Today, I’d like to try something different. I’d like to introduce you all to a friend of mine — Rochelle and I went to UC Santa Barbara together, and I unfortunately transferred schools before I realized how amazingly talented and creative she is. But even if I did realize it back then, I probably wouldn’t have appreciated her creativity as much as I do in this very moment, naturally because we were both in very different places in our lives six or seven years ago.
One of my closest friends encouraged me to reach out to her because we had both transformed our hobbies into our jobs — and we share the passion that comes with absolutely loving everything about your job. If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ve surely followed my journey as someone chasing a dream. I couldn’t help but share Rochelle’s story with you.
So, ladies and gents, this is Rochelle, and her handmade woodworking business based out of her home in Los Angeles. Her cheese boards honestly do make the perfect gift (and start around $48), so with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day coming up, I strongly encourage you all to check out her beautiful website and her Etsy shop. And, if you enjoy the creative process in all of its glory as much as I do, follow her on Instagram @primitivereserve. She sent me the beautiful cheese board you see in these photos — and you’ll be sure to see it in many more recipes, as I was instantly smitten with how it turned out in photos!
Goat Cheese and Jalapeño Pop Tart recipe — after the jump.
Full Name: Rochelle Chavez
When you started Primitive Reserve: October 2012
Educational background, work experience highlights: B.A. in Theater with a concentration in design from The University of California Santa Barbara and a M.F.A. in Production Design from The American Film Institute. Since graduating I’ve used my degrees in themed entertainment, interior design and now woodworking. Beyond Primitive Reserve I also work as an art director for a themed entertainment company.
Take us on a quick career bio. What’s the story behind Primitive Reserve? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about yourself, or about your work in general?
I started Primitive Reserve as a small side project to get my mind off of my day job as an art director. Spending my day behind a desk made me miss sketching designs and making products with my own hands. I started to draw different concepts from furniture to housewares, made a few miniature wood mock ups and eventually began to build my designs at full scale. Let’s just say I’ve been addicted to this handmade lifestyle ever since.
Learning more about myself/work in this process:
I immediately realized how much I love to create things from start to finish, the concept phase just isn’t enough anymore. I need to draw something and then make it a reality in order to get my creative fill.
How did you discover your passion for woodworking? What made you want to turn something you loved into your career?
I was always busy building sets and props in school. I love working with my hands and am incredibly happy when I can make things that others can appreciate, so woodworking has been a natural progression for me.
Do you have a career highlight yet?
Nina Garcia complimented my woodwork recently at the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena. I love her editorial work and should have been paying her the compliments, it was an unexpected and exciting moment for me.
Five years forward: Where do you see yourself and your business? In five years, I see myself creating more and enjoying a relaxed lifestyle, perhaps on a small farm with a little woodshop. The ultimate goal is for Primitive Reserve to become my full time job creating what I want and hoping others enjoy it as well.
Five years back: Where were you five years ago, and what advice would you have given yourself back then? Five years ago I was in my last year of undergrad at UC Santa Barbara. Advice for my younger self: “Let go of expectations! Things don’t always turn out as planned and you will love it.”
Goat Cheese and Jalapeño Pop Tarts
Goat Cheese and Jalapeño Pop Tarts
Ready-made pie crust (or make your own) – one round pie crust makes about 4 tarts
1 cup goat cheese
1 egg (scrambled, for an egg wash)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Using gloves, slice your jalapeños in half, and remove the inner stem and some of the seeds (depending on how hot you like them). Then, slice them into 1/4-inch strips, and then cross-cut them into 1/4-inch squares. heat about a teaspoon of olive oil in a small skillet, and saute the peppers until the edges turn the slightest bit brown.
Then, transfer to a food processor, and pulse grind a few times. When they don’t really get any smaller, add the goat cheese, and blend until fully mixed. Set aside.
Unroll your thawed pie crust — if it’s thick, roll it down to about a 1/8-inch. It will rise a bit and soak up some of the moisture of our filling, so we don’t want them too thick. Then, using a sharp knife (and a ruler if drawing a straight line is as challenging for you as it is for me), cut a rectangular grid into your pie crust. Three-by-four sounds like a good measurement, so yes, aim for that.
Arrange half of the crusts onto a large baking sheet, and spread a healthy dollop of filling onto each piece of dough. Then, carefully cover each piece with the corresponding cover. Use a fork to seal the edges of each pastry. Garnish with a few pretty slices of pepper, and brush with a light layer of a beaten egg — this will help with the crispy crust.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.