I first met Anna the week she opened her amazing new venture Cook House (in 2 adjoining shipping containers!) back in August last year. I popped along with my mum for breakfast, you can read about that here.
Anna started out by writing a food blog, The Grazer which has become, in Anna’s words, her ‘food-life journal’. In addition to running Cook House, which serves breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday, Anna also runs her own dining events from supperclubs to pop-up kitchens and markets. Cook House is also home to a small Food School programme. As part of the Food School, I saw Charlotte from Charlotte’s Butchery break down a full lamb, which was amazing.
Anna has been featured in Marie Claire, The Sunday Times, The Guardian and Living North to name a few and has been shortlisted for too many awards to mention. Busy girl! I was chuffed to bits when she kindly agreed to take some time out of her hectic schedule to feature on my blog.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you get started with The Grazer?
I started writing The Grazer in 2011, I began it as an online archive of recipes that I made and enjoyed. I still use it as that myself, looking things up on it when I want to cook, so from my point of view it is very useful! Other people seem to think so too which is nice, and it currently gets about 10,000 views a month, so hopefully people find it useful and cook from it, which was always the idea. Sometimes people send me pictures of things they have made from it and I love it! It has led to all kinds of other food projects since I began too, such as my seasonal Graze markets, starting supperclubs, working with the National Trust and loads of other interesting people…
2. How did Cook House become a reality – how long was this in the making?
In my head I have been planning it since around the time I started my blog, but it was always a bit of a pipe dream. I still had a lot to learn and financially opening a restaurant is a huge undertaking, which I couldn’t afford. In reality it was last February that I decided to leave my job in architecture and set up in the shipping containers on Ouse street. It was a way of starting out that didn’t cost much and didn’t involve huge overheads and suddenly it all just fell into place. I left my job in May and opened in August. Then people actually came, which was a relief! The cafe has a steady trade, of people working in and around the Ouseburn or people coming specifically to visit me, and the supperclubs are hugely popular, I have bookings well into the year now.
4. Your blog, Cook House, supperclubs, pop-up kitchens, markets, food school – how do you manage to fit this all in and still have time for friends/family?
Well I do struggle, I work hard and a lot of hours but I enjoy it and I want to be successful at what I do so it’s worth it. Since opening Cook House I’ve had a lot less time to socialise, but luckily people can come and see me at work and have lunch, and my friends and family love eating and drinking so it all works out ok!
5. What advice can you give to budding food bloggers – where should they start?
With reading, other well written blogs, and books in general. The importance of really good writing is overlooked sometimes I think. A blog might be chatty and quick and daily, but it still needs to be informative and well written. Spelling, grammar and punctuation are all hugely important in my eyes. Lovely pictures too, I think good photography makes a huge difference to a blog. I looked at lots of other blogs and websites before I began mine, taking note of which sites I liked and why and then incorporating those ideas. I love Recipe Rifle at the moment, a very entertaining good read…
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading! Is anyone else hungry now?
*Photographs provided by Anna*