I started Shared Kitchen just over a year ago. I wanted to create an online resource, a site that offered more than recipes, somewhere you could go to for information about ingredients as well as helpful cooking advice. I’ve gardened all my adult life and I’m always keen to encourage people to have a go, so growing things and cooking from scratch is at the heart of Shared Kitchen. A blog became part of the mix and it has developed into Island Life covering my trials and tribulations since moving to Waiheke. I chat to cookbook authors and chefs from time to time, too, but mostly I just do what feels right. It is all very organic, and that works well.
My daughter Ilaria writes a blog contribution from London and handles social media. Photographer Aaron McLean’s stunning photographs are an integral part of Shared Kitchen (Ilaria and I take pics on our iPhones!). Charlie McKay, web designer, now based in London, and site developer Elspeth Dick, now back in New Zealand, are the people behind the scenes who created the site. We are all part of the success of Shared Kitchen.
We’re celebrating here because we have received some exciting news: Shared Kitchen took out 2nd place in Best Website in the World in the Gourmand Awards held at the weekend in Yantai, China.
These awards, established 20 years by Edouard Cointreau, celebrate the best of food and wine publications around the world. Initially, the categories consisted of just recipe and food books but the awards have grown and now take in wine and drink publications, and more latterly, food apps and ebooks. Websites were added just two years ago.
While Shared Kitchen competed against websites built with huge budgets and the ability to lure enormous audiences, it’s important to believe in yourself and what you do. Shared Kitchen is not overtly commercialised, it has integrity and its content is credible, it has style and a certain sway, and it has a very loyal and growing readership. That may or may not be enough to stand up to global competition, but there was only one way to find out. For a bit of a dare, we thought we’d put our toes in the water and see. We won the New Zealand round, then, the fantastic news at the weekend that we came second in the Best in the World! Just think if we had procrastinated and not entered …
I encourage all food and drink writers (publishers/producers) to enter their work in the Gourmand awards. If you don’t win you’ll be keen to see who does, then you’ve got work to compare with your own and to aspire towards. Competitions are great like that – they really do make you appraise your own work and look for ways to improve it.