"Feeling the need to explore other paths, I actually spent my first two years at a liberal arts college in North Carolina. I quickly discovered how much I missed the War Eagle spirit—there really is nothing else like it—and transferred back shortly thereafter. I am so blessed to have graduated from Auburn, the place I always truly belonged."
"By the time I transferred back to Auburn my junior year, I had missed out on a lot of the traditional 'organized' activities, like sorority rush. I spent my years at Auburn focusing on my studies, supporting our sports teams, and of course, having the time of my life," said Nealey. She graduated from Auburn in 2006 with a degree in Economics and Finance.
"Dixie Caviar is a food & hospitality blog representing 'a new kind of Southern.' I feature modern recipes, entertaining tips and techniques, and other lifestyle ramblings that I deem interesting or enlightening."
"I started Dixie Caviar five years ago while living in Los Angeles. I had been working for a celebrity event planner, traveling all over the world creating fabulous parties for the fanciest people," Nealey said. "Unfortunately the hours were dreadful and I didn't have much time for a social life. But then fate stepped in, and I met a wonderful boy (Walt) from Georgia at an SEC bar on UCLA's college campus. Yes, he is a UGA fan, but at least it's not that school with the elephant."
One of the most frequent bits of advice you'll see shared about how and why to start blogging says that you should write about your passions in life. Nealey wound up blogging because of both her passions - cooking and Walt.
The courtship - Nealey courting Walt - naturally involved cooking. "In my attempts to impress him, I started cooking Southern recipes to remind him of the place we both called home. It became a full-fledged obsession, and Dixie Caviar was created to document all of my crazy kitchen experiments. I eventually quit my job as a wedding planner, enrolled in culinary school, and worked as the assistant to a well-known cookbook author," Nealey said.
Nealey's efforts paid off. Walt was smitten. In time, Walt also turned to his passion in life - film making - and caused quite a bit of buzz when he proposed to Nealey. He created a stop motion LEGOTM video. Yes, you read that correctly. Walt is, after all, a movie maker. (See story in Huffington Post) The video has 269K+ views on Vimeo.
The short story of Nealey and Walter... and how their engagement came to pass. More after the proposal...
"A few years later we returned South together. Walt is in the film industry and I am developing recipes and blogging full-time. We are happily engaged and raising two bulldog pups—one who is definitely an Auburn fan," said Nealey. "It's an SEC rivalry made in heaven!"
"When it comes to content, I feel it's most important to be myself and not pigeonhole my blog to just one aspect. I try not to follow culinary trends, but instead blog about things that are relevant to me and my life, often with a Southern perspective," said Nealey.
Rest assured, I am no Paula Deen. I support eating by the season and knowing my farmers, but I also live a busy life like the rest of you. I try to find a balance between navigating the farmers’ market aisles and the grocery store shelves. (And yes, I even keep Papa John’s on speed dial.) That said, most of the recipes here are not for quick fix meals. I find great pleasure in cooking from scratch, be it canning fresh Georgia peaches or baking a loaf of piping hot country white. This doesn’t mean that cream cheese and casseroles won’t show up here (long live cream cheese! Long live casseroles!), but it does mean you won’t find too many cans of cream of mushroom. (Dixie Caviar)
Nealey is on a mission. "The South is often stereotyped as either stiff and proper or redneck and trashy—I'm working hard to prove it's neither. Hopefully my style of writing and recipes will promote a smart, savvy new generation of Southerners!"
Her blog is a treasure trove of recipes and lovely photography. Nealey has compiled 139 Dixie Caviar posts and more at The Kitchn (a search for Nealey on the site returns 600+ results); plus, numerous articles and examples of her work on several other sites, in publications and news coverage. Add to that Nealey's Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages and you can happily lose yourself in southern cooking quite enjoyably with Nealey.
"Dixie Caviar started out as a passion project that turned into a full-time job. I am so grateful to wake up every day knowing I get to do what I absolutely love. Sometimes it's hard to shut my computer down at night because I'm always researching or writing or networking (my poor fiancé often has to force me off), but I take it as I sign that I'm on my right path," said Nealey.
Nealey Dozier: Family, Dixie Caviar, Recipes & Friends