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Success does not necessarily mean quality

"I work for compensation, not in exchange for product or “exposure.” Long-term relationships with brands and products that I love is preferred." Kimberly Killebrew



I'm back to the perusal of the internet world of food blogs - and today it's The Daring Gourmet which is run by the lady on the left - Kimberly Killebrew. I'm not sure where I came across it - sometime in the past when I was doing a post on a particular dish perhaps, for she does indeed cover a number of cuisines as her logo 'travel the world through your taste buds!' suggests.


Now it's a successful blog/website. She claims around 4 million visitors monthly and 80,000 email subscribers. So I would be expecting something a bit special.


However, I'm not overly impressed with this one. I would perhaps give it 3 stars - as opposed to 4 1/2 for Recipe Tin Eats for example. Why am I not that impressed? Well the recipes on offer are Ok - I suppose a bit above average - about the level of a Woolworths Fresh Ideas Magazine perhaps. And there are some interesting ones in amongst the not very interesting ones. But they are not that wonderfully written - she tends to repeat herself somewhat.

Ditto for some of the photographs - for instance on her Contents page in which she shows the categories that you can choose from, she uses the same photograph several times, and it's not relevant to the topic in hand either. It's actually a picture of how to make yoghurt, which has no relevance to Canning and preserving, Slow cooker and Snacks. (Apologies, I could not capture the titles under the bottom two). I'm guessing that initially all the boxes had the same photograph because it's the first photograph on the entire page, but she has not got around to changing it for the other categories. It's an unfinished job - and one which would not be that difficult I suspect. And this website has been around for a long time - since 2013, so she has had plenty of time to fix it. A tiny bit sloppy I think. I see she has used the hamburger twice as well. In this case it's valid - sort of - the gluten free recipe is for the sauce, not the bun. Buy your own gluten free bun I guess. But she has other gluten free dishes, and others for the other category for which it is the lead photograph - Sauces, seasonings and condiments, so why not use another photograph - and one which is more sauce focussed? Because she does have recipes for such things. And even on her Home Page - the page you first see, where you want to create a good impression she has the same thing - three copies of the same picture for three different things. And I don't think the pictures she has chosen are her best ones anyway - she does have better ones.

So all in all a bit careless which shows up in other ways here and there. Not really what you would expect from a website with 4 million views a month.

The most annoying thing about the blog though is the constant ads as you scroll down through the text. Lots of websites do this these days to the point that sometimes you don't know whether you are reading the actual text or not. And this is the case here. The ads are not relevant either and often seem to be for mildly suspicious things like shoes for bunions, and test your IQ. And even when you finally get to the actual recipe there in the middle of it is another ad, for another irrelevant thing. I was going to say that Recipe Tin Eats does not do this, and indeed she mostly doesn't - you can scroll all the way through her introduction, tips, explanations, and video without encountering a single ad. But lo and behold the same thing happens in her actual recipe. Same ad too, so I can only assume that they both use the same software/advertising agency?


So I checked her Privacy policy and found these statements - boring but a tiny bit worrying, or maybe that's unkind - she's going for 'compensation after all'. I guess it just shows how much information the world has about you:


"AdThrive – this is a third-party ad network that works with third-party ad servers to display advertisements on our blog. They automatically receive your IP address and other technologies (cookies, JavaScript or web beacons) may also be used to personalize the advertising content that you see"

"This Site is affiliated with CMI Marketing, Inc., d/b/a CafeMedia (“CafeMedia”) for the purposes of placing advertising on the Site, and CafeMedia will collect and use certain data for advertising purposes. To learn more about CafeMedia’s data usage, click here: www.cafemedia.com/publisher-advertising-privacy-policy"

"The Daring Gourmet is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and links to Amazon.com. As part of this Amazon Associates program, the Website will post customized links, provided by Amazon, to track the referrals to their website. This program utilizes cookies to track visits for the purposes of assigning commission on these sales. As an Amazon Associate The Daring Gourmet earns from qualifying purchases."


To be honest I can't quite get my head around all of that, but I guess fundamentally it means she earns money from various advertising agreements and that information about you may be passed on to these people. Not that she is at all unique in this - even trusted sources like The Guardian do the same thing I'm sure. I am also sure that any blog whose owner is out to make money has similar arrangements. Big Brother - in the form of commerce - is watching you.


But back to the food. I found an interview with Kimberly Killebrew in which she said:


"My focus is the food itself. I don't spend a lot of time on drawn-out stories or things unrelated to the food. I bring the food to the forefront and like to inspire people to try it. I want them to look at the pictures and think, "Oh my! That looks delicious!" and then to read through the description and instructions and say, "Hey, I think I can do this. I'm going to cook/bake this!"


So here is an example - Chicken piccata - not an original recipe - it's a traditional Italian/American dish and there are endless recipes for it on the net. She does give a little bit of background to it, but there is one large paragraph in the middle which is dedicated to a plug for a particular Spanish brand of chicken stock. Now she says she visited the factory on a trip to Barcelona and I don't doubt that, but I'm guessing that whilst there she did some kind of deal with them. I cannot believe she doesn't get some sort of 'compensation' for plugging them. She does have photos of the process and her main picture - this one - is indeed pretty tempting looking - so why didn't she use that for her Mains category for example?


In her About piece she describes herself as a:


"Passionate cook, recipe developer, traveler and photo enthusiast"


Which is fine, but if this recipe is an example of recipe development I'm not that impressed. For all I know she has just copied somebody else's. As I said there are lots out there. So recipe developer? No I don't think so. Not when you compare to somebody like Ixta Belfrage, who is a total original. Of course her (Ixta Belfrage's that is) dishes are based on what she has seen and grown up with, but - and any chef/cook worth their salt does the same, she then puts in a totally unique twist, making it her own.

The recipe development going on here is minimal. I mean we are all recipe developers in our own small way - every time we open the fridge and scour the pantry to cook something for dinner. I'm pretty sure none of us would claim that status though. I did also check Recipe Tin Eats for the same dish. Now I'm not saying that the recipe is any better or indeed very much different, but she does at least sound as if she has thought about getting it right:


"I always found the lemon sauce mouth-puckeringly sour to the point of wincing. I also felt it just didn’t have enough interesting flavour in it to carry a somewhat bland chicken.

So many recipes also called for an insane amount of butter and oil. Sometimes up to half a cup! What the … ?? ...

So this is my version of Chicken Piccata. The sauce is not as sour – I dial it in to just the right amount of lemon tang. I use less fat than most recipes too, and reduce the white wine through cooking to add complexity in the sauce. And as for the chicken? Add a dusting of parmesan. It makes it so much tastier!" Nagi Maehashi


So anyway I'm a little bit mystified by it all. Actually she has a German background and the German recipes on her site are some of the most interesting. Apologies to her - I must have been feeling a bit bolshy on the day I started this post. It's really no better or no worse than a whole lot of blogs out there - a little bit worse in fact because of the slipshod nature of the design, - it's not that classy a design and I know there are fabulous templates out there to use - witness the one I used for this website. The text is not that stimulating with the odd misspelling and the odd bit of repetition and the odd bit of marketing. So why does it get so many hits and subscribers? Obviously marketing is all.

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