With the On The Rocks festival’s nine-day lineup coming to an end, the Fine Food and Dining Society played host to a Food Writing Workshop on Friday in the St Andrews Church Hall. For students familiar with the Fine Food and Dining Society’s ever popular cooking lessons hosted in the same venue, the event took a similar form, with a bowl of fresh made vegan banana ice cream and granola awaiting participants on arrival – a recipe featured on one of the panelist’s blog. Consisting of a five-student blogger panel and lead by the Fine Food and Dining Society’s publicity officer, Samantha Evans, the event took the form of a guided roundtable discussion of all things food and how each blogger had found their way into the growing food writing blogosphere.
The panel consisted of Maria Sisci, who runs the ever-popular blog Happy Belly, Genevieve Yam, the foodie behind Gratitude and Greens, Caterina Giammarresi of Amore e Sapore, Phoebe French of Chez French, and Emily Grant, editor at large of The Tribe. After passing around homemade canapés from each of the respective bloggers, the panel began with introductions and food puns from around the web. The Workshop promised to cover the ‘three main elements’ of food blogging through a structured list of talking points, covering the core pieces of successful food blogging: writing, photography and publicity. Furthermore, the discussion touched on general structuring styles, top chefs, presentation, website design and marketing and outreach specifics. As each blogger shared their particular approach to composition of posts to the style of blogging they aspired to, the panel provided a full spectrum of differing styles to share with the group.
The panel also opened up the discussion to members of the audience, asking attendees about their own respective blogging experiences and for top chef and blog recommendations. As Giammarresi responded to the ever-persistent question of prospective bloggers – what if I have nothing special to say? – “You don’t always have to come up with something innovative.” With the growing popularity of food blogging and publicity surrounding talented young chefs and bakers, the fear of jumping into the internet community often discourages others from starting their own blogs due to them not having a ‘niche’ idea. The panel firmly disagreed with this notion, going so far as to argue, that in some cases, their own blogs felt ‘niche-less’. The panel ultimately recommended that aspiring bloggers focus on finding their own voice and style, and to worry about distinguishing themselves from the online masses later.
The discussion covered important questions for potential bloggers, with tips on everything from food, photography and blog presentation, to which host websites and media platforms the panel preferred. While the group was split between the hosting sites of Blogspot and WordPress, they were unanimous in their recommendation of self-learning the art of coding. For many, this is the trickiest part of blogging: trying to design a website that properly reflects the writer’s aesthetic and brand. The top recommendation for playing with site templates? Google and YouTube video tutorials on coding, as well as Code Academy and St Andrews very own Coding First: Girls, a coding program run by the not-for-profit Entrepreneur First organisation.
As the class wound down, the panel opened the floor to roundtable discussion, and entertained the group with a game of ‘name my blog’ – wherein the panel took descriptions and adjectives of attendees and generated a potential blog pseudonym. Delivering on their promise to provide the audience with ‘practical and applicable techniques’ and ‘creative motivation’, the event was a clear success, as attendees left with full bellies and renewed vigour for food blogging.
Fine Food Society’s Writing Workshop Link Love:
Top Writers & Bloggers:
- BBC Food Magazine, bbcgoodfood.com
- TasteMade, RawVeganNotGross
- OhSheGlows. ohsheglows.com
- My New Roots, mynewroots.org
- Love and Lemons
- Hipster Food, hipsterfood.tumblr.com
- Oh, Ladycakes, ohladycakes.com
- This Rawsome Vegan Life, thisrawsomeveganlife.com
- Smitten Kitchen, smittenkitchen.com