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AUM alumnus Stacey Little cooks up recipes to bring people to the table

Standing on a stool in his grandmother’s kitchen as she kneaded dough for biscuits, Stacey Little (’04) learned the special meaning of Southern cooking — its ability to bring people together.

Stacey Little sitting on a kitchen counterMemories of him watching his grandmother make buttermilk biscuits from that stool still inspire him today, said Little, founder of the popular food blog

“I do a buttermilk biscuit cooking class and it is always the most popular and sells out,” Little said. “It’s my favorite class to teach because there is something about teaching people to make a biscuit, the experience and process of being in the kitchen with someone. As Southerners it’s how we tell others we love them, we cook for them. It’s kind of this silent expression of love.”

Little, a 2004 communications studies graduate, launched his food blog 12 years ago after leaving behind a career in marketing. Getting people to the table through his Southern meals that were family traditions has been the recipe for his blog’s success, Little said.

“It’s been interesting because there has certainly been an evolution around what I do,” he said.

Today, his food blog,, easily generates 2 million views a month in addition to the blog’s 100,000 email subscribers and 22,500 Instagram and 300,000 Facebook followers.

Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, Little’s blog has kept a busy pace because of the demand for new recipes while people are working from home and students are learning virtually.

“Fortunately, cooking is something that is very visual and it’s something that conveys really well on camera or online and you don’t have to be in the studio with someone to show them how to cook,” he said. “The world is going very media focused, so people are coming to expect this type of cooking. It’s been a natural transition.”

From communications to cooking

After graduating from AUM, he went to work as the marketing director for Legacy Partners in Environmental Education, then the state’s largest environmental education organization, Little said.

Stacey Little cooking in a kitchen preparing foodIt was a natural progression from his time as an AUM student working as managing editor of the AUMnibus, the university’s student newspaper, and being involved in the student chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama (PRCA), Little said.

“My interest in journalism started while at AUM with the AUMnibus,” he said.

In his spare time while juggling his marketing job, Little pursued his love for journalism by writing restaurant reviews for the Montgomery Advertiser. He realized he had a loyal following of fans of his work after the newspaper cut the entertainment section that featured his reviews in 2008.

“When the Montgomery Advertiser pulled the ‘Go’ section, people started reaching out to me asking if there was some other way I could still do reviews because they really enjoyed reading about new restaurants and finding old favorites,” he said. “So, I actually started as way to do those restaurant reviews.”

Little’s food blog evolved when a friend requested his recipe for pecan chewies after a dinner gathering at his house. Instead of emailing the recipe, he used his blog to share the recipe.

“I soon saw people going to that link constantly for the recipe, so I thought why don’t I just put up a picture of it,” he said. “I had done and learned black and white photography while at AUM and so at that point I started adding digital photography to the website. I also started digging through more of my files for recipes I had grown up with that were classic Southern recipes to share on the blog.”

“My website just grew this way and it grew to the point that I completely stopped doing restaurant reviews because I just didn’t have the time. People were coming to my website just for those recipes, so I started focusing on that solely.”

Becoming a household name

With the growing popularity of his blog came requests for Little to work with national brands to develop and market his recipes and create new ones. A test kitchen in downtown Prattville soon followed for Little to conduct cooking classes and work with local media, such as WSFA-TV, for cooking segments.

Stacey Little sitting on a table“Moving from this fun side gig that slowly grew into something you’re doing full time, you’re put in a new situation,” he said. “I have been fortunate that I’ve been put in a situation that has created lots of opportunities. In addition to just doing the website, I do a lot of recipe development and work with a lot of national brands.”

Working with a small staff spread across Virginia, California and Chicago, Little has created content, including photography and new recipes, for national brands such as Kraft, Hines, Borden Cheese, Martha White, White Lily and Betty Crocker.

“It perfectly aligns with what I am doing for the website because the recipes are placed on their product packages or websites, which allows me to get in the kitchen and create something new that people can make,” he said.

By the mid-2000s, the popularity of Little’s recipes and food blog caught the ear of a book publisher.

“An editor had been following my food blog for quite some time and she sent me a blind email one day saying she really thought I had a voice and knew how to connect with people,” Little said.

Little said he initially turned down the opportunity, feeling there would be a disconnect from his growing readership of Southern cooks. With a promise from his editor that the book could be written with his Southern colloquiums and expressions, Little released his book, “The Southern Bite Cookbook,” in 2014, featuring 150 recipes from four generations of his family’s kitchen. His cookbook became a Wall Street Journal Bestseller and earned Little a spot on the Today Show.

“I remember early on when I was doing my book tour someone came up to me and said: ‘Stacey, when I was reading your book, it was as if you were just sitting across the table chatting with me,’” he said. “I remember how important that feeling was to me, and I want to make sure I always maintain that. If you reach out, you’re going to hear from me and sometimes people are still surprised by that.”

Paying it forward

Little said his time as an AUM student prepared him to not only pursue a career in his major, but to be a successful entrepreneur.

“My brain was in marketing and communications when I started at AUM, but AUM did a really good job of preparing me for my career now because although I’m in the cooking business, it’s also filled with marketing and public relations,” said Little, who also earned a certification in nonprofit management when he graduated.

a couple of people that are standing in a kitchen preparing food“The nonprofit side taught me how to be fiscally responsible, which of course has helped me build a successful business. My black and white photography class at AUM gave me the basics of photography to enable me to shoot photos for my business when I first started out. It has been key to a lot of the brands I work with to be able to get in the kitchen to develop, create and provide them with beautiful images.”

For those looking to follow in his footsteps, Little said he always tries to be a big encourager of others, whether it’s helping someone get a recipe to turn out great or paying it forward as a proud AUM alum.

“AUM felt like home for me,” he said. “I remember being hesitant to stay at home and go to school. I felt like I wanted that big college experience, but I decided there was something comfortable about AUM. What that ended up being was having professors who knew my name and being a part of a close-knit community of people who I could call on anytime I needed help with something. My college professors even came to my wedding. AUM is a place that allowed me to develop meaningful relationships in addition to getting an education.”

Little feels those early relationships he formed as an AUM student — along with coming from a family of cooks — were all important to helping him bring his career full circle.

“In all honesty, I never set out to do any of these things,” Little said of his career in cooking and becoming a book author. “I feel like a path was put before me and I followed it in blind faith and have been rewarded in having a great business. So, if there is something that I can do to make preparing a meal easier for families, it’s my goal to get people to the table.”

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