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Shannon Stiles

I have been drawn to food and cooking as long as I can remember.  In fact, some of my earliest memories are centered on my great-grandmother’s kitchen.  My first real experience with cooking was helping her knead bread dough.  Later in Cub Scouts, one of the badges I actually remember earning was for cooking a meal.  When my parents and grandparents hosted parties and holiday gatherings, I always wanted to be in the kitchen, helping and learning. 

My love for food translated into a reverence for restaurants and my family took me to eat at a wide variety of places so I started expanding my palate at an early age.  I should have gone into the culinary arts straight out of high school.  But I didn’t. I also loved history, politics, and languages, which are in a way also different flavors of the world.  I ended up with a bachelor’s degree in Latin American History and then continued on to graduate school to study political science. 

As a professor of international relations, specializing in Latin America and the Caribbean (mostly due to my fascination with Hemingway, Jimmy Buffet and Miami Vice) my travels to give lectures and do research have given me the opportunity to explore cultures through food.  I sought out the most interesting local restaurants, some were big and well known, and others were two table, mom-and-pop operations, while still others were roadside carts.

Currently I am writing about the foods, cultures and the locales that produce some of the best flavors in the world.

Christa Stiles

I received my first camera as a gift from grandma when I was 7 and began learning about photography through 4-H. I loved photography from the start as a way to share my fascination with the beauty of the world around us as well as to capture a moment, preserve memories and share stories.  I enjoy testing my husband’s new recipes and then capturing the flavors and the joy they bring in a photo.  The Beach Blanket Bistro and Beach Blanket Brunch Cookbooks are the perfect combination of my love for photography with his passion for cooking together with their shared love of travel and culinary exploration.