A date with a Food Blogger @finelychopped

food, peri peri, social media, fish
Grilled Peri Peri kingfish

(A series of conversations dedicated to digital story-tellers)

There is no question that social media is a great enabler of conversations and ideas. Back in 2000, people adopted online diaries and shared their thoughts with readers. The audience was small and publishing a post was an outlet for expression. There was no commenting, trolling was minimal and virtual brand management wasn’t a business. Sharing across platforms was a copy-paste affair and Facebook was probably a thought in Zuckerberg’s mind.

Today we have multiple identities across social platforms and each identity is an exclusive story in itself. For most of us, social networks have allowed us to showcase our talents. You have a story? There is a tool. You have doubts about photography? There are forums and clubs willing to teach you.

In this series of Social Samosa interviews, I am going to explore multiple identities of bloggers/tweeters.

First up, @finelychopped or Kalyan Karmakar. A qualitative researcher by profession, @finelychopped writes stories about food, travel and eating out in Mumbai and beyond. He started the blog to crib about food served in restaurants and somewhere down the line it became a storybook for his recipes and food experiments.

Kalyan Karmakar a Food Blogger
Kalyan Karmakar aka @finelychopped

My personal favourite is this post about the grilled Peri Peri kingfish, grilled balsamic mushrooms and couscous. (Something interesting : All of @finelychopped’s fish related posts are tagged as ‘pisces’)

Grilled Peri Peri kingfish with Grilled Mushrooms and Couscous.
Grilled Peri Peri kingfish

On Exclusivity of content

@finelychopped (aka Kalyan Karmakar in the real world) runs a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account devoted to stories about food.

How does he maintain exclusivity of content across platforms?  

‘I make sure that the blog has the core content – food tales and experiences. I use my Twitter account to tweet about everything- traffic to restaurants to movies. This is so that there is a clear distinction in terms of content on different platforms. The page serves as a teaser for upcoming posts. Like I would upload a picture or two about upcoming content.’

I don’t use my Facebook account to share a lot of stuff. I have a Facebook page where I manage my blog’s content and I use the Facebook account to keep in touch with friends.

For my posts, I plug links twice a day. Once in the morning and once late at night when the Western junta wakes up.

Any reason for not using Facebook Notes?

I just feel that Facebook Notes will dilute the traffic to my blog. Through the blog I can reach out to more people and I would really prefer that my close friends and acquaintances go to the blog as often as possible.

On leveraging social media for opportunities

Have you been approached to write articles for restaurants?

I have been approached to write articles. But I don’t accept it because I don’t see the point of it. It’s free advertising for the restaurant and I am spending my own time doing it. For me, writing about food is a hobby and not a job. So I don’t like devoting my time to someone just for a review.

What about publications? Specifically the article on the BBC Good Food India launch?

I do get approached by publications and such but then I reserve the right to criticize/appreciate the brand/event. No one has approached me to write for money though.

The post I did on BBC Good Food India Launch was a PR invite and there was no expectation from the publication’s end to write a blog post. I did end up blogging about it, but then I attended the Koli Food Festival the same day and I thought it would be good to club the two.

On building a network because of the blog

I am amazed at the number of friends I have made because of my blogging. Some of my closest friends in the past couple of years have been because of my writing.

On advertising on the blog

Do you make money from your website? Why does the Technorati rating matter to you?

Honestly, I would like to make money from my website. But at my own discretion and pace. I haven’t given it too much thought.

I believe that advertising on blogs is taken a bit more seriously in the UK and US. I have been approached by people to advertise on my blog but it was for a referral link and the amount was miniscule. In India I see a lot of barter deals happening. You drop in a word or two and you get some tickets to some place etc.

Do you see yourself turning your blog into something else? A lot of food bloggers have moved to manage editorials in publications, TV Shows etc.

Any opportunity that comes my way because of the blog is welcome. A lot of my friends have encouraged me to write a book, but I haven’t got down to it. It is something I see myself doing in the future. But yes, I am up for any kind of experimentation as far as my hobby goes. I am looking to make money and I see blogging as a way of showcasing my passion for food.

On mixing recipes

Just like there is a discovery to food and travel, KK is comfortable making food his way.

‘I just don’t have a set way of doing things in terms of recipes Whether it appalls purists, is something I am not concerned with. I just cook to make sure that food tastes good’

On food brands

‘A food brand is Amul. They have done a wonderful job with the entire concept of co-operative organization. Whether it’s their products—right from ice-creams to cheese or their ads, it’s a brand to reckon with

In terms of restaurants, Kalyan appreciates Anjan Chatterjee’s work with his Specialty Restaurants  (Oh!Calcutta , Sweet Bengal, Mainland China).

‘I am surprised because Bengalis aren’t known to be entrepreneurs.  Anjan made sure that he didn’t stick to his parochial cuisine but ventured into the authentic Chinese space as well. And Mainland China is a great example of restaurant success.’

Pure social media brands: ‘Burrp has done a fabulous job whether its making restaurants ‘Burrp Certified’  or having a very simplified restaurant review and search mechanism on their site. I am not a prolific user but love the way they have built credibility. A lot of people rely on Burrp reviews for restaurant choices.

On Food Blogging and the big ‘How do you find time’ question

He credits @rushinamg for getting food bloggers of Mumbai for meetups around food.

‘At last count there were around 40-45 food bloggers in Mumbai and it was quite an event meeting all of them at Food Blogger events.

On finding time : ‘Like they say, when it is your passion you will make time for it. You can take the example of Prasoon Joshi who is a successful ad guy and a lyricist at the same time. So I think it’s totally doable.  ’

Do you SEO your titles?

I used to do this initially, but now I just add the location in the title followed by the main topic of the post

On Indians travelling abroad and appreciation for International cuisine

There is a sudden rise in restaurants and dessert places with a focus on International cuisine. Where does Indian food stand amidst all of this?

‘See, it’s like comparing a Rock On with a Dabangg. There is an audience for both the movies. People are travelling abroad and appreciating International Cuisine, but there is a large audience that still prefers the good old Salman Khan entertainer. So yes, Indians are excited about Parfait and yoghurt-based desserts but they will never let go of their jalebis. Price is also a factor at work here.

We all are excited about new stuff, but there will always be a place for the old.

For example, Punjab Sweets has a pastry counter. There is a trend, but to say that Indian sweets will fade away is too early.

Book Recommendations for our Readers

  1. Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain
  2. Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
  3. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

(Image Credits : Kalyan Karmakar)

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