Meet The Blogger | Fiona Beckett

For many of us who blog, our blogs were our first foray into writing for a (potential) audience. Some were simply looking for a way to record their efforts (in the arenas of food, craft, poetry, DIY…) for future reference; some wanted a way to share an aspect of their lives with real life friends and family in other towns, countries or even continents; others were drawn to the idea of an outlet for creativity and self-expression. And those motivations continue to be the key inspiration for many. Others have gone on to make blogging (or related activities such as writing, photography, styling and recipe development) their full time careers.

But there are also blogs that are written by those who were already professional journalists; those who continue to write for traditional print publications, but have also embraced the new world of blogs, online magazines and social media platforms.

Fiona Beckett is one such blogger, an established and well-respected journalist who also chooses to publish content via blogs.

Where some traditional journalists are openly hostile to bloggers, dismissive of those who are not writers by career, Fiona is inclusive, encouraging and open with her advice; she’s run popular sessions at blogger conferences and is quick to recognise that blogs have given a voice to some excellent writers and photographers.

Here, she talks to Kavey Eats about her blogging experiences.

matchingfoodandwine agoodnightssleep

Hello and welcome, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your blogs.

Hi everybody. My name’s Fiona Beckett. I’m a food and wine writer and, more recently, a blogger. I’ve been working as a journalist for the past 23 years (I currently write the Guardian’s drinks column) and as a blogger for about the last 10.

I have a ridiculous number of blogs spurred by serial enthusiasms or books I’ve been working on, some of which I’ve regretfully abandoned. The ones that are still going are Matching Food & Wine for which I won an award from the International Wine & Spirit Competition last year, a blog on sleep called A Good Night’s Sleep which I publish jointly with a health writer friend Patsy Westcott and a couple of other ones I occasionally update, The Frugal Cook and Wine Naturally which is about natural wine. “She’s nuts!” I can hear you say, and you are absolutely right.

The topics you blog about are very different to each other, can you tell us how you came to start both blogs?

Well the food and wine one was a natural. I’ve always been interested in pairing wine and other drinks with food. I started as a food writer so I always think of wine in the context of food. Sleep, I admit is a bit more random. I was telling my editor on Twitter he ought to get a more comfortable bed (he was complaining about a bad back) then said in a flip way “I should have been a bed blogger!” It seemed such a brilliant idea that I just did it. It is but I haven’t really got time to devote the attention to it I should.

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How does writing content for both differ, and what aspects are the same for both?

The discipline is much the same for both though I rely more on guest posts for the sleep blog. It’s all about commiting yourself to write valuable content.

Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?

Unless you’re entirely writing for your own satisfaction – and there’s nothing wrong with that – think what the reader is going to get out of your blog.

Does blogging about your chosen topics present any particular challenges?

Er, weight gain (though I touch on 5:2 in the Frugal Cook). I also haven’t resolved completely to my satisfaction the issue of paid for trips and meals. I’m open about when I’ve accepted them but wish I could afford to pay for everything myself. That said blogging shouldn’t be the province of the super-rich.

If I were coming for dinner, what would you cook for me?

Well certainly not Indian. It never does to attempt a cuisine on which your guest is an expert. Probably something Middle Eastern or a classic French daube.

You know I have a sweet tooth! What drinks would you suggest to match with that meal?

If it was Middle-eastern a fruity rosé, if French a generous southern Rhone or Languedoc red. Then I’d treat you to a gorgeous dessert wine with the pud.

wine-bottles-at-Plateau

Is there a single piece of equipment you couldn’t be without? (It doesn’t have to be electrical)

A corkscrew, obviously 😉

Blogging killed the newspaper star. What do you think bloggers bring to the arena that differentiates it from traditional media journalism?

I think it’s brought a lot of new voices into food and drink writing which can only be a good thing. And some very talented ones too. I’m amazed at how professional most blogs are these days. The standard of photography is amazing too.

If we were meeting for a meal out, which cuisine or restaurant would you choose?

Well – cue for a quick family plug – I might take you to one my son’s Hawksmoor restaurants – but otherwise I’d suggest one of the new more casual restaurants I like in London. Koya for example or Palomar. And Mission E2 is a great place to drink wine.

Marmalade cocktail Spitalfields Cellar Bar

What’s been your favourite travel destination thus far and why did you love it so much? Please share a favourite memory from the trip?

That’s a tough one. There are so many fantastic places. I think I’ll go for my most recent trip to Chile and Argentina because we got to drive over the Andes, something I’ve always wanted to do. It should definitely be on your bucket list. (That was an invite from two wine producers Errazuriz and Vina Montes btw)

Where are you going next?

New Zealand – in two weeks time. It’s the first time I’ve been for 15 years – I can’t wait!

If we were to take a trip together, where would we go?

India. I’ve never been and I’d love you to show me around.

vineyard-in-Limari

What are you absolutely loving cooking, eating, drinking right now?

I’m obsessed by the Honey & Co book. Everything I’ve cooked from it is wonderful and the writing is an absolute joy.

Drinking? Sloe gin and whisky (not together). It’s, miserable, cold and I don’t believe in dry Januarys!

What’s the single most popular post on each of your blogs?

I don’t think the sleep one has really been going long enough for that but one of the popular posts on matchingfoodandwine.com has been 20 food and wine pairings to learn by heart – an easy-to-remember guide you can master in 5 minutes.

Can we give a shout out to a post you loved and would like to share with my readers?

Well I enjoyed writing up my experience on how to book a last minute (and I mean the same day) hotel room on New Year’s Eve. It was quite hairy

Anything else?

Thankyou for asking me!

 

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Blog URLs
http://www.matchingfoodandwine.com
http://thefrugalcook.blogspot.co.uk
http://winemadenaturally.blogspot.co.uk
http://secretsofagoodnightssleep.com

Facebook pages
https://www.facebook.com/matchingfoodanddrink
https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Good-Nights-Sleep/409661682510268

Twitter handles
https://twitter.com/food_writer
https://twitter.com/winematcher
https://twitter.com/sleep_secrets

Pinterest profile
http://www.pinterest.com/winematcher/

Instagram handle
http://instagram.com/food_writer

 

Enjoyed this interview? Read the rest of my Meet The Blogger series, here.

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!
18 Comments to "Meet The Blogger | Fiona Beckett"

  1. kaveyeats

    Fiona’s very good at offering matches you can find easily nationwide, so well worth a read for her matches.

    Reply
  2. Jeanne Horak-Druiff

    I take my hat off to Fiona for even starting all those blogs – maintaining one is hard enough! 😉 She is as lovely and knowledgeable in person as she is online and her suggestions are always practical and not at all wine-wankery 😉 Great interview!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Exactly! Down to earth, not at all pretentious. And always warm, friendly, helpful.

    Reply
  3. Christie Dietz (Eating Wiesbaden)

    Lovely interview. I always find pairing wine and food a really interesting thing: I come from a long line of folk who are very particular about doing just that, but I married into a (German) family who believe anything good will go with anything good. I’ve rather learned to enjoy both methods!!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    I don’t come from a family of wine drinkers, so it’s not something I think much about. Finding places that do great soft drinks matching, on the other hand, is a delight. And my husband Pete appreciates (a good) beer matching menu.

    Reply
  4. [email protected]

    Wow, what an interesting insight into Fiona’s life. It is busy and I am so envious of all the trips she does to wine regions around the world. I would love to chat wine with her and am a fan of her blogs too.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Yes, she has really focused her writing career on subjects about which she is passionate. A good lesson for all of us!

    Reply
  5. Simon

    Love the positivity and really agree about new voices and the quality of photography. I’ve found that a common theme with people I admire is that they take time to help other people achieve too. Sounds like Fiona is one of those. I’d like to second the shout out for Hawksmoor as well – one of the great Action Against Hunger supporters and a group of people who give their time and energy to good causes despite the pressures of growing a business. Like Mother like Son!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Hey Simon, completely agree. There are so many people who are not only a pleasure to read (or, in the case of restaurants, to visit, or in the case of producers, to eat and drink their products) but are also people to look up, people who are positive and supportive, people who recognise others rather than only pushing themselves, people I like to spend time with. You totally nailed it.

    Reply
  6. Sally - My Custard Pie

    I hung off every word Fiona uttered the first time I went to Food Blogger Connect – I was in total awe … and loved that she was a serial blogger as well as an accomplished journalist. She’s inspired me through many channels and I even had the honour of writing a guest post for her food and wine matching blog. She doesn’t mention her cheese school blog and cheese book!

    Reply
  7. Jean | DelightfulRepast.com

    Kavey, Fiona’s blog is one of the first I discovered when I started reading blogs (I didn’t really start reading blogs until I started one myself!). I so loved her style. I’m so glad to have found your blog as well!

    Reply

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