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Foodies aim for a slice of the pie
With the launch this week of a new award site, Graham Holliday argues that food blogs are not a flash in the pan
Thursday February 24, 2005
Foodies are ditching Delia, turning off TV chefs and blogging their own shows. The food blog brigade’s typical serving comes with a dash of passion, a dollop of honesty and half a pound of humour.
Is My Blog Burning? (IMBB?) is a monthly event where food bloggers from around the world cook a dish using a specified ingredient or style on a designated day. About 50 bloggers post at each event Some are food professionals, but most are amateurs.
Alberto, a trained sommelier who publishes the Il Forno baking blog from Germany, came up with the idea. “I noticed that often a post on one blog would inspire a few others to try or modify the same recipe and discuss it. I thought it might be interesting to put those people together.” He posted his suggestion at Il Forno in January last year. The response was ravenous. The event is now in its 12th edition and has a full schedule for the year.
Individual bloggers act as hosts and a dedicated website coordinates each event. Past IMBB? days have included fish, rice, terrine and barbecue dishes. The idea has spawned other popular events: “Wine Blogging Wednesday”, “Sugar High Fridays” and a food photo competition called “Does my blog look good in this?” The events are rounded up as a list of hyperlinks at the host’s blog with added commentary.
“I find it fascinating to see how each of us culturally interprets a single ingredient or cooking technique,” says Kate Hopkins, of The Accidental Hedonist blog in Seattle. However, some bloggers have trouble finding time for the plethora of events. There are tentative plans to introduce a PDF version of each event.
Food blogs don’t appear to be a flash in the cyberpan. Foodpornwatch, a food blog tracking site, monitors 206 blogs and gets up to five requests a day for new blogs to be added. Blogads, the blog advertising company, has 28 food and drink blogs on its books with a combined monthly traffic of almost 1m readers. Paris-based Chocolate & Zucchini gets 100,000 site hits and 7,000 readers each day.
Jay Rayner, the Observer’s food critic, is a member of several online food forums, but reads just one food blog, Chez Pim – “She’s very funny, has exquisite taste and she’s a friend of mine” – and he doesn’t see food bloggers as a threat to professional food writers. “I am writing in a different way, specifically to attract as broad an audience as possible,” he explains. “The bloggers can offer up the quirky and the individual; we have to add value, by offering authority and consistency.”
Kate Hopkins was miffed that the 2005 Blog Oscars – The Bloggies – hadn’t considered a best food blog category in the nominations stage, so created her own food blog awards. Nearly 8,000 votes were cast. Soon after, a food blog category appeared at the Bloggies. “I like to think they discovered the quality of writing and decided these food bloggers needed to be lauded,” says Hopkins.
Others are taking matters further. Taste Everything is a collaborative food award site that launched on Tuesday. It aims to “give credit to people and organisations creating exceptional food”. A blog jury made up of 30 of the most popular food bloggers each has one award to define and give. “There’s so much to celebrate about the growing independent food voice on the net,” says Taste Everything organiser Hillel Cooperman. “This year, we have approximately 25 awards.”
Most food bloggers are in it for fun. For others, the combination of passion and free or inexpensive blog publishing tools bring unexpected benefits. “I’m starting to get offers to write for magazines and newspapers,” says wannabe food writer Clotilde Dusoulier, of Chocolate & Zucchini. “All these opportunities stem from my blog.” She has an agent in New York and a potential book deal. She’s not alone. Heidi Swanson, who blogs at 101 Cookbooks, published a vegetarian book in October. Many others are eager for a slice of the action. Jay Rayner watch out.