Name: Darina Kopcok
Blog name: Gratinée
Where were you born? Vancouver, BC
Where are you living now? Vancouver, BC
Why did you start your blog?
Early in 2009, I found myself unemployed and wanting to make a career change. I had a Master’s degree in Creative Writing and hoped to use my writing skills in some way. I loved reading food writing by writers such a MFK Fisher and Elizabeth David, and had amassed years’ worth of foodie magazines like Gourmet and Bon Appetit. I decided to take a course on food and travel writing with the goal of freelancing in those areas. I had recently discovered blogs and decided I should start one so I could show samples of my writing to editors I wanted to pitch to.
As the Internet is such a visual medium, I knew I had to take photographs to go with my posts, but I had never been much of a photographer. However, I soon discovered that I liked taking the pictures for my blog even more than writing for it. After a couple of years, I started studying photography at night school, which I am still doing now.
How did you decide on your blog name?
I wanted something simple and short. Preferably something French, and preferably a culinary term. I also love anything topped with cheese and breadcrumbs, hence Gratinée came to me as the perfect name.
What do you blog about?
I blog about food and recipes but I also write about the places I travel to and the books that I’m reading. Now that I have been blogging for over five years, I find that I’m at a stage where I need to refocus and determine how I want my blog to evolve.My sub-heading onGratinée is food*culture*photography. I intend on continuing to post my recipes, but also expand on the culture and photography aspect to include photographic essays and posts about what is going on in the food world here in B.C., featuring local artisans and producers. I have a few things up my sleeve, going forward, which I’m excited to bring to my readers.
What post are you most proud of and why?
Quite honestly, I’m proud of every one of my posts. I put a lot of work into each and every one, from devising the recipes, shopping for the ingredients, to styling and shooting the food, to editing the shots and writing up the post. Each post is a labour of love. I don’t post as often as some bloggers, but I believe that the quality of my posts has attracted a small but loyal following that enjoys my work.
I would say my favourite post of late is my post on roasted chicken, where I write about the influence of my foodie family vis-à-vis the food phobic men that have been in my life
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
My favourite posts are the essays, most of which I wrote earlier in my blogging career when I had little traffic. A lot of people don’t come to the Internet or blogs to read large chunks of prose, but there are some that do, and that is my audience. Since my early days, I have integrated this food memoir quality into my everyday posts.
An example of a favourite essay is this one, on the demise of Gourmet magazine, an event that still makes me weep.
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
In terms of sheer numbers, my Julia Child posts get the most hits on a daily basis—understandably so. But my post on Marcella Hazan’s Spaghetti Carbonara got the most hits in one day—6,666—which is an interesting number! It continues to be one of my most popular posts for some reason.
What is one (non-kitchen) gadget you can’t live without?
What is one kitchen gadget you can’t live without?
Favourite food, care to share a recipe?
My favourite food is basically bread, in any shape or form. I can eat good quality Neopolitan-style pizza on a daily basis, as well as croissants, pastries and freshly baked bread slathered with butter. Discovering no-knead dough recipes has been a boon, making it so simple to eat good quality bread products at home, at a fraction of the cost. It’s also very satisfying on an emotional level. Mushroom Caramelized Onion Tart
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
I am in the process of revamping my About Me page, which has been static for several years now. I mention that I have freelanced as a writer but I am also available for photographic assignments related to food and lifestyle. I also do portraiture photography. Although my website is being developed further at this time, my food portfolio is up and may be found at: darinakopcok.com
What makes your blog unique?
I think my blog is a direct reflection of my style and aesthetic. Because of my previous education in writing and my ongoing training in photography, I feel the production values at Gratinée have evolved significantly over the years. I also develop a lot of my own recipes.
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