Corpulent Capers by Mark Adams

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 11th February 2011

This blog is brought to you by Mark Adams - corpulentcapers.com

I first started blogging about four years ago, using Google's blogger.com platform. At that time my blog had no coherent direction it was just a mix of my thoughts on varied topics. After about 12 months I decided that if I was going to continue blogging I needed to create blogs that had a single focus and were not just random musings. Something connected with food seemed to be the obvious choice. My wife, who only moved to the UK at the end of 2006, is an excellent cook. A New Yorker by birth she has lived and worked in France, Israel and the Bahamas to name but three. She has also travelled extensively throughout Europe and Africa and has collected an extensive range of eclectic food influences during her travels. As well as this she had been the owner/operator of a small event catering company and events secretary for a fine dining club. Food was as much a passion of hers as mine. I, on the other hand, was enjoying introducing her to the fantastic range of top quality produce that is now being grown and farmed in Britain and here in Wales in particular. Another hugely enjoyable part of this journey of discovery, was visiting some of the local establishments where we could actually eat this produce and so, a restaurant review blog was born. As I'm a bit of a techie I decided to move away from blogger.com and host my own Wordpress site as this offered me a lot more flexibility as well as control. A little bit of thought brought us our title, "Corpulent Capers". The domain was registered and we were off. The first review that I wrote on the new site told the story of a trip to London and dinner at Theo Randall's at The Intercontinental, which is still one of the most memorable experiences that I've ever had. Unfortunately, because blogging is very much spare time activity for me and my day job is quite demanding, I am nowhere near as productive as I would like to be. I currently have a backlog of reviews waiting to be honed and posted to the site; these include Bohemia in Jersey, Mr Underhill's in Ludlow and the Hardwick near Abergavenny. I also like to spend a few paragraphs setting the scene as I find a good lead-in not only make things more interesting for the reader but that it helps me as the author to relive the event. The downside of this of course is that everything takes longer to write which doesn't help my productivity. I tend not to rate the places I visit on any kind of scale as I find this can be a very arbitrary and off putting system. The reader has no idea where my personal limits lie so what's the point. Instead I just prefer to describe my experience and let my readers decide for themselves. At the restaurant itself I try to be as discreet as possible when doing what I'm doing. I usually photograph the dishes, sometimes I use the photos to break up the text but mostly I do it as it helps me remember the dish when I get home. Originally I just used the camera on my phone but usually I found that the low light levels of most restaurants made for bad photographs as I never use flash. So I just invested in high quality compact camera that now allows me to shoot without flash in very low light levels. I also generally have a small notepad and pen in my pocket so that I can make an aide memoir. One of the things I find most annoying about reading other people's reviews is that often they seem to take little notice of the price point. It is totally unrealistic to expect the same levels of service that one would find in a Michelin starred restaurant to be present in the tiny, backstreet, family Italian where you can still get a pasta main course for less than a tenner; but a lot of reviewers seem to overlook this fact. I always try to remember the price point, the intended clientele, the level of perceived expectation and temper my reviews according. I figure that at least some of what I'm doing must be right as last June I was nominated for the Welsh Blog Awards in two categories, namely 'Best Lifestyle Blog' and 'Best Writing On A Blog'. Hopefully this year there will be a separate food bloggers category which will make for fairer competition. As to the site itself! Without doubt the best way I have found to drive traffic to the blog is to use Twitter and Facebook, both of which bring a different demographic. Facebook brings traffic from my "˜friends' who are keen to know where I've been and what I thought of it. Twitter brings a fair number of my followers but also, due to the public nature of my twitter stream, a fair number of random strangers. There is always a large increase in hits after posting an update on either site. Continue ... Without a doubt, the most read review on my site has been the one on Llansantffraed Court Hotel. It is no coincidence that that review received the most promotion on Twitter from me, was re-tweeted on a number of occasions by others and is frequently linked to by the hotel itself. At one point the Corpulent Capers review was the third most popular result returned by Google for research on the hotel name. Going forward, I plan to make a few changes to the site in the very near future. In order to make it easier for me to find the time to post fresh content I have decided to introduce a new section where I can post shorter reviews probably without any scene setting or pictures. Almost an appetiser instead of a main course! I'll also create a further section where I can cover things that are not just reviews but still food related, such as food festivals, the odd book review and the like. I can't see me having a recipe corner though. I think it's probably the dream of every blogger to give up the day job and be able to make a living from their site. I, however, am not under that illusion. I have looked long and hard at many, many food blogs and see little or no opportunity to monetise them to the extent that would be needed to call myself a full time writer. However, I do want to make the site and through it, my writing the best that they can be. As such I shall be actively seeking any writing, reviewing and critiquing opportunities that are out there. Please drop by Corpulent Capers and let me know what you think. Feel free to comment on any of my reviews or suggest places I should go visit. Constructive criticism is always welcome.

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 11th February 2011

Corpulent Capers by Mark Adams