This month’s blogger of the month is Supperclub pioneer and winner of the Guild of Food Writers 2013 Food Blog of the Year Kerstin Rodgers aka Ms Marmite Lover. Kerstin blogs at The English Can Cook and tweets as @msmarmitelover.
Tell us a little about yourself, who you are and what you blog about?
I’m Kerstin Rodgers aka Ms Marmite Lover. I blog about food, travel and the supper clubs that I run.
I’ve been blogging about food since 2008 but I had a blog before that, about terrible internet dates, bringing up my daughter, astrology and films.
Why did you start blogging and where did your site name come from?
I started blogging because I felt lonely. As a single mum, basically you stay in for a decade! One particular New Year’s Eve, I just thought, I’ve got to express myself and start writing. I chose Ms Marmite Lover because I’ve always liked and eaten marmite.
How do you think up all those amazing original menus for your supperclub?
I often think of them in the shower. I find running water an inspiration. But I also collect recipes and research for months before I do the actual supperclub. I’m always working on menus. You can book for my supper club via my events page. I also run a monthly ‘secret garden club’, where you can learn a skill, gardening, smoking, canning and then have a supper.
Tell me about some of your more “unusual” supperclub guests?
I had two that had just done a taxidermy class and brought their stuffed white mice to the dinner. They propped them in front of their plates. I also had a guy called Captain Hugh who had a booming voice, wore a monocle, and kept smacking the waitresses’ bums!
What do you feel you gain from blogging and working in food?
I’ve always loved food and cooking, I find it very therapeutic.Obviously working as a chef is not particularly relaxing though. It’s been great to start and run my own business from something I love doing. It brings together all of my skills: photography, writing, cooking. Blogging is great because I have control of what I publish, I don’t have to wait for an editor to deign to commission me. Of course I don’t get paid but I combine blogging with paid writing work for others. Freedom and expression is the main thing I get out of it.
I also got a book deal Supper Club: recipes and notes from the underground restaurant (Harper Collins) from blogging. I’m working on my second book this summer.
As an old hand at blogging who do you feel it has changed over the years? And what advice would you give to new bloggers to stand out from the crowd?
It’s a shame but fewer people comment nowadays. Often people just retweet which is good but it’s so nice to get comments, to have a conversation. I also feel it’s more PR driven rather than people writing about what they really want. You can get lured by freebies which are a bit of a time waster. You are never going to become a good writer if all you are doing is dancing to the tune of PRs.
New bloggers: Make your blog look good, develop your photography skills, spell check every post, and don’t make it all about freebies. Make it personal. People respond to the personal.
Any tips for working with PRs?
Most of them are good but quite a few send out mass emails which are totally inappropriate. This irritates me. I try not to let it but sometimes I’m a bit rude back. Best just to delete the emails that irritate.
Many thanks to Kerstin, congratulations again on your Guild of Food Writers Award and we look forward to your next book.