Dotty Dishes interview – Conquering London bite by bite
For the latest instalment in our ongoing series of interviews with the winners of the 2014 hungryhouse Not Just Another Food Blogger awards, we caught up with Beth from Dotty Dishes to hear about her passion for blogging, her thoughts on London’s food scene oh and of course her love for mouth-watering food.
If you thought all London foodie bloggers spent too much time picking bits of Kale out of their teeth whilst instagramming quail eggs then think again my friend…
hungryhouse: Thanks for joining us Beth, can you give our readers an insight into who or what inspired you to take the plunge and start the Dotty Dishes blog?
Beth: Back in 2012 when I started my blog, many friends and colleagues commented on how nice meals I’d cooked looked (I’ve always liked taking pictures of food!), how delicious the cakes were I’d baked or how tasty my packed lunch looked and it wasn’t long before they suggested ‘you should start a food blog!’.
I’m a trained journalist but by day I’m a music PR. As I’d always wanted to get back into writing I thought it was a great idea and more so because of my passion for good food. I also wanted a way of switching off from working in music, which whilst amazing is also very all encompassing, and this seemed like the perfect way to do it. So far I think it’s worked out quite well!
hungryhouse: What’s behind the name Dotty Dishes?
Beth: It is a play on ‘Dirty Dishes’. I have a love of the 1960s and all things retro and ‘Dotty’ seemed a good word to express that side of me. For me it makes me think of spotty Cath Kidston tablecloths and a cook in a frilly retro apron baking in the kitchen. It was also the first name that came to me and I just really liked the way it sounded and how catchy it was. Lots of people call me ‘Dotty’ rather than ‘Beth’ when they email me and I quite like the way it makes me into a bit of a character too!
hungryhouse: What’s the aim of Dotty Dishes and what do you love most about food blogging?
Beth: I started Dotty Dishes because of my love of food and I wanted to convey all the different things that I love about food to my readers. I think my blog does exactly that and at first I thought recipes would be the main focus for me but I have become particularly fond of reviewing restaurants – who doesn’t love eating out and getting waited on! A lot of my friends read my blog or email me when they’re looking for somewhere to go for dinner and I love it that I’m now their ‘go-to’ lady of food.
hungryhouse: Dotty Dishes doesn’t restrict itself to just one aspect of food (such as cooking), so was it a conscious choice from the start to give your readers the ‘full picture’ of the food scene in London, or has the focus of your blog just evolved and morphed over time to include everything from restaurant reviews to foodie news and festivals?
Beth: When I started my blog, I knew that I would cover recipes, reviews and food products but as Dotty Dishes has grown, the scope of topics on my blog has developed too and it now includes both Foodie News and Travel. In fact, travel has become one of my favourite aspects of blogging as I personally feel that travel and food goes hand in hand and it’s a pleasure to go for a meal in a hotel then just wander upstairs to bed and not have to worry about the journey home. For me, there is no bigger treat than a meal and a night in a hotel.
I am confident the blog will grow further and one area I’d particularly like to expand on is international food and travel as I’m quite London/UK centric at the moment.
hungryhouse: Food bloggers have copped a bit of flak recently from restaurants and other diners for constantly photographing and instagramming food, but as we all know a picture is worth a thousand words…. So how do you balance out simply enjoying the food and soaking up the atmosphere with trying not to annoy other guests by photographing your meal and taking notes for your review?
Beth: As much as my partner loves dining out with me when I’m reviewing, one thing he does complain about is me taking pictures of my food as he finds it a bit embarrassing. However, I do try to be discreet as I take all of my blog pictures on my iphone rather than pulling a big camera out of my bag! I usually ask for a copy of the menu and also thankfully have a very good memory so I keep note taking to a minimum.
Often when I am writing a review my taste buds tingle as I recall best parts of the meal and looking at the pictures I took is always the best reminder of the food.
hungryhouse: Which flavours and food cultures have had the biggest effect on your taste buds?
Beth: Both my parents have influenced my food tastes. My mum is a more traditional cook whilst my dad has always experimented with different food styles from various countries and cultures and has a very wide selection of herbs and spices from throughout the world and huge collection of cookery books. I was always encouraged to try different foods and if I didn’t like something then at least I’d tried it.
I very much have that mentality now and owe a lot to my parents for instilling that in me. My Dad rarely follows a recipe and always likes to make it his own by adding various ingredients often depending on what is in the cupboard or fridge. Consequently he can never replicate a recipe exactly as he never writes down what he has done but he has been suggesting starting a family blog where we all upload our recipes, which I think is a great idea.
hungryhouse: How has eating out in London influenced your own cooking and/or food appreciation?
Beth: Living in London for 10 years and regularly eating out has influenced both my cooking and food appreciation. There are so many amazing restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, cocktail bars, food markets and independent food stores in London that you really are spoilt for choice and you could never explore them all. But trying is half the fun!
hungryhouse: Let’s assume you’ve got some bad-ass cooking skills (we won’t tell if you won’t ;), if you could open up a restaurant anywhere in the world, where would it be and what would you serve?
Beth: This might not sound very exciting but one day I’d love to have a little café in the Northern Quarter in Manchester with my sister. It’s always been one of our dreams which I feel one day might happen. In my mind it would be in an old fashioned building and the interior design would be retro themed with mis-matching tables and chairs, a few comfy sofas, patterned crockery, teacups and a cool cocktail bar with a vintage till sitting on it.
We’d serve delicious home cooked food such as doorstep sandwiches, homemade pies, fresh and seasonal salads, slabs of freshly baked cakes, bags of retro sweets and pots of tea. There would also be special gourmet evenings were we’d open late and serve great food and brilliant cocktails. Sounds cool doesn’t it?!
hungryhouse: And lastly, who would be your favourite food blogger? Who do you think stands out as ‘Not Just Another Food Blogger’?
Beth: I’m sure she’s a popular favourite but I love ‘Eat Like A Girl’s’ blog. Niamh cooks the dishes she likes not what is on trend; explores great cuisines which she portrays through food and travel; takes wonderful photographs and I think shows just what you can achieve by running an honest and passionate food blog.
Thanks Beth for the interview.
All about Beth: Beth Brookfield began Dotty Dishes in January 2012 and has since become a food blogger for Huffington Post UK and Triptease with the likes of Squaremeal including Dotty Dishes in their best food blogs of 2013. Beth is a music PR by day and runs her own PR firm.