Carla candidly shares.“There are times when you just burn out.”

When this happens, Carla takes time off. “Christmas is a good example because Q4 is very big for me. I make a lot of recipes because that’s when brands have money to spend. And from the city side, it’s also my busiest time. People want to buy Christmas gifts, so I get really burnt out.”

This past January, Carla took three weeks off. These breaks help her stay motivated throughout the year.

Carla says, “If I need a mental break, I will take a half-day or even a whole Friday off.”

Managing two successful businesses requires a blend of creativity, discipline, and passion.

Carla’s day-to-day life is a testament to her dedication. Mornings are spent in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes and sharing them with her followers, while in the evenings she’s out capturing golden hour and sunsets. This balance allows her to continuously fuel her creativity and find inspiration in every corner of her life.

There are several avenues you can take to explore Carla’s work:

  1. Visit her main website,, which is split into sections for both food and city photography.
  2. Check out her Etsy shop, City Life Adventures, where you can find her city photography prints.
  3. Follow her Instagram account, also named City Life Adventures, for updates and previews of her city photography.
  4. For recipes, visit her food blog, Homemade in the Kitchen. You can follow her Homemade in the Kitchen Instagram page.

These platforms offer different options for viewing and purchasing Carla's work, so you can choose the one that best suits your preferences. Let us celebrate Carla's remarkable talents and unwavering dedication to her craft, inspiring us all to embrace the beauty of everyday moments and the magic of artistic expression.

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