In the latest installment of our blogger interview series we caught up with Laura Scott, founder of the brilliant howtocookgoodfood.co.uk. Laura regularly shares fantastic recipes with her ever-growing readership and runs a successful Supper Club. Although you have to book early if you’re interested as events are sold out right up to October.
Laura was kind enough to give us an exclusive insight into her life as a blogger, chef, event organiser and all-round foodie. And we’re delighted to share her words with you.
Hi Laura. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. For our readers not already in the know, could you give them a quick overview of your blog, How to Cook Good Food?
My food blog has the tag line ‘Recipes For Food Lovers’. I create fresh, often seasonal flavours which are influenced by food trends and multi-cultural cuisines. I love food from all over the world but I also like to place an emphasis on health and wellbeing so I try to balance rich desserts with lighter main dishes. I think that vegetables should be celebrated as much as meat and this is a trend which I hope will continue to flourish.
Can you tell us a bit about your love of food? Where did it begin?
I’ve loved food for as long as I can remember. I use to read cookery books and magazines, especially the Robert Carrier collectable food magazines from the 70s. My granny was a very good cook and we always ate very well at home so I got a taste for great food from a young age.
What’s your first memory of food?
When I really, really young I loved salami baguettes. Although olives were always a huge favourite of mine, along with gherkins. Even as a little girl, I had a love of these ingredients along with my granny’s stuffed onions. Very obscure tastes I know!
Given your background as a professional chef, you’re perhaps more qualified than a lot of other food bloggers out there – do you think that helps to gain credibility in the world of food blogging?
I don’t think my chef credentials have given me an advantage in the food blogging world at all. I have found that the most successful food bloggers that I know are all multi-talented. They all cook well, take stunning, professional food photographs, write well and also understand how to market themselves successfully in this competitive world. Having said that, I do think it has helped me to become a successful supper club host. I think my blog has given me a great platform for doing this.
Can you tell us a bit about the Supper Club that we’ve seen advertised on your site?
The Epsom Supper Club was started by myself and a friend who lives on my road in a beautiful historic house. She had renovated her property, which had a beautiful dining room, and wondered if it would work as a venue for small weddings. We decided to set up the supper club to see if the venue could work as a dining space and it has now become so successful that we are fully booked until November. We both felt that Epsom lacked interesting places to eat out, so we have filled a gap in the market for this with a monthly changing menu.
Is there a set method you follow when developing new recipes?
There is no set method that I follow as most of my ideas come to me when I can’t sleep at night. They are just random thoughts and ideas that need to be realised!
Who are your biggest inspirations when it comes to cooking?
I learned to cook in an all-male environment in the early 90s when becoming a chef was not trendy, nor seen as a job for anyone who had an education, so most of my contemporaries were male. However, I still regret to this day not working for Sally Clarke who is a huge inspiration. I applied for a job with her when I lived in Notting Hill and she told me to come back when I had some experience in a pro kitchen (I had none). But I never did go back, something I regret hugely. I also love Ruth Rogers, the late Rose Gray, Josceline Dimbleby, Stephanie Alexander, Alice Waters and Deborah Madison. All female chefs whose recipes I still use to this day and all stand the test of time.
You’ve had your work published in some pretty high-profile magazines, newspapers and blogs, such as The Guardian. How did this come about?
With The Guardian, I use to enter my recipes on a weekly basis for their Cook Section. I won a couple of times and also had my recipes featured in their weekly Food Section when Felicity Cloake was the editor. With food magazines, I would have to pitch my work to them to get featured. For Best Food Blog listings, the websites will approach food bloggers if they want to feature them. In fact, I have recently pitched to two Surrey magazines, for one of which I am now their in-house restaurant reviewer and for the other magazine, I will be writing features on local food producers. So it is worth pitching your work on a regular basis.
Can you give us your top 3 recipes from your blog that our readers need to try out?
What are the main challenges you face as a blogger and how do you overcome them?
Time, always. Paid work has to come first so some weeks, when I am busy with teaching, cooking and writing my blog will suffer and so will my stats. But, I think if you have good content your readers do tend to come back, especially if recipes are fresh and innovative.
Do you have any top tips for budding bloggers out there?
Make contact with fellow food bloggers, join communities and go to networking events so that you can meet lots of likeminded friends. Also, take courses to improve your skills, such as food styling, photography and even writing workshops. They help you to develop your style and be the best you can be, giving you confidence in this highly competitive world.