What started as a side project turned out to be a full time business for Del, the talented cook behind Del’s cooking twist. We had the pleasure of getting to know her a little better and talk about how she turned her hobby into a career.
By: Morgane Oléron Photo: Ania Smelskaya & Private
First off, tell us a little about you!
I’m Del, a true food lover and the blogger behind Del’s cooking twist. I’m also a published author, recipe developer, food stylist and photographer. I grab a whisk as I would grab a pen, and the kitchen is of course my favorite room: I work, create and eat there, and I could even sleep there.
Looking at your blog you seem to be inspired by a lot of different places. Where are you from originally?
I’m French, but have spent several years in Sweden before I recently moved to Chicago. However, I feel that I belong to all the places I have lived in. When I’m asked where my heart is, I picture my kitchen at home. Wherever home is, I need my kitchen. And my laptop too. No food blogger can exist without a laptop.
Why did you decide on Chicago?
I moved to Chicago to follow my other half (yes, love!) but I already knew from early on that I at some point would move from Sweden to the US. So I developed my American twist alongside my Swedish and my French one. Chicago is an incredible city for a foodie, where various cuisines of the world co-exist and sometimes meet, to create fusion food.
We know where you are now and what you do, but how did you get here? What made you start a blog?
During my first year working in marketing I was extremely enthusiastic and my creativity bloomed. However, since I couldn’t implement all my ideas for the company, I decided to start my own food blog. That’s how Del’s cooking twist was born back in 2013. In the beginning, it was just for fun, and I didn’t have a clear idea of what blogging really meant. I started sharing my recipes randomly, once a week, taking pictures the way I thought looked good (with the artificial light of the kitchen above the dish). A lot has changed since then, and now, after nearly four years into this project I can say that the blog has been by far the best school I have ever attended. The rules of blogging are constantly evolving, so you need to be curious, proactive, and push your boundaries to explore new ways of working. It’s hard, challenging and very demanding, but also very fulfilling.
What did you study?
I went to La Sorbonne, a university in Paris, France, where I got a Master’s degree in International Affairs and European Studies. After that, I naturally moved abroad – to Sweden – and started working in the same field, within international public policies to be exact, at the French Embassy in Stockholm.
What made you change paths?
A combination of circumstances led me to stay in Sweden longer than I had originally expected (I fell in love with the country AND with the one who would later become my husband!). As my contract came to an end and my Swedish skills weren’t perfect yet, I broadened my field and looked for new opportunities. I ended up working within marketing for a food company (and later on in digital marketing) for a leading French brand. This is when I understood that my interest in food had always mattered to me and was more than just a hobby.
A question many of us with side projects have: When did you decide food was going to be a full-time job and not just a hobby anymore?
I was spending most of my free time blogging or thinking about new recipes I would develop. It was like an obsession – my brain was continuously creating new recipes. Also, professionally I was hungry for more and my job was clearly not fulfilling enough. I felt it was the right moment to give my blog a go and attempt to make a living of it. I loved the idea, but also felt somewhat unsure altogether. Was I being too daring? Also, my friends and family were skeptical: “Seriously? Is blogging really a job?!!”. I must admit I was overly sensitive to what others thought at that time. And even today it’s sometimes hard for me to say: “I’m a full-time food blogger, and yes it’s a real job”.
What or whom inspired you?
I was following other bloggers back then, some of whom had made their own passion into a full-time career. My first thought was that they were far better than I was and as such, it would be impossible for me to reach the same level etc., until I reconsidered and decided to strive for success, trying to find my own path within the blogging world.
How did you learn everything you know?
I am completely self-taught; my mom was not interested in cooking whatsoever. But I love eating and I have always been curious about food and tasting different cuisines which eventually inspired me to create new dishes. I read dozens of recipes daily, taste many others, and craft my own ones once.
Are you happy with your decision even though it was a scary one?
I’m a perfectionist, so I’m half happy with my decision because there is so much more I could develop. But the day only has 24 hours, so my wish for the future is that I could one day develop my business enough to hire someone to help me. (Well, Best of You can totally volunteer as bowl and spoon lickers)!
How does a day behind the scenes look like?
No day looks the same: my agenda is constantly in flux. I generally try to spend one or two days a week developing recipes in the kitchen, and spend the remaining days writing the recipes, developing the marketing aspects, and doing other food-related activities on the side, working as a food author or teaching cooking/baking classes.
What tips do you have for others who wish to follow their passion?
Your life begins the day you realise you only have one. Live your dream, and do not worry, great things take time.
That’s it for now guys! Hope you enjoyed the appetiser and we’ll be back next week for the plat de résistance as we are teaming up with Del in Chicago for some fun in the kitchen, so stay tuned! In the meantime, check out Del’s cooking twist for more inspiration and check out her free e-book with mouthwatering dishes that are both delicious and healthy!
Name: Delphine Fortin
Lives: Chicago, US
Favorite food: I definitely have a soft spot for sweets and can really recommend some of the best doughnut bakeries in Chicago, such as Doughnut Vault or Firecakes.