I’m an avid blog reader. That may seem an obvious thing to say as a blogger myself but I know many bloggers who rarely read more than a handful of other blogs, and few outside their circle of friendship. I regularly read a few hundred blogs – easy to do with an RSS reader – and I also read individual posts from several hundred more, most of which I stumble across via various social media platforms. There are so many really great blogs out there; an astounding number actually. I’d really like to share some of my old and new favourites with you.
Today, I’m starting a new series in which I approach bloggers I admire and ask them to tell us a little more about themselves and their site.
Hello and welcome, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about the kind of content you share.
Hello! I’m Gary and I’ve been writing Big Spud since 2007. I keep it as a record of things I’ve cooked and enjoyed, but continually amazed that other people want to read it. I have a focus on potato recipes, but genuinely interested in all foods and cuisines. I use Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal as inspiration for a lot of my cooking, and it ranges from the everyday to the flashy.
Is there a story behind your blog’s name?
I had the nickname Spud as a boy, and when my son came along he inherited it. I can’t be Spud any more so I’m now the Big Spud! I’ve been using the name online for years.
What are your earliest memories of cooking and who inspired you to cook?
I always hung around the kitchen on a Sunday helping Mum with the roast. But it wasn’t until I left home and had to fend for myself that I really picked up the wooden spoon.
What are the biggest influences on your cooking at the moment?
Tell us the story of your most spectacular kitchen failure!
I had an annual tradition of making cheese straws on Christmas Eve growing up. I preheated the oven and carried on making my pastry. 20 minutes or so later, once I’d rolled and cut out my straw shapes, I opened the oven to find the Christmas Day turkey sat there in its carrier bag where Mum had left it to defrost. The plastic had emblazoned the bird with the Tesco logo! Still tasted OK the next day though.
It was less funny when I did exactly the same thing the next year…
Which food or ingredients could you not live without?
Salt and pepper may be an obvious choice but I must have Maldon salt. The flavour is irreplaceable.
Which food writers / chefs do you find most inspirational and in the same spirit, are there any particular cookery books you cherish above the rest of the shelf?
I adore the gung-ho can-do spirit of Jamie Oliver. Everything he makes looks achievable, delicious and fun – and it usually is. Whatever you think of the person, his cooking is excellent. At the other end of the scale Heston Blumenthal strives to make every meal the most exceptional it can be. By focusing on each detail you end up with a dinner very much the sum of his parts. His recipes are rarely simple, but the results are always worth it.
I try to capture a little of both personalities in all the cooking I do.
If I were coming for dinner, what would you cook for me?
I would have to make you a roast chicken with roast potatoes and other trimmings. It’s a bit of a signature.
What’s the single piece of equipment you wouldn’t be without?
A couple of my best Heston Tojiro knives. Easily my best friends in the kitchen.
What’s your kitchen white elephant?
I try to be fairly ruthless, but I have some beautiful Chinese porcelain spoons that I mean to use every week but I’ve probably used three times in about ten years.
What is the hardest aspect of blogging for you?
My photography is awful. I want to snap and eat straight away, I don’t have time to prep a stage for the photo. A decent camera + lenses would help. But that’s another expense I don’t need!
What inspires you to keep blogging regularly?
Seeing how people react. I only ever set out to write this blog for myself, but I love getting Tweets, Facebook comments or blog comments discussing the latest post.
I only write when I have something to say. And because I’m cooking every day, more often than not something comes up.
What are you absolutely loving cooking, eating, doing right now?
Stir fry noodle dishes are a staple right now – with MiMi’s book for inspiration we’re tearing through them in our household. So much variety!
What’s the single most popular post on your blog?
It’s a no-brainer: perfect roast potatoes. It was the culmination of a loooot of research and it’s also a popular question: how do you make perfect roast potatoes? When Christmas Eve rolls around this post goes nuclear.
Can we give a little extra love and attention to a post you love but didn’t catch the attention of your readers in the way you hoped?
Heston’s fish pie, influenced in part by his famous Sounds of the Sea Fat Duck dish, can be a notoriously difficult and time-consuming dish to pull off. I spent a lot of time thinking about the recipe and reimagining it as a simplified salmon dish that captures the essence of it. It didn’t really get much attention at all relative to the thought I put into it. In hindsight it probably only clicks with people who’ve tried the Heston fish pie and would be grateful for the short-cuts!
Spread the love
Blog URL: http://bigspud.co.uk
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thebigspud
Twitter handle: http://twitter.com/bigspud
Pinterest profile: http://www.pinterest.com/thebigspud/
Instagram handle: http://instagram.com/TheBigSpud
Enjoyed this interview? Read the rest of the series, here.