Interview with Victoria Rosenthal: Author of Fallout The Vault Dwellers Official Cookbook

As a companion piece to my Fallout The Vault Dwellers Official Cookbook Review, I managed to get in contact with the cookbooks author Victoria Rosenthal herself in order to pick her brain about her history with cooking and what it takes to create such an incredible book bursting with amazing food. 


This interview was conducted back in 2020, so much has changed and Victoria Rosenthal has gone on to release three more cookbooks (of which I have two and reviews planned) links to the cookbooks and Victoria’s site will be posted at the bottom. 


When did you discover your passion for cooking?

I’ve always enjoyed cooking. Growing up, I would help out in the kitchen pretty often. I especially loved helping with the large Thanksgiving parties we would have each year. My real jump into cooking was when I moved to Houston, a little over 10 years ago now. I didn’t want to keep eating out and wanted to improve my eating habits so the best thing I could do was start cooking at home.


Eight years ago you started your blog Pixelated Provisions, what made you decide to kick-start video game food as a career? 

When I first moved to Houston, I wanted to motivate my friends to start cooking. I started a generic food blog of my favourite recipes written out step by step, that lasted about 3 months. I couldn’t motivate myself to write the posts every week. Fast forward a year later, I got the itch to try again but this time to combine my love of food and video games. 

Since then I’ve been working on Pixelated Provisions. My goal, since starting nearly six years ago, has always been to expand my own knowledge of food and explore different cuisine styles by recreating things from many different video game worlds. Over the years games have done a wonderful job of including more food items and this has allowed me to continue working on many recipes.


What are your stand out games for the incorporation of food? 

My standouts are Guild Wars 2 (this is the game that started my blog), Final Fantasy XV,  Battle Chef Brigade, Breath of the Wild, and the Yakuza series. All of these games have many food items within their worlds and I love them!


Are there anyways you wish developers would deepen foods incorporation to games? Such as cooking mini games or creating signature dishes? 

I’d love to see more international cuisine. A lot of games will have a lot of commonplace American, European, and Japanese dishes. I would love to see more recipes from around the world like South America, Africa, the Middle East, etc. I’ve really love looking at food from around the world and have found it to be a great way to start learning about the many different cultures in the world. I want there to be more variety just so more people can start exploring things outside of their comfort zone.


Out of all of the video games that you have looked at and cooked from, what world’s cuisine do you think you could eat for the rest of your life?

Easily, Guild Wars 2. The menu size is large and continues to grow as more content is added to the game. 

Foods you can make in Guild Wars 2











What was the process in getting your first book started? Did you approach Bethesda?

It was a lot of luck. Insight Editions (the publisher) reached out to me because of my website about working on a project with them. From there they requested a few sample images and write ups to test my skills. After that they agreed and work started up from there.

The world of Fallout still holds onto elements of that 50s Americana from before the nukes dropped. For a more immersive experience and recipes, did you ever look at cookbooks from the 50s?

Yes! My father had a pile of old mini-cookbooks with recipes from the 1950s that I used as a jumping point. One thing I noticed with that older cooking was the lack of spices. This was something I had to do completely differently because the recipes would have ended up quiet bland otherwise. It was fun reading through the books.


The Fallout games feature a number of dishes and basic crafting of food. Do these craftable dishes make producing recipes easier for you?

Yes. I enjoy games that actually have food items in them rather than one without. It makes it really easy to come up with recipes and helps me with deciding ingredients to use. Fallout gives the basic ingredients used in a recipe. Now, if I just used those items we would end up with a very bland recipe. This was always a great starting point.


How does that recipe process compare to creating recipes for food you find in the game?

The only major difference is I’m able to do whatever I want at that point. No basic recipe means no requirements. 


What would you say were the hardest and easiest recipes for you to perfect in your Fallout book?

Hardest for me to develop was actually the buffout cookies. That recipe took about 5 attempts until I was happy with the end result. The easiest ones surprisingly were the nuka colas. I had never made soda before this book and after doing it for that book I’ve made a large variety of recipes over the years now.


How many tries and tweaking of a recipe did you find yourself doing before you felt happy to check it off the list? 

Many times I’ll have to do a recipe once and it is good to go. While some (like the buffout cookies) will take a few attempts. Actually this past weekend I’ve been working on a popsicle recipe and one of the popsicles has now taken 3 attempts and I’m having to come up with another. I’ll say for the most part the failures are edible but not good enough for photography.


What creative input do the developers and publishers have in your cookbooks? Do they have a say in what dishes are included? 

Typically I come up with an initial list and the developers give feedback based on that. In the end they are the ones to make the final decision for what recipes end up in the book. With Bungie, they also were pretty involved with the prop selection and plates selected. 


In the Fallout book there are many creative touches, such as S.P.E.C.I.A.L bonuses tied to dishes or crossing out Fallout inspired ingredients for non radiated or mutated ingredients. Are these all touches you decided? 

This was something myself and my editor at Insight Edition discussed. When developing these cookbooks we try to create something that could exist in that world. With the Fallout project we wanted to highlight the wacky voice of Vault-Tec by creating a cookbook that was made pre-war. We then added the layer of a vault dweller who finds this book and attempts to adjust the recipes based on ingredients they were able to find while they ventured in the wasteland. The SPECIAL bonuses were a must have because the items in the game give your character a boost. 


Did you ever go to the Bethesda offices and get the developers to try the foods they conceived? 

Unfortunately, I did not get an opportunity to do that. Would have loved to do it!


Out of curiosity, did you have to use any of the food photography tricks when taking pictures for your books? 

I will always cook an item completely, so everything in the book is edible. Now, for improving angles and looks I will add things to give recipes more lift, like a bowl within a bowl to fill things up a bit more or skewers to hold things together (a good example of that is the Stacked Ham Sandwich from Final Fantasy XV. Another thing I’ll do is for background drinks and stuff is add a bit of food dye, because for the most part I only have water in the house (don’t drink soda and juice much anymore). 


You have a Destiny Official Cookbook releasing next month. Would you be able to tell me a little bit about it? How was the experience different to Fallout?

I can’t say too much about the book, yet. The experience was quite different from the Fallout one. Bungie was much more hands on with the project which was helpful for getting feedback. The other major difference was Destiny is not really known for having food in the game. A lot of the recipes are based on lore entries and information about characters. This book highlights a few of the iconic characters and locations of the world rather than using recipes found in game. 

Do you think that pop culture books are the best way to get people cooking? 

I think they are a wonderful way to get people motivated in the kitchen. If someone is really into a series and they see the cookbooks, at first they might pick it up as a neat piece of merchandise. Once they start looking through it they will see the recipes are quite approachable and start making a handful. I’ve seen many people on social media say they haven’t cooked much and they’ll be attempting a few of the harder recipes from the Fallout book. I’m so impressed and happy that I’m helping convince people to get into the kitchen.


If you had the opportunity to throw a dinner party with four video game characters, who would you choose? Also, they have to bring a dish from their properties – if they can?

Oh this is a tough one but I’ll list some cooks from games. I think it would have to be Mina from Battle Chef Brigade and she could honestly bring any of the dishes she makes in game. Ignis from Final Fantasy XIV and he would have to bring Crown City-Dive Style Dumplings because I love soup dumplings and can’t get enough of them. Sous-Chef Seimur Oxbone from Guild Wars 2 and he would probably bring one of his crazy bloodstone recipes, probably the Bowl of Bloodstone Ice Cream. Finally, the Meowscular Chef from Monster Hunter World and they could bring the whole meal! All the food from that game makes me drool!


With lockdowns across the world, do you feel that this is the best time for people to learn how to cook? 

Yes! I think it is a great time to make meals daily or even to meal prep for a week. There is a lot of wonderful content online that can teach people how to start cooking. It does take time but with nowhere to really go I think now is a perfect time to see if cooking is for you. 


Has the lack of food and ingredients impacted your day to day cooking and if so, how do you navigate the problem?

I actually started planning a bit ahead of the curve. The initial weeks of panic did make grocery shopping a bit difficult. There was a time I went shopping and a lot of the shelves were empty. The big thing this affected was planning out new recipes. I quickly had to readjust what I was buying and decide it was better just to take a break from the food photography that week. 

Now, it isn’t much of a problem. There is still a lack of yeast and limits on how much chicken can be purchased. A lot of this I planned for early on and it hasn’t affected me too much. I have been moving to a much more vegetable heavy menu, which I don’t mind at all. Games tend to use meat in a lot of the recipes, so I keep my meat meals to those in order to keep recipes going up on my site.

You can find all of Victoria’s recipes and links to all the cookbooks on her website Pixelated Provisions


Authors Note;

I would like to thank Victoria for taking the time to answer all of my questions and a huge thank you for creating such an incredible book, that not only does justice to the world of Fallout but stands as a marvelous cookbook. 

Additionally, a huge apology for taking so long to get these pieces posted. 

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