I remember when editor Denea Buckinghamfirst told a group of food bloggers about her plans to set up, produce and print a new food-focused publication. It sounded like the stuff of pipe dreams, but to her credit (and the stellar efforts of her graphic designer Lisa Manche), Gourmet Rabbit has just published its second issue - 140 pages long - and now available for sale in newsagencies and retailers around Australia.
I've reproduced my article below which includes my thoughts on food blogging and why I do it. Since I wrote this article, some things have changed. I don't publish posts fives times a week anymore - I'm trying to find a balance between work, blog and play. And oh yes, sleep. It's a difficult equation.
Let me know what you think of the article, and don't forget to check the end of this post for a Freebie Friday offer to win two tickets to the GourmetRabbit Baza'ar at Efendy Turkish Restaurant in Balmain.
To Blog or Not to Blog
Published in GourmetRabbit, Issue 2
My name is Helen Yee and I am a food blogger. I take a camera with me to restaurants, I photograph my food before I eat it, and then I write about it online, in gluttonous, appetite- inducing detail.
‘Grab Your Fork’ has been around for almost seven years now. When I started in 2004, I had no inkling this hobby would extend for longer than even six months. It was a random encounter with a Hawaiian food blog that made me realise self-publishing platforms were available, user-friendly and free. I set up Grab Your Fork three days later.
Who are food bloggers?
We come from all walks of life, but ultimately we are hungry and willing. In 2004 there were less than a dozen food blogs around Australia. By 2010, over 200 food blogs had sprung up in Sydney alone. Content ranges from home baking to backyard pigs on spits, restaurant reviews to overseas street food, and vegetarian fare to bacon worship. A brave few have opted to blog full-time, but most food bloggers are students or have day jobs.
Grab Your Fork receives about 140,000 hits per month but I’ve yet to find a way to make it pay for my mortgage. By day I work full-time in an office. At night I come home, switch on the computer and blog until the wee hours.
At the moment I aim to post five times a week, sometimes I manage to hit seven. I estimate I spend an average 30 hours a week on Grab Your Fork. It’s definitely a labour of love.
Why do I blog?
Personally I find it a happy intersection of my three favourite passions: food, writing and photography. My Chinese background has meant that good food has always been sought out and appreciated, a food-centric culture where fish is always eaten whole, where the best meat is on the bone, and no yum cha is complete without at least one order of chicken feet.
At university I studied journalism, fascinated at the possibility of using language to transport readers to a moment in time, or a faraway place. When it comes to food however, a picture always says a thousand words.
What I love about the ritual of photographing food is the brief moment it gives me to scrutinise its construction, appreciate its components and capture its solemn beauty before it is eaten and gone forever.
What’s so great about food blogging?
The community aspect of food blogging provides me with infinite rewards. I enjoy generating content but the real joy is what happens after you post it online.
The food blogging community is a tight-knit group of people who are supportive and friendly, and have provided me with a network of like-minded enthusiasts, many of whom have now become my closest friends.
And then there’s the engagement with readers – many of whom have been following Grab Your Fork for several years.
The blogosphere has been likened to an international water cooler; a place for food lovers to meet and discuss last night’s dinner, share tips and secrets, and revel in the fact that there are people out there just as food- obsessed as we are!
Is there a need for food blogs?
Anybody can start a food blog and this foundation of egalitarianism is part of the beauty of food blogging. You don’t need to be hired – anyone can register a blog and hit ‘publish’.
This has allowed a broad cross-section of voices and opinions to be heard, ones that may not necessarily be aired in mainstream media. This open forum has given rise to a cooking club devoted to celebrating Filipino cuisine, university students talking about their fine dining experiences, gluten-free recipe collections and international bake-offs based on a specific theme each month.
What do food bloggers know about food, anyway?
The scrutiny of food blogger credentials by some industry cynics, particularly those that focus on restaurants, ignores the broader implications of the food blog phenomenon.
Incessant chatter about food by a demographic that is predominantly young and upwardly mobile, is an exciting insight into the new dining generation.
Restaurants posts often include family-run eateries in the suburbs, ones that would never be included in the major metropolitan reviews, but offer a valuable insight for locals.
The intrinstic appeal of food blogs is in their personalised approach, and most bloggers will find their readers are from a similar age group or background. In the glorious multicultural tapestry that is Sydney, I find it refreshing and liberating to hear from a cross-section of its people, particularly first- generation Australians who draw on their cultural identity to publish an online history of family food stories.
What is the future of food blogs?
The growing readership of food blogs indicates that there is an insatiable hunger for diversity of content surrounding the food industry. An increasing preference for digitally accessible information, the influence of social networking and smartphones will only widen the audience pool for food blogs.
As the number of food blogs rise, quality of content will determine the difference between small and significant readership numbers, but for many bloggers this makes no difference. It’s all about the love of food, and good food should always be shared. Bon appétit!
Thanks to GourmetRabbit, you could win two tickets to the GourmetRabbit Baza'ar at Efendy Balmain.
Two tickets to the GourmetRabbit Baza'ar at Efendy Balmain which includes:
- Turkish cocktail or exotic welcome drink
- Turkish meze canapes throughout the the evening
- access to tasting stations featuring salmon, cheese, antipasto, wines, beers and dragon beard candy
- a copy of GourmetRabbit Issue 2
- a take home goodie bag.
Address: Efendy Turkish Restaurant, 79 Elliott Street, Balmain
HOW TO ENTER:
All you have to do is fulfil the requirements below:
- Leave a comment on this post and tell us: What animal best describes your appetite?
- And then send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading "Rabbit" and include your full name and a copy of your published comment from this post.
The Gourmet Rabbit competition closes on Thursday 28 April 2011 at 9.30pm AEST. The winner will be announced on Grab Your Fork on Friday 29 April 2011.
Thanks everyone for your comments and entries. This competition has now closed and the winner has been announced here.
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4/15/2011 01:23:00 a.m.