h1 We eat with our eyes, so great photography is a must.
Isabelle Boucher, Crumb
Isabelle Boucher is a self-described "30-something coffee-chugging, booty-shaking, bargain-shopping, cookbook-collecting, photo-snapping, trucker-swearing, farmers-market-loving self-taught cook with a Mister and two cats to feed." Crumb is her ever-expanding collection of un-fussy recipes made from scratch using fresh seasonal ingredients and shameless amounts of butter (and sometimes bacon). And all the recipes are beautifully illustrated with step-by-step photographs so you know what you're aiming for – even when you're trying something completely new.
A new Say Media food partner in Canada, we checked in with Isabelle from her homebase in Toronto to find out more about her most popular posts on Crumb, what keeps her readers coming back, and the tastiest food trend of the moment.
For people new to your site, what are your all-time most popular recipes? My all-time most popular recipe is Killer Artichoke Bread - which isn't surprising, because who doesn't love toasted bread covered in gooey, cheesy artichoke dip?
What was your breakout post – or what was the breakout event that put you on the map? The day I got a note from Taste of Home Canada asking to feature my site in their inaugural issue was a pretty amazing moment. It was such a kick to see my name in print! (I may have bought a copy for my mother, as proof that I had finally "arrived".)
What's your unique point of view or take on food that keeps your readers coming back? I think my recipes are the most unique thing about my blog. I develop most of my recipes from scratch, and when I do adapt a recipe, I make sure to put my own personal spin on it somehow. It's almost a compulsion, really... I can't help but tinker with recipes, even the ones I've made a million times before. That's not to say that things always work out, because I've had a few spectacular failures over the years, but it's totally worth it when I get an email from a reader to let me know they got rave reviews from their family for one of my recipes.
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Recipes, stories, controversial ingredients… what engages food lovers? We eat with our eyes, so great photography is a must - nothing captures a reader's attention quite like a beautiful photo of delicious food.
The trick, though, is getting those readers to stick around and hopefully even come back for a return visit. I like to think that's where content comes in, whether it's the recipes, the writing, or even just a kick-ass personality. Basically, as long as you've got some eye candy and you're genuinely passionate about the things you're posting about, the readers will come.
What are the most controversial food topics on Crumb right now? My blog is my happy place, so I try to steer clear of controversy - even my butter tart recipe was a compromise between the raisin and no-raisin versions, just to keep both sides of the debate happy!
Where do you get your best inspiration for what to make or recreate? This time of year, the farmers market is a never-ending source of inspiration. My recipes are all about letting fresh, seasonal ingredients shine, which is easy to do if you start off by picking up some freshly-picked fruits and vegetables, high-quality meats and other locally-made products. I also find that chatting with the vendors at the market is also a great way to pick up some new recipe ideas. No one is quite as passionate about a particular food as the guy (or gal) who grew it!
Tell us about the Canadian Food Experience Project and what you're doing there… After the first Food Bloggers of Canada conference this past spring, Valerie (the mastermind behind A Canadian Foodie) put out a call for participants to work on a project exploring the concept of "Canadian food". There are now over 80 participants from all over the country, representing almost of the provinces and territories, ranging from those who came to Canada later in life to those who can trace their roots back to early settlers. We're only two months in, but it's really amazing to see the wide variety of viewpoints and traditions that make up our cuisine - especially in the Prairies, which is a region I haven't explored nearly as much as I'd like.
What other food sites are your soulmates and why? I've connected with some really talented bloggers over the years, both online and in person, so it's really hard to pick favourites. If I absolutely had to name names, then I wish I was half as funny as Movita Beaucoup, half as good at writing stories as Merry Gourmet, half as talented in the kitchen as Sweet Sugarbean, half as connected to the local food scene as A Canadian Foodie, and half as good at setting up a gorgeous shot as The Gouda Life. Of course, if you add that all up, that's probably more talent that any one person can contain. :)
What's a food trend you're particularly excited about right now? I'm really excited that gourmet donuts are finally catching on in Toronto. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for old school favourites like Boston Creams and Apple Fritters, but it's fun to branch out and try new flavours like Blueberry-Basil or S'Mores. I'm so obsessed with donuts, in fact, that I decided to serve mini-donuts instead of cake at my wedding last month. Cupcakes? So over them.
How would you finish this sentence: If I had to eat one thing all week it would be… Pizza. I could never, ever, ever get tired of pizza (though donuts would be a close second).
Follow Isabelle and Crumb on Twitter @Izzbell.