Each week we profile a different Canadian Food Blogger who is part of the FBC community. This week we meet Byron from Lord Bryon's Kitchen. This Toronto blogger focuses on non-pretentious, gadget free, comfort cooking - with a lot of plant based recipes.
Name: Byron Thomas
Blog name: Lord Byron’s Kitchen
Where were you born? Middle Arm, Newfoundland
Where are you living now? Toronto, Ontario
Why did you start your blog?
About 8 years ago, my partner John and I, moved into an apartment together. At that time, he had already been a vegetarian for almost 25 years. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t realize that cooking for a vegetarian was going to be such a big deal. I loved to cook, but I most certainly did not enjoy preparing two separate meals! The problem was that most of my favoured, go-to recipes included meat. So, I had to teach myself to prepare meals that were comforting and satisfying to me, the meat-eater, yet, those meals had to be vegetarian as well.
One day, I posted a side-by-side picture of a beef stew next to a vegetarian version of the same stew on Facebook. I asked if my friends could identify which one was vegetarian. One friend replied that there are many couples and families out there that have that one vegetarian loved one. He mentioned that the cooks in those families might benefit from my vegetarian versions of home style comfort food. He suggested that I write the recipes up and post them to a blog, and the rest is history!
How did you decide on your blog name?
There were two names before I settled on Lord Byron’s Kitchen, but I never really fell in love with either of them. A few years ago, I decided to re-brand and I enlisted the help of John to do so. We threw around words like pantry, cook, home, comfort, etc., but eventually settled on kitchen. The kitchen is my absolute favourite place to be! I wanted the blog to be about me and my likes rather than one of those influencer type blogs that push opinions and product. So, placing my name right in the title made sense.
I think it was John who suggested Lord. We all know there was a real Lord Byron, but he was thinking more about my love of Lords and Ladies, Kings and Queens. I’m obsessed with period dramas and the monarchy’s history! When he suggested Lord Byron, I remembered that it was my nickname in high school. I had this English teacher who would call me Lord Byron and it caught on and stuck with me.
What do you blog about?
Lord Byron’s Kitchen is all about recipes for comfort food. I blog about cooking food that is non-pretentious, budget-friendly, and gadget-free. Basically, I want any home cook to be able to go into their kitchen and prepare a meal, a side, or a dessert without having to purchase special ingredients or equipment.
Is your blog your business, your hobby or something in between?
My blog started as a hobby but has transitioned into something in between. I’d like to say that the blog doesn’t control my life, but the people who know me best will tell you differently. I pour my heart and soul into this blog. I love the rewards, but to be honest, I do it because it’s a creative outlet for me.
What post on your blog most encapsulates you and why?
That’s a really hard question! Every recipe on the blog has been posted because I have prepared it as a meal or as a treat for my family. If I had to pick one, I would say it’s my Homemade Newfoundland Pizza. My mom would prepare a Kraft boxed pizza every Friday for lunch. My sister, brother, and I all came home from school every day for lunch, and we always looked forward to Friday lunches. I don’t buy the boxed pizza kit, because I have a pizza crust recipe that works every single time. And, I use that same recipe for every pizza or flatbread that I make. Every Friday night in our home, is pizza night. If we don’t order delivery, I make personal pizzas for everyone and that dough is always the star!
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
It would have to be my own personal favourite chicken dish. I will often prepare this particular recipe for Sweet Spicy Sesame Chicken when John is away. This sweet and spicy version of sesame chicken is by far the best I’ve ever eaten!
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
I have a few that have completely surprised me, but most recently, it was my Cherry Chocolate Chip Muffins. My intention was to use up some leftover candied cherries from my Christmas baking, but the muffins were a hit! Truth be told, John took the muffins to work with the understanding that he would tell his workmates that they were experimental. As it turns out, they loved them, so he forced me to make another batch, photograph them, and post them to the blog. Sometimes, John is right – who knew!?
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
As much as I struggle with the back end technical side, I would have to say social media. I absolutely love the cooking part, and then the photography. But, I really do not enjoy the time I have to spend getting that published post out to the many social media platforms. Unfortunately, if us bloggers want our posts to be seen and read, we have to succumb to it!
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a blogger?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I can’t please everyone. It took me a long time to realize that the blog is indeed mine and that I could do it my way. I think once bloggers get to the point where they’re making money, they forget how they got there. I don’t focus on things like SEO or keywords. I pay no attention to Google updates or changes in various social media algorithms. I blog because I love it, and I blog about things that I love. I think keeping it personal and relatable is what the readers want.
What has been your biggest success as a blogger so far?
Oh, I really don’t want this to come across as bragging! But, if I’m being honest, it’s one of the things I’m most proud of. Blogging has enabled us to bring a dream to life. We have talked about owning a home in the country – away from city life – for a long time. At the beginning of summer last year, we were able to make that happen and the financial success of the blog has helped tremendously. We continue to live and work in Toronto, but get out of the city almost every weekend. It’s like a cottage for now, but it’s most certainly our retirement home.
Oh, one more thing – one time, Cat Cora, the first female Iron Chef, commented on my Honey Garlic Pork Bites posts on Instagram and said it was one of her favourite meals!!
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
If I ever want a tested, tried, and true recipe that I know will taste perfect every single time, I always visit The Chunky Chef. Amanda’s recipes are always tasty, and she uses a lot of cheese!
When I first started blogging, I found Recipe Tin Eats. I subscribed to the site many years ago and have never once been tempted to hit the unsubscribe button. Nagi is a brilliant cook and will certainly help you out if you have blog-related questions!
Another blog that I read regularly is Krumpli. Brian is living the dream! He and his wife quit their jobs, left the city life behind, bought a farm, and now grow their own food. He’s sarcastic too!
Favourite food - care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
My favourite ingredient has got to be pork. I would choose pork over the most expensive cut of steak any day! I would choose it over lobster, jumbo shrimp, prime beef, etc. (I’m trying to think of expensive mains!) With John being a vegetarian and McKenna not liking pork at all, I don’t get to cook with it as often as I’d like. But, when I do, I usually prepare my Honey Garlic Pork Bites. The meat is so flavourful and so tender. It was the first non-vegetarian recipe posted to my blog, and still my most popular to this day!
What are you working on next for your blog?
In terms of recipes, I’m one of those bloggers that is always working ahead. For example, I’m writing this in late February, and I’m already working on Mother’s Day recipes. In fact, this morning, I just finished my last Easter recipe, so I’m ready to hit publish on anything leading up to Mother’s Day. At any given time, I will have 15-20 recipes written, photographed, and ready to publish. Outside of recipe development, I would like to branch out in a few directions. I’m overly creative and my mind is never idle, but time just does not permit right now. Ultimately, I’d love to write a cookbook!
What makes your blog unique?
I don’t think there’s anything truly unique anymore – especially in the world of food blogging! There are literally thousands of food blogs from all walks of life! Rather than focus on being unique, I focus on being authentic. I want my readers to feel like they know me. I share many personal stories and anecdotes on my blog. And, I want my readers to relate, to laugh, to enjoy my sense of humour and my sarcasm. But, most importantly, I want them to feel comfortable and unafraid to get into their kitchens and cook along with me.
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
There are 3 things – first, it’s the monthly newsletter. I look forward to that and read it thoroughly every month! It creates a sense of unity and community among food bloggers and I always learn something new from it. Secondly, I love the resources section of the site. I think I’ve read every article in the marketing section! Finally, I loved the 31 Day Blog Clean Up. It was a challenge, but I had fun doing it!
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