Interview: Ten questions with Chubby Hubby, and your chance to win a ticket to the SIFF World Chef Showcase worth $285
Can you feel the excitement in the air? That's the anticipation of the first ever Sydney International Food Festival, due to launch on 1 October, less than two weeks away!
The gustatory celebration once known as Good Food Month has been expanded and rebranded as the Sydney International Food Festival, with more events than ever before. Popular events like Let's do Lunch, Hats Off dinners and Sugar Hits have been joined by High Teas, Pop-Up Dinners and food festivals in Ashfield, Auburn and Summer Hill.
Perhaps the biggest event on the calendar is the World Chef Showcase, a weekend of talks, demonstrations and tastings featuring chefs from Australia and around the world. One session which immediately caught my eye was Session 4 of Program 2 called Cyber Cuisine - "Food online: blogs, Twitter, diner reviews and more. Where’s it all going? What does it mean?"
The Cyber Cuisine session will be hosted by Andrea Nguyen and Christophen Tan but I was most excited to hear that Singaporean food blogger, Chubby Hubby, will also be appearing on the panel. If you have been reading food blogs for a while, you will know the exquisite food, writing and photography created by both Aun Koh and his wife S. Aun was kind enough to answer ten questions for Grab Your Fork before his upcoming visit to our sunny shores.
Image courtesy of Chubby Hubby
Ten Questions with Aun Koh from Chubby Hubby
1. When did you first start blogging and what prompted you to start?
Chubby Hubby came about through chance. I was in charge of organizing the Singapore Writers Festival back in 2005. The Chairman that I had appointed had suggested we incorporate blogging into the Festival programme--using blogs as a way or marketing the Festival as well as inviting famous bloggers to sit on panels. I had no idea back then what a blog was. But when I started investigating them, and especially when I came across the then-new world of food blogs, I was hooked.
As an ex-writer, photographer and magazine editor, I thought a blog would be the perfect hobby. I still missed writing and taking photos so it was a great creative outlet. And as a passionate foodie, naturally, I decided to tailor my blog around my gustatory cravings.
2. Tell us a little bit about your blog, Chubby Hubby.
The blog really chronicles the foods that my wife and I cook at home, the restaurants we love, and some of our culinary-based travels. I try not to post anything negative so if I try a restaurant and we don't like the food, we just keep quiet. I figure that there's no point on blasting out a negative review just for the sake of trying to be funny or build an audience.
3. What keeps you blogging? Why do you do it?
At first, it was really a creative outlet, as I said above. These days--and mostly because of both my and my wife's backgrounds in magazines--we quite carefully select topics to post about. We try to create posts that will be useful to readers and that will constantly make them want to return.
4. How have you seen the blogging landscape change since you first started?
When I first started, there were just a handful of great food blogs. Now, there are so many I can't even keep up with them. New and ever more creative ones are popping up weekly, if not daily. I think the biggest shifts in the past five years are (1) more specialization; (2) the proliferation of blogs that are quite created in hopes of landing a book deal; and (3) more and more bloggers connecting with readers via non-virtual platforms, like hosting events for example.
5. How are blogs perceived in Singapore? By the public and the restaurant industry?
I'm sure it would be the same in Australia. Some bloggers are respected. Some are annoying brats with no manners. Some bloggers obviously write for a specific audience and don't care what restaurateurs think. There is a great variety and there are people sitting on both sides of the fence, so to speak.
6. What do you think is the future for food blogs and food bloggers?
Well, many have been able to land book deals, TV shows, and become professional media (as both writers and photographers). It's kind of funny since I did all that before the blog. In some ways, I'm the backwards bloggers. I think the better bloggers will become part of the mainstream media while the less than average ones will continue to maintain their sites but get fewer and fewer hits.
To be very honest, and I say this as someone who was once part of the mainstream media, many bloggers are creating content at a much higher level than even the most popular food magazines. These guys and gals will eventually need to make a decision--whether to keep doing what they are doing for the sheer passion or to turn what they are doing into a commercial enterprise. I think many will find that if they choose the latter, they'll lose the freedom that running one's own blog allows.
7. You take amazing photos – any photography tips for inspired food bloggers?
Learn how to set your white balance. Oh, and always ask nicely for permission before shooting in a restaurant.
8. You’ve visited Australia a number of times – what springs to mind when you think of Australian cuisine?
Australia has changed so much over the last decade. It's now a food haven. When I think of Australia, I think of great, regional produce. And I think of great food photography. Seriously, Aussie food photography and food styling has been revolutionary.
9. What comfort food do you crave when you’re sick?
I love a simple steamed egg custard made with minced pork. I like to have that with a bowl of rice.
10. What’s the first thing you plan on eating when you land in Sydney?
Ah, the truffled egg pasta at Buon Ricordo!
Ticket Giveaway for Grab Your Fork readers
Would you like the chance to hear more from Aun and meet a whole range of internationally acclaimed chefs at the World Chef Showcase? Then enter the Grab Your Fork competition to win your very own ticket worth $285! I'm also vey pleased to announce that Festival director Joanna Savill be choosing the lucky winner!
One winner will receive a ticket to Program 2 of the SIFF World Chef Showcase on Saturday October 10, 2009. The World Chef Showcase ticket includes:
- Five sessions of talks, demonstrations and tastings with chefs from Australian and around the world, running from 9.30am-5pm
- morning tea of dumplings from Din Tai Fung
- lunch at Sean's Kitchen featuring paella, sushi and more with complimentary wine
- afternoon tea of pastries from Brasserie Bread
- tastings and drinks at the final dessert session
- a full-colour program featuring a full set of all the recipes and chef's biographies.
- Jereme Leung (Hong Kong)
- Kylie Kwong (Billy Kwong, Sydney)
- Alvin Leung (Bo Innovation, Hong Kong)
- Fuchsia Dunlop (Land of Plenty/Sichuan Cookery)
- Andrea Nguyen, Christopher Tan and Aun Koh (Cyber Cuisine talk)
- Poh Ling Yeow and Matt Preston (MasterChef Australia)
- Simon Thomsen (MC for the day).
HOW TO ENTER:
All you have to do is:
- Add a comment to this post and tell us why you want to win a ticket to the World Chef Showcase
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your full name and a copy of the answer you submitted as a comment on this post.
- Competition closes on Sunday 27 September 2009 at 5.00pm AEST.
- The prize is one ticket to the World Chef Showcase, Program 2 China on Saturday 10 October 2009, held as part of the Sydney International Food Festival. Total prize value is $285. Prize is not transferrable – please make sure you can attend.
- The winner will be chosen by guest judge Joanna Savill on the basis of originality and creativity. The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
- The winner will be announced on Grab Your Fork on Wednesday 30 September 2009.
Thank you everyone for your entries. The winners have been announced here.
Related GrabYourFork posts:
Ten Questions with Matthew Evans
Ten Questions with Luke Nguyen
Ten Questions with Poh Ling Yeow
Ten Questions with Curtis Stone
SIFF 2009 - A Taste of Peru
SIFF 2009 - Sugar Hit at Azuma Kushiyaki
SIFF 2009 - Sugar Hits at Grace Hotel, Glass Brasserie and Azuma Kushiyaki
SIFF 2009 - Luke Nguyen's Cabramatta Food Tour
SIFF 2009 - Nose-to-tail barbecue with Fergus Henderson
SIFF 2009 - World Chef Showcase
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9/18/2009 12:33:00 am