Looking into the social media cooking pot
Hailing from the province of Salzburg, Verena Schnegg is a passionate cook and baker. Her parents successfully ran an inn for years, and Verena loved to be in the thick of it, daring to peek into the pots and cook. These days, she spends a lot time in the kitchen herself, preparing a variety of dishes for family and friends. This hobby has now become her profession. This trained nurse reaches thousands of followers every day with her blog and her Instagram account – vrenali.kocht. Here she presents clever ideas and recipes that can be easily cooked at home. The Thermomix® expert shoots the stunning photos herself.
We talked to Verena to find out where her passion for cooking comes from, how much work she really puts in to her social media presence, and how important home is to her.
Chatting to Verena Schnegg
Thermomix is a fascinating thing for many people. Was it the same for you from the get-go?
Initially, I wasn’t that excited when my husband gave me the Thermomix as a gift. Then again, the device wasn’t really that well known in our region back then and I had no clue what to do with it. I can cook, I thought to myself, what am I supposed to do with the Thermomix? Of course I tried out my new kitchen helper and quickly realised that it wasn’t about whether or not you can cook. The Thermomix is a wonderful aid for day-to-day kitchen activities. This experience pretty much kicked off our future together in the kitchen.
When did you receive your first Thermomix?
It was the TM5 in 2016, a present from my husband.
Have you always been a cooking enthusiast and, above all, so creative, or did all of that come with the TM6?
No, I actually got it all from my parents when I was a child. They taught me about good cooking early on, and I was fortunate that they always made honestly prepared dishes. I guess I adopted that.
How did you get into show cooking professionally on social media as vrenali.kocht?
Thermomix presented a new model in 2018, the TM 6, with lots of new features. Back then you could earn your own Thermomix through resale. I felt rather nervous before I held my first cooking evening at home. Everyone loved it and immediately recommended me to others. One thing led to the other. Cooking had always been my passion and Thermomix enabled me to pass a bit of that passion on. I started to enjoy presenting this device.
Instagram is just an excellent channel to gain great reach in no time. I jumped at the opportunity, renamed my private account and started my channel “vrenali.kocht” – with rather patchy photos. I wanted to change that, and I’ve invested a lot of time and patience to make my pictures and account the way they are now.
Was it an idea by the Vorwerk company?
No, the idea of presenting my dishes and ideas on Instagram was all me. I’m not the first person to present herself on Instagram. I put all of my passion into plating the dishes, finding the right spot in the house with the perfect light, and upgrading my camera equipment, and my pictures have become better and better over time. I started to like that.
Each and every one of your posts looks super perfect, from the ingredients to the finished meal and the awesomely grand pictures. Who inspires you? Do you have professional training?
No, I’ve had no professional training. I’m generally a person that has to do everything myself. Also, I’m a bit of a perfectionist – when it comes to my food and my pictures. I think it was this combination that came to life and created my feed.
How much work goes into your posts? Everything always looks so easy, but it probably isn’t.
Creating a post where everything is just as it should be is very time-consuming. But it also sort of flows into my daily routine. I’ve taken one of my everyday tasks – cooking – and turned it into a career. Sure, it takes more time to beautify the food for a photo, making it Instagram-ready. That involves a lot of time and effort, something that usually isn’t visible. Photography, however, is a lot of fun for me. Even that doesn’t really feel like ‘work’.
These days you also promote Pampered Chef and various other products. Did these companies approach you?
Actually, more and more of my customers inquired about these products, which is why I bought some myself just to give them a try. And that’s just what happened – Pampered Chef is known for its stoneware, and clearly, I fell under their products’ spell. I can actually recommend everything with good conscience.
Basically, it’s very important to me that I remain authentic in my actions and recommendations, and that I only advertise what suits me; products I’m confident about.
This job can be easily arranged around having a family. When do you plan to return to your original profession as a nurse?
Right, this job can be perfectly combined with family life. I can plan the cooking evenings by talking to my husband, I can be there for my kids during the day, and we can keep the weekends to ourselves to go on trips together or simply do nothing at all.
I’ve always been very passionate about my job as a nurse. I worked in the casualty ward in Schwarzach hospital; a very demanding yet wonderful occupation that I may go back to at a later time. For now I’ve decided to continue as a self-employed consultant. That allows me to control my earnings and working hours. I have discovered another passion for myself that is at least as fulfilling; probably in part because I can live out my creativity at home with my children. At a time where I’m still needed it’s great for me to set my own hours. As long as I’m still enjoying it as much as I am now, I’ll continue with Thermomix, Pampered Chef, my blog, Instagram account, and my cookbooks.
Your cookbook ‘Sommerhits aus dem Thermomix’ (Eng. ‘Summer hits from the Thermomix’) was a big success. Are you already planning a second book?
The cookbook was a collaboration with Bia of håndwerk. This undertaking would have been impossible without the lovely Bia. The layout and graphics were all her, while I took care of the photos and recipes. This great collaboration resulted in the first book. AND yes, we are already making plans for the next project. But I can’t say more about it yet.
Like everything about you, your online presence www.vrenalikocht.com is very professional and clearly arranged. Who consults with you on that?
Bia of håndwerk also took care of my website, including the conception, composition and layout. I’m so grateful for our collaboration. Not only does she take care of my site, she also always helps out with great and professional advice.
You like picking your own herbs and vegetables from your raised bed and head to the nearby forest to forage. Why is that important to you?
I generally love using regional, season produce, including from my own garden. I have two raised beds where I grow herbs and vegetables. I might not have green fingers, but I love having the things I plant in spring eventually land on our plates. My ‘garden skills’ are enough for our kitchen!
We also enjoy heading to the forest for a blueberry and chanterelle forage. We use them in classic dishes, such as Schwarzbeer-Nock’n (small blueberry dumplings) and Eierschwammerlgulasch (chanterelle goulash). I’ve also taken an increased interest in herbs, as a lot grow in our area. Nature gives us so much that we don’t even notice. I also use them a lot in ointments and syrups, and I’ve set up a small medicine chest for us.
It was my grandma who instilled a lot of her knowledge in me. She used to be a cook in her own inn. A lot of recipes were created there, and I still cook them to this day.
What does home mean to you? Do your recipe ideas reflect that feeling?
I’m 100% St. Veit. My husband loves to tease me about it every now and then. BUT since he’s been living in this beautiful place himself, he fully understands. We enjoy the peace, the sun and the nature all around. Home for me also means the surrounding mountains: for hiking, for skiing. We grew up with them and I wouldn’t want to miss out on them. It goes without saying that I want to pass this feeling and this awareness on to my children and allow them to grow up ‘gently’, as we did. People still know their neighbours here; you say hello and help each other out. That’s another fun part of my current profession. I get to visit a lot of people I know, whereas I wouldn’t have time in a regular daily routine to maintain contact with them. Sometimes I get to stay a bit longer at a cooking evening and join in on some lively conversations.
Home and food mean a lot to my family and I. Come to think about it, food has always been important to my family. Everyone sets some time aside to eat, sits around a table and talks. Sometimes more, sometimes less. We also talk about the dish: whether it tastes good, what’s in it, and the question “how did you do it?” frequently pops up. I always try to find a good mix of produce, origin and seasonality. This ways, there’s always a bit of home in my recipes.