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Foodie Blogs: Building a Community of Culinary Communication

Back in the day, people turned to cookbooks, recipe boxes, and improvisation to guide their cooking. Now, these resources are being pushed aside and replaced by laptops, television shows, and Smartphone applications.

It’s the dawning of the age of the foodie blog as consumers hungry for knowledge about cooking, dining, and food sources increasingly use technology to satisfy their craving. In the process, food blogs are evolving to provide not just information but also inspiration and community.

“I think the food blogs have become so popular because people love food,” says Andrea Alexander, a certified executive chef and academic director for culinary arts at The Art Institute of Austin. “Not all of them know how to cook or grow food, or even buy food, but they love to eat and appreciate good food.”

Alexander believes that blogs provide a great format for people interested in food to discuss experiences with others — everything from favorite restaurants to a dinner party that turned into a disaster. They’re also giving ordinary people the opportunity to present their opinions on popular trends including community-supported agriculture, sustainable farming, and other eco-friendly cooking trends.

“I think that people are foraging into the realm of where their food comes from, and the impact of such on our planet,” adds Alexander, who often chooses sites she visits based on their association with local farmers markets or other sustainable organizations. Alexander’s also a fan of sites that talk about cooking in her community or blogs that smartly use catchy headlines and visuals.

A successful foodie blog can create an online community where people from all walks of life gather to talk, learn, and listen. The authors and topics go beyond moms bored with cooking the same things for their kids or new cooks inspired by what they’ve seen on Food Network, according to blogger Katie Chivers.

“I've always been involved with food, I just never cooked,” Chivers jokes, adding that she’s recently become more adventurous in her own kitchen. “I admired — and secretly envied — my friends who had all these interesting ingredients in their pantries and actually used them,” says Chivers, who uses her blog writing as an opportunity to better understand food, how to shop for ingredients, and why certain flavors complement others.

Chivers contributes to a blog called Pittsburgh Hot Plate using the pen name Katie Lane. She utilizes various techniques to draw readership — everything from posting diverse articles and utilizing eye-catching food images to providing new content throughout the workday to attract those seeking a quick break from the daily grind. Promoting blog postings on social media sites also helps.

“Thanks to Facebook, I do think that my food blog has a group of regular supporters,” Chivers says. “When we put fresh content right under people's noses like that, they are more inclined to click over to read more.”

Food blogs are becoming more sophisticated in their delivery of content, Chivers believes, perhaps due to the increasing number of blogs and the competition for followers. Blogs are starting to better represent their creators’ personality — creating a virtual relationship where readers across the globe know what to expect from a particular writer. Many also link to favorite sites, creating a circle of blog life that eventually links back to the original writer, building community along the way.

This attention to detail and readers’ needs can help a blog rise to the top, Chivers believes. Her favorite is 101 Cookbooks, a site based on the premise that “when you own over 100 cookbooks, it is time to stop buying, and start cooking.” With more than 500 recipes categorized by ingredient and category — and focused on natural, whole foods and ingredients — 101 Cookbooks features simple design, photographs that should be edible, and frequently updated stories and recipes.

Being a food blogger has changed the way Chivers looks at the work of food critics, chefs, and every day people who aspire to create amazing dishes. “As I'm cooking or baking or eating or taking in the atmosphere, I'm already writing and editing and looking deeper at what's going on,” she says. “Through my investigations, I've gained a greater appreciation for, not just food, but meals.”

When it comes to foodie blogs, the proof is in the pudding.

"As I ate, the ingredients began mingling in interesting ways…a forkful of onion and bleu cheese…the next, full of capers and bacon,” Chivers writes in a recent blog posting. “All of these different combinations made this a very delicious dish. I love when you take a bite of something and you know that it’s going to be the best bite of your meal of your life".

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