Jennifer Lam
Jennifer Lam
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Lessons learned from 10 years of blogging


A decade ago, I discovered a new passion. By day, I was an ambitious digital producer and by night, I obsessed about food and travel — I read about it and I blogged about it until the early hours of the next morning. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought my little blog would take me on this great journey!

Back in 2006, a time before Facebook and Instagram, all my Instant Messenger chats and emails were about breakfast, lunch and dinner — where I’d eaten, what I’d recommend ordering. I’d just commenced my dream career in online advertising and the excitement of being able to work with brands that I grew up with powered me through a full-time job with concurrent full-time postgraduate studies. (I used to quote “you can sleep when you’re dead“!)

At the same time, my personal blog,, a play on my name (it was either Jen-ius or a-Jen-da), was created to document my design work and my culinary adventures. Little did I know that 10 years later, the blog would be my launching pad to the most fulfilling entrepreneurial journey.

Back in 2009 when I resigned from my day job, I wrote this blog post. It’s been almost seven years since then. While I’ve kept you up-to-date with my eating adventures, I know I’ve been pretty quiet on the behind-the-scenes business front so this post is a little different from what I usually write about. On the face of it, my blog-to-business journey has become a sustainable full-time gig consisting of two thriving companies, but the reality is, there’s been a lot of long hours and sleepless nights (as well as some incredible have-to-pinch-myself moments). With the many highs and lows of being in business, this post is all about my learnings and hopefully, maybe, if you’re trying to turn a hobby into a business, it’ll give you a few ideas on how to make it a reality.

Earlier this year, I was invited to speak at Tasting Australia, Words To Go 2016, a conference for bloggers and social media influencers in the culinary and travel field. Plus, more recently, I was honoured to speak alongside Declan Lee (Co-Director at Messina), Jake Smyth (Co-Director at Mary’s), Jack Hanna (Co-Founder of The Grounds), Mina Nada (General Manager at Deliveroo) and Oscar McMahon (Co-Founder of Young Henry’s) at General Assembly’s Made in Sydney event: Food & Liquour Legends. The following is a brief summary from these two talks.

Here are my slides from the Words To Go talk on From hobby to business: how to take your food or travel blog to the next level — I will be referencing the material from this as we go through my tips from the General Assembly event talk.

First and foremost, let’s talk about your purpose — your calling.


Tip #1: Calling

I’m going to quote Oprah Winfrey here because noone says it better. “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.

I didn’t really understand what my calling was when I decided to go into business. I just wanted to be my own boss and to do what I want, when I want. While that naivety got me started, it is understanding my calling that has kept me going. Understanding your why can help you to make decisions easier, it can drive you during those late nights in the office, and it is ultimately what provides a sense of contentment. When you’re stuck at crossroads, always look back at why you first started.

How do you find your why? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What makes you come alive?
  • What are your innate strengths?
  • Where do you add greatest value?
  • How will you measure your life?

When I first started blogging, I felt like an outsider in a mysterious world of culinary arts. All of my disposable income went into food and travel — exploring both fine dining and cheap eats locally and internationally. Reading other blogs and sharing my experiences on my own blog was a way of gaining/sharing access into this mysterious world. I’ve used this as an opportunity to hone my craft in writing, photography and videography in the process.

In late 2013, ‘’ eventually merged into I Ate My Way Through, an off-shoot business I’d set up to run food tours in response to the request of friends of friends, and some dear readers. I opened up the blog to contributors that year as well because there was simply too much food for myself to cover alone, and food is better shared. We now have a page called Why We Do What We Do to remind myself and my team of our why. On the page you’ll find quotes from readers and tour attendees validating our purpose, which largely stems from my deep connection with supporting refugees and their businesses (as my parents were both refugees from Vietnam). I believe that through food, we can spark dialogue among all cultures, racial and religious group and foster greater international understanding and cultural tolerance.

As important as it is to understand your why, you must also know your what — your end goal. I’m a firm believer in what gets measured, gets done. One of my greatest learnings in business is to never lose sight of your numbers, cashflow is everything. I landed in a hefty tax debt a few years into business as I took poor accounting advice and I had to work twice as hard to repay ATO whilst still paying the usual overheads, consisting predominantly of staff salaries, office rent and IT. Thankfully I learned that lesson at a young age and nowadays, I am a lot more focused on understanding my numbers and on defining and achieving my goals. If you’re new to goal setting, follow the S.M.A.R.T. approach:

  • S – Specific – Clear, concise, tangible. What, who, when, why, where?
  • M – Measurable – Time, money, volume. How much and how many? Active vs passive income?
  • A – Attainable – Goals should be challenging but not impossible.
  • R – Relevent – Goals should be consistent with other long term goals.
  • T – Time-Bound – Create a time frame, when to achieve the result?

I’ve learned that success is more about persistence, determination, resilience and hustle than just a great idea. And as Anthony Robbins puts it, “progress equals happiness“.


Tip #2: Curiosity

The real beauty of blogging is that noone can really tell you what to write about or define your image or word count! I love that if there’s a particular topic I’m fascinated about, I’m free to pursue my curiosity however I like, and then via the blog, I’m instantly connected with like-minded people. Take for example, one of our all-time most read blog posts on the best Korean fried chicken in Sydney. Blogging is a great platform to use your curiosity to encourage, engage and empower others.

Back yourself to be confident to pursue your curiosities. Don’t assume that noone will be interested in what you have to say, but with that said, I do use analytics to double check that we are producing interesting content that our audience cares about.

Tip #3: Celebrate

Too often, we get caught up in daily life and forget to celebrate the small wins or things that are readily available in front of us.

For us, it’s all about celebrating Sydney’s rich cultural diversity, which is often taken for granted; only when we return from an overseas trip do we realise how great it is here. As a publisher and food tour guide, it is a privilege to be able to shape and influence the experiences that our readers and tour attendees have. I love that we’re able to share these culinary gems in Sydney’s suburban pockets with people who may otherwise just skim the surface of what the suburb has to offer.

I find that practising gratitude every day helps me to stay focused. I mean — at the end of the day, I’m getting paid to eat and write — my greatest joys!


Tip #4: Collaborate

I always try to create win/win situations in both my personal and professional life. One of our most recent wins was a collaboration with Zomato who helped us to host four parties in four weeks to celebrate our 10th birthday! (Another business motto: If you don’t ask, the answer is no!)

Our first party was held at Paradise Road Diner, an American themed restaurant at North Bondi (296 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach, Sydney) that I’ve long wanted to visit! Our group of contributors and blog-friends happily devoured shakes perfumed with a naughty shot of whisky, we ordered one of everything on the new Spring menu — Southern fried chicken with Caesar salad, Spring Nicoise with house cured fish, grilled haloumi with rainbow leaves, slow braised pulled beef brisket and tortillas with house-made chipotle and more — plus burgers, oh, the burgers.

iamwtturns10-66 iamwtturns10-79 iamwtturns10-82Through my other business, I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with many other bloggers/influencers and their businesses; I’ve sent around many business leads and opportunities and in return, a large portion of my business comes from word-of-mouth referrals.

Someone that I’m particularly fond of is Sunny Bakehouse who kindly created for us this magnificent lychee birthday cake! She then referred me to Little Confetti Love who produced the exquisite handmade cake topper. I can’t believe there are now businesses specialising in cake toppers but there you go — the power of Instagram and Etsy! Because there’s no such thing as too much cake, the fab team at Black Velvet also supplied these custom-printed lemon vodka, passionfruit and Gaytime flavoured cupcakes.



Back onto the topic of business, one of the most frequently asked questions is “How do bloggers make money?“. Well, the business of blogging can be categorised into three groups: Advertising, Services and Products. Deciding on which is best for you comes down to your goals (as I’d mentioned in Tip #1) and your value proposition. Find the overlap between your passion/love, the opportunity/market need and your skills/talent and you’ll seamlessly discover that there are many ways to monetise your blog. These tactics may include:


  • Ad networks / talent agencies
  • Sponsorships
  • Affiliate programs
  • Pay per post
  • Text links
  • Newsletters


  • Consulting
  • Coaching
  • Freelancing
  • Training
  • Photography
  • Speaking
  • Ambassadorship
  • Ghost-writing


  • Premium content (pay to view)
  • Books / eBooks
  • Merchandise
  • Plugins/Apps development
  • Events
  • Workshops

I dabble in almost all of the above except for offering premium pay-to-view content or producing our own app. I think it’s important to diversify your revenue streams to minimise risks. All of my consulting, ghost-writing and photography services are offered via a separate company I’ve set up, The Bamboo Garden; I recognised the potential to scale this up from working as a freelancer to running a living and breathing enterprise that could create more dream jobs and empower more businesses. Having it as a separate entity also means I could potentially sell it one day if I wanted to, without it impacting on what I do at I Ate My Way Through.

The entrepreneur inside me has always loved creating something from nothing and I love being able to do that in the vehicle of a business.


Tip #5: Community

We wouldn’t be here today without our community so thank you for your support and encouragement. I know some of you have been following the blog since my ‘’ days — thank you for sticking by me all these years! I love how food can bring people from all walks of life together so if you haven’t had a chance to meet the team and I in-person yet, do come along to one of our meet-ups! 😘 😘 😘

To our team of contributors and tour guides who so passionately carry I Ate My Way Through’s appetite and curiosity to restaurants and destinations beyond what I could reach alone — thank you for making it so fun, I’m so proud of the work we do together! 👏 👏 👏

It is an absolute privilege that our readers trust our instincts and tastes in curating stories, food tours and events, and on the flip-side, that restaurants and tourism boards trust us to tell their story.

We get pretty overwhelmed with emails and social media comments, and while we don’t respond to all of them, keep them coming because I do personally read each and every email/comment and they really make my day!

So where to from here?

At I Ate My Way Through, we’re currently looking into expanding to a national scale and then the world is our oyster. You may have noticed a lot more international travel on the blog as the team and I have been busy eating our way through the world, one bite at a time! We’re also reviewing our food tour offerings to make them more tourist-friendly as 99% of our customers are still Sydney locals (which we love!). I am looking to collaborate with refugee support organisations to launch new food tours and events and on our website, expect a higher frequency of new stories every day. We are currently expanding our network of contributors so send me your photography and writing samples if you’re interested!

With my other business, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching with The Bamboo Garden team and in the past few months, we’ve redefined our positioning, our services and we’ve restructured the team. It’s pretty exciting times as my husband, Zen, has spent this year working full-time with me on the business and hopefully we get to make this a permanent thing. Husband and wife teams are pretty rare but we’re determined to make it work.

I’ve also started meditating with the Headspace app that I highly recommend; as a result, it’s provided me with greater clarity and mindfulness to juggle running two businesses.

So here’s to ten years of blogging, and another ten more! Thanks for being part of the ride!

This post originally appeared on I Ate My Way Through and has been republished with full permission.

Cabramatta Guide + As heard on 702 ABC radio, live broadcast from Cabramatta Lunar New Year Festival 2014


The Cabramatta 2014 year of the horse lunar new year festival was held on the weekend. I was honoured to have been invited by 702 ABC’s Simon Marnie to partake in a live radio broadcast! Co-hosted by Thang, they covered various lunar new year traditions as celebrated by the Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese and other Southeast Asians.

I chimed in about my lunar new year memories and experiences – how as an Australian-born Chinese, it felt special to be allowed by my strict parents to skip a day of school every Chinese New Year day throughout primary school; how I had just spent all weekend making banh chung with my mother; and how elaborate my family’s Chinese new year feasts always were. (FYI, this year was no exception, we welcomed the new year with a sumptuous feast at Rhodes Phoenix)

I was also challenged to take a 702 ABC listener on a food tour of Cabramatta! While our normal I Ate My Way Through Cabramatta food tours take over 3 hours, this express food crawl was a real challenge. Not just because of the time constraint, but also because I was guiding Melina, a Cabramatta local! Of Italian descent, Melina has lived in Cabramatta all her life and works nearby at Canley Heights RSL. In the words of Barney Stinson, challenge accepted!

To be at Cabramatta by 8:30am, I had woken up earlier than I would have on a work day, so I was in desperate need of coffee. I soon found out that Melina had never tried Vietnamese coffee which made the first stop a no brainer. Cafe Nho is a bustling coffee shop which spills out onto Belvedere Arcade, just off John Street. I love the Saigon vibe here, if we had more time, we would’ve enjoyed our Vietnamese iced coffees (cà phê đá) in their outdoor seating area.

Melina notes that the coffee is strong like an Italian espresso – with a beautiful caramel edge, I add.

Much like the streets of Saigon, Cafe Nho also offers an exotic selection of fruit smoothies. Combinations include avocado & mungbean, coconut & avocado or my favourite, a durian shake!

Cafe Nho
7 Belvedere Arcade, Cabramatta, NSW
Phone: (02) 9755 9299

Next, we wandered into the back streets so I could point out the abundance of gold coloured fruits (which resemble gold nuggets) and other auspicious foods that are popular during lunar new year.

As we strolled along each arcade, we shared nostalgic memories of Cabramatta’s changes over the years. When we reached KK Bakery (also known as Tien Minh), the comforting aroma of their pandan and coconut waffles wafted through the air. Thick, chewy and crispy, the waffles are filled with shredded coconut and the delicious fragrance of pandan leaves. In my opinion, these are the best waffles in Cabramatta.  Admiring it’s Hulk-green colour and heart-shape, Melina said she’d seen these many times during her grocery shopping trips around Cabramatta but had never tried them. Woohoo, another win!

KK Bakery
2/85 John Street, Cabramatta NSW
Phone: (02) 9755 0656

Then from the BKK Shopping Centre, one of the only places I’d ever seen Teochew ang toh kueh outside of my family home, I gleefully picked up the last box and excitedly proceeded to share my little cultural insight (details in the link above).

BKK International Fast Food Centre
5 – 7 Freedom Plaza, Cabramatta, NSW

From one food court, into another, we then went to Cabramatta’s No 1 Shopping Centre – I promise you that’s the real name. Tan Hung Vuong is one of the larger stalls here, their menu features many lesser-known dishes.

When Melina asked if the banh xeo picture was an egg omelette, I immediately knew I had to order it.

For just $10, we were served a glass of iced tea, a plate of lettuce with fresh mint and herbs, a bowl of nuoc cham fish dipping sauce and the hero banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake/crepe). The crispy crepe consists of rice flour, coconut milk and tumeric; folded together, it sandwiches a savoury combination of mung beans, onion, shrimp and pork.

I demonstrated the technique of eating this like a san choy bow, placing a slice of the banh xeo on top of a bed of lettuce, pickled carrot, common mint, Vietnamese mint and perilla leaves. We rolled it up and dipped it into the fish dipping sauce. We both agreed this was the perfect Summertime meal, it was so light and refreshing.

Tan Hung Vuong
Cabramatta No 1 Shopping Centre
11/47 Park Road, Cabramatta, NSW
Phone: (02) 9755 9080

We returned to the 702 ABC stand to share our successful food crawl adventure and soon after, Simon Marnie took on Huong Xua’s pho challenge!

The pho challenge is normally $17, but free if you finish the entire serving, within 11 minutes. This monstrous bowl of pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) is made of 500g rice noodles, 500g meat and a proportional amount of pho broth! Fear not, according to their Facebook page, there have been several successful attempts! Sadly, Simon was not one of them, although his attempt was a great effort!

Huong Xua
180 Cabramatta Road, Cabramatta, NSW
Phone: (02) 9755 0388

Because there’s always room for a little bit more, after the 702 ABC radio gig, I went to Thanh Da, a restaurant on the slightly quieter end of Cabramatta.

Thanh Da’s house specialty is bun mang vit (Vietnamese duck and bamboo shoot vermicelli noodle soup) and goi vit (duck salad) – this is apparent as soon as you enter the small restaurant as there’s a dedicated chopping area with several ducks hung across the counter. I love ordering bun mang vit because it feels like I’m getting two dishes for the price of one. The vermicelli noodle soup normally features duck giblets as well as bamboo shoots. The broth is clear and delicate, enabling the sharpness of the accompanying duck salad to lift the flavours. The duck salad is simple but a classic – it’s just shredded cabbage, duck, lots of Vietnamese mint, and always, a zingy ginger dressing.

There are so many incredible noodle soups available in Cabramatta, this is just one of many!

Thanh Da
8 Hill Road, Cabramatta, NSW
Phone:  (02) 9728 1864

And of course, what’s a trip to Cabramatta without a sugarcane drink for the drive home? This natural thirst quencher is pressed sugarcane juice with a tiny bit of orange. It’s only $3 for a large cup if you know where to buy it from 😉

Want more? Join our Cabramatta food crawl tour event, I Ate My Way Through Cabramatta. Tours run once monthly and costs $90 per person, all inclusive of tastings and lunch. [UPDATE: Due to a shift in priorities, we no longer run this food tour]

As seen on Sydney Weekender


One of the greatest recognitions I could ever receive, is the genuine interest from media to want to broadcast what I do, to the world.

I was stoked when I learned that Sydney Weekender wanted to send Mike Whitney to attend my Cabramatta eating tour! Having recently filmed with Mitsubishi, I do love being in front of the camera 😉

I Ate My Way Through Cabramatta started off from a small idea about 3 years ago and last month, little old me was guiding one of Australia’s most recognised presenters! I definitely have some great stories to tell my grandkids one day! Mike Whitney is such a cool, down-to-earth guy!

If you missed it, I’ve just uploaded the clip for you to replay over and over again –

Plus here are two happy snaps (at Pho Tau Bay and Bau Truong) from the full day of filming, featuring my partner in crime Amy, and Sara who attended as my rent-a-crowd –

Jennifer Lam and Amy Ta of I Ate My Way Through Cabramatta with Sydney Weekender's Mike Whitney at Pho Tau Bay at Cabramatta
I Ate My Way Through Cabramatta with Mike Whitney and Sydney Weekender at Bau Truong Cabramatta having a feast

A day in the life of me (captured on film with thanks to Mitsubishi ASX)


Before we go any further, particularly with the controversy of celebrity chefs being paid-to-tweet, let me just say that I’m a firm believer in transparency and honesty. In blog posts where I have received sample products or travel, you’ll always see a disclosure statement at the bottom of the article where I give credit to the PR agency or representative. Or sometimes I’ll use that space to disclose any conflicts of interest that may affect my credibility. With that said, my blog posts are never skewed just because I received something for free.

Food bloggers get sent shit loads of free stuff. Mummy bloggers, I hear, get even more.

For me, I’ll only blog about a small percentage of the things I get sent. My decision is dependent on only two factors, and that is whether or not I like it, and if it will be of genuine interest to you: my family, friends and dear readers. This comes back down to ‘why I blog’, which isn’t tied to any monetary goals.

Mitsubishi approached me some time ago with an opportunity to test drive the new Mitsubishi ASX. I already have a car which I rarely drive so I was a little hesitant in my response. Plus I’m not very confident with driving big cars as I’ve always owned small hatchbacks. But I was assured that the Mitsubishi ASX is a city-sized 4WD which meant it was smaller than your typical 4WD. To quote them, “Imagine all the benefits of a traditional SUV – like a spacious interior, roomy boot and extra height to give you a better view of the road ahead – combined with the ease of driving and fuel efficiency of a smaller car.”

What won me over wasn’t their generosity in loaning me a car for a whole week with a full tank of petrol, but it was the fact that I was actually moving around that time and thought the car would be useful during my moving hell. How convenient, I thought!

Further to that point, they presented me with a super exciting opportunity to be filmed. I’ve always wanted to go into video blogging but as I lack the video editing skills (and time!), I haven’t pursued it. So I couldn’t think of anything better than to have a professional team follow me around and capture me on film! And yes, I was paid – not for a positive opinion (they were always insistent on allowing me to be open and honest about my thoughts on the car, regardless of how negative or positive it was) – but to compensate for my time. I’m a busy businesswoman, so time is money.

So I test drove the car last October during my move, and we finally scheduled a date to film last month!

The idea behind the shoot was to capture me, doing what I do best… Eat! And our mode of transportation would be a brand new Mitsubishi ASX instead of my aged Mercedes-Benz A190 LWB.

First stop wasn’t very far from home at all. We drove down the street to Café Ish and started with a wattle maccacino, a karaage soft shell crab omelette for me, and the very beautiful vanilla risotto with stewed red beans, rice dumpling, choc rosella sauce, ANZAC cookie and native violets for Zen!

Coffee, soft shell crab omelette and rice pudding at Cafe Ish, Sydney

With food in our stomachs, we ventured off to Marrickville Markets for this week’s groceries and some goodies for our afternoon picnic. Farmers markets are such a captivating experience for all the senses – I love the crowd, the abundance of fresh produce, and all things made with heart.

Marrickville farmers market on Sunday in Sydney Inner West

Then we stopped by my local haunts – Bourke Street Bakery for some brioche and a fennel, raisin & cherry sourdough loaf and sweet treats (and another coffee), and Maloney’s Grocer for some cheese and jamon!

Bourke Street Bakery in Surry Hills and a picnic at Wendy's Secret Garden

Last stop was my most favourite spot in Sydney – Wendy’s Secret Garden 🙂

Just in case you’re in the market for a new car, I’ll just mention that I totally wanted to keep this car after the test drive! The iPhone/Bluetooth connectivity was so awesome plus when you reverse park, a visual of the back of your car gets projected onto the rear mirror which makes parking in tight spots such a breeze! It also has quirky features such as automatically retracting side mirrors (when you lock the car). Apparently, the car is pretty fuel efficient too, so it ticks all the boxes!

I’ve always thought that my A190 was deceptively spacious but the ASX was even more surprising. When you’re inside, you feel like you’re in a massive car but on the outside, it’s only just slightly bigger than your average small car. Funnily enough, it took me longer to get used to driving my car again than it did getting into the ASX. My steering and accelerator pedal feel so stiff now, it just doesn’t compare!

Anyway, without further ado, here are the videos!

As you can see, it was such a pleasure to drive, and I had so much fun filming! Yay to being on video!

The vehicle model featured in these videos is the Mitsubishi ASX 2.0 Petrol 2WD CVT with Luxury Pack.  For more information, go to

This post is sponsored by Mitsubishi.

Best in NSW… Foodie Tours


I Ate My Way Through is delighted to be featured by The Sunday Telegraph Body & Soul (on 26th February, 2012) in their feature on NSW’s best foodie tours! Our Cabramatta eating tour was selected as Body & Soul’s pick! Woohoo! Since the publication, we’ve received an influx of new tour bookings! It’s going to be a great year ahead! 🤗🤗🤗

I Ate My Way Through Granville, mentioned in the City Hub and City News!


The latest addition to our guided culinary tours scored a mention in this week’s editions of the City Hub and City News.

Baba With Bloggers

Food blogger Jennifer Lam (Jenius) believes that these days “everybody talks about Lebanese charcoal chicken and toum (garlic sauce), falafels, tabouli, fattoush”. She might well be right – most people I know have certainly gone beyond the kebab shop. If you’re keen to take your knowledge of Lebanese cuisine to the next level, join Jen and cooking instructor Norma Dakhoul for a guided Granville adventure. Jen finds it amazing that “people can get a true taste of Lebanon only 22km (approx 40mins) away from the CBD.” Priced at $80/head, your tour will include exciting tastes like manakeesh (popular for breakfast), Lebanese cheeses and a sumptuous banquet lunch.

My first TV gig


In some rather exciting news, I was recently asked if I’d like to do a live cross to Channel 7’s Sunrise.

On TV? Me?

I’ve never really liked seeing myself in any video footage, even if it’s the boyfriend shooting me on holidays. I think video shows all of one’s flaws including those awkward faces you never knew you could pull.

But putting that fear aside, I said yes. Definitely, yes. I am a believer in pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

So anyway, here it is… A night owl, up early, wearing her favourite Alannah Hill belt, cooking on live TV for Australia nationwide. You may want to note all the pauses too; that’s me trying my best not to say “umm”.

Jennifer Lam cooks up a Cantonese Stir-Fried Rice with Asian Home Gourmet’s spice paste and talks about Chinese New Year traditions and her I Ate My Way Through series on a live cross with James Tobin to Channel Seven’s Weekend Sunrise with Andrew O’Keefe and Samantha Armytage.

P.S. It turns out that I love being in front of the camera afterall! Watch this space 😉

Featured in CLEO!

Sydney food bloggers featured in CLEO magazine article: gastro porn - for food bloggers, a meal can be a downright foodgasm experience.



*Waves* to new readers from CLEO Magazine!
I’m thrilled to announce that the February edition of CLEO features a “foodgasmic” article (page 78) on food bloggers, with mentions to myself, Lorraine, Suze, Lili, Lisa and Anita! While it has been almost a decade since I’ve last purchased a copy of CLEO, I’m so excited that we are featured in something which was the fashion bible of my young teen years.
Here’s a readable version of the article:

For food bloggers, a meal can be a downright “foodgasmic” experience.
Carla Caruso investigates.

gastro porn.
In the same way other girls might obsess over RPattz, food blogger Lorraine Elliot, 37, of, derives pleasure from food. “I love it when you get a dessert with a crunchy layer followed by a creamy or soft layer,” Lorraine gushes. “You can’t help but moan with pleasure when you crack through and there’s a lava-like oozing of cream.” Fellow bloggers call this a “foodgasm”.
Jennifer Lam, 25, of, says, “I want people to look at my blog and really salivate all over the keyboard – maybe even lick their screens.”
Welcome to the world of food blogger, where mouth-watering morsels are paraded like porn in a food envy-inducing show-and-tell, and recipes and restaurant reviews are traded faster than designer clothes at a swap party. So, really, what’s with the obsession?
Sharing their plates.
Food blogging was recently brought to our attention in Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, which traces US blogger Julie Powell’s real-life challenge to cook and document all the recipes in a book by France’s Julia Child.
In society, food bloggers are fairly easy to spot at a cafe or restaurant – they’re the ones whose faces are usually obscured by a camera. They don’t mind eating their dishes cold, so long as they get a good shot for their blog. Lorraine confesses, “I’ve only eaten out once and not taken a photo [since starting her blog two years ago]. And, it hurt. Similarly, when I was checking out Mad Men the other week, I was so engrossed in watching Peggy having dinner with her date, I wondered why she didn’t whip out a camera – and my hand actually reached out to gran my own. It really did!”
Lorraine believes bloggers “love to share food”. So, if you spy a group of four girls splitting a bagel and two milkshakes among them, fear not, they’re not on an extreme diet. They’re probably just on a food tour and will likely be hitting up at least seven other eateries that day.
So, what else do food bloggers do for kicks? Forensic dinner parties, where each guest brings along a homemade dish and the others have to guess the ingredients. CSI food, blogger-style.
Then there are the more extreme pursuits, like cooking food on a car engine and “dumpster diving” – finding edible leftover food from supermarket bins to use. Lorraine has donw both in the name of her blog.
Unhealthy obsession?
There are pitfalls to subconsciously thinking about food all the time and indulging in your fantasies. Lili Roby, 26, of, says, “I’ve just been to Malaysia and my intense eating regimen hurt my budget, waistline and gave me killer food hangovers daily.” Susan Thye, 26, of, agrees, “It can be an expensive hobby”.
Lorraine, who admits to spending several hundred dollars a week on eating out and making home recipes, says food blogging can also be time-sapping. “I work on my blog seven days a week, from 9am to midnight. I couldn’t imagine doing those hours on anything else – certainly not a job working for someone else!” Blogging is now her full-time gig.
Professor David Kavanagh, an addiction specialist at the Queensland University of Technology, says there’s a point at which such a passion can become unhealthy. “Things that we like to do really only become a problem when they’re interering with other things in our lives, such as our job, relationships or health. [An obsession] can capture your attention and make it rather difficult for you to do other things.”
Kavanagh often displays food photos in his lectures to illustrate how craving and desire work. “Photos provide a much richer image [than words] and are likely to increase your desire” This is not such good news for the waistline, especially when obesity rates in Australia doubling in the past 20 years, and almost 60 per cent of Aussies now overweight or obese.
Kavanagh suggests curbing any blog-related food cravings by limiting the hours you spend online. “One thing you can do is give yourself a bit of time out from the obsession.”
Jennifer believes balance is needed: “My compromise to living a delicious life is having to regularly work out at the gym.”
I’m crazy food you.
Sharon Natoli, of Food and Nutrition Australia, says one benefit of our nation’s current foodie craze – from blogs to Masterchef and celebrity chef worship – is a focus on our diets. “It’s certainly a lot more positive to have more people cooking at home and trying new things.”
And, in moderation, salivating over a food blog is surely healthier than punishing yourself with an unrealistic diet and feeling guilty every time you treat yourself to the occasional chocolate.
For Anita von Korff, 25, of, food blogs provide a way to connect with like-minded people. “The food blogging community is so friendly. I love looking at fellow sites and discovering new recipes,” she says.
Lisa Manche, 21, of, says, “Food is an important part of our society, not just to fuel our bodies, but for the rituals and memories that go with it.” And this is something worth celebrating, she adds. Food for thought, indeed.

Cheers to a new chapter of food blogging!

As seen in Ciao Magazine


November 2009 has been a sensational month for me. It has proven that when you have a vision… Passion, determination and a lot of late nights can take you a long way! I’m still on a high from seeing my book, I Ate My Way Through Singapore & Vietnam, stocked in bookstores (it is now available at Ampersands Cafe & Bookstore, Storm Imaging and Glee Books); And I am blown away every time I meet a complete random stranger who believes in what I have produced and buys my book.
I am even more excited and always somewhat humble at the same time, every time i receive press coverage. In the latest copy of Ciao Magazine, I was interviewed for their feature article on blogging and publishing. Being featured alongside the names of some brilliant authors is so inspiring.
Anyway, here’s the article for anyone who has missed it and hello to new readers from Ciao!

The Internet has revolutionized publishing, allowing a whole new range of voices to be heard. So is blogging the new path to literary fame? By Carla Caruso.

The Write Stuff

The literary scene has been buzzing for years about “nobodies” who’ve parlayed a blog into a multi-million-dollar book deal. Christian Lander, interviewed earlier this year by Ciao, went from a low-level copywriter to a bestselling, globe-trotting author with his own TV show when a blog he’d set up for the amusement of a few friends – Stuff White People Like – went viral and attracted the interest of major publishing houses. The time elapsed from his first post to signing a book contract and getting a US$300 000 advance from Random House? Less than three months. Starving in a garret for years working on your novel is so last century.

Inner West food blogger Jennifer Lam, the woman behind, has combined both blogging and self-publishing to realise her dream – recently launching her self-published photographic memoir, I Ate My Way Through Singapore & Vietnam ($49.95) with 10 percent of the net proceeds being donated to charity KOTO international.

Lam gave up a dream job in advertising on the eve of her 25th birthday to fully immerse herself in food blogging, which led on to an interest in self-publishing. “Originally, I just did the book of my culinary travels for me and my family. I started showing it around and people asked about buying one. So I tweaked the design and decided to do a print run. Having a digital production background, I already had a relationship with editors and designers.”

Self-publishing seemed the best option for Lam. “I did think about contacting other publishers, but I didn’t want to have to re-write or edit it. And, I tried to brand it my
own way throughout, because I’m hoping in the future to publish other books by bloggers. I’m also really enjoying the marketing side of things – I’m doing it through unconventional means, like social media, and I’m selling the book at delicatessens, cafes and independent book shops, because I think it’s a really niche market.”

For Lam, the path of blogging and self-publishing (a year from the idea to the book being printed) has been a much quicker route to finding an audience than spending months, if not years, sending submissions to commercial publishers and hoping against hope that it will be one of the minute fraction of unsolicited manuscripts that ever make it past the slush pile.

Newtown children’s and young adult author Susanne Gervay reversed the process, becoming a blogger after getting a contract with a publishing house. “Selfpublishing [on blogs] bypasses all that rejection and you can connect with the world. I’ve done the traditional hard and rocky road and am published by HarperCollins Australia and by overseas publishers. I’m glad I’m there, but I didn’t love the knocks on the way. Bloggers have a better time,” she advises.

Fellow young-adult author William Kostakis, who grew up in the Inner West, but is now Bronte-based, also went down the traditional path of sending manuscripts out to commercial publishers. He inked a publishing deal at just 17 with his debut novel, Loathing Lola. Still, he says, “When I say that I scored my contract at 17, people immediately think it wasn’t a lengthy process. I mean, sure, it wasn’t as lengthy as some, but I sent off my first manuscript at 11 and had my first rejection letter before my 12th birthday. It was difficult to get noticed, sure, but the fact of the matter was, I just wasn’t all that good when I started out. The six-year slog gave me time to not only grow as an author, but mature as a person. The process was lengthy, and it was important.”

Kostakis received a lot of exposure post-publication via his blog,, He’s enthusiastic about the possibilities of blogging (in fact, he’s teaching a Blogging for Beginners workshop at the NSW Writers’ Centre next April) but not so keen on self-publishing. “Yes, you should have your ‘sole creative vision,’” he says, “but sometimes, you need someone to tell you what stinks, someone to approach your story from a different perspective, someone to bounce ideas off, someone to help your idea grow and reach its full potential. You need an editor. When you self-publish, it’s all you. There’s no-one investing time and money in you, wanting to get the best out of you and your product.”

Jeremy Fisher, the executive director of the Australian Society of Authors, says writers shouldn’t shy away from the new possibilities – particularly in the digital world. “Stephen King has tried to do a serial story online, which people had to pay for by subscription, but he gave up halfway through. Still, it’s just a matter of when the time is right. [Canadian sci-fi writer] Cory Doctorow publishes his stuff in its entirety online and many people still buy it in book form, because it’s friendlier to read. In Japan, there is also a whole range of SMS novels, which particularly appeal to female readers, and writers are making a viable business writing them.”

So, can it really be true? Does the Internet mean everyone has the chance to be a successful, published writer? Sadly, Fisher says no: “Everyone thinks writing is easy – until they start. It’s not an easy path, nor is it one that will likely make anyone rich in the short-term. And the competition is still intense.”

Ciao Magazine is a fortnightly lifestyle and editorial publication distributed to residents and retail outlets within Sydney’s Inner-West -Leichhardt, Marrickville and Ashfield Councils. Ciao has a print run of 25,000 and a readership of 50,000.