Archive for July 13th, 2007

Heroes and Villains in Sainsbury’s Head office

Tuesday found me in Sainsbury’s head office for a talk by the Food Writers Guild. And in their reception, as you walk in are two cardboard cut outs. One of Batman, one of The Joker. See below…

Each holds a piece of paper on which reads:

Last week’s supplier Villains

* Colgate Palmolive
* Heinz
* Meadow Farm
* Manor Bakeries
* Branded Drinks

Last week’s supplier heroes

* Dr Oetker Ltd
* Lactalis
* Cranswick Country Foods
* Fresh Packed Chilled Foods
* Nestle Purina Pet Care

Now I for one would be interested to know what you have to do or not do to be either a hero or a villain. Sainsbury’s has had a spot of bother with one certain supplier recently, I wonder if the villainous companies know they’re thought of as such? Anyone from Sainsbury’s care to comment..

More images on Flickr.

Food Writers Guild talk on Blogging

On Tuesday night I was invited by my friend Lou to a talk entitled ‘Blogging: A beginner’s guide’ at the monthly Guild of Food Writers. A Guild! How very Medieval. The intro blurb in the mail said:

“We can’t afford to ignore bloggers. Blogging is an important and influential aspect of food writing, with more and more new writers being comissioned [sic] on the strength of a good blog … It’s imperative that YOU know all about the medium, or you’ll risk appearing outdated and unprofessional … Miss this workshop at your peril!”

Blimey, strong stuff indeed. Moreover, the talk was set to take place inside Sainsbury’s head office, in their development kitchen. Well that might prove interesting? (and it did but more on that later..)

The members of the GFW who attended last night’s talk were, as Tina Turner put it, ‘women of a certain age’. The talk was given by Silverbrow, a food blogger who isn’t ‘in’ the industry and has a day job in finance, and he rattled the ladies through the basics of blogging. Indeed, what qualifies as ‘industry’ is a hardy perennial in the blogging vs main stream media world. It’s worth noting that the Guild of Food Writers admission criteria state that membership is only open to people from ‘tradional’ media backgrounds. It seems you must have a TV show or a book deal, what’s more you have to be ‘seconded’!

So having explained the basics and dropped a few anecdotes for the Golden Girls we shifted to a Q&A. There were a few technical questions, then a up goes a hand at the back. ‘I don’t get it… why would we give our work away free?’ followed by murmurs of approval. Ahh this old chestnut. I was reminded of the Polar bear image woman I met at BAPLA – ‘Everybody came to me!’ And the changes that are affecting the photography industry are the same for journalists and writers too . The other main theme was along the lines of ‘But how do you make any money?’ – To which came the reply, ‘erm, you don’t really, I do it because I love it’. Stunned silence.

Besides me, there were two other people in the room who had a website or blog. One ‘fessed up to being the Northern part of the Marina O’Loughlin hive mind. (Yes it’s more than one person.)

It was interesting to watch people being exposed to this new technology for the first time, a mixture of intrigue, denial and bafflement; it would also be easy to mock. But you can’t exactly call ‘all aboard’ for the digital revolution and then not help people up the gangplank right?

At the end there was a feeling of ‘phew well that was all very interesting’ and then the host ended with “Well thank you Silverbrow for that. Next week… matching food with Beaujolais.” A subject the ladies seemed much more at home with. Then the food and drink came out, and tell you what, nice spread, though I don’t think I’ll be invited to join the Guild anytime soon.

Now, about Sainsbury’s head office…

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
July 2007
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