INTERVIEW WITH AVANT-GARDE VEGAN

Today on the blog I speak with Cardiff vegan chef Gaz Oakley, also known as Avant-Garde Vegan. Gaz has a dedicated social media following ...



Today on the blog I speak with Cardiff vegan chef Gaz Oakley, also known as Avant-Garde Vegan. Gaz has a dedicated social media following and a popular YouTube channel, which features his cooking videos.

What inspired you to start cooking vegan? Has it changed the way you think about food?

I have always cooked, I became a chef at the age of 15 and went full time at the New House hotel at 16. Nearly 10 years later I’m still cooking, the only difference is I’m vegan and cook vegan food. I made the transition nearly  2 years ago. I love pushing the boundaries and experimenting with vegan ingredients.

As a chef, what is the most valuable piece of advice you've received so far?

Definitely not to waste anything. Also to work efficiently as possibly keeping tidy and being organised. In terms of the actual cooking process, is to season at every stage of cooking with salt & pepper. And often lemon juice. Doing this really brings out flavours. No one wants bland food!

Where are your favourite places to eat in Cardiff? 

My favourite place to eat is Anna Loka Cafe. Love the relaxed atmosphere, and the food is excellent!

Are there any upcoming projects you can share with us? 

I have lots of things in the pipeline that are all works in progress.. so all I will say is..stay tuned to my Instagram, YouTube & other social media @avantgardevegan.



FOODIE NOTEBOOK: FEBRUARY

 Each month I share my favourite foodie finds. I'd love to hear your recommendations too! Cardiff I haven't been bac...



 Each month I share my favourite foodie finds. I'd love to hear your recommendations too!

Cardiff

I haven't been back long enough to visit all the new (ish) places that opened in my absence. Depot is one such place. We went along for some tacos, tequila and Attack! wrestling.

The Unique

A year or so ago a friend and I were looking for a wedding gift and found a trove of Herb Lester maps at a Granville Island market stall. We gifted the newlyweds with a Paris guide, which they took on their honeymoon.

I was thrilled to later discover Herb Lester also designed food maps of London, New York and this handy guide to reading Italian, Spanish and French menus.

The New York map gave me a brilliant travel mantra:"Because there's no one to stop you." Perhaps I could apply that to life in general? Well, until the new council tax bill arrives.

Books

Seattle? Pizza? Sign me up! Delancey by Molly Wizenberg
Hard work and dedication goes far in Bon Appetempt by Amelia Morris
Taking a chance in Paris with The Sharper your Knife, The Less you Cry by Kathleen Flinn

Podcasts

I love all things Seattle including Spilled Milk, the hilarious Seattle-based food podcast.

TV

You'll usually find me at home watching Wahlburgers, which always elicits the response "what the hell is Whalburgers?!" To which I reply "it's an awesome show about the Wahlbergs and their burger restaurant and sometimes the real Johnny Drama is in it."

Online

Ina & Jeffery Garten are #goals. The Food Network looks at their amazing life together.




BLUE COLLAR STREET FOOD: A FOOD REVOLUTION IN READING

UK street food has really taken over our towns and cities in the last couple of years. Although we often credit London with pushing most ...

UK street food has really taken over our towns and cities in the last couple of years. Although we often credit London with pushing most trends first, other UK cities have embraced the street food scene and made it their own.  So it should come as no surprise that London's much quieter neighbour, Reading, has a street food scene to shout about. 
Blue Collar Street Food has set out to revolutionise the Reading food scene. The festival was inspired by founder Glen Dinning's trips to Borough Market, where he had stumbled upon a mouthwatering burger. It was from the first bite of that burger that he made it his mission to learn everything he could about replicating such perfection. Through tireless trial and error, and connecting with local food lovers, he founded Blue Collar Street Food; a revolution was born. 
The festival featured vendors from Georgia, Czech Republic, Jamacia, Peru and many other countries. "The aim has always been to try and add to Reading’s upcoming and exciting food scene," says Glen, "Hopefully, by introducing new traders and types of food, we managed to do that for three days." 

"Over the next couple of years, we hope to build on the success of last week and introduce more people and places to food that is worth indulging in and getting excited about. Well keep shouting about just brilliant street food traders can be and give them the platform in as many places as possible to prove it."

The eclectic selection that was on offer is a testament to Glen's attention to detail, and desire to deliver the best quality and experience to customers; just like the burger he had at Borough Market. 

Blue Collar Street Food Reading runs every Wednesday from 10am - 4pm in Forbury Gardens.

For more information visit: bluecollarreading.co.uk


STREET FOOD COMES TO READING

During September Reading will host the first street food festival from Blue Collar Street Food . The event takes place over three days and...

During September Reading will host the first street food festival from Blue Collar Street Food. The event takes place over three days and features twenty vendors and plenty of entertainment. Organiser Glen Dinning commented:

“We're incredibly excited to turn our hometown into the capital of food, drink and entertainment for 3 days. We’ve worked really hard to ensure that there are over twenty handpicked food stalls serving eclectic, gourmet global dishes alongside two bars and an entertainment area. It promises to be a fantastic place to have lunch, go for after work drinks or enjoy an evening out.”










I'm going to be blogging about the event and sharing stories from local vendors. This is a fantastic event for Reading - I hope to see you there!

Local businesses looking to promote their company at the event should contact Glen Dinning on: glen@bluecollarreading.co.uk

The event takes place on 8, 9 and 10 September. For more information visitbluecollarreading.co.uk

IS IT WORTH BLOGGING ANYMORE?

I have asked myself this question more times than I care to count. Since I have returned to this blog and the blogg...














I have asked myself this question more times than I care to count.

Since I have returned to this blog and the blogging world in general (I stopped reading blogs for a few months) I have noticed a huge change. A lot of my favourite bloggers hardly post anymore, preferring to share their words in newsletters and Ecourses. Comment sections are virtually empty, and there is just a general sense that nobody cares anymore. We are so overloaded with information that it's a chore just to get through it all. So is a blog really worth our time?

When I started blogging four years ago, I would write about my city from the perspective of what I'd want to read about. I found there wasn't any local food blogs that catered to people my age. It was a small niche of bloggers who all did their own thing and had their own distinct readership. I saw a gap in the market and went for it. It paid off. Then it seemed like everyone had a blog. Everyone was reviewing and writing about the same things and those distinct voices started to disappear. They couldn't keep up with the influx of newbies. I'm all for people writing about what they want, but it became overcrowded and over-saturated.

Back when I was knee-deep in writing and maintaining this blog, I started to see just exactly what it was going to be like if I wanted to make this a full-time gig. I went from writing about things I was passionate and interested in, to pouring over follower numbers and unique visitors. It stopped being fun. I made it overly-complicated and pushed myself to produce content to make sure I kept getting visitors. It started to turn into a blog that was all things to all people. And I couldn't keep up.

I found being a blogger was a tale of two halves; the half where you were lucky enough to be one of the first ones to do it, so regardless of what you posted, you always ranked first with Google. The hits came no matter what. Then there's other half where you're stressed out over what a keyword is (I'm not ashamed to admit I had no idea) and if you are using the correct amount per post. I often wondered that had I remained ignorant on the subject, that I would've been better off. There are just too many rules now.

In fact a recent discussion with fellow blogger friend brought up the subject of all these blogging rules. We discussed the fact that you should be able to just write and publish what you want. There's no need to stress yourself out over keywords or click backs or whatever all that jargon means. Just keep it simple. Find something to write about and publish it. Just do it. I understand that analytics are an essential tool for businesses, but if you're just blogging about what you like, why should it matter?

So is it worth blogging anymore? Yes. It is for me at least. There is a whole culinary world out there that I am still scratching the surface of. I want to share that with people, wherever you are.

We're all out there doing what we enjoy. Let's keep blogging as one of those things.

On a lighter note I have a few favourite food items to share with you. Enjoy!

- I must have watched this interview with Ina Garten at Dominican University, California about 100 times by now.

- One of the best things on NPR is America's Test Kitchen. The show is packed full of cooking advice. They also discuss some of the pressing issues in the food world.

- I'm enjoying what Rachel Khoo is doing over at Khoolect.