Anina Belle Giannini: Mom of the Month [December 2022]

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The Washington, DC area is full of amazing moms. There are working moms, stay-at-home moms, single moms, moms of multiples, foster moms, adoptive moms, etc. We want to highlight some of those moms like Anina Belle Giannini! Each month we will feature one special mom as the mom of the month. Know a fellow amazing local mom here? Nominate them here!

Anina Belle Giannini

Meet our December Mom of the Month: Anina Belle Giannini

Anina Belle Giannini is a Canadian/American hotelier, writer, food blogger and passionate home cook. She lives with her husband, Chef Sébastien Giannini, their 5-year-old daughter, Valentina, and 2-year-old son, Pierre, in McLean, Virginia.  Raised in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada, Anina Belle’s love for food & wine started at an early age. She deepened her appreciation for the culinary world while working at wineries and in restaurants while obtaining her Business Degree at the University of British Columbia Okanagan.

During a University exchange to the French Riviera in her early twenties, Anina Belle met her husband, a French Chef. They were married in Nice and lived 8 delicious years in the South of France before her career in luxury hospitality, as a sales and marketing leader for hotel brands such as Le Meridien, Ritz-Carlton, and Four Seasons, moved the couple to Montreal, QC and then to Washington, DC where Anina Belle is currently Director of Public Relations for Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC.

After the birth of her daughter in 2017, Anina Belle launched lechefswife.com, a French food blog, with a distinctive French Riviera flair, dedicated to translating the fancy French cooking of her Michelin-Star-trained husband into simple, delicious meals for busy home cooks, like herself. Her favorite thing to do on the weekend is cook with her family – the kids love to get in the action and have become little Chefs themselves too.

What started as a hobby and creative outlet for Anina Belle has grown into a thriving food blog with tens of thousands of readers each month, live cooking classes with Alliance Française Washington, DC and a vibrant Instagram community @lechefswife where Anina Belle shares recipes for cooking delicious French food at home.

Anina and her husband Sébastien Giannini

Here is our Q&A with Anina Belle Giannini:

1. What is the best advice you have for Moms looking to pursue their passion projects?

Start. Just start and start small. You have no idea where it will lead you and that is ok. I think the beautiful thing about pursuing passion projects as an adult is that there is a lot less pressure. You don’t have to make a career out of it – you likely already have a career. I re-discovered ballet a couple of years ago after 20 years of not dancing and it is wonderful. In adult ballet classes there is no pressure to become a prima ballerina – you can just dance for the pleasure of it. I felt the same way when I started my food blog. It wasn’t even really a food blog when I started it, more of an online French lifestyle journal that I wrote in every couple of months (consistency was not my forté!). As I chipped away at the blog, following my curiosity, I fell more in love with it. I found purpose in what I was doing and spent more time on it, getting better at my craft. Taking photography lessons, becoming a better writer, learnin SEO. All of these things happened gradually.

I am grateful for having a full-time job as I discovered blogging as it helped take the pressure off succeeding right away. I did not rely on my blog to support my family – it fell into my leisure time. Now that it has grown, and continues to grow, I have more options and can make choices that fit my family and the life that we want to lead.

2. What lessons have you learned from your journey in food blogging?

a) You don’t know what you don’t know – so invest in yourself and ask for help! Where I really saw my blog grow is when I invested in it. Joining a mastermind, taking a course, attending a virtual blogger conference, or even just spending time online researching. They all helped me to grow. It is hard at first to spend money on your blog before it begins making money in return so choose wisely and sparsely but always continue to learn and grow.

What I didn’t expect is that what I was learning for my blog was also making me better at my job. I have become an expert in certain elements of my job that I wouldn’t necessarily have been without the blog.

b) Everything is a learning process, really don’t expect too much from the start. A lot fewer people care about what you are doing than you think they do (really, people are mostly thinking about themselves!) so tune out the noise and just chip away. I struggled with the concept of not producing (in my mind) 5-star content on my blog when I was used to doing it at work (with a team and significant budgets, of course). Lowering my expectations and just getting things done instead of trying to make them perfect really was freeing for me.

I used to send every blog post to my mom to proofread before I published on the blog. It was a weeks-long process to write even the smallest article. Once I let go of that notion of perfection and just got down to it, I realized I could accomplish so much more. Do I sometimes forget an ingredient in a recipe or publish a post with a spelling mistake? Sometimes. A reader will reach out and tell me and then I fix it. It reminds me that people are reading what I am writing and I appreciate it every time.

Anina and her two children

3. What tactics have you employed to balance motherhood, food blogging and your demanding hospitality position?

First, it feels like my current situation is working because it is in alignment with my family values. We value spending time together and we love cooking together so the blog is seen (mostly) as a source of enjoyment instead of work. There would be no balance if what I was doing wasn’t supported by my husband or in alignment with our family values. Cooking in the kitchen with our kids is quality family time and they are always learning something new.

Second, I truly believe that I developed a superpower as a mom that I wish I had been able to tap into in my twenties! I no longer wait for big stretches in time where I have nothing going on to begin a new project. I chip away. A 15-minute gap in the day is an opportunity. I think all moms learn to tap into this – you have to!

This efficiency has also made me better at work. I try not to let my work permeate all areas of my life as I did in my twenties and thirties. Usually, I get my work done in the time that I have allotted for it and try to stay strategic and intentional with my time. I have gotten better at doing focused work.

I am conscious of how I spend my time. I could scroll social media mindlessly for 30 minutes or I could create and post a reel about a recipe. I could watch a string of reality shows or I could write. I love to write so it feels restful to me. I listen to blogging podcasts (The Blogger Genius or Food Blogger Pro) when I am driving to work or out for a walk. I always learn something new that I can apply to my business.

Lastly, I plan. As much as I can. I plan for leisure time and for downtime in the same way that I plan to publish a recipe or launch a new concept at work. My husband and I have coffee together every morning before the kids get up and we begin our day. I break out my old school paper agenda that I love and we talk about the day and the week ahead. We cover everything from what our daughter will bring to show and share at school, to which recipe we want to publish next, to how we are going to manage childcare when either one of us has to work late. We are there for each other and I love these moments in our daily life.

Anina and her daughter at the Four Seasons for the Race to Beat Cancer

4. What’s Next?

At the Four Seasons, I am really excited to be wrapping up a big season of annual charitable events that I have been organizing. From Race to Beat Cancer benefiting Sibley Memorial Hospital to The Georgetown Wine & Dine Weekend benefiting World Central Kitchen to Four Seasons Loves First Responders – an annual Thanksgiving feast for DC First responders, we have been very busy at the hotel. In December we launch Light up the Season with its Holiday decorations, Teddy Bear Teas, and Holiday Market benefitting Children’s National Hospital that I am so excited to see come to fruition. I love that I am able to help worthy causes in my work.

For Le Chef’s Wife we are excited to be launching our own line of herbs and spices this winter.  My husband has a recipe for an authentic Herbes de Provence from his Grandmother that is like nothing that you can find here – it makes a Roast Chicken or Vegetable stew taste absolutely amazing! We have included them in a beautiful French Cuisine Gift box that will be available through Best French Forever for the holidays.

Do you know an amazing mom? Nominate a mom of the month here!

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