I am a 26-year-old artist and entrepreneur hopelessly in love with food. I have been since I was about 9 years old. My house growing up sounded like steam and pots and pans and searing meat. I have always loved art and creative expression, but I have wondered why cooking, above all else, is so special to me. I’ve realized lately that it is not the food itself but the process, the ideation, the sketching, the dreaming, the hypnotic getting lost in a recipe feeling, and the sharing of food as the ultimate act of love.

I started painting when I was young as a form of self-expression and as a way to deal with a lot of self-imposed stress and anxiety related to growing up. Sketching dream houses and photographing flowers became my escape when I felt lost. In college I was pushed towards science and math and traditional idea of an American “prestigious” career path, but I didn’t do well in my classes. I found my salvation in drawing class, where I fell in love with the idea of being an artist. I decided after my freshman year that I would relentlessly and unapologetically pursue art. I got lost in so many kinds of creativity and succeeded more than I ever have. When I graduated, I knew that a life filled with art was my goal, and I returned to my parent’s kitchen.

It took me 2 years to start making art again. I cooked to cope with the uncertainty of my life but it was a means to survive, not to create. I tried to paint and felt too tense and uninspired. It was the day I decided to combine my love of food and my passion for art that I started to feel better and realized the path I would pave. I started by painting a single ingredient, and I would write down all my ideas for how that one ingredient could be used in a chef-style dish. Fried beets, pickled beets, roasted beets, slow cooked beets, beet leaf pesto, beet puree. I used watercolor paints that were a gift from a family friend, which I still use. I cooked creatively and sometimes spent all day or all weekend playing around. I photographed and edited and printed photos and pinned them on my wall. I started to feel like myself again.

It was the spring of 2019 when I started to make greeting cards. I painted a series of Maine-inspired seafoods while I was working on a lobster dish. I wanted to start monetizing my hobbies so I ordered a few cards to be printed. I started emailing stores and drove around the coast introducing myself to shop owners. I was terrified of being rejected but my passion and pride kept me going. I sold my cards to almost 10 stores in a matter of 2 months, and I felt for the first time like I could actually call myself an entrepreneur. I wanted to walk the walk and struggle and grow sales and make a logo and one day have a store and be able to make art and food full time. 

One day my mom and I were discussing my new cards and how I wanted to grow them into something bigger and more special, but I couldn’t think of the right thing. She talked about how I always made her bruschetta on the weekends and asked if before I left I could print the recipe for her. That sparked an idea – why not make a card with a bruschetta painting on the cover and the printed recipe on the inside? I could surprise my mom with a beautiful and thoughtful gift for mother’s day that would also be the perfect card and it would stay with her long after mother’s day. I immediately realized that it would be even more special to have the cover be detachable so she could easily save the recipe cards I send her and keep the other half with my message in the greeting card drawer.

By the start of 2020 I had designed, printed, and sold nearly 100 card designs in stores. I spent months painting my favorite dishes, writing and testing recipes, contacting stores and driving all over the state with stacks of paper, ready to show my art to the world. Since then I have secured partnerships with Faire, The Grommet, and Uncommon Goods, and collaborated with celebrity chefs to raise money for charity. My goal now is to make recipe greeting cards accessible to the masses.

My hope is that Happy Cooking Cards can be a source of fun, inspiration, and magic for so many people and families. In a world full of uncertainties, the most calm times of my life are always getting lost in a recipe, painting while listening to podcasts, and photographing my food. To help people feel joy for even an hour or two makes a gigantic difference. I strive to be a source for artistic exploration, creative expression, and culinary education. I am a self-taught chef who knows the challenges of cooking in a small cramped kitchen without the budget to buy crazy ingredients, so my recipes are meant for everyone. I hope my cards will be the most readily accessible and inspiring way to share the love of food with someone you love.

I hope you get lost in creativity, fall in love with food, and share the magic of cooking with the people you love. Thank you so much for supporting that little kid who loved to make things.

-Evan Stevens

Founder of Happy Cooking Cards