I meet Delphine in a kitchen studio we sit down and she pulls from the oven a lovely chocolate dessert with caramel, marshmallows and salty peanuts. My mouth is already watering! I first met Delphine at an event about 6 months ago and what impressed me was how passionate she was about food. That’s when I decided to interview her for Fashion Stories.
Ekaterina Larsson: Hallo, Del! You are the food blog author of Del’s cooking twist; you have been running it for about 3 years now and have tens of thousands of readers every month. Impressive! So how did it all start, when did you get passionate about food?
Delphine Fortin: I am a true food lover at heart. So far as I can remember I have always liked baking, and already when I was a child I used to bake simple recipes when I had friends over. Food has always been part of my life. Experimenting in the kitchen is my favorite activity. Later on, life gave me the opportunity to cook for my family during an entire summer and I had lot of fun, using a great cookbook from which I learned the basics of French cooking. My curiosity in cooking and baking is endless, and so is my creativity!
I moved to Sweden when I was 25 for a 6 month professional project. I fell in love with this country, met my boyfriend and I decided to stay a little bit longer. And here I am: 6 years later, still in Sweden.
At first, my college education was rather intellectual and so were my professional beginnings; they had nothing to do with food. However, my interest for food was always there, and I was often telling myself that in my “second life” when I would turn 40 or so, I would go for my passion and run a business connected to food (i.e. opening a café or running a B&B).
Thankfully, I didn’t need to wait so long: Sweden soon gave me the opportunity to take a different path from my original education (International Relations) and drive the marketing strategy for the regional outpost of a French food company. By the time, my Swedish was not fluent yet and I embraced the idea immediately. Somehow, it was the perfect excuse to try something connected to my passion! I loved it and on my spare time I was even creating recipes for the company website.
After a while, my boyfriend convinced me to start a food blog to share my recipes with my friends. Since he is an IT expert, everything became easier for me and honestly, I would never have started without him. When I look back, it is by far the best decision I have done for the last 3 years. It totally changed my life!
And this is how you started your business?
Well, this is how I started my blog. By the time, I had no idea it would later become a business. I uploaded my first recipe, started writing my blog in both English and French. It was quite basic: a few lines to introduce the recipe, the recipe itself and only one very basic picture. After a week I created a Facebook page, not very convinced about what I would do with it. But soon I grew my community from zero to 50 000 fans, thanks to my International profile (with lots of French and American readers), so maybe it was a good idea in the end!
What is your goal with the blog?
In the beginning I just wanted to have people read my blog. I was doing my best to improve my skills in cooking, photography and writing about food. I started reading other blogs in search of inspiration. Then I started to pay attention to other important aspects: design, digital marketing, Google Analytics and the scary SEO. Running a blog is very addictive and you learn a lot from your experience.
After 2 years, I started to run my blog on a more professional level, starting to get different assignments: cooking demonstration, sponsored articles, partnership with different food companies, creating recipes and baking videos, etc. On top of that, I have developed advertising on the blog, which still brings me a little revenue every month.
Today, my #1 goal is still to entertain my readers: somehow, you develop a strong and close connection with your online audience, and the most important objective is to not disappoint them. Content is key for a blog, and your readers expect you to be honest with them and tell them your personal opinion. It’s ok to do a business with the blog, but you have to find the right balance between your professional assignments and your values. This means for instance that for me, I would never partner with a company in which I don’t believe. It wouldn’t be honest towards my readers. I give credit to natural ingredients and I would never advise my readers to buy processed food I don’t believe in personally.
How would you like your followers to feel when they read your blog?
Silence. We are digging into the chocolate dessert and discussing how it would marry very well with vanilla ice-cream.
We can easily split my readers in two main categories: (food) bloggers and regular readers. I want to make them both feel close to me as soon as possible and I like to give them expert advice in cooking or showing them the “behind the scenes” of the blog, with a reality often more epic than the result on the blog can tell. I do care about my readers a lot and I want them to feel special to me, trying to tell them a little bit about my personal life between Sweden, USA and France, the 3 countries of my life.
Did you ever think of focusing only on your own business?
I started my company linked to the blog in September 2014, combining my marketing and communication skills with the cooking. I have big ambition with my blog and I run many projects at the same time. It is very exciting but also very demanding in terms of time and energy. As every entrepreneur knows, building big things take time, and that’s why I have also been working with digital marketing in another company at the same time, with a strong focus on improving my skills in those fields. Digital marketing is one of the most important aspects in blogging, so you have to work on it constantly. But of course, food remains my first interest and my core activity. Without food, my blog empire wouldn’t exist!
What are your long-term goals?
In a long term perspective, I hope I can afford living only off of my blog activities. I am truly passionate about this and my creativity has no limits when it comes to food projects. I can work hours and hours for days, and still dream about new projects at night. My mind is all about that!
What do you believe brings success? Do you have any advice for our readers?
Well, I am not sure I am there yet, so it will be hard to answer (laughs). However, I think a strong will to succeed, combined with hard working and a lot of patience will bring success. Of course, I would add a pinch of luck (like being at the right place at the right moment, meeting the “right” people), creativity and passion.
Any advice for my readers? Believe in yourself and never give up on your dreams: dream big, work hard, stay focused, and surround yourself with good people.
Can you share one of your breakfast recipes for our readers?
I would love to! Breakfast is and has always been my favorite meal of the day. I love to prepare myself different breakfasts every morning, and I have many favorites.
Among them, I suggest my vegan double chocolate oatmeal with goji berries. A very simple and healthy recipe that is just amazing. You can find the full recipe here.
OR another one if you want:
Among them, I suggest my savory French toasts with kale and balsamic jam. A lovely savory twist to the classic French toasts. You can find the full recipe here.
What do you think are the secret ingredients that can make any food taste better (lift it to a new level)?
Choosing only one secret ingredient is difficult, there are so many of them! But in baking, Tonka bean and cardamom are my two favorites: I use tonka mostly in custards (in a crème brûlée for instance), and cardamom in any kind of pastries, I love this spice. In cooking, I like to add some lime and cilantro in my recipes!
Do you have any other passions in life apart from food blogging?
Well, I am tempted to answer: food! Does it count? (laughs). Actually I love History, mostly modern and contemporary History (I even have a master degree in Modern History). But even with this passion, I love when it is connected to food. As a matter of fact, I have recently been involved as an extra in a historical tv-series about food! Like I said: food is everywhere in my life!