Food Bloggers – it’s a small world

Like many of you, my intentions for starting a food blog were quite innocent.

First, it was a way to document favorite dishes and also become more familiar with my camera. And I have always had a passion for sharing how easy home cooking is, and to hopefully inspire people to cook.

I had never looked at another food blog when I decided to start mine 3 years ago. Mostly, I think, because I didn’t want to be discouraged.

I knew nothing about blogs, I just loved the idea of blogging about all things food-related.

If I had actually seen some blogs, I would not have named my blog Chef Mimi Blog. I had no idea names are supposed to be catchy, like Lemon and Lime, or Thyme and Rosemary. In retrospect, my blog’s name would have been Culinary Madness. It goes with my subtitle, which is “so much food, so little time.”

Speaking of time, I do believe that food is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I might take it to an extreme occasionally, but I don’t regret eating that second croissant, taking the time to peel tomatoes, or spending hours in the kitchen to make my family happy.

So in the beginning, as I ignorantly trudged along with my blog, I began following other blogs. Hundreds of them.

I would quickly get tired of the “fancy” blogs with all of the ads, but that’s not because I don’t wish these people abundant income and many cookbooks in their future. It’s just that many of these bloggers are extremely capable of all of the glitterati part of blogging, but there was always something missing.

To me, it’s nearly impossible to be a great chef at the age of 20, even if you’ve attended culinary school. Learning about food is experiencing food from different cultures, learning how they cook and eat differently, tasting unique ingredients, visiting farms and orchards, dining at all kinds of restaurants, and even gardening.

As much as food styling and photography are huge parts of food blogging, they are so much less impressive to me. So you have a warehouse full of props? Cameras hanging from your ceiling? Professional lighting? Cool. But you haven’t convinced me that you know food. I prefer down-to-earth and passionate bloggers.

Do I sound jealous? I hope not. I’m certainly not wanting a book deal. But what I have experienced, the best part of being a small part of this food blogging world came unexpectedly. I’m sure it was unexpected to many of you as well. It’s the camaraderie of food bloggers. Our little, virtual foodie world.

Some of us have been lucky enough to meet some of these other like-minded, foodie “friends.” For me, it has been the best and most unpredictable outcome from these few years of blogging. Actually meeting these friends in person and best of all – breaking bread with them!

One Texas gentleman I met was just by happenstance. I discovered that he was hosting a visit from Dutch food blogger Stefan from Stefan Gourmet for a long weekend, and I jokingly asked, “Can I come, too?” To which he immediately responded with a jovial “of course!”

After I invited myself I felt like a schmuck, because I’m normally not an aggressive person, but I had gleaned from his blog sincere generosity of spirit. The more the merrier, I can imagine him thinking.

And that’s how I got to meet Richard McGary. Lawyer by day, wearing his white, “good-guy” Stetson, and foodie extraordinaire the rest of the time. He embodied passion not only for great food and drink, but also for life.

Richard had impressed me in many ways while reading his blog posts over the years. First of all, he referred to his wife, Elia, the love of his life, as Baby Lady. Right? Who wouldn’t want that?!! Secondly, we shared a love of Southwestern and Mexican cuisines.

But here’s the big deal, which I have to share, if you’re not already aware. Richard sent chile pepper care packages to Stefan in Holland and to Conor, of One Man’s Meat, in Ireland, along with a chile pepper challenge.

This act of culinary generosity still makes me laugh and cry at the same time. Can you imagine these two men opening packages of chile peppers? And also some of Richard’s pickled chipotle peppers and hot sauce? Neither of them had ever touched chile peppers of any kind, to my knowledge.

To quote Stefan, “There was enough capsicum in the box to eradicate a small village!”

But Stefan and Conor followed through with Richard’s challenge of cooking with the chile peppers, and neither of them has quit experimenting with chiles to this day. Richard single handedly changed culinary history in that part of the world, which makes me smile.

So the thought of driving a mere 5 hours to visit Richard and Elia was a given for me. I wanted to meet them, watch them cook together, drink wine with them, and eat. And we did.

Below are two courses from the lovely meal, which Richard wrote about in his post here. In this post he also writes about meeting and following the lives of fellow bloggers.

Plus, I got to meet Stefan as well, who is an extremely talented cook, and has helped me immensely with his scientific approach to testing sous vide methods!

The featured photo at the top shows, from the left, myself, Stefan, and Richard.

What’s funny about this trip, which took place in March of 2014, is that I had a few friends stop me and ask, “Wait. You’re going to drive to meet some guy you met on the internet?” Which is an odd way of looking at it. But that was the point.

After following Richard’s blog REM Cooks, and communicating with him often, I felt that he and his wife are friends, in spite of being virtual friends. Three cheers to foog blogging!

Richard's beloved Aga, in which he's grilling corn on the cob
Richard’s beloved Aga, in which he’s grilling corn on the cob

65 thoughts on “Food Bloggers – it’s a small world

  • I started blogging exactly how you started and I my take on food photography is the same too. Very sorry to hear about your friend. Hope you are doing ok now.

    • I’m good, thanks. I had my husband read my post because i didn’t want it to come across like Richard was my best friend. I literally knew him in person for a matter of hours. But as we all know, we also feel friendship via the computer screen with other bloggers, which I never expected. It makes blogging so worthwhile.

  • Mimi, it’s hard to comment on a post so dense with emotion, thoughts, and underlying sadness. One thing I’d like to highlight first, is your remark:
    “As much as food styling and photography are huge parts of food blogging, they are so much less impressive to me. So you have a warehouse full of props? Cameras hanging from your ceiling? Professional lighting? Cool. But you haven’t convinced me that you know food. I prefer down-to-earth and passionate bloggers.’

    I suspect you know that I feel exactly the same, and could not have said it better myself – I also worry that this type of statement could sound like jealousy, but I feel comfortable to say it is not. Food blogging in my mind should be a natural movement with food and love at the center. The rest? unimportant. Of course, if a food blogger needs to use the site as a source of income, then I guess it’s a different game, but a game I am not interested in and maybe I should count myself lucky for that.

    As to the passing of your friend – it is amazing how we can be affected by losing someone who was a presence in our screens. Happened to me a few times, and it’s hard to explain why we sit and sob, and cry and hurt so much

    life is simply not fair sometimes.

    I send you a hug

    • Oh that’s so sweet Sally. Thank you so much. I was afraid it would seem like a cop out since I’m not that kind of blogger. But I also have a life. Maybe if I was young I could blog with more zeal. But then, I wouldn’t know half of what I know now. I know you travel, and have lived in many places around the world, and that’s so much more of a culinary education than learning how to mince carrots. Nothing against chefs, as you know, my point was just about learning from real people about their real food. I wish every blogger I know could have met Richard. He was real. Do you remember when a blogger’s daughter disappeared for a couple of weeks. He was one of the most aggressive of everyone trying to share her photo and her parents’ message. He wasn’t self-centered. I really appreciate your comment!

  • Oh Mimi, I too share pretty much the same sentiments about food blogging. And I was completely shocked and saddened to hear about Richard’s untimely passing. I had tentative plans (in my mind) to see if I could hook up with him next time I visited my family in Texas. You are so very lucky to have met the incredibly sincere and kind man. (((HUGS))). <3

  • Beautifully written post, Mimi, both about blogging (reasons I share and have enjoyed making friends through it and meeting lovely people like you!) and Richard. I didn’t follow his blog and am now wishing I had after reading this post.

    • Well he definitely most always made mexican and southwestern dishes, and I know from emma that it’s even difficult to find salsa in London, let alone chile peppers! I’m so glad we got a chance to meet! Wish I could meet Freddie!

  • Sorry to hear your blogging friend passed away. Virtual encounters can be as meaningful as any other relationship, and it’s always hard to lose people who had a positive contribution to our lives.

    I’m totally with you when it comes to many blogs. Styling and equipment cannot compensate for lack of true love of cooking and sharing culinary experience. But to each his own… :)

  • Really interesting and moving post Mimi! I like your ideas about food blogging and your blogging friend Richard sounds like he was such a lovely man… Thanks for sharing! :)

  • The friendships created through blogging are definitely a huge part of what keeps me inspired and passionate Mimi. I’m so sorry to hear that Richard passed away recently, that’s very sad news indeed.

  • Thank you for your wonderful posting. I’m sorry to hear about your loss. I like what you said about cameras and props – gave me comfort since I’m lucky to get a shot of the finished dish on my old, worn kitchen table. It’s really about family time and the joy of cooking for me, too.

  • I agree with so much that you’ve said and have had the same experiences, I had never read a food blog before I started mine either, or had any idea about catchy names, hence mine being what it is!! I’ve learnt so much as I’ve gone along, in cooking as well as blogging, but the greatest gift has been the community we’ve joined and share. And I completely understand driving all that way to meet your fellow blogger!!!

  • Mimi I absolutely agree with everything you’ve written here, I value a genuine voice rather than one that is strident and commercial, but then I might just be getting old and grumpy. I was shocked to hear of Richard’s death and while I never had the privilege of meeting him, I found he was always warn and generous with advice and comments. A true loss to the food blogging world

    • he even suggested what kind of labeler to buy because I complained that I was always too lazy to label my jars of stuff that i froze, and then never knew what is was! he was very generous in many ways.

  • I’ve enjoyed following Richard, Stefan, and you, Mimi, over the past few years and had read about that memorable visit of the three of you at the time, not without a touch of jealousy :). I think people who spend time blogging do get to know people whose blogs they visit frequently. I also agree that friendships formed across the miles feel very real. I for one will miss Richard in a real way. Thank you for writing about him – Sharon (and Vinny) xo

    • Thanks. I didn’t want it to come across like we were best friends, especially since I really did “know” him for a matter of hours. But it was just that he was the same guy in person as he was via his blog, and that’s a rare and special individual.

  • Beautiful post, Mimi. Blogging is a work of passion – food, wine or cars – I’m sure that many virtual friends became real life friends, no matter what the blog is about. Sorry about your loss – I didn’t have a chance to know Richard, but it seems that we lost a wonderful human being…

  • I know that the friendship between Richard, Stefan, Kees and you crossed the boundary between the real and virtual worlds. I am truly sorry for your loss, Mimi.

  • I think so many of reading your blog can relate to what you wrote and the emotions behind it. I too have had the very great fortune to meet some of my fellow bloggers and count them as friends. Others I talk to privately on social media and we share things that don’t make it to the blog – and we laugh and support each other and get so much out of this wonderful community!

  • Aw Mimi – what a wonderful post and a great tribute to such a fabulous man.
    I agree with you on everything. I think the stylizing of food has gotten to the point where it is more important than the food itself and the love that goes into cooking. And to me, it’s a little like photoshopping women. Just stop it. Give me real food. Give me real people. I’m loving the direction you are taking with your blog. It resonates. And obviously with many others too. I’m also with you that their is an important sense of community in blogging – one that I never ever expected.

    • I know! I think everyone thinks that! All of a sudden we have a bunch of friends!!! It’s the best. Thank you for you kind comment. I’ve never tried to be anything I’m not – just a self-taught home cook who never wants to make the same dish twice. I wish I could be braver at times, but it’s just not me. Love your blog, too.

  • This is one of the most enjoyable, yet sad posts I’ve ever read on the blogs that I follow. I remember reading your post about the trip to visit Richard & Stefan and thinking “man that woman’s got the right attitude about getting out there & experiencing things”. I truly admired you for doing that and it sounded like you had such a wonderful time.

    Although I am not in any way a fancy or gourmet cook and have my bouts of wanting to be in the kitchen followed by “nah, rather be doing something else”, I still enjoy reading blogs by real people. If all I wanted was a recipe, I could look it up on AllRecipe or the Food Network. What I look for in a blog is a person who can inspire (yes, you do!) and relate interesting stories behind their passion. It’s all about the connection and sharing while making new virtual friends and I’ve come to ‘know’ so many interesting people of very different backgrounds that I truly feel part of a community.

    Keep on blogging Mimi – I love ya!

  • I read all of your your blogs – maybe you and Stefan more than Richard – and, while I skim through the fancy blogs with the beautiful pictures that engender envy, I wold much rather read and you Stefan’s step by step recipes. I might not make the same exact recipes but you give me ideas for my everyday cooking. Can you be a great chef at 20? Palates are definitely trained. I think when you start, cooking is very much intellectual and it is not until it becomes instinctual than it can ever be great. I have eaten so much food that was perfectly prepared and read like an encyclopedia but lacked soul.

  • Such a nice post Mimi. I think you touched on something we all feel about blogging. We really get to know many fellow bloggers almost as well as if they were our next door neighbors. I’d rather read my group of favorite bloggers rather than any famous chef, no matter how many books they have written. Richard was a dear soul and will be greatly missed. He was called away much too soon, may he rest in peace.

  • Hey I’m so lucky you got to meet all these food bloggers :) I’ve met a few and have had an awesome time! (and I’d love to meet you of course!) I agree with you, I have absolutely no jealousy nor do I wish these people a low income and no cookbook sales, but all those glittery “successful” food blogs sort of feel too “how to” and something personal is missing (which is why I read blogs in the first place).

  • Well, I wouldn’t “mind” having a cookbook! haha! But I agree 100 percent with your thoughts. I never gave much thought to the pictures when I started out. Some of my posts didn’t even have photos.

    My pictures aren’t great, but they have improved some, but I’ve noticed when I have cooked a dish again and redone the picture, it gets a lot more views. I always thought it was more about the recipe, the method and even the stories behind food.

    I wish sometimes we as humans weren’t so darned attracted to what looks beautiful – I’ve followed Conor for quite awhile now, and loved hearing about the chile peppers! :)

    • I know. That is just the funniest story ever. Getting a care package of chile peppers in Ireland and Holland! Well you’re young enough to work on a cookbook. So do it! I just don’t like when it seems like it’s more about the photography and food styling than the food, recipes, and stories.

  • Loved this post couldn’t agree more, great connections, similar approach and passion rather than blind ambition. That said most of the blogging friends in the foodie circle love to share and care about their blogs the way you have friends over for dinner. Most of us have succcesful jobs, or are retired and don’t regard blogging as a potentisl career launcher in the foodosphere. You dont sound envious just mature :)!! Love Stefan, need to check out the other gentlemans posts too Poli ( also not a catchy blog name…)

    • sadly, Richard passed away last year. I had written a different ending to this post, to incorporate the sudden passing and the impact he had on so many bloggers. ( he really did, and he was a lawyer by day) but yes, it had a real impact on me, and I’ve met quite a few more since that time. It’s so much about why I love blogging!

      • Hi Mimi
        I realised that you had written a different ending because I saw all the comments and then went back and read the post a number of times but couldn’t understand what the comments referred to. I am very sorry to hear about Richard’s death, it sounds like he sounds like a truly lovely man and still so young. Very best wishes Poli

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