Welcome back to the "Meet My Inspiration" blog series! If you're just joining us, be sure to stop by the first post from last Monday to check out the Q&A with one of the very talented bloggers behind The Woks of Life! This week, I bring you a very likable food blogger from Sydney, Australia! She's the creator of the amazing RecipeTin app, the person behind some of the widely shared recipes on Pinterest like Cinnamon French Toast Sticks, Baked Spinach Ricotta Rotolo, and Cheese and Garlic Crack Bread. She thrives for making food that is fresh, creative, and easy for everyone to cook. When I first came across Nagi's blog RecipeTin Eats, I immediately wanted to look at everything and didn't want to stop clicking next!
Nagi and I started chatting on social media some time ago, and I'm SO VERY thrilled that she had agreed to let me ask her a bunch of questions for this blog series! Make sure you stop by the Blogger Resources section on her blog - there're some really really great tips from monetizing your blog to understanding ad networks.
Before I leave you off with the Q&A, don't forget to subscribe to my mailing list to get more of this blog series right into your inbox in the coming weeks! (Sign up form is on the sidebar or towards the bottom of the page if you’re on a smaller screen).
Now, here’s the behind the scenes chat with Nagi of RecipeTin Eats!
1. What inspired you to start a food blog? Does the RecipeTin app has anything to do with it?
Starting a food blog was inevitable for me. I was born into a food obsessed family. When we aren’t cooking or eating, we are either talking about food, arguing about food or planning our next meal. I was also born with a natural desire to share, inspire and teach. In my former life I worked in corporate finance, and much of my job involved explaining complication transactions to boards and executives, investors, banks and my team. So though food blogging couldn’t be more wildly different to finance, there are some parallels - that is, communicating clearly and concisely, and sharing. Of course, the way I write on my blog is ALOT more enthusiastic than the board papers I used to write!
So starting a food bog after I left “corporate” was a natural step for me. The only thing that was holding me back was time. I didn’t want to start one until I had the time to invest in learning about blogging and food photography. Until May of this year, I had never even heard of Wordpress, thought a widget was a toy for kids and only took happy snaps of food with my iPhone!
RecipeTin app had nothing to do with my decision to start a food blog. I created the app before I started my food blog, so for consistency of branding purposes I chose to use the same name for my food blog.
2. Tell us more about the RecipeTin app! Do you have a tech background?
Not at all! I used to work in corporate finance, and I was IT Help Desks’ most frequent customer!!
RecipeTin app is a recipe storage app for iPhones and iPads. It’s unique because it’s actually more like a document storage app which allows you to add recipes without typing them in, whether it’s from a blog, in a magazine, cookbook, or even handwritten recipes. Especially now that I blog, RecipeTin app has been invaluable. I was at the hairdresser the other day and saw a recipe for molten lava cakes. So I snapped photos of it and stored them in RecipeTin App. Then I had it on hand when I was at the supermarket to buy the ingredients, then again when I went to make it. I constantly get my mother to email me recipes and I can just add them into the app with a touch. It’s just so, so handy having all my recipes in a single place.
Also, I wanted all my recipes to be stored on the device, not dependent on internet connection. So many apps out there rely on internet connection to view recipes. There is barely any reception in my local supermarket!
3. What was the first post/recipe that you published on RecipeTin Eats? (no peeking!)
Eerm….guacamole??!! Jeez, I can’t remember! The last few months are a blur! Why are you asking me such tricky questions??
4. You post something new almost everyday! What does your cooking day like?
I know, I’m insane! Well, the reason is because 90% of the time, I post what I cook on a day to day basis (so that’s 3+ posting opportunities each day!) and also because I am still learning food photography I want to practice as much as I can!
You are going to think I am mad….but most of the time, my cooking/photography days start at 5.30 / 6am and finish by 8 - 9.30 am. Because I am a morning person and also because I love morning light and as it's heading into summer here in Sydney, the sun is too high by 10am to get the “scrape of light” that I love to get in my food photos.
However, when I am cooking dinner things that don’t keep well or are best eaten immediately, I cook mid to late afternoon and catch the late afternoon sun which I also love. But whenever possible, I like to cook in the morning - which is why so many of my meals are breakfasts, suitable for freezing or make ahead!!
5. What's in your camera bag that helps you create such amazing food shots?
Nothing that pros have! I have a hand-me-down Nikon D5000. I splurged $200 on a Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens which is great for food photography because it lets you get up close and personal with the food with amazing sharpness and also doesn’t make plates and bowls look warped and distorted which is what always used to drive me mad with my iPhone. That’s my “technical" explanation - see, I told you I was still an amateur!
And though not in my camera bag, my "can't live without" food photography accessories are a piece of plywood I found on the street that I painted with leftover ceiling paint that I use as my main photo board, folded white cardboard and paper I used as reflectors, and a piece of cardboard I cut a hole out of and clip tissue paper across to use as my diffuser. The 3 things I can’t live without for my food photography!!
6. How different do you think the food blogging atmosphere is between Australia and the U.S.?
Completely incomparable. The blogging world in the US is gigantic compared to Australia and as a result, there is a lot more support and sense of community. I’ve made friends with a lot of US bloggers but only one Australian blogger. Not for lack of trying!
7. The "Guide to Ad Networks for Food Bloggers" in your blogging resources section is super useful! What would you suggestion to food bloggers just starting out if they're interested in hosting ads on their blog?
Start with Google Ad Sense! Because you can get started so quickly and you can help yourself to everything you need, plus there’s a lot of great tutorials and knowledge bases. You can play around with it and get an understanding of what all the ad terminologies mean, learn how to put the ads on your blog, how they appear, all the different sizes and different types of ads etc. Then once you have that groundwork under your belt, start applying to ad networks. Otherwise, it is just too much to get your head around.
8. Being raised in a Japanese household, did you grow up eating a lot of traditional dishes? Or was it pretty multi-cultural?
When I was growing up, my mother cooked a lot of traditional dishes. I was that kid at school who was ahead of the curve and didn’t even know it. She sent me to school with bento boxes and sushi and all I wanted was a ham sandwich! Now as an adult, all I want is for my mum to make me sushi and bento boxes!!
9. What's your absolute favorite thing to cook?
Just one? One thing? Why would you do this to me? That’s an impossible question to answer.
OK, well, I'm going to give a cheeky answer then. Cheese. I love cooking anything with cheese. I know, it's boring! But I can’t help it. I am yet to meet a cheese I don’t love.
10. We'll end with some food blogging love. Any blogs or bloggers who you admire yourself?
Oh, thank you for finishing with an easy question!
Kathleen from Hapa Nom Nom - She is just incredible. I want to make everything that she posts. I actually bought a candy thermometer after she posted an Apple Caramels recipe. She constantly surprises with unique and creative ideas, things I didn’t realise that I wanted to make!! (It’s kinda like shoe shopping. I didn’t realise I needed those tan strappy kitten heels until I saw them.) Today she posted homemade dog biscuits. I literally jumped up and down - my puppy needs me to make them!
Imma from Immaculate Bites - another unique blog with an emphasis on African recipes. I genuinely learn things - new techniques, new ingredients. Being a cuisine that I don’t know very well but uses many ingredients that I am familiar with, I truly take inspiration from her blog. Her flavours are sensational. Just by reading her recipes, I know that the seasoning and flavours are right up my alley.
And there’s this other blog which I really admire. One of the very first blogs I started following. You might have heard of it - Saucy Spatula? It’s one of those food blogs that you can trust for authenticity. In this day and age, it’s becoming harder and harder to find Asian recipes you can trust. It also has great fusion spins, but still keeping true to the authentic flavours, if you know what I mean? When it comes to fusion food, there is a “line”. And Saucy Spatula is always on the right side of that line! And the chick that runs it - she ain’t such a bad sort!! :)
(Photo Credit: RecipeTin Eats - Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Chili Con Carne)