Food blogger Kate Olsson (above) is a very modern example of how you can self-make a path to career and business success.
Her blog Finger, Fork & Knife provides the time-stripped with easy to prepare, inspirational recipes, accompanied by tantalising photographs.
The modest (almost self-deprecating) 24-year-old has an easy manner that’s evident in the tone and feel of her blog as much as it is when you speak with her:
“I don’t think I’m unique in anyway. I hope I’ve created a good-looking blog that gives people pleasure and inspires some to go to the next step and cook from it.
“People do seem to respond well to the stories - the captions on my shots often have something personal in them and that seems to work.
“I don’t have any formal training and my recipes, I think, are easy to follow, which means people aren’t intimidated. If you have a go and things work that can help build confidence and hopefully that then inspires you to try something new or do something differently,” says Kate about the chain of events that has brought her blog success?
“I was at University in Melbourne doing an Arts degree, writing History and International Politics essays, and my parents had moved overseas, which meant I had to fend for myself. I’d always had an interest in food and cooking, because of my mother, and I began to teach myself to cook using Women’s Weekly cookbooks,” Kate explains of the first steps toward starting Finger, Fork & Knife.
To further “impress” her mother with her ability to look after herself - and using a camera she’d been given as a present - Kate then set about photographing and documenting her efforts.
It wasn’t much of a jump to try a blog, and see whether other people might be interested.
That decision is now morphing into a career in food publishing and editing.
“About two years ago, when I’d finished university and was looking around to work, I thought I’d really like to get into publishing and editing. I quickly realised there were a lot of people out there with Arts degrees or media degrees and we were all after the same few jobs.
“If I wanted to get from A to B and make something more of what I loved doing then I needed to find other ways to get there,” continues Kate, who has slowly come to realise that her blog hobby is now something she can put on her CV with pride.
“I love cookbooks and I have a whole library of food magazines but if I’m cooking from a recipe then I go online. It’s faster, easier,” admits Kate, who is also an event chef working with the Melbourne based catering company, Bright Young Things. She also consults and works with a number of food magazines and in December, Kate will launch with another foodie mate an online food website called www.heytucker.com (Tucker, for short) filling what they believe is a gap in the market.
“Tucker,” Kate explains, “is a site for 18-35 year olds who want a casual, fun, inspirational way into the kitchen - a platform on which they can express their creativity through food. It will also provide users with the basic techniques and inspire them to build on those techniques.”
Tucker will also expand Kate’s skills and “may even lead me to the next stages of a food editing and publishing career”.
In My Tool Kit
In the kitchen, Kate can’t go past her KitchenAid stand mixer: “I was in Sydney at the Taste festival about two years ago and saw the company’s stall. I bought it there and then as a treat for myself. What I didn’t take into account was carrying it back to my hotel and then to the airport where I tried to get it on as hand luggage and in the end had to put it in the hold. I spent the whole trip worrying about whether it would be okay. It was so stressful. I’m really not sure the $50 discount was worth it in the end.”
Katie Quinn Davies and her blog, What Katie Ate, along with Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks (blog), are top of Kate’s inspiration list.
Quinn Davies develops recipes, produces the stories and is also a photographer, which provided Kate with the impetus to do the same with her blog. The food both Katie and Heidi prepare is “fresh and light”, two things that appeal to Kate, who also really loves the flavours of south-east Asia.
“Just lately, I’ve been thinking about where I should focus my energies. The creative side, creating the recipes and designing are where I feel most comfortable,” says Kate.
“At the moment,” she continues, “I am consumed by the whole foodie world. Every bit of information I can find or that comes my way, no matter where it comes from I’ll take it on board. Staying current means talking with people in the industry, reading, doing research and having a feel for what’s trending. I like going back into my mum’s cookbooks and finding an ingredient that maybe isn’t being used much and pairing that with something with which people feel comfortable, that they know. I like traditional cooking but lightened up, like the chicken curry where I substituted coconut water for coconut cream. The dish was much lighter without sacrificing the flavour.
“I don’t really have one single mentor. Kate Stewart, who began Bright Young Things, and where I event chef, is always there for me to talk to about business matters and to discuss food ideas.
“I ran across this idea from a caterer I was working with, recently. She’d paired ginger nut biscuits and blue cheese and it was amazing. Now I’m obsessed with developing a ginger nut biscuit base cheese cake with blue cheese and quince jelly. It’s taking a while to develop but I’m determined to crack it.”
(This dilemma comes from the same young woman who went through more than 10 blocks of premium dark chocolate developing her mousse driven chocolate tart, a recipe she has supplied here, for Ruby members.)
Chocolate Truffle Tart with Frosted Blueberries //
Stripping back a traditional recipe and giving it a new a look, taste, and feel is something I particularly enjoy, not least this simple and elegant tart, which took me a number of weeks and over 10 blocks of premium dark chocolate to get just right. This is not like your typical chocolate truffle tart – it has no cow’s milk, no butter, and no heavy cream. This is more of a dark, rich, and glossy chocolate mousse. I used an almond milk and coconut cream base in place of dairy, and added dark 80% chocolate to give it an impossibly decadent je ne sais quoi.
With a crunchy chocolate biscuit and peanut butter base and served with a glistening mound of frosty blueberries and a big dollop of crème fraiche, this dessert is sure to please.
120g (about 8) chocolate biscuits - I used chocolate ripple biscuits
3 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp honey
FOR CHOCOLATE FILLING:
2 organic, free-range eggs
1⁄2 cup (125ml) unsweetened almond milk
11⁄2 cups (375ml) coconut cream
350g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), chopped
Cacao or cocoa powder for dusting
Crème fraiche or ice cream
*Coconut cream is used here in place of whipping cream. In order to achieve the proper result you will need to use full-fat coconut cream.
1. Lightly grease and line a 20cm tart ring or spring form pan with baking paper.
2. To make the base, place the chocolate biscuits, peanut butter and honey in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand.
3. Tip the biscuit mixture into the pan and spread evenly with the back of a spoon to an even
4mm thickness. Pop into the fridge for 30 minutes until firm.
4. To make the chocolate filling, lightly whisk the eggs together in a bowl. Set aside.
5. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and coconut cream to the boil. Slowly pour onto the eggs, whisking as you do so. Add the chocolate pieces and stir until melted and smooth. Carefully pour onto the chocolate biscuit base. Pop into the fridge again to chill overnight.
6. When ready to serve, take a sharp knife, dip it in hot water and carefully loosen the tart from the edge of the tart pan. Transfer to serving plate and dust with cacao powder. Top with a mound of frozen blueberries and serve alongside a generous dollop of crème fraiche or vanilla icecream.