Kelsey Banfield – The Naptime Chef

When her hobby collided with her professional life it was “an eye opening experience.” Kelsey Banfield was a self-professed foodie and found her first job at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, putting together a collection of recipes to create a charitable cookbook to benefit the hospital. As it was being compiled, Rizzoli Publishing jumped on board and the collection of recipes turned into a professionally produced cookbook in conjunction with The Society and Florence Fabricant, the venerable New York Times food writer. Kelsey’s job was to see the book through the process from design to publication. Her first baby was born 1 month after the book hit the stores in 2007. She was not sure what her next career move would be, but she was sure that it would be in food.

Kelsey says, “Before my daughter was born my husband and I enjoyed our time cooking and eating. We had a blast trying out new recipes every week. My life as a foodie was in top form and time was on my side. There was nothing I couldn’t or wouldn’t make, and nobody to tell me how to prioritize my time in the kitchen. And then we had a baby. My vision of maternity leave was me in the kitchen with a sleeping baby in the swing, whipping up dinner as usual. Boy, was I wrong about that.”

Most moms call dinner time “the witching hour,” a time when small children get cranky and need a lot of hands-on attention. Preparing a meal is almost impossible. But Kelsey wanted to keep her cooking passion alive in her new life with a baby. So she decided to do all the prep work while her daughter napped in the afternoon. She would dice, chop, prep and assemble everything during naptime, so that the meal was ready to finish off at 6:00.

One evening her playgroup of moms and babies were heading home to get “take out again,” when Kelsey pulled a homemade lasagna out of the oven as her husband walked in the door. The moms were stunned, “When did you make that?” Her response, “during nap time.” She was dubbed “The Naptime Chef” and her mom friends wanted her secret.

With her friends clamoring for recipes and ideas for being naptime chefs themselves, Kelsey started a collection of recipes reworked specifically to be made during naptime. She wondered if more moms might want the same mealtime solutions, so she decided to share her ideas through a blog called The Naptime Chef. Kelsey’s blog audience grew right away and she was noticed by a popular parenting blog called Babble, who asked her to write for them. Now she was getting paid for her naptime meal prep ideas, this was perfect. The Naptime Chef was hitting the big leagues, writing about food, doing food product reviews and of course provided great ideas for easy, healthy meals.

An agent soon came calling and Kelsey was on her way to publishing her own book. “I have to pinch myself, this is so much fun and so rewarding to be able to do something I love.” Putting together a proposal in 2010, she found a publisher and spent the summer of 2011 in the design phase, The Naptime Chef: Fitting Great Food Into Family Life is due to hit bookstores in the spring of 2012. Now that her first book is done, Kelsey spends her time writing and testing recipes. She loves to get everyone around her involved in her foodie passions, from her mom to her friends and she even offers in-home cooking lessons.

Kelsey says, “This whole experience has confirmed for me that this is something I want to do forever.” Her heroes in the kitchen are Nigella Lawson and Amanda Hesser. I would venture that there are a lot of moms out there making great meals during their kids’ naptimes who would call Kelsey their hero.

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Stay true to your love and the success will find you.

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