by Estelle Vosloo
I interviewed very successful food blogger and award winning cook book author Alida Ryder. Alida is a down to earth cook with a passion for food and blogging. Besides having written two cook books she has also raised twins and is an accomplished food stylist and food photographer. Alida lives in Pretoria with husband and pre-school twins Abigail and Aidan.
A visit to Alida’s blog / website is a step into a world full of drop dead gorgeous photo’s of amazing meals and recipes. While the site is on trend it is unpretentious and easy to use (and fall in love with!)
Where did your love affair with cooking start?
I grew up in a family obsessed with food, learning at my gran’s knee. She poured such love and pride in her food and always found such pleasure in feeding people. I experience the exact same pleasure when people are tucking into a meal I’ve lovingly prepared.
Your Blog and recipes books are doing exceptionally well. Tell us about your awards.
In 2010 I won the SA Blog Awards for Best Food blog and Best New blog. For my first book I won two Gourmand cookbook awards and for Cook from the Heart I won another for Best Health/Nutrition book.
Where did it all start? What did you do before the books, blog and television appearances?
I used to be a make-up and hair artist before falling pregnant with my twins. After staying at home for a year with them I decided to start a food blog and the rest is history. 😉
What inspires your cooking style?
I’m inspired by everything from ingredients to cravings. I love cooking with new ingredients and trying new cooking techniques and cooking methods.
Do you experiment in the kitchen? How do you handle it when things flop?
I experiment all the time. And if something flops, it flops. Then I try to work it in another way or I give up and we have take-aways for dinner. Flops is how you learn in the kitchen.
What is your favourite food to eat?
I love most food. My absolute all-time favourite is really good burgers made from good beef and good quality toppings. I also love seafood, sushi and anything cooked over a fire.
How do you do to stay on top of new trends?
I’m not a religious trend follower. I really just like to cook the food that I like to eat.
Describe your website. In your opinion, why does it stand out as one of the more successful food blogging sites in SA?
I think people find Simply Delicious accessible and unpretentious. My food doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. It is simple and delicious food prepared with love.
What is it that you love most about food blogging?
I love that I have a space where I can be completely creative without being scared that a client, etc. won’t like it. On Simply Delicious I get to do exactly what I want to do. I also love the interaction with the readers.
Who is your foodie hero and how do they inspire you?
I have quite a few. I love Nigella and Jamie because they made cooking so accessible and Nigella made it so sexy. Nigel Slater’s writing is so inspiring while being so down to earth and I’m currently obsessed with US Chef David Chang. He is such a genius.
What’s the best food photography tip you’ve learned?
It’s not really a tip but I just realised again that I like quite simple food photography where the focus is on the food.
What challenges do you face every day? You are a busy mom of young twins.
My biggest challenge is waking up in the morning. I’ve become quite the night-owl and getting up early for the kids is proving quite difficult. Coffee has become a constant in my life.
What wisdom could you share with bloggers wanting to start out in the industry?
Find your niche, stick to it and work on it. Work hard and don’t expect anything for free.
Why did you write your two books?
I had always wanted to write a book and when Penguin made me an offer, I didn’t hesitate for a second. They are as passionate as I am about creating beautiful books and I’m very excited about our future together. We have many, many books in the pipeline.
What advice do you have to new authors hoping to publish their first book?
Publishers are flooded with requests daily so make sure your idea is a good one. And be willing to work hard while creating your book.
What is your take on organic food and seasonal or sustainable eating and farming, is it a big deal for you?
I believe that supporting this way of farming by cooking and eating organic/seasonal/sustainable food is incredibly important. Not only is it better for our planet but the food is so much more delicious. And what’s the point of eating anything if it isn’t drop-dead-delicious?
Which three ingredients do you consciously avoid or eliminate even when the recipe calls for it?
I really only have one ingredient I don’t like using and that is baking soda. I know it’s important in many baking recipes but I can’t stand the taste of it and can detect it even if only a pinch was used.
Which ingredients are you inclined to over use in your recipes?
Lemon, chilli and garlic.
If you could just banish any one food, from the earth, what would it be?
Green peppers. I can’t stand green peppers.
Whats the one super power wish you had?
The super power to eat anything I want without gaining weight. 😉 Alternatively, invisibility would be very cool.
What are your mommy shortcuts in the kitchen?
I use my food processor for everything from grating cheese to making pesto and pastry. It makes light work of so many tasks and saves me a lot of time in the kitchen.