Q and A with Rosie Shennan, Chef and Food Influencer @byrosielouise

by Jan 20, 2023

How did you begin your career in food?

I always loved eating and loved cooking. When my mum became ill, I had to drop out of university for almost a year when she was moved into a hospice and passed away. I didn’t really know what to do with myself and all the spare time, so I started cooking – and documenting it on Instagram (@byrosielouise)

Cooking was the only thing I could do that was vaguely helpful for everyone at home as well and one of the very few things at the time that brought anyone any joy!

After that, I returned to Oxford to finish my degree and then once graduating, I trained for a year at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London. 

Have you always wanted to work in this area?

Definitely when I was at university, it became clear, but before that I hadn’t a clue. Social media just wasn’t a thing then – but I’d definitely had an interest in food for absolutely ages. It just hadn’t really occurred to me that I could make it into a job! 

What’s your top piece of social media advice? 

Be consistent in your posting and make and post food that people want to make and are able to! 

I love following really fancy food accounts, but they don’t inspire me to get into the kitchen and cook – I love those accounts posting food you actually fancy making for dinner. 

What’s your favourite medium to use and why?

I’ll always be an Instagram fan but I’m increasingly enjoying my TikTok account. It’s fun and there are great dog videos on there. 

Who is one of your biggest inspirations – either professionally or personally?

My great-aunt who taught me to cook and make food beautiful will always be the first person who really opened my eyes to how wonderful it could be. Cooking had never really been an activity in our house growing up, everyone loved food and eating, but we wouldn’t have ever made a cake for a fun afternoon activity. 

When I was out in the USA and found out my mum was terminally-ill, I spent a lot of time cooking with my great-aunt before I was able to go home to be with my family. She taught me about baking, tarts, bread, gelato… and more than just moving through the motions of following a recipe. She taught me about beautiful platters and flowers from the garden, how to bring that food to life. She taught me about the power of two women in a kitchen, chatting and grieving – generations apart but cooking together, united.

It was that energy that I channelled a year later, when I dropped out of university. Something had been ignited in that New England kitchen. 

What’s the hardest thing about your job?

It doesn’t really ever switch off, which I love but also hate. I will be working every weekend and every bank holiday for the foreseeable years… It can also be quite lonely and uncertain at times as often work isn’t guaranteed or consistent.

If I’m shooting at home, unless my fiancee is working from home that day too, I can spend the whole day by myself. 

Which part of your job do you most enjoy? 

I love pretty much all of the work, which is amazing. I never thought I would be 27 and have already found something I literally can’t wait to get out of bed for in the morning. 

The people I work with and have met are just wonderful – creative, passionate, motivated – and mostly women. It’s amazing to see so many inspiring women earning great money in a stimulating job, with children and flexibility. 

Do you find it easy to balance work and play?

The trouble is, my work so often ends up being play that I end up pl-orking all the time. Cooking is what I do to switch off but it’s also work. It means I love a lot of my working time but equally I don’t ever just play, it’s still work. 

Talk us through your typical day – from waking up to going to bed. 

If I’m in London, I’ll wake up and have a cup of tea (essential) hop on the tube and head in to see a client for the day. I’ll be shooting, eating, writing, editing there and then normally I’d go on to an event in the evening, to make the most of my time in the city. 

If I’m back at the cottage, I’ll wake up and have a cup of tea, then the day will probably involve recipe writing and cooking, shooting and editing. The beauty is every day is so different – they never really look the same!

About Emily Eaves

Co Founder and Editor at To Work or Play, Emily has been Freelance Copywriting for over 10 years. She is passionate about food, drink, travel, design and finding ways to keep her two children out of trouble.

With a background in Luxury Restaurant and Hotel PR, Emily moved from London to Dorset in 2019. She now spends weekends at the beach and daydreams about her vegetable garden.