Hi lovely readers,
I haven’t, as of yet, written anything on my blog that’s really truly personal. I think maybe this is because it’s hard to imagine that anyone would be interested,and perhaps that’s true. But I also know from the blogs that I love reading, that we are interested in other people’s lives, and it’s the personal touches that keep us engaged and wanting to come back for more. So, I’m going to take a deep breath, and start to share a bit more about my life on the blog. After all, I’m more than just the food I cook!
I wanted to start by saying sorry. This might be a bit of a long winded apology, but here goes.
I am a chef. I trained at Ballymaloe Cookery School and then worked my way around different restaurants, trying to learn as much as I could before then setting up my own catering company – Made by Margie. I love food, all food, and I absolutely love my job – cooking is my ultimate passion. Part of being a chef is coming up with delicious new recipes, using new ingredients, and just having fun with food. That’s the case for me anyway, I cannot speak for all chefs. I am by no means a photographer, but I love styling food, and I love snapping the recipes in my own way, and popping them on the blog to share with you.
I know that my blog doesn’t compete visually with some of these other bloggers with whole teams behind them, and serious photography kit. For a long time, that made me feel inadequate and like my blog wasn’t as valuable (comparison is the thief of joy and all that!) However, what I know I can offer you is this: completely delicious recipes that work, have been tried and tested, that don’t take long to make, and that I know you will love. These recipes are ones made by someone who loves food and who knows food. Over time, I have come to love the unpolished appearance of my blog and my social media because it’s honest. It’s authentic and it’s me. I posted a picture of some brioche that that I had burnt the other day on Instagram, and the overwhelming positive reaction really made me realise we need so much more of this. I am a chef, I get paid to cook for people, but I am also a human and sometimes I forget to set a timer and I burn things. And guess what? That’s okay. Life isn’t the perfectly styled photos you see on Instagram feeds. Life is sometimes a Pot Noodle. And that’s okay.
As a chef, I’ve struggled to find a niche for my blog. Trying to compete against this huge army of girls who are earning millions based on the idea that if you eat like them you can look like them. This whole concept in and of itself is hugely worrying, but beyond that, who is to say that the food we see them make even tastes good? That’s not to say you cant be a fantastic home taught cook, of course you can, but it made me sad that the training and hard work I had put into becoming a great chef seems so undervalued, and the category totally saturated.
So, I give up. It’s not a competition and if it is, I’m pulling out. My hat is no longer in the ring.
Curious to see what all the fuss was about, I dipped my toe in “those” sweet potato brownies, and I have to admit they went in the bin. I wonder if that was a case of the Emperors New Clothes, where we were told they tasted good and so desperately wanted to believe they held the key to thinness and ‘healthiness”, that it then became true. And here’s where my long winded apology comes to a point. I’m getting there I promise.
I am a CHEF and I fell for the clean eating hype too. I thought that in order for my blog to be popular I must make everything gluten free, dairy free, and vegan etc etc etc. And here is where I made a huge mistake. I lost myself in the whole PR whirlwind of these clean eating bloggers. Having been a yo-yo dieter my whole life, I even tried to eat like these girls – and I put on a stone, making myself miserable in the process.
I thought that in order to write a post about a blueberry cheesecake I needed to tell you all about the antioxidants found in blueberries (and the fact they are actually unicorn droppings, duh) and that’s why we should all be eating them by the bucket load. And in doing this, I dipped toe into areas of nutrition that I am not qualified in and I lost my true passion – making delicious food that makes people happy, and for that I am truly sorry. It’s hard to stay on your own course when you can see another way which is so wildly popular. It’s hard to keep the conviction and belief in yourself, but believe in yourself you must.
You’ll no longer find any clean eating nonsense on my blog. I am wholeheartedly against demonizing food groups unnecessarily. I fell for the sugar hype by believing what these bloggers said about maple syrup and agave being magical calorie free alternatives to sugar. I wrote about that here. For the last few years I have made a conscious effort to use these ingredients for the different flavours they lend to my dishes, rather than because I believe them to be magical. I also use refined sugars in my cooking – for me it’s all just a question of mixing it up and finding what works best in any given recipe. I use lots of these alternative sugars in my upcoming book Nana Nice Cream, but that is mainly because Nana Nice Cream is raw, quick, easy to make, and is made very simply in a blender, making refined sugar too crunchy for this. In this case, I find it easier just to add a splash of a liquid sweetener. There is also no getting away from the fact that the publisher is trying to appeal to a wide range of people with my book and that will include, but wont be exclusively, people who like to avoid refined sugars, and I want to include anyone who loves delicious food.
I try to avoid dairy, because personally it doesn’t make me feel great, and can cause havoc with my skin. I know this can be true for lots of others, but I would never ever tell you that you have to eat like me. I just want people to fall in love with food again. Food is not the enemy and the food you eat has absolutely no bearing on the type of person that you are. Eating pizza does not make you unhealthy and bad, likewise drinking kale shots does not make you a saint or automatically a nice person.
When it comes to food, I’ve been through the mill, and have been on every diet possible. I’ve hated the way my body looks, but the journey I have been on for the last 2 years has been an unbelievable one, and I have finally learnt to love the skin I’m in. And it feels amazing.
It’s not easy, but if you can learn to let go of negative thoughts about your body, to reject the diet culture we are bombarded with – often cleverly disguised as paleo, sugar free or alkaline – and learn to adopt a body positive lifestyle, life is going to get so much better.
As a chef, I’m really passionate about helping women stop being frightened by food.I want to help women to fall in love with food again, to get cooking and to love the skin they’re in. The change in my attitude towards my own body has been so life changing, I want to help others feel the same way – and I’ve been working on a really exciting project that will be coming very soon. If you’ve ever been on a diet that didn’t work, or if you have stood in front of the mirror and hated what you saw, then this new project was made for you. Make sure you subscribe so you dont miss the announcement. Stay tuned, and I’m sorry I lost my way, but I’m back now, better than ever.