About Us

Alex and Nicole, founders of The Candid Cooks.

Hi, we’re Nicole and Alex! We love to cook (and eat) delicious, wholesome meals inspired by our favorite restaurant dishes.

What began as a journey to become better home chefs has quickly turned into a mission to empower you in the kitchen, too. We believe that everyone deserves to experience the joy of cooking high quality food at home, no matter your skill level! That’s why we share approachable, easy to follow recipes for everyday life here on our blog.

As two engineers, we’re obsessed with why and how things work. So we’re not just going to hand you a recipe and wish you luck – we’ll always explain the reason behind everything, from ingredient selection down to the cooking method and every little decision in between. Because ultimately, our goal is to give you the tools to learn, grow, and become better home chefs alongside us.

The Candid Cooks

Our name is a promise to always be honest with you.

When we started this blog in 2020, we were what you would call very average home cooks. Our goal was to push ourselves to learn through experience, while at the same time absorbing knowledge from every cookbook and MasterClass we could get our hands on. So it should come as no surprise that we’ve had plenty of “cooking fails” along the way.

While we’ve honed our skills since then and are now capable of creating recipes we never could have dreamed of back in 2020, we’re still constantly pushing ourselves to learn more. Which means we’re still failing, because we learn far more when things don’t go perfectly in the kitchen than when they do!

You can count on us to share all of our experiences – both successes and failures – because if we learned something new in the process, chances are it can help you learn, too. We hope that with each new recipe we share, you learn something new and feel inspired to go experiment in the kitchen yourself.

Nicole & Alex's signatures

Why You’ll Love Our Recipes

Have you ever followed a recipe exactly, only to find the final dish looks nothing like it’s supposed to?

Here’s the thing: a lot of recipes are difficult to get right in your own kitchen. And it’s not because the recipe is bad, or that you’re a bad cook. The reality is that there’s only so much we can do as recipe developers to distill all the nuances of cooking down into a simple list of ingredients and steps.

The unfortunate news is, you can’t always take a recipe at face value and end up with successful results.

The good news is, each of our recipes will equip you with the knowledge and skills to cook intuitively rather than following recipes word for word.

Our goal is to make sure that our recipes are approachable for anyone, with simple, accessible ingredients, clearly written instructions, and thorough explanations. We want you to know the why and how behind everything, so that you feel empowered to question the decisions that go into a recipe and gain the confidence to deviate when necessary.

Each new recipe we develop is a learning opportunity for us, which means that each new recipe we share is a learning opportunity for you. We’ve put in the work to figure out the perfect ingredients and the right methods so you don’t have to. But we’ll never stop explaining what we’ve learned along the way (with some candor, of course) so that one day, you might be creating your own recipes, too!

Our Philosophy On Food

Food is more than just sustenance for our bodies.

While the main purpose of food is to nourish our bodies, we believe it’s also meant to nourish our souls. Whether you’re cooking dinner on a normal Tuesday night or hosting a celebratory dinner party, food is central to our lives – so why not enjoy it to the fullest? 

After all, the average human spends about 4.5 years of their life eating 🤯

Beyond how much of our time is dedicated to food, there’s so much more to why we should enjoy all we can out of preparing and eating a meal. Food can be a way to show someone you love them. Or, it can be a way to honor culture and tradition. Simply enjoying a good meal can release feel-good chemicals in the brain.

The perfect recipe can make all the difference in finding joy through food, no matter the circumstances – and no matter your skill level.

What you choose to eat can have an impact on your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It can even impact those who you might be cooking for, like your spouse or your children. That’s why we like to think of our recipes in terms of why you might want to make them:

  • Had a hard day at work? Turn to a comfort food recipe to nourish your soul, or a 30 minute dinner if you don’t have the energy to spend any longer than that in the kitchen.
  • Want to cook something special for your partner to show them you care? Try a date night recipe that’ll make them feel like you’re dining at a 5-star restaurant.
  • Tasked with bringing dessert to your friend’s holiday potluck but don’t know how to bake? Wow them with a homemade fudge recipe they’ll want to get their hands on as soon as they try it.

You don’t have to be a professional chef to cook something that can bring you, or others, joy. You don’t even have to be a mediocre cook. You just need the right recipe – that’s what we’re here for! – and a willingness to learn.

A charcuterie board with bread, dipping oils, cheddar, manchego, soppressata, prosciutto, green grapes, jam, and spices

How To Find The Perfect Recipe

Food is an integral part of our lives, from the mundane weeknight dinners to the game day parties and potlucks with friends. That’s why we’ve organized our recipes into every category imaginable – so it’s as easy as possible for you to find what you’re looking for, whether you need a family meal you can make in the slow cooker or a romantic date night dinner for Valentine’s Day.

If you’re new to our site, we recommend starting here. Otherwise, use the categories in the navigation bar or the search function to find your next favorite recipe!

Work With Us

Interested in partnering with us on a project? We are always open to new opportunities! Click the button below to contact us.

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Noteworthy News

A bowl of spicy dumpling soup with chopsticks and a spoon
Winners of Kikkoman’s Recipe of the Month Social Media Contest (September 2022)

We shared our Spicy Szechuan Dumpling Soup recipe, made with Kikkoman low-sodium soy sauce, on Instagram and were selected as the winners of their Recipe of the Month contest! Get the recipe here.

Top 5 Finalist for Food52’s “Your Best Dish Disguised as a Sandwich” Recipe Contest (July 2022)

Our Cheesy Chicken Alfredo Sandwiches made the list of top 5 finalists for Food52’s sandwich recipe contest! Entries were judged on relevance, organization, and ease of preparation. Get the recipe here!

A chicken alfredo sandwich with cheese sauce
Strawberry avocado toast with balsamic vinegar
Winners of the CA Strawberries #MillionWaysToStrawberry Challenge (May 2022)

Our Strawberry Balsamic Avocado Toast was selected as one of three winners for the California Strawberries #MillionWaysToStrawberry Instagram Challenge. Entries were judged on creativity, appeal, and ability for others to recreate. Get the recipe here!

A Little More Background

We met freshman year in our Intro to Engineering class and spent our college years trying new restaurants, hunting down local food trucks, and cooking all we could in our small shared kitchens. But it wasn’t until we graduated that we realized how passionate we both were about cooking. Loving food is one thing, but loving to cook is totally different.

Cooking used to always be about the food; a means to an end. But by dedicating more of our time to cooking, learning about the techniques and traditions behind different cuisines, and increasing our awareness of where our food comes from, we began to appreciate and find joy in the process of cooking. And that’s why starting this blog fundamentally shifted our mindset in the kitchen and helped us become better home chefs.

We now have our own kitchen with more space for groceries and cookware, which makes a huge difference in how enjoyable cooking truly is. Fresh, high-quality ingredients can make good recipes great – especially when those ingredients are thoughtfully and purposefully prepared with the right tools. Cooking is a journey, so by approaching every step of the process with intention your chances of success are higher, and you might just learn to love cooking too! (It’ll be fun, we promise.)

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