It has been a little over a year since we last checked in with member Carol Borchardt. Carol owns A Thought For Food Personal Chef Service in the Memphis, Tennessee area and also has a thriving food blog called From A Chef’s Kitchen.

Carol told us all about how she began her food blogging venture in this How I Fell Into Food Blogging post. We asked Carol to give us an update on how everything was going with developing a food blog as an additional source of income and the other creative avenues she’s pursuing in addition to her personal chef business.

As you recall, I had a slow start and at first hit some roadblocks with my food blogging endeavor. However, I feel everything is now coming together rather nicely.

To recap my journey, I became intrigued with the idea of having a food blog after reading Dianne Jacob’s book, Will Write for Food. I read her book because I was doing a biweekly food column for our local daily newspaper that involved recipe development, writing and photography.

After a fall in a client’s kitchen three years ago put me out of commission for a six-week period, I decided that was a good time to start my food blog.

However, my original concept, which was based on my love of cookbooks, seemed to confuse everyone. Most people thought all I did was rework and republish cookbook recipes. I got worn out explaining that wasn’t all I did so I decided to rebrand and change direction two years ago to my current focus, From A Chef’s Kitchen.

Earlier this year, my newspaper column was discontinued due to budget cuts and layoffs at the newspaper. I was a little relieved about that because it enabled me to spend more time on my blog and now I’m beginning to see the fruits of my labor:

  • My traffic is increasing nicely. I have just over 70,000 unique visitors (an important metric brands use that indicates new visitors) to my site each month.
  • The competition is fierce, however I’ve been able to work with a number of brands on sponsored posts.
  • Ad revenue I receive each month has replaced approximately three cookdates and it continues to grow. This is passive income I earn just by having people visit my blog. I still love my personal chef business and clients, but it’s wonderful not to have to stand on my feet all day for that income!
  • I’m now a paid contributor to Parade Magazine’s website, Community Table. I was fortunate to be accepted because they generally like contributors to have at least 10,000 Facebook followers. My From A Chef’s Kitchen page is just over 7,300, but they liked what they saw on my blog. I’m able to post articles and recipes but have been doing mainly collections of recipes such as:

There have been some real eye-openers since I began blogging. I really didn’t pay that much attention to food blogs until I read Dianne Jacob’s book. However, the fact that food blogging is an entire industry and can be very lucrative was an eye-opener such as:

  • There are several paid membership websites by food blogging pros where they share their knowledge and resources.
  • There are countless food blogging conferences around the country, which, I’ve attended several. At one of the conferences, I had the privilege of taking a workshop with one of the best food photographers in the business, Helene Dujardin.
  • Brands work with food bloggers as a cost-effective way to “influence” their readers to buy their product. These are referred to as “sponsored posts.” The brand pays the food blogger to develop a recipe and post for the product. This can be extremely lucrative for food bloggers–especially if their blog is popular.
  • There are ad networks that manage ads on your website enabling you to receive passive income. I’m with MediaVine.
  • There are affiliate sales programs where you earn a commission if someone clicks on an affiliate link on your blog and buys the product.

However, two of the biggest eye-openers were, the amount of time required to be successful and that as a food blogger, you wear many hats. If you want to be successful, you have to treat it like a business and build your brand. Obviously being a good cook is important, but you have to be everything else including the writer, the photographer, the programmer and the promoter. As the promoter, you have to be on top of all the social media trends and how to stand out in a sea of food bloggers. I’m at a point where I’m considering hiring a virtual assistant to help me with the social media.

My biggest challenge has always been and continues to be social media; I’m not a very outgoing person. However, the only way to grow your blog is through social media so I just do it and try not to think about it. There is still more I could be doing to grow my blog such as doing food videos, but my personal chef business still takes up a significant amount of my time.

I really love that as a food blogger, I can be as creative as I want to be. I always enjoyed developing recipes prior to becoming a personal chef and then developing them for my clients. Food blogging is a way to share them with the world and it has solidified my identity as a personal chef.

Becoming a publisher and photographer has taken a lot of time and there have been numerous struggles along the way. Shortly after writing How I Fell Into Food Blogging, I went through a particularly discouraging period because my traffic was not growing. I really wondered if I should keep doing this. Some of my photos never get to my blog because I don’t consider them good enough and I’ve wasted an entire day. However, I get right back at it and remake the dish or photograph it again. It’s all about not being a quitter.

As far as what’s next, I’ll continue working as a personal chef, however, I’ve scaled back to working three days a week when possible. I’d love to do a cookbook of my own or be the photographer for one.

Seven years ago when I shot my first food photo for the newspaper, I never dreamed a well-known food photographer would tell me my photos were good. Anyone can do what they set their mind to.

Are you doing anything professionally to augment your personal chef business? It doesn’t have to be writing. It could be studying to be a nutritionist or becoming a recipe developer for restaurants or corporations. What makes your heart sing?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

 

Salad with poinsettia2

Looking for a break from all of the holiday indulgences that too often temp us to overdo with tempting rich foods and sweets? Both you and your clients are probably trying to balance the inevitable splurges at parties with some exercise and nutritious meals, as well as strategies for keeping the holiday fare healthier. After all, as much fun as this time of year is, it’s also very stressful. The best thing you can do for yourself and your clients is to fuel right so that the celebrations are welcome and enjoyed.

We’ve put together a dozen links to sites that have great suggestions for enjoying a healthy diet during this period–and we have a great Holiday Kale Salad from our own Candy Wallace, APPCA’s executive director.

Let’s start with the links.

And here’s Candy’s gorgeous salad.

As she says, a colorful holiday kale salad using seasonal fruits, nuts with or without roast poultry can satisfy your hunger without adding to your waistline during these days of temptation. It’s is a seasonal holiday salad that my family and friends look forward to each holiday.

One thing to remember about kale is that it can be tough and even slightly bitter if simply torn and tossed into a salad bowl, but can easily be transformed into a more tender and even sweeter green by handling or massaging it with acidity such as fresh lemon juice.

There is no trick to it, just remove the ribs and stems and place the torn kale into a bowl. Add fresh lemon juice and “massage” with your hands or repeatedly turn with tongs for 3 to 5 minutes. This will soften the kale and reduce the volume by about ½. The end result is worth the extra step.

Just add the delicious fresh ingredients you selected for your salad and set in the refrigerator for up to half an hour before serving.

 

Candy's Kale Salad2

All Hail Holiday Kale Salad
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

1 Honeycrisp apple – peeled and sliced into matchstick cuts
½ cup pomegranate seeds
½ lemon – juiced for massaging the kale
1/2 lemon – juiced to pour over apple slices to keep from turning brown
¼ head red cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot – shredded or thin sliced
½ cup dried pitted tart Montmorency cherries (available at Trader Joe’s)
½ cup jumbo raisin medley (available at Trader Joe’s)
½ cup toasted walnuts, rough chopped
½ cup salted peanuts
Shredded roast chicken or turkey (2 cups if the salad is an entree, 1 cup if it’s a side)

Traditional Slaw Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup white wine, champagne or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tsp salt

Directions

Peel and slice apple, combine with lemon juice to keep from discoloring. Set aside.

Shred cabbage and carrot on box grater or slice into thin strips. Add to kale.

Add dried cherries, jumbo raisins, chopped toasted walnuts and salted peanuts to kale.

Add sliced apples and pomegranate seeds.

Add roast poultry.

Make the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings. Use just enough to coat the salad. As an alternative you can also use a citrus vinaigrette.

How are you keeping it healthy over the holidays? What’s your go-to recipe for a healthy holiday-time meal?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.