The more food blogs I read and the more I follow trails of blogroll links, the more obvious it has become to me that each blog has its own story to tell. From simple home cooking to exotic dining experiences, from regional dishes to universally-loved favourites, each individual voice weaves a unique thread through the tapestry of the food world.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I would like to present a series of email conversations with food bloggers about the life, or story, of their blog – how they were inspired to start a blog, its high-points/low-points, their plans at the start for their blog and how they feel they’ve lived up to their own expectations … how their blog has changed them (if at all) … and everything else that may turn up in the course of a conversation between two food bloggers.
Luckily for me, Aimée from Under the High Chair liked the idea and was happy to participate.
Like me, Aimée also has young children who feature regularly in her posts. Unlike me, Aimée knows what she’s doing in the kitchen – she spent ten years in the professional cooking industry and worked as a personal chef before motherhood. I love how she combines her passions for food, nature and her children in her writing, and was keen to talk to her about her experiences of blogging.
Here, then, is the story of Under the High Chair …
Did you ever plan or think about writing a food blog before you had children, or was your ‘change of scene’ the strongest push into getting started?
I didn’t even know what a food blog was when I worked in the fine dining industry. There was no time for net surfing and I just wanted to crash and get a foot rub after completing a fourteen hour shift!
When I decided to stay home with my baby (now ‘babies’!), I felt like I still had a lot to offer the culinary world. The blog was the perfect platform for that and became something I could express myself with and connect with other gourmands. I’ve always worked best on my own, so it’s kinda nice to set my own deadlines and goals.
I never imagined I would actually form relationships and friendships with my readers, though. I think I’m still surprised people read Under the High Chair!
So … which were the first food blogs you read – the ones that gave you the idea of starting one for yourself?
Funnily enough, I honestly never read a food blog before I started mine! A few of my geekier friends had kept saying ‘you should put your recipes online’ and I figured that since I could talk all day about cooking, I could easily find enough to say for a blog. I probably should have done a little research first, as those first few months are pretty rough, but some of my original features such as Foodie Facebook and Top Ten have passed the test of time so it wasn’t all bad! Initially I blogged about anything food related that came to mind, but eventually fell into the rhythm of Photo-Story-Recipe, as that seemed to get the best response.
Shortly after starting UtHC, I remember clearly the very first food blog I did come across. I opened my dashboard and Blogger had listed Tartelette as one of their Blogs of Note. I gaped at the photos, sighed with pleasure at the recipes, and chortled at her stories. I was hooked. I swarmed her blog roll and the rest is food blog history. Although I probably follow close to a hundred blogs now, Helen is very dear to me and I am thrilled with her success.
It’s incredible how you launched into the food blogosphere without the inspiration of other food blogs! You say the first few months were pretty rough – why was that?
Oh, just in a ‘rough around the edges’ sense! The photos are atrocious and the formatting sloppy. There’s not a lot of focus, although the humor and creativity is ever present.
I had very little culinary experience when I started my own blog, and most of my posts are about things I’ve been making for the very first time ever. With a background in fine dining, you must have had quite a lot of ideas to draw on already when you started ‘Under the High Chair’. How does your previous life as a chef inform what you do now and how, if in any way at all, does your blog represent a learning experience for you, too?
I’d be lying if I said my blog has not been a learning experience; however the new territory is in every aspect other than cooking! The photography, networking, web design, and business aspects have all been new to a girl who’s spent the last ten years with a chef’s knife permanently attached to her hand!
I often experiment in the kitchen, but tend to post only my utmost tried and true recipes. I’m blessed to have a wide repertoire of recipes and techniques to draw from and I haven’t even begun to exhaust them. Since most–if not all–of my readers are home cooks, I try to share restaurant and catering cooking tips in a way that they can be practically applied at home.
How did you learn about all the things that were new to you – the photography, networking etc – and how do you see your progress reflected in your blog over the years?
Progress was slooow! I should say that for the first few years, my blog was about fifth on my priority list and I didn’t put much effort into photography or networking. I had just had a baby, bought a house, planted a garden and there was always something else to focus on! One day I realized “Hey, people are actually reading this and connecting with me, I better take it a bit more seriously” and I smartened up. I bought a better camera (which I still know precious little about) and started actually reading the email offers/opportunities. Thanks goodness I did, one of the offers was for a position as food columnist for the hugely popular SimpleMom blog and I love partnering with her!
I enjoyed reading your post at SimpleMom about Six ways to thrive in the kitchen with kids – perhaps you could write one next about how to survive when they argue with their siblings about who got the largest egg to crack or who sieved the most flour (or whether sieving flour is a better job than weighing sugar!). I sometimes think it might be easiest just to make four separate cakes so that everyone gets to do everything all on their own!
Getting back to your own blog – what’s your most popular recipe and what’s your own favourite post?
After lying awake for a few nights, I’ve concluded that it’s impossible to pick my favorite post! I could no easier play favorites with my boys. I can tell you, however, that should you happen to stay for dinner I would probably tickle your palate with some Foie Gras Sushi then serve you Seafood Creole Tagliatelle, and finish with my Citrus Cheesecake for dessert.
One of my most popular posts has no recipe, oddly enough! I wrote a tongue-in-cheek list of what to expect when dining with a food blogger and hoped people would see the humor in it. It gathered a fantastic response as people opened up in the comments section and shared all sorts of hilarious food blogging confessions.
My most popular recipe is probably my Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and I love what that says about my readers-comfort food rules!
And finally … who do you nominate to be the next person I invite to talk to me about their food blog, and why?
I’ve so enjoyed this conversation series and the trip down memory lane. Thank you for inviting me to participate!
I would love to read an interview with Emily of Sugar Plum.
She is certainly a young blogger to watch! I love her sense of humor and her ‘who cares’ attitude. All her recipes are original and she has big dreams for the future…
Thank you ever so much, Aimée. It’s been lovely talking to you (and I’m looking forward to dropping in for dinner one day …!).