My most cringe-worthy moments as a food-blogger so far
I've found so much pleasure recently in discovering posts by other bloggers alike who have equally shared cringe-worthy moments along their unique blogging journeys. The thing with blogging, as a career and as a hobby, is that there is NO guide book or training for it. You simply have to learn along the way. Research and learning from other bloggers will definitely do you some good; but most of the time you're winging everything. This of course leaves plenty of room for moments such as these. I hope you enjoy them as much as I didn't!
Being introduced to people at events
Think of events that bloggers go to like a Birthday party where there's always that one person who had to bring along a long lost cousin or family friend that their Mum asked them to bring. From time to time, you often end up as the long lost cousin. No-one seems to know your name or why you're here. There was one occasion that stands out where I definitely felt like the long lost cousin... I'd been invited to a drinks tasting event one evening in a bar in East London. I got there pretty early, made some light conversation with the PR host about what I do and what I'd been up to recently. [I'll let you in at this point in the story that it is vital that people who work in PR know who and why they are inviting journalists to events and be able to introduce them confidently to other guests. PR people rely on contacts and on building good relationships with journalists]. More guests then start to arrive. They seem to know the PR host from previous events and all shakes hands, lots of smiles. They then look towards me sitting sheepishly on the bench alone ... The PR host prompts an introduction and says "And this is...Sophie...She err... has some... websites." The other guests then look at me in confusion and with what I'll always remember as something I like to call 'intro-pity'.
Receiving or not receiving the bill after you've been invited to review a restaurant
I've heard from other food bloggers in London how this embarrassing moment seems to crop up more than we think. Again, this is down to the lack of clarity addressed in the communication with a PR team or Marketing team in restaurants when they reach out to bloggers. Lots of restaurants have realised the advertising potential of inviting bloggers to eat at their restaurant (as they can post about it) but are not so great at communicating what they expect in return for the meal or if the meal is offered for free. When restaurants invite you to 'try out their menu', you'd usually assume it's on the house and out of courtesy, Bloggers usually choose to write something nice on their social media or write a blog post about it.
The beginning and end of a meal that you've been invited to review is always awkward and slightly nerve-wracking.
You arrive at a restaurant, give your name for the reservation, and UNLESS the restaurant hints at anything such as 'Please choose whatever you like from the menu', or acknowledging that you're here to review then you never really know if they're aware of the invitation or what it includes! You're never really sure throughout the whole meal if it's worth getting that extra side dish, dessert or cocktail if you're footing the bill. Imagine in an expensive restaurant too.
Have you tried these Afternoon Tea experiences in London?
I've experienced a variety of interesting outcomes from these invites. They range from situations such as:
- I've checked with the waiter what is included in the invite [Sometimes it can be one main and drink with sides, other times as much as you like!].
- The waiter hasn't a clue when you ask about what is included and has to get the manager [bad communication on their part and makes it awkward for you as a diner!].
- You start to take pictures of the food for your post and the waiter asks if you're a blogger - also an indication they aren't expecting you! Very awkward.
- You finish your meal and um and ah at whether you're allowed to finish and just leave or whether you should ask for the bill anyway and act graciously aloof and grateful (Even more awkward).
- You get the meal free, but you receive a bill for an extra glass of wine or cup of coffee when you thought it was included and they didn't tell you when they offered you it! Very cheeky and happens a lot.
That time I got way too bloody competitive
A few months ago I was invited by Tesco to learn how to make cakes 'Fit for a Queen' by award-winning master pâtissier Eric Landlard. They didn't initially disclose that we'd be having a Bake-off style competition after Eric had finished his tutorial, but I had a feeling our cake decorating skills were going to be put to the test. We [a group of 12 bloggers] were given a three-tier sponge, buttercream, and a plethora of colours to use with the buttercream to decorate our cakes. Let's just say I got a bit too creative and during crunch time with 5 minutes left, I had food colouring all over my hands. Imagine red food dye going EVERYWHERE whilst I tried to squeeze buttercream through a piping bag in a rush. By the end, it looked like I'd killed someone in the process trying to win. I don't think the team from Tesco were particularly impressed but I still achieved a rainbow icing effect on my cake!
When your friends tell the waiter you're a food blogger
Sometimes it's advantageous and sometimes it's plain embarrassing. The former applies if it's to the owner or organiser when they clock on that I may be reviewing the experience and give us an extra drink which is always really lovely. The latter applies when the waiter literally couldn't care less and you get this awkward silence after they drop into conversation and it's received like a tumbleweed doing it's 198th round of the town.
When you go to a tasting event and actually eat the food
My second menu tasting event took place back in December and I was absolutely thrilled. I went along to the event, met a group of other writers and the PR representative who had found my blog and invited me. We started with some cocktails off the menu, chatted about our involvement with food and writing etc. and then some of the food started coming out. Now, as far as I can remember I tucked in just as much as anyone else there during the starters. However, when it came to the burgers afterwards, a fair amount of enthusiasm and strong encouragement from the PR lady meant that I was trying all three burgers. This is when the PR lady says to everyone in ear shot: "Sophie, you're a real eater aren't you!" and has introduced me to people at other events with this description again. Or similarly, 'Sophie really loves her food'.