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Interview: Emma Gardner

Baking blogger Emma Gardner talks to Connie Shaw about what it really means to be a food blogger today

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Image: Emma Gardner
Image: Emma Gardner

Food blogging is absolutely huge at the moment, with endless recipes and restaurant reviews, many are making a real career out of this home hobby. A simple search for a chocolate brownie recipe renders over three million results on Google. The food industry is no longer simply a field for big names such as Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver but for real people at home to engage with and profit from. Deliciously Ella a health food fanatic and blogger launched her first book this year and it became the fastest selling debut cookbook ever. It seems foodies are now able to connect to a global audience and on a far more personal and interactive level with the help of social media such as Instagram and Twitter. We spoke to student Emma Gardner who runs the baking blog 'Poires au Chocolat' about the trials of being a food blogger today and how she began writing.

Why did you start blogging about food?

I cooked a lot with my mum when I was little and baked as well, but one of the main reasons I started blogging was because I had a tutor in my first year who suggested I thought of another type of writing I could do to help with my essay writing.

Image: Emma Gardner
Image: Emma Gardner

Around the same time I came across an article in The Times on the 'Best Food Blogs,' I'd never really heard of them before and so I started off looking at lots of different blogs. I thought that they were interesting, and that maybe I could do it myself. It was meant as a bit of fun then, and not something that I ever thought anyone would particularly read or use the recipes from.
It was just a sort of experiment really. I know these days people often start a blog to get somewhere, but that was never my intention.

Having achieved an undergraduate degree in English Language and Literature from Oxford, you're now studying on the Graduate Medicine Course at Cambridge, how did this come about?

When I was a teenager I wanted to study medicine, partly as I've got quite a medical family. I got to the point when I was eighteen and, I wasn't entirely sure whether I was doing it because I really wanted to or because everyone else thought I should. I thought I'd take a break and see, knowing I could always apply for graduate medicine later if I wanted to. I ended up taking a gap year, studying English and training as a pastry chef before deciding to focus on food writing.

One of the things about food writing is that it's really quite lonely as you work at home alone all day. After three years I realised I needed a change and went back to medicine.

Why do you think blogging has proliferated in the last few years?

Image: Emma Gardner
Image: Emma Gardner

I think it's been popular for a while, but maybe it's increased even further recently because social media has got bigger and bigger and so more things like that are shared and find a wider audience.

How did you make your blog unique?

Everybody's different so the more you can be yourself through your cooking the better. Bringing your own interests into it gives more of a personality to your blog, which people can connect to.

Do you ever have times when recipes go wrong?

Oh all the time! I don't think there are any food bloggers out there who don't have a massive pile of recipes behind them that haven't worked and never get published. I definitely go through periods where everything seems to go horribly wrong and nothing seems to work. Sometimes, when you try something it goes brilliantly the first time and then you can't seem to repeat it.
There are always a lot of mistakes to learn from before you get things that work. Blogging takes a huge amount of time to do properly but at the same time you don't want it to come across that it's hard work.

What did you enjoy most about doing it?

The best bit was having a community around the blog, with people commenting, sending emails and making recipes.

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