The Big Blogger Interviews

Food Blogger Interviews

Food blogs are more popular than ever, often attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every day. Following on from our Top 50 Bloggers 2015 list, we’ve asked some of our favourite bloggers out there for the story behind their success, what tips they would give aspiring food bloggers, and who their dream dinner guest would be.

 

Laura Hyatt - Heroine in Heels

Interview 1: Laura Hyatt, Heroine in Heels

On her blog Heroine in Heels, Laura chronicles her amazing adventures which include food, fashion and places.
heroineinheels.com


Background:

 1. What makes your blog unique?

I don’t claim to be an expert in anything. I’ve never studied cookery, or have any training in the culinary world, but I take my readers on a journey through in-depth descriptions and beautiful photos. It works well because I think I’m an average consumer, so if I like it, then I think you will too.

2. What inspired you to start your blog?

It was actually my then friend, now boyfriend who inspired me. He suggested that because I love writing and photography, I should create a blog and use it as a creative outlet. So for a whole year, I just wrote and photographed the things I did.

3. How did you build your following?

I had a small, casual following before I moved to London two years ago. I was discovering the city myself so documented my finds; quirky brunches, hidden bars and more unusual things. As London is such a destination for people, I started to get more readers and more comments, and through that built a following of people who wanted to know what I was doing next.

Online presence:

4. What has been your most successful blog post to date? Why do you think it worked so well?

My most successful post is actually one I never thought would be. I went to an adult version of those giant soft play areas, thinking nothing much of it. But when I blogged about it, I suddenly found myself getting so much traffic from people googling ‘Adult Soft Play Areas’ and Waitrose Weekend Magazine even featured an interview with me about it. Sometimes it’s the most random ones that people love the most.

5. Can you share some tips on achieving a great photo for your blog?

Take your time, and really think about what it is you want to portray in the shot. So often, I see photos with parts of the plate out of the frame, or with distractions in the background. Play with different angles – for example, does overhead look good for a flat plate? Also, whilst messy backgrounds can be distracting, having a few, pretty or interesting things can add interest.

6. What advice would you give to an up-and-coming food blogger?

I always just say, do what you love. Don’t just go to the ‘it’ places of the moment. Go to where you like to eat as it definitely comes across more genuine, and that’s what people want from a blog. Also, I think that for food, photos are one of the most important elements. You can write a beautiful, eloquent description of that cheesecake, but let’s be honest – a food porn-worthy shot says so much more.

Food:

7. What’s the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?

I ate shark in Barcelona. I went on a locals’ tapas tour of the city, and went to places that tourists would never go to. The guide ordered our food, and I didn’t know what I was eating until she said afterwards. To be honest, it was actually really tasty.

8. If you could only cook and eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Cheese on toast. It’s incredibly basic, but it’s just warm and comforting and always makes me feel happy. I’ve never had a bad cheese on toast.

9. Who would you like to cook for at your dream dinner party?

If I could have a party of six, there would be me, Brian Cox, Bill Gates, Queen Rania of Jordan, Angelina Jolie, and Marissa Mayer. I admire all of these people immensely. Can you imagine the conversations at that table? I feel like I’d leave a different person.

10. What’s your guilty pleasure food?

Chips, cheese and gravy. I’m sorry, but I’m Northern. Yes, it looks foul, but that’s why it’s a guilty pleasure!

Angie Silver - SilverSpoon London

Interview 2: Angie Silver, SilverSpoon London

Angie has managed to capture the hearts of her readers by offering a view into her luxurious life filled with food and travel.
silverspoonlondon.co.uk


Background:

1. What makes your blog unique?

I like to make it very relatable, and tell a story with every post. I think it’s important to inject personality into a blog. There are so many blogs in the blogosphere but there’s only one you, so make yourself stand out!

2. What inspired you to start your blog?

I was doing a blog for a business website I was building and I enjoyed it so much I decided to separate it off and do it for fun. I had no idea it would grow to any others than my mum and dad reading it! I absolutely love writing, and now photography has become a real passion of mine too.

3. How did you build your following?

Online community building and networking is so important for increasing your following. I made sure that I posted regularly and often both on my blog and social media, and I had strong engagement with my readers, followers and other bloggers and like-minded people and brands.

Online presence:

 4. What has been your most successful blog post to date? Why do you think it worked so well?

Posts about London’s very luxurious restaurants, such as Fera at Claridge’s or the restaurant at The Ritz, were very popular, as they are so enticing and the food so delicious. Popular posts often have a personal backstory, such as a special birthday or anniversary.

 5. Can you share some tips on achieving a great photo for your blog?

A great camera and the right lens is a good start, but I’ve also taken great pictures on my phone. Even in a restaurant, don’t be afraid to style the food, catch the light in the right way and compose the photo creatively. Think whether the dish would look better from above or from a side angle and take a few shots so that you can choose the best one.

6. What advice would you give to an up-and-coming food blogger?

Be true to yourself and write about what you’re passionate about – your enthusiasm and love for the subject will shine through. Make sure your blog layout is clear with big photos and an easy-to-read font. A blog that’s difficult to read can be a little off-putting, even if the content is great.  

Food:

 7. What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?

In Australia, I ate wallaby which tasted a little like venison, and crocodile, which reminded me of monkfish.

8. If you could only cook and eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I’m a big sushi lover so if I could just have a sushi feast every day, that would be wonderful. Having said that, smoked salmon bagels are my comfort food, and spaghetti bolognese was my childhood favourite.

9. Who would you like to cook for, at your dream dinner party?

I’d love to have Will, Kate, Prince George and Princess Charlotte round!  

10. What’s your guilty pleasure food?

I’d be in heaven with crusty bread with olive oil and balsamic and a good glass of white wine. Simple pleasures are just my favourite.  

Emily Leary - A Mummy Too

Interview 3: Emily Leary, A Mummy Too

Emily is one of those amazing people who manages to juggle a busy family life with delicious meals. Her ‘Recipe of the Week’ is a great source of inspiration for parents looking for easy, healthy cooking the whole family will enjoy.
amummytoo.co.uk


Background:

 1. What makes your blog unique?

A Mummy Too is written from the perspective of a busy family of small children and working parents. I share recipes and lifestyle articles which are relevant to a demographic who are short on time but still wanting to enjoy great meals and great times.

2. What inspired you to start your blog?

I started A Mummy Too whilst on maternity leave. I was enjoying some rare time off when waiting for my daughter to arrive, and used the blog as a creative outlet.

3. How did you build your following?

There’s really no secret sauce, I’m afraid – the blog grew organically. I am, and always have been, very active on social media, so as I began to create and share recipes and articles, others started to re-share them. As the blog has grown, I’ve watched and learned what my readers prefer to read, and aim to deliver that kind of content whenever I can.

Online presence:

4. What has been your most successful blog post to date? Why do you think it worked so well?

My most popular posts tend to have chocolate in them, like the one for Baileys Chocolate and Salted Caramel tarts. The rule seems to generally be the more decadent, the better. Conversely though, the very healthy recipes do well too. We’re all saints and sinners!

5. Can you share some tips on achieving a great photo for your blog?

Natural light is key. Get to know your camera’s settings and find an area in your house close to a window, with lovely, diffused light. Go from there.

6. What advice would you give to an up-and-coming food blogger?

Just do it. Start writing, start cooking, start shooting. Read lots and apply what you’ve seen others do well (could be anything from camera angles to site structure). Have fun and learn as you go.

Food:

7. What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?

Probably baby food. But you have to make sure it’s tasty before offering it to your child, right? In this case, it wasn’t. *Shudder*.

8. If you could only cook and eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Thai green curry with tofu and sticky rice. I could eat that forever.

9. Who would you like to cook for at your dream dinner party?

Nigel Slater. I love his creativity and passion for food. And he seems like a kind person, so I wouldn’t feel too terrified about his verdict on my cooking!

10. What’s your guilty pleasure food?

Hmmm, it would have to be hummus – it’s just so darn good. A pot doesn’t last long in our house. And although it’s full of fat, it has chickpeas in it, so it’s kind of healthy too!

Karen Burns-Booth - Lavender and Lovage

Interview 4: Karen Burns-Booth, Lavender and Lovage

Karen is a freelance writer who develops amazing recipes. Her passion for travel and seasonal food is shown on the blog through beautiful photography.
lavenderandlovage.com


Background:

1. What makes your blog unique?

I think it is my passion for seasonal and local produce, as well as my research into historical food, recipes, feasts and festivals. My food styling is also important, and I think it supports my ‘brand image.’ Also, all my recipes are created by myself, and are often double-tested before I share them.

2. What inspired you to start your blog?

When I lost a regular byline in a national UK food magazine, I started my blog as a way to channel my culinary creativity and become my own online editor!

3. How did you build your following?

I visited other blogs that inspired me and left comments. I also joined in on online cooking challenges, and engaged with readers via social media.

Online presence:

4. What has been your most successful blog post to date? Why do you think it worked so well?

One of my most successful posts is for my Cauliflower Pizza recipe. I think it’s popular because it shows the technique via step-by-step photos, and appeals to people who are gluten intolerant and/or on a healthy diet.

5. Can you share some tips on achieving a great photo for your blog?

Lighting is key – I never use a flash and always set up my food styling area before the recipes are cooked.

6. What advice would you give to an up-and-coming food blogger?

Engage with other bloggers via their blogs and social media channels. Try and develop your own, unique voice by being yourself. Also, remember that content is king, so always try to tell a story.

Food:

7. What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?

Snake, when I lived in Hong Kong. I ate it several times and I’m sorry to be boring, but it really does taste like chicken despite the different texture.

8. If you could only cook and eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

What a hard question! For me, it has to be fish and chips with salt and vinegar, eaten out of newspapers, preferably by the sea!

9. Who would you like to cook for at your dream dinner party?

Elizabeth David – her writing and recipes have inspired me so much. I would love to cook some of her recipes for her, as a way of saying thank you.

10. What’s your guilty pleasure food?

A fish finger sandwich, served with salt and ketchup in white, sliced bread!

David & Sean - BakingBar

Interview 5: David & Sean, BakingBar

With a passion for recipes handed down from family members, David and Sean’s blog is a one-stop shop for all things baking.
bakingbar.co.uk


Background:

1. What makes your blog unique?

We write all our own recipes. Whether they’re ones that have been passed down through generations or ones we’ve created ourselves, we always aim to keep them as simple to follow as possible. What’s the point in overcomplicating things?

2. What inspired you to start your blog?

Baking and cooking with my grandparents when I was younger has inspired me the most to start baking again. Neither of them were cooks or bakers by trade, but they knew how to make all the basics and traditional cakes. I still remember a lot of the recipes, so I try and share these where possible. Once we started sharing recipes in 2010, we got such amazing feedback, and that drove us to write more and more. And we haven’t stopped since!

3. How did you build your following?

We try to be as helpful as possible to our followers, and if they have a question we try our best to answer them. We don’t tell our followers enough how thankful we are for the support they give us. By building a community-like feeling on our blog, we seem to have attracted more and more followers. It still shocks us how many there are!

Online presence:

4. What has been your most successful blog post to date? Why do you think it worked so well?

This may seem strange, but one of our most popular recipes ever is the one for Rich Tea biscuits. It’s actually one of my grandparents recipes, created through trial and error. I guess people love it because these biscuits are a staple in most British cupboards.

5. Can you share some tips on achieving a great photo for your blog?

Get a good camera and start learning some tips and techniques with it. When you see the quality difference a good digital SLR camera can provide, it will inspire you to fix the lighting, layout and so on for each photo. If you look at our earliest photos, you can see that we went through that steep learning curve too.

6. What advice would you give to an up-and-coming food blogger?

Start with WordPress – it’s far more customisable than any other platform. Create all your social media from day one, and even if you only have ten followers share every post you write. If they all share one of your posts and each of their followers share it too, you could find yourself with 100, then 1000, followers in no time.

Food:

 7. If you could only cook and eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

We’re Northern Irish, so traditional Irish food takes pride of place in our lives. Nice, thick slices of bacon served with thick, buttery champ (which is mashed potatoes with cream and spring onions) is a really special Irish treat.

8. Who would you like to cook for at your dream dinner party?

There’s really only one person – Nigella. I know it’s really cliche, but I’ve grown up watching her on TV and I love her personality as well as the fact that rather than cutting back on so-called fatty ingredients like butter, she embraces them.

9. What’s your guilty pleasure food?

Since we’re bakers, we eat so much cake that it’s more of a staple than a guilty pleasure food. It might seem a bit strange, but we’ve become addicted to burritos, especially ones made by a local company called Boojum. Might actually treat myself to one now for finishing this interview…

Gary Berry - The Foodaholic

Interview 6: Gary Berry, TheFoodaholic

 Reviewing some of the most luxurious Michelin-starred restaurants around Europe, Gary is an expert on all things related to fine food.
thefoodaholic.co.uk


Background:

1. What makes your blog unique?

I think what makes TheFoodaholic unique is that it doesn’t particularly follow trends. Instead of chasing every single new opening, I like to seek out the hidden gems off the beaten track, yet incorporate a little luxury into nearly all my dining experiences. On top of that, the site covers not only the UK, but also Europe. I’ve recently launched TheHotelaholic, so I now have the very unfortunate task of staying in hotels.

2. What inspired you to start your blog?

A friend and colleague of mine actually inspired me to start writing about food. Every day, I’d come into work and from the moment I switched on the computer, I couldn’t stop talking about food. Six months in, this friend of mine had enough and said ‘instead of talking all the time, why don’t you write it down?’. Thus, TheFoodaholic was born. I work in the wine industry during the day,so food has always been an integral part of my life.

3. How did you build your following?

It takes time! Gaining Twitter followers and newsletter subscribers is harder than it sounds- you need to be fully active every day. As long as you have high-quality articles, good photos and an industry insight and knowledge, you can do very well. One thing I will say though is to not give up when you’re stuck with 55 Twitter followers. It won’t always be like this. Never buy social media followers – it’s very easy to tell if someone has, and you risk losing your reputation fast.

Online presence:

4. What has been your most successful blog post to date? Why do you think it worked so well?

Hmm. It was probably my review of Fera at Claridge’s. I couldn’t tell you exactly why, but I’d like to say it’s due to a mixture of my creative writing, photos and the simple fact that it’s one of the best restaurants in London.

5. Can you share some tips on achieving a great photo for your blog?

Well, I’m no Steve McCurry, but if you can splash your cash a little then invest in a good camera. If you want to make the most of your mobile phone, then never use the flash and sit by the window in a well-lit area. If all else fails, don’t take any pictures at all – a bad food picture is worse than no photo at all.

6. What advice would you give to an up-and-coming food blogger?

Be honest. If you’re not, then people simply won’t come back. Photography is key, as people eat with their eyes first. A final critic score of the restaurant helps readers sum up what to expect if they haven’t got time to read the whole article.

Food:

7. What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?

I’ve admittedly not been the most exotic foodie, but my recent trip to Shaka Zulu had me gnawing on zebra, springbok and ostrich. I also had a strawberry curry last week – it was revolting.

8. If you could only cook and eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I’m not a huge cook as I mostly eat out, but when I do, I love a good old classic – ham, egg and chips. The ham has to be thick and of quality, the eggs free range, and the chips triple cooked with lashings of smoked sea salt. This dish reminds me of growing up, just this time round it’s much better cooked (sorry, mum).

9. Who would you like to cook for at your dream dinner party?

Absolutely no one! I want someone to cook for me – perhaps you could ask Grace Dent?

10. What is your guilty pleasure food?

I’ve got lots! But if I had a desert island scenario, then it would have to be artisan chocolate. When I was a child, my father used to work supplying The Ritz with food, and while he would have his meetings and sort his deliveries I’d be waiting in the kitchen working my way through the fridges, filled to the brim with Belgian chocolates. Since then I’ve had a chocolate affair which has got a little out of hand – I even travelled all the way to Belgium about a year ago just to stock up.

 

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