Each week we profile a different Canadian Food Blogger who is part of the FBC community. This week we meet Sean, the Richmond, BC based blogger behind the site Diversivore, where he delves into the interesting, the unique and the intriguing in the world of food.
Name: Sean Bromilow
Blog name: Diversivore
Where were you born? Edmonton, Alberta
Where are you living now? Richmond, British Columbia
Why did you start your blog?
While I always loved food, I never thought about working in a field related to it. But something funny kept happening to me when I was buying groceries, and it planted an idea in my mind. I’ve always liked diverse and unusual foods, and when I see something interesting my approach has always been to buy it first and figure out what to do with it later. This led to two things happening with increasing frequency: first, I was annoyed by the limited (or inaccurate) information on the web related to specific ingredients. Second, and more surprisingly, I was constantly being stopped by people in stores and markets who were curious about what I was buying and what it was for. This happened so often that my wife and I began to joke about starting a website to tell people all about these foods.
I left teaching to stay home and take care of my kids back in 2013 and I wanted a ‘project’ of sorts to keep myself professionally engaged (i.e. sane). What began as a little joke morphed over time, combining with my passion for education and science, until it just seemed like something I was meant to do.
How did you decide on your blog name?
I knew I wanted a short, interesting, meaningful name with a bit of a science-y edge. The name ‘diversivore’ came to me one day, as a play on the word omnivore. I googled it and discovered that it was a real, albeit obscure, scientific term – and that nobody was using it for anything else.
What do you blog about?
I could say ‘everything’ – but that’s not exactly right. I’ll write about food from anywhere in the world, cooked in virtually any fashion and with a wide range of ingredients and difficulties, but ultimately the core focus of Diversivore is exploring food that is either underappreciated, little-known, or otherwise worth diving into in detail.
My recipes run the gamut from the familiar to completely novel, but in all cases I endeavour to write in a way that gives readers a wealth of useable information. Similarly, I create guides to ingredients and techniques that are meant to give home cooks the confidence needed to dive into something interesting.
Is your blog your business, your hobby or something in between?
Certainly something in between. I make some money doing it, which is nice – but I’ve deliberately avoided certain revenue streams (most notably advertising) in order to maintain the personal, education-focused style of the site. Still, it’s been a nice progression over the last three years, and I’m hoping that it will be my full-time business at some point – probably after my three kids are all in school!
What post on your blog most encapsulates you and why?
This is painfully hard to answer, but I’ll go with my gut and say my recipe for Charred Shishito Peppers with Sweet Togarashi Spice. It’s got an interesting ingredient, photography that captures my style, and writing that captures my love of languages and good culinary stories. It also has a more playful tongue-in-cheek style which is something I really enjoy exploring – especially after spending years writing in a dry scientific style.
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
My ‘healthier broccoli and cheddar soup’! I know there are a zillion broccoli and cheddar soups out there, but I’ve always felt that this recipe deserves more attention. It’s wonderfully rich and cheesy, but it derives a ton of its flavour and character from the use of corn and carrots, rather than from an overload of dairy. So while it tastes decadently rich and satisfying, it’s also amazingly healthy and loaded with veggies. It was one of my first recipes, and the early photos didn’t do it any justice – nor did my woefully poor early SEO attempts. I’ve since updated both and seen a bit more love for the post, but I still hope that it grows much more in the future.
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
I continue to be floored by the success of my recipe for Chinese Egg Noodles. I always figured it would do fairly well, but it climbed in search engine rankings incredibly quickly, and in no time at all became the biggest single source of traffic to my site. This post made me realize just how valuable detail and well-researched information are to search engines, which was really validating given that that’s exactly the kind of post I’m trying to create.
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
Finding time to implement all of my ideas. I have always had more ideas for Diversivore than time to bring them to life, so I have to pick my battles and move forward with the things that I think are most valuable. That being said, sometimes I just get hooked into an idea and I have to see it to the end, even if it’s not a big traffic draw. I feel like I’ll be able to develop Diversivore for the rest of my life and still not be able to make time for every idea that I have.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a blogger?
Social media is a fine balance. You need to form a community, and to reach out to your readers, but you can’t afford to be bogged down in a near-constant update/overshare cycle. A combination of automation, picking battles, and good scheduling have revolutionized my own approach. I know that I could do more to grow my numbers in a variety of ways, but I also recognize that’s this isn’t really my goal.
What has been your biggest success as a blogger so far?
That’s a tough one to answer, as I’m never sure how best to define success. I think I’ll have to say my Ponzu Shoyu recipe being discovered by a Japanese TV program and leading to me being invited to Japan to learn about making it from masters. The whole experience was incredible, and it was borne from my desire to really dive deep into foods and food cultures, so that was really validating.
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
I know I’m going to leave people out and I apologize in advance. I really wish I had more time to read other people’s blogs.
I love a good story, and a well-researched recipe. To that end, I find myself turning to a few sites over and over. Sugar Love Spices is always so delightful, and full of a great mix of personal touches and perfectly crafted recipes.
Killing Thyme is a site with a food vibe I really love, with really clean and logical yet adventurous culinary sensibilities. I’ve always liked the food that Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen posts, and her recent site redesign is drawing me in more and more. In terms of the ‘big guys’ I come back to Serious Eats again and again because of their wonderful dedication to researching and really nailing a dish. A shared affection for really good Mexican food doesn’t hurt either.
Favourite food - care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
I don’t know that I could ever really pick anything and say that it’s my unquestionable favourite, but I have a very special place in my recipe for Spot Prawns in a Saffron-Tomato Sauce. I love the wonderfully varied ingredients and how they work together, but it’s particularly special to me because it’s a sort of reimagination of a dish that my wife and I used to share at a little (now-defunct) restaurant in Montreal. This dish always feels like ‘date night’ to us.
What are you working on next for your blog?
About a thousand things, honestly. But at the moment I’ve got a whole bunch of content, recipe and otherwise, related to my recent trip to Japan. I’m very excited to share that.
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
Well I don’t know what you SHOULD know about me, but there’s a lot of odd stuff that you might be surprised to know. I’m very much into music, having played a few instruments for many years. I was even in a band. We cut an album. It was pretty fun.
What makes your blog unique?
I think the fact that my site is focused delivering educational content in a specific way (and not on, say, a specific type of food) is what makes it unique. It means that I can dive into any food culture or food topic while still being on-brand. Because of this, I feel like I’ll never run out of topics to work on or subjects to explore. It’s very freeing, and yet it makes me feel like I have an identifiable ‘brand.’
How do you cultivate a sense of community around your blog?
That’s something I’m always looking to improve. I try to respond personally and creatively to anyone who reaches out to me. I’m looking to create more and more specialized social media too. I started a feature called “Whatsit Wednesday” last year, in which I feature unusual produce and challenge readers to identify it. It’s been a big hit, and I’d like to expand on that and other similar ideas. As an educator, you have to engage your audience and involve them in learning, rather than simply putting information in front of them. I’m always trying to find new ways to do that.
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
Connect with Sean and Diversivore on social media: