#MyBlogLife: We Meet Award-Winning Foodie Niamh O’Shaughnessy Of Gourmet Grazing
Blog: Gourmet Grazing
Not many bloggers can say they were nominated for a nationally recognised award less than 18 months after they got started. And even fewer can say they actually won. But for Niamh O’Shaughnessy, that’s the reality. The 27-year old Dubliner won AA’s Foodie of The Year Award last October, and one look at her blog Gourmet Grazing should make it clear why she stood out to the judges.
Recipes, beautiful food photography, heaps of restaurant reviews, foodie news… It’s hard to believe that Gourmet Grazing is a one-woman venture, which Niamh works on only in her spare time. Yep, when she’s not being a foodie, Niamh has a full-time digital marketing job too. We caught up with her to find out what a day in her hectic life is like…
Tell us a bit about when and how you got started with food blogging?
I started my food blog in July 2014, but it was something I’d been mulling over for a long time. I was about to go back to college to study for a Masters in Digital Marketing, so I thought it’d tie in nicely.
Did it take a long time to build up a following?
Even almost 2 years on the community is still growing, and it’s definitely not something that just happens overnight. At the moment I have a combined social following of just over 10,000 people, and it’s taken a lot of hard graft to get to that stage. For me, it’s crucial that I interact and engage with readers, chefs and restaurants on a daily basis.
What’s the creative process like for you?
I do all of the photography on my blog myself. I have a background in media production so I’m quite interested in the photography side of things… and I love taking photos of food!
Last year you were named AA Foodie Of The Year… Congrats! What did that feel like?
I was so thrilled to win, as the award was set up to honour an individual who has consistently promoted the Irish culinary experience, which I have always strived to do. Yes, the blog is a hobby of sorts, but it was so amazing to be recognised in that way.
What’s one other brilliant opportunity you’ve gotten from your blog?
It’s difficult to choose just one. I’ve tried many amazing meals, from tasting menus at The Powerscourt Hotel to afternoon tea at The Westbury. I’ve even had the chance to travel as a result of the blog, which has been incredible.
What makes a great food picture for you?
It’s all about the lighting! Many restaurants have low lighting, which makes food shots difficult when I’m out and about. At home, I’ll usually do recipe photos in my back garden to take advantage of natural light.
I also take a lot of time to research how I want each meal to look beforehand, and gather props together. My friends laugh at me for always buying random spoons, bowls, tea towels and any other kitchen item you can think of. You can never have enough props!
Do you work off the cuff for recipes or plan everything out?
When you’re sharing recipes with readers it’s hard to do things off the cuff as each recipe has to be tested twice and measured out exactly. But when I’m just cooking for myself, it’s a lot less organized than that!
What’s a day in your life like?
I don’t blog full-time so I have to manage my time very wisely! I usually use my morning commute to scan social media for foodie news and updates on events. My 9-5 role is with BFree Foods where I’m a digital marketing specialist. I usually work on the blog in the evenings, writing or researching recipes, though I keep cooking and photography for the weekends mainly.
Tell us, what’s your favourite restaurant for splashing out?
For a special occasion, I’ll head to Nautilus in Malahide. The food is superb and the restaurant has a beautiful view overlooking Malahide Marina. I’ve never had a disappointing meal there.
Where do you go for a coffee break?
When I’m on the go I’ll usually grab a takeaway flat white from Brother Hubbard on Capel St, but if I’m not in a rush then I’ll head for the terrace at Balfes. Their coffee glasses are just gorgeous!
Your favourite brunch spot?
Super Miss Sue is always my number one choice for brunch. Their Bloody Marys are amazing.
We always start with good intentions for cooking at home, but time gets in the way. What’s your go-to lazy recipe?
I’ll always cook fish when I need something quick – I call it nature’s fast food! If I’m feeling lazy I’ll just oven bake a piece of hake or cod with some sweet potatoes. Another lazy option for me is a stir-fry with some prawns and whatever I happen to have in the fridge.
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