This month we meet the food obsessed blogger behind Grab Your Fork - Helen!
What is your blog about & how did you go about choosing the URL?
Grabyourfork.blogspot.com – I wanted something that reflected my enthusiasm for food and my keenness to dive in whenever there’s food around. It’s fair to say I’ve been obsessed with food ever since I was little, but as I’ve grown older I’ve become a lot more interested in how food brings people together and how it incorporates so much of a culture’s history and custom. I want to get in and explore everything all at once and the active sentiment behind the phrase “Grab Your Fork” seemed to match perfectly.
When did you first start blogging and what made you first hit the keyboard?
I started blogging in 2004, a time when dedicated food blogs were only just starting to surface as DIY blogging platforms became more and more user-friendly. It was a chance stumbling upon Hawaiian food blog Ono Kine Grindz that prompted me to start. Until then, I didn’t really know that food blogs existed.
I’ve always been interested in writing – I studied journalism at university – and the thought of self-publishing my work to a global audience was an exhilarating and exciting revelation. I loved the idea of sharing my photos, my words and my thoughts with others – I used to write long wordy emails to friends and family during my overseas travels but a blog means I can now rave on about my amazing meals to people who are not only interested in what I’ve eaten, but actively keen to talk about it with you too!
What is the thing you most enjoy about blogging?
The community-aspect to food blogging is really rewarding. It’s been fantastic to see the Sydney food blogging community grow, and I love that so many of us are friendly and supportive of each other’s endeavors. It’s been amazing to connect with people from all over the world, and to find out that people read your blog from as far abroad as Finland or South Africa.
My blog has inspired me to update regularly, to refine my writing, and to try to emulate the amazing photography skills of people like Billy from A Table for Two. I’m grateful for the wonderful friends I’ve made – it’s hard to believe that one day I was reading blog posts by a girl called chocolatesuze and the next I was chief bridesmaid at her wedding!
What is the coolest thing your blog has helped you to do?
You never quite know who is reading your blog, and I don’t think the professional networking opportunities of having a blog can ever be underestimated. My travel posts on Japan were noted by a commissioning editor and I ended up contributing to a published travel guide book, “To Japan With Love”.
I’ve been hosted by Tourism Bureaus and flown to Wellington, New Zealand as well as Melbourne to experience their local food festivals. There have also been various media interviews in newspapers and magazines and live studio interviews for 702AM ABC Sydney.
It can be a bit bewildering at times, but I think the coolest thing is probably that my blog is officially archived by Pandora, the web archive of the National Library of Australia as “a site of significance [and with] long-term research value”! I thing blogs are an anthropological goldmine but I do wonder how my meals will be analyzed 50 years in the future!
What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out their very first blog?
I think it’s important for people to work out why they want to blog and what they hope to get out of it. Some people use it simply as an online diary, or a means of updating friends and family with what they’re doing. If having an audience is important to you, then you have to think more carefully about the type of content you’re generating and what you can offer readers that will keep them coming back. At the same, it’s important that your blog gives you joy – it can often take up a lot of your time and requires discipline and effort to maintain, so make sure you’re blogging about something that you love.
Inject your personality into your posts, write with honesty, and engage with other bloggers in similar topic areas. It’s a hard slog in the early months but keep at it and soon you’ll find yourself in a rhythm and hopefully, with lots of regular readers!
Tell us about your pets, friends, hobbies, star sign, shoe size… whatever!
I’m left-handed, a Scorpio and I wear a size ten shoe? lol. I’m a closet board-game fanatic – I love playing Scrabble although these days it’s usually on Facebook or my iPhone. My favourite game is Pictionary though – I find it fascinating to see which people can think laterally and how they deal with frustration when none can guess their picture! And everyone always ends up in stitches at some point in the game, laughing hysterically at dodgy drawings or suggestive answers. We need more board-game nights, I say!
Describe your favourite food or favourite meal for us?
I love freshly shucked oysters – there’s something so sensual about them. I don’t think you can eclipse that smell of the ocean when you first prise open the shell and their quivering plumpness and glossy sheen is really quite beautiful. There’s such an intensity of flavour when they’re freshly shucked, and the brine inside is nature’s perfect dressing.
Is there a particular restaurant that you dream of eating at one day?
Everyone is obsessed with El Bulli and I think a meal there would be such a sensory roller-coaster of textures, flavours, aromas and presentation. On the other hand, I often think the most incredible meals are made in people’s homes. I’d be just as excited about eating handmade gnocchi, or fresh tofu or lamb on a spit roasted in someone’s backyard. It’s true what they say – food always tastes better when it’s made with love!
Share a tip for taking great food photos?
Get down low and take as many as you can! I mainly take photos of the meals I eat in restaurants and I find that positioning the camera close to plate level gives a better sense of height and depth to your dish. Experiment with different camera angles and you’ll quickly work out what works best through your viewfinder. I usually look for the table with the best natural light too – sit near a window, if possible, and if you don’t have a steady hand, use your elbow on the table as a brace.
What do you love about Nuffnang?
I love that Nuffnang organizes events and social gatherings for its members. The Nuffnang Awards in Singapore were a fantastic initiative that not only showcased some of the best blogs across the Asia Pacific, but also helped create a sense of momentum in local media by publicly recognizing the growing influence of blogs and the level of professionalism that blogs have achieved. I think it’s an exciting time to be blogging and that bigger and better opportunities lie ahead!