Name: Chanry Thach
Blog name: The Hungry Gnome
Where were you born? Vietnam
Where are you living now? Calgary
Why did you start your blog?
I was unemployed and recently moved back to Hamilton, ON. I was working in the Food & Beverage industry at the time and figured if I wanted to live and work in the same city I needed to start supporting the restaurants in my backyard. So I started researching the local food scene and documenting it via Instagram and Facebook. Then one day someone suggested I start a “food blog” (I never even knew there was such a thing!)
How did you decide on your blog name?
I was brainstorming with a few friends and my girlfriend's husband, Joe, suggested The Hungry Gnome. I wish it was a cooler story but that's literally how it happened.
What do you blog about?
Food! Mainly restaurant outings/events and small food businesses. I like to shine light on local gems. I started the blog in Hamilton, but I recently moved to Calgary AB, so I’m hoping to discover the food scene out here.
Is your blog your business, your hobby or something in between?
It’s my hobby. I work on some sponsored content but it doesn’t pay the bills. I tell myself to keep doing it (blogging) till it stops being fun.
What post on your blog most encapsulates you and why?
This post recently came up on my FB memories. It was a recap of my 2nd Blogiversary three years ago. I would say this is a great snapshot of my style of writing and my personality. Fun, cheerful and quick to the point. It’s also a great summary of all the amazing opportunities and friendships The Hungry Gnome has gifted me. Every time I feel like quitting the game, I pull up this post and it gives me all the warm fuzzy feelings.
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
My About Me page! I just moved to a new city and I need foodie friends. Holler at me.
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
Back in 2014 I wrote about a restaurant called 28 Lister. It was the first time I ever got publicly called out for a negative review from the owner. I even had staff members reaching out to me about what I wrote. The staff confirmed/agreed with my thoughts on the restaurant but the owner got pretty nasty about it.
I stuck to my guns and the majority of my readers came to my defense. I also gained a lot of new readers from how honest and candid the review was. It’s one of my most popular articles to date.
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
When I first started blogging, I was doing it for me. My focus was writing, making jokes, learning to take a decent picture and being honest.
But, when your following grows you get pressured into “doing it for the gram” posting things that looked great but didn’t taste great, saying you loved something because a brand paid you or going to every tasting event and pimping the crap out of whoever paid you to that week. It’s tough to say no – that’s not my brand. That’s not who I am. But eating out is expensive so you have to find a balance between all the cool free shit and being true to yourself. I really value my audience and how engaged they are and I think it all comes from me keeping it real.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a blogger?
You have to be willing to ask for what you want. I'm literally a dime a dozen in this business. The Asian- girl-who-takes-pics-of-her-food isn't exactly a unique niche. If I couldn't pull my big girl pants up and go after what I wanted, I was going to miss out on some incredible opportunities. I was very timid in the beginning of my blogging career. I didn't know how to toot my own horn. I had to learn very quickly to go after what I wanted and chase down these opportunities or someone else would beat me to it.
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
Nom Nom Paleo: the only blog where I don't just skim for pretty pictutes,. I actually use her recipes.
The Food Pornographer: one of the first food blogs I started obsessing over. I loved her simple writing style and storytelling.
Little Kitchen, Big World: my girlfriend Priya writes this blog and her photography is out of this world.
Favourite food - care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
Oh man, this is a tough one. Being Cambodian means I grew up eating some weird stuff. Our motto is the stinkier, the better. Also being in a new city and away from my parents makes me really miss a few certain dishes. Mainly things I would only eat if my mom made it. One of those dishes is balut. Yep, I even blogged about it too
What are you working on next for your blog?
I dont really have anything up my sleeve right now to be honest. Moving to a new city has made me reevaulate where The Hungry Gnome should go. I'm questioning whether a blog is the right platform for the stories I want to tell.
I'm having a blast with instagram stories an using that as a new platform for storytelling. I'm not spending weeks curating content like I would for a blog post but instead, I'm allowing mysef to work on the fly, change my narration and just create when it comes to me. I do "Insta Gnome Reviews" via Instagram stories. My readers get to tag along on a restaurant review in real time. I get to add video and my commentary is unfiltered. I get to share my thoughts on a dish as I'm eating it. I find it refreshing and incredibly raw and super hella fun!
So yeah, I guess, that's what I'm playing around with right now. Bringing The Hungry Gnome back to its roots, where it's just about me and my readers eating good food. Less about styled content - which I feel is where a lot of blogging is heading towards.
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
My About Me page is pretty boring. It doesn't have enough sass, or attitude, or swear words. One thing I've been told is that my writing is exactly the way I talk. Usually after my readers meet me they tell me my personality is identical to my blog. Which for me is a compliment. So don't judge me by my About Me page, read my articles if you really want to get to know me.
What makes your blog unique?
My sense of humour. I think I'm pretty funny. I like to make my blog fun to read. My culinary background also lets me give a different perspective to my readers. Sometimes I can tell exactly what went wrong to make that dish so crappy or so brilliant. Also, when I throw in a little humour , people don't get as mad when I say their food sucks.
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
I've spend hours and hours reading all the resource articles. I'm always going back to Blogging 101. It doesn't matter how long you've been doing it, there is always something new to learn.
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