For the next instalment to the Bread&Honey blog, we have the first in our series of blogger interviews. These fine foodie wordsmiths now play a starring role in the food industry, so we’ve sought out the crème de la crème.
First up we have Gary Berry, aka The Foodaholic. Gary is a London-based foodie and impressively manages to juggle full-time blogging with a full-time job. Take a gastronomic gander through Gary’s posts where you’ll find restaurant reviews and news from across the UK and Europe. All the insight and inspiration you need to help you plan your next edible adventure.
Hi Gary, please can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I work in the wine industry during the day, so food has always been an integral part of my working life – long lunches and all that jazz. I was brought up in London and have lived here all my life, but my second home is a city called Maastricht in the Netherlands – it’s a beautiful place and one I can’t keep away from, it has so much to offer. Outside of work I enjoy eating (of course), drinking (who doesn’t), travelling as much as I can and photography is slowly becoming an interest. I’ve not got a favourite dish but if I could I’d demand blue cheese in almost everything.
Where did your blogging journey begin?
A friend and colleague of mine inspired me to start writing about food. Every day, I’d come into work and from the moment I switched on the computer, I couldn’t stop talking about food. Six months in, this friend of mine had enough and said ‘instead of talking all the time, why don’t you write it down?’. Thus, TheFoodaholic was born.
Blogging is a time-consuming activity; where does your motivation come from? Do fame and fortune pay a part?
Lots of hard work is how I manage my blog. I work a normal office job 9-6 while running (struggling) to keep the blog current and I’m also launching a new restaurant-booking platform called BottomlessBookings (http://www.bottomlessbookings.com/) in the New Year. When I started TheFoodaholic just over three years ago, I never expected it to become so popular and discovered that with popularity, comes a demand for new reviews and industry news. I love blogging and would never give it up. I’ve met so many great people out of it.
You have an impressive back catalogue of restaurant reviews under your belt. In your opinion, what makes or breaks a great dining experience?
That’s a hard question, but for me personally the service is what makes or breaks a restaurant. Comparing the service in London to the Netherlnds where I spend a lot of time – the London dining scene is still very much behind in that aspect. They manage to create a service so personal over in Holland, yet always completely unobtrusive. Food of course is key too. Either simple, quality-led dishes or experimental and flavour focused creations. In a market flooded with restaurants (such as London) the stakes are higher and you have to raise your game.
Do you have a favourite restaurant?
In the UK: Fera at Claridge’s for its pristine dining room, polished service and outstanding food. Outside the UK; La Source in Lanaken (Belgium). I’ve visited this Belgium restaurant seven times now in two years – and each time my meal has been faultless. The venue is like something out of a fairytale too.
We see you’ve branched out into hotel reviews with a second publication, The Hotelholic. Can you tell us a bit about the project?
I originally started The Hotelaholic about six months ago and it’s been a little quiet if I’m honest – due to my full-time job. But it’s coming back with a vengeance! I’ve got around eight new hotel reviews arriving on the site by the end of January 2016, so lots of trips coming up! Each review focuses on all aspects of my visit to the hotel and aims to answer every question you may be seeking an answer for when browsing for quality hotels.
Do you see any correlation in the rise of the internet and people’s attitudes towards food?
Most definitely. People are becoming far more educated about food and wine thanks to the internet. It’s happened so quickly too and I think it mainly has something to do with the rise of street food. Four years ago we were all happy with the white burger van, but once street food traders started popping up around the UK and using social media, good food became accessible at low prices. Now the internet is flooded with bloggers taking over critics and almost every diner researches their meal before they go out – hoping to find that review which tells them what to order and also what to not order.
Where do you envisage The Foodaholic being in 10 years’ time?
Moved to the Netherlands and exploring the whole of Europe in my shiny red convertible (after I win the lottery!). On a more serious note, I’d love for TheFoodaholic to be widely recognised across Europe and not just the UK – for both restaurant and hotel reviews.
Do you have any top tips for the budding food bloggers out there?
Yes. Be honest. It’s the most important thing you can do, along with not buying social media. Don’t do anything to damage your reputation. Also don’t give up. It takes a long time to build a social media following and get people to trust you. Photos are key too for engaging new readers as most people eat with their eyes. So invest in a good mirrorless or DSLR camera.