Friday, 7 February 2014

Five Minutes With Emma Gardner from Poires au Chocolat

Photograph by Stephanie Shuh from the lovely Desserts for Breakfast blog.
Way back before blogging positively engulfed my life, I remember my older and wiser sister asking if I’d heard of the food blog, Poires Au Chocolat. I hadn’t, so I immediately started nosing (as you do when big sisters suggest things, I find that they tend to always be the best suggestions) and drooling and reading all the wonderful things that Emma had to say about brown butter and coconut milk ganache. Not long after, I half-heartedly joined the blogosphere without the foggiest clue of how to do things “right.” 

 As I started learning more from Emma I noticed that she was my biggest inspiration, and still is! So this is why this weeks post appears a little different albeit SO appropriate (why didn’t I think of this sooner?). Emma kindly agreed to let me interview her; she helped me carve my own blogging identity/style that helped me grow as a food blogger. In terms of how to do things the right way as a food blogger, of course, that question always goes unanswered, but hopefully this little interview will give you some idea of the best path to take. 

If you hadn’t heard of Poires Au Chocolat until now, I've given my all time favourite recipes in pictures with a link to the recipe in the caption. This girl tests her recipes three times before they make it to PAC. That, along with her honest and stunning photography is, in my opinion, exactly how to do this food blogging thing the right way.
Toscakaka {Caramel Almond Cake}
When you’re not testing recipes and writing posts for PAC, what are you doing?

For the past year or so I’ve been combining my food work with tutoring (mainly literature but also other things). A big change is coming up, though…

One of the most unique things about PAC is that you include some history behind the recipe in your posts (and lovely photos!). Can you tell us a little bit about why you do this?

I didn’t start out thinking about history. It’s crept in over the years. I like setting the recipe in context, which might be history but is also often literature, a story, a bit more about the technique or some science. My posts tend to chart where my reading has taken me - the meanders and detours are so often the most interesting bits. 

Have you ever tried a recipe from a book only to find that it completely failed, how much does this annoy you?

Oh yes. Many, many times. From book, blogs, websites and every other recipe source. There are very few people I trust to write recipes that always work the first time. 

Which of your recipes have you tested to death that you’re most proud of?

I decided at the beginning of last year to personally test all of my recipes a minimum of three times in the weeks preceding my post (before that the number of tests would vary). I’m particularly proud of all of the recipes I’ve written since then.  

What is the most enjoyable part of putting a blog post together for PAC?

It’s hard to pick. The least enjoyable bit is the final few hours of editing when everything is done but it’s just not quite right. Obviously the eating part is fun and I love the research stage and the satisfaction of the post going out and people making the recipe. 

Where do you go to find new recipes and what inspires them?

 These days I tend to start with an idea and then work forwards from that - often looking at a few books for reference - and testing till I’m happy. I often take components or basics from other recipes I’ve written and adapt them to fit the idea. 

What advice would you give for someone who has just started a food blog?

Work out your own rules by practicing, experimenting and observing. What do you like about your favourite blogs? Which posts do you like and which turn you off? What is important to you as a reader? What are your strengths? Keep editing, polishing and pushing forwards. Reach out to other bloggers and make friends. Try not to spend your time and energy worrying about numbers, success or other people - concentrate on what you do and doing it well. It is hard work, though not everyone will acknowledge that. But if you love it? It's worth every single moment. 

Do you remember the first blog you ever read?

 My introduction to food blogs was The Times list of 50 best food blogs back in 2009 - the first four I fell for that day were Orangette, Tea & Cookies, Smitten Kitchen and Tartelette. 

Favourite foodie film or book?

Difficult. A book that changed the way I thought about food writing a few years ago was Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. I’m also a big fan of Bee Wilson’s books and David Lebovitz’s recipes. The Oxford Companion to Food and McGee on Food and Cooking never leave my desk. 

Which blogger would you most like to sit with for dinner?

I love going for dinner with Kate (the little loaf) and Kathryn (London Bakes). That's two, sorry! 
Coconut Milk Chocolate Cake
Caramelised White Chocolate Eclairs 
Salted Caramel Brownies
Ginger Bourbon Pecan Pie
With thanks to Emma Gardner 

Love Em xx


  1. Ah, I love going for dinner with you too Emma! And great post Em, love little insights into other bloggers' heads :-)

  2. Emma is one of my favorite bloggers. Now I understand why! Such care and attention obviously goes into every one of her recipes and it shows! This is a great interview!

  3. I like your post very much , i like to read this article

  4. Love to read things like this! So so inspiring (having just started my own blogging journey). Thanks so much!

  5. This is such a good article, as Im new to the blogging world I love reading about the baking community and how it is all connected! Would love to achieve just an ounce of the success that you all have had! L x


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