Thanks for having me …



Like, I’m guessing, neophyte bloggers the world over, when starting Consider The Sauce I simply bumbled along, learning as I went and – or so I thought – making things up as I went along.

As it turns out, almost all the bright ideas I came up with are simply routine fare for bloggers and entrepreneurial types everywhere.

(Aside: I can’t tell you how impressed I am that I was able to spell “entrepreneurial” first time and correctly!)

I came to know this from periodically checking out such sites as Problogger and the more foodie-specific Diane Jacob, Will Write For Food – and even taking in a few likeminded books along the way.

Mind you, I have also learnt there are definite limits to how much of this sort of pep-talking I can take in or even respect.

There comes a time when blogging becomes an end rather than a means, or even (it often seems) something of a self-help cult.

At that point, I yawn and switch off or on to something else.

After getting CTS established, one thing I instinctively pursued were collaborations – and collaborators to join hands with.

I’ve had a few misses along the way, but far more hits – and I’m continuing to find it exhilarating!

It’s simply something that dynamic, creative people – and creative, dynamic bloggers – do.

And now another such “something” – public speaking – has come to be.

Although, in this case, it seems so far that this has sought me out rather than the other way around.

I have been hosting the CTS Feasts – but in all cases to date the verbal aspect has been restricted to a few comments before eating.

The Westies reveal and FFB/CTS picnic was more of a public speaking gig, but even then of brief duration.

But it was at that celebration that CTS pal Pastor Cecil asked me: “Would you come and speak to my Rotary Club?”

My answer was immediate and emphatic: “Yes!”

In the meantime, thanks to the wonderful meet-and-greet oyster bar role assigned me during this year’s Rickshaw Run, I had ample opportunity to see how I felt about this sort of activity.

Chatting up a new group of eight people every 20 minutes for an entire weekend?

I loved every minute of it!

And so Bennie and I front Medway Golf Club in Maidstone to be guests (and, in my case, guest speaker) at a regular meeting of the West Footscray Rotary Club.

The golf club and its course is a revelation for Team CTS – so gorgeous! And yet more proof the west will never cease surprising – often with something, some place or somebody that has been right under our very noses all along.

We enjoy meeting the Rotary members, who I’m guessing number about 30.

There are some ceremonial aspects to the gathering – grace, the national anthem and so on.

And then lunch, as provided by the golf club kitchen staff.


It’s rather good, too. The delicately-crumbed and tender fish is outstanding. I later ask the kitchen staff about it – they tell me they don’t know the English name of the fish concerned but that our lunch specimens had been purchased this very day at Little Saigon Market.

And then it’s my turn, after being introduced by Pastor Cecil with words along the lines of “Kenny is someone different who really likes different things”!

Off I go, covering the whole CTS story – the death knell of newspapers, the need for a whole new world to be created, the multiple joys of food blogging and much more

Referring only a couple of times to the rough notes I had scribbled before leaving home, I easily fill my allocated 20 minutes – so much so that Pastor Cecil is forced to gently intervene and bring my spiel to a halt.

As far as I have been able to tell, no eyes glazed over and no guest or member has slumped to sleep.

I field several great questions as part of the formal gathering, and several more informally as the meeting winds down. Many CTS business cards are distributed.

Bennie and I are the last to leave.

Thanks for having me!

So there you go – Kenny Weir, public speaker, open for business …



‘Facilitating’ a blogger soiree …



Looking back on the first Consider The Sauce post and those that soon followed evokes a feeling of simplicity and perhaps even innocence.

It all seemed so simple – got out, have a feed somewhere or do some shopping, take photographs, go home, write about it.


Instant food blog!

We still do a lot of that, of course. Indeed, it remains the very core activity of this site.

But as we approach the end of our third year in operation, much has changed.

It’s been a gloriously enjoyable learning curve, with mis-steps and challenges, and many friends made in the process.

Central to that learning curve is that realising while the website itself remains the key element of what Consider The Sauce is about, there is a lot more to being a (hopefully) successful food blogger and running a successful food blog.

Along the way, I have sometimes attempted to tap into the wealth of experience and wisdom of blogging pioneers.

But as previously noted, more often than not I find doing so a particularly tiresome exercise, no matter how much I would like some or a lot of that good stuff to rub off on me.

The problem seems to be that no matter where a famed blogger starts his or her journey – be it as a specialist in stamp collecting or vintage horse shoes or whatever – once they become successful, what drives them on is the process itself. And that can be mighty boring, no matter how righteous the advice is.

So I am very grateful to Cheryl Lin of the blog BusinessChic for an excellent tip – the book microDOMINATION by PR warrior Trevor Young.

I’m only halfway through it. And, yes, it does have its fair share of self-help-style feelgood stories.

But it’s reverberating with me in many ways.

It’s been a pleasant surprise to discover that several of the initiatives taken – or at least attempted – by Consider The Sauce are very much part of Young’s broader aim of how to become what he calls a “micro maven” and using a blog to create a personal “brand”.

For example:

  • Not passively accepting that friends and fellow bloggers who leave comments on CTS must remain mere electronic cyber buddies, and seeking instead to meet face to face and see what happens from there.
  • Running, in conjunction with Ms Baklover and her Footscray Food Blog, a picnic late last year. The repeat event, coming this spring, will likewise be part and parcel of the broader picture of running a food blog. As will a special event, yet to be announced, that will be part of the picnic.
  • I have also learned that doing an occasional post about topics such as moving house or a bingle with a neighbour’s car is not only perfectly fine but helps give context to the ongoing CTS narrative.
  • A soon-to-be-announced CTS benefit/fundraiser being organised with wonderful and generous support from a local business and the funds raised from which will go to a very fine local organisation.

Another such event in the life of CTS occurred this week with a gathering of bloggers and a non-blogging likely lad at a Port Melbourne restaurant.

With CTS having already written about Third Wave Cafe twice, Greg from that establishment had contacted me.

His problem and challenge was that his business was in the process of transforming and extending itself from a place highly regarded for its lunchtime fare, including Russian specialties and fine coffee, to one offering American-style BBQ at night.

He and his team had invested considerable time and money into the project, and were eager to get the word out and help broaden and correct pre-conceptions in the wider community about what Third Wave Cafe has to offer.

Could I help?

And so, on the basis that Bennie and I enjoyed the food being offered – and boy oh boy, did we ever – Greg and I shook hands on a project that would see me organise a list of food bloggers and then invite them to try out the Third Wave BBQ goodies for themselves on the simple understanding they would write a story about their experiences.

Greg fully understood that neither he nor I would have any say whatsoever in what the invitees subsequently wrote.

And, yes, I would be paid what both Greg and I agreed, easily and quickly, was a fair amount for my efforts.

The list I configured was a mixture of firm and very good friends, bloggers with whom I had had at least some personal contact and others for whom I had high regard.

In all cases, the people involved were of what I considered to be of the highest integrity – no “floggers” or egomaniacs allowed or wanted!

In the end, about half of the invitees responded in a positive fashion, and the table of five – including myself – turned out to be just the right size for a superbly enjoyable evening.

Those who attended were: Nat Stockley, a non-blogger (so far …) widely known for his entertaining and excellent reviews on Urbanspoon; Eve from Conversation With Jenny; Catty from Fresh Bread; and Bryan from Let’s Get Fat Together.

This gang had a quite varied amount of previous experience with this style of food, but everyone seemed to enjoy their meals, which like that of Bennie and myself were a broad sampling of the Third Wave Cafe BBQ line-up.

As the meal wound down, Greg emerged from the kitchen to see how we’d gone and tell us about how his Russian-menu cafe had taken such a bold and surprising leap into new territory.

Rather delightfully, for two of the participants this was a debut occasion to be sharing a table with full-on likeminded souls and in a situation in which EVERYONE involved was using a camera.

There was much telling of tales and swapping of notes; much laughter, too.

On that basis alone, I am happy to judge the night a success.

Of course, I suspect that will mean very little to Greg and his team, for whom this was a straight-out business proposition.

But then again, who knows where such connections may lead? That, too, is part of blogging.

I gave some serious thought to the ethical ramifications of accepting paid work of this type from a restaurant.

And I’m sure there are those for whom taking this step will forever have tainted me in some way.

But I’m entirely comfortable with the whole process.

Greg had a need that I met with honest endeavour. The dinner invitees didn’t seem to think it off or otherwise noteworthy that I was getting paid for pulling it all together.

Or not so they told me, anyway. Indeed and instead, they seemed more than happy to be involved.

However, this event was the result of a confluence of several particular circumstances – so I’d be surprised if similar projects eventuated in the future.

Another topic covered in Trevor Young’s book microDOMINATION is the importance for bloggers of complete transparency at all times – which, of course, is one of the reasons for writing this post!

You can read Catty’s review here and Eve’s review here.


Food blogger irritants


1. Laminated menus.

2. Overly shiny tables.

3. Photographic displays of dishes with too-bright back-lighting.

4. Forgetting to re-charge camera battery.

5. So hastily and furtively scribbling notes they are indecipherable once home.

6. Sucky, insincere spam.

7. Methodology used to rank bloggers on Urbanspoon. (Irritates this blogger anyway … no doubt those on  top of the heap think it’s great! I’d opt out for sure if that was possible …)

8. Forgetting to write down prices.

9. Reflection in restaurant window of blogger taking photographs.

10. Repeatedly being asked to provide free content for digital start-ups looking to make money.

GRAM Magazine – a Good Thing

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It was never the intention that Consider The Sauce should generate income – well, not directly anyway.

But certainly it was and is part of a broader strategy to re-invent myself after a long and wearing-and-tearing tenure in the hurly burly of metropolitan newspapers.

Happily, there have been numerous and unexpected benefits.

The pleasure and smiles that greet us when returning to little migrant eateries about whom we have written.

The quiet satisfaction of giving one in the eye for those who continue bang on about “illegals” and so on.

The profound and enhancing affect our blog has had on relationship between father and son.

Through it all, I have been keeping a keen eye out for opportunities for myself and Consider The Sauce beyond the blog being merely a glorified business card.

As I became more and more familiar with the food blogging scene, it became clear that certain things just weren’t going to work for us.

Our current blogging platform precludes the use of adverts and so on, but from what I’ve been able to learn the income they generate – for food bloggers anyway – is so miniscule that they’re barely worth the bother.

Add to that the certain fact that they compromise blogs so drastically and awfully on a visual and aesthetic level, and it’s a firm case of No Thanks!

Likewise for giveaways and paid posts, in which bloggers are paid for writing posts about products or services.

I have been approached by a handful of PR companies spruiking products or inviting me to product launches and the like. One of the invites actually appealed, but I couldn’t fit it into my dance card.

As for the rest, it’s impossible not to dismiss as spam epistles that start with immortal words such as: “We are contacting you because we know you are an influential blogger …”

Yes, well, ahem, excuse me while I ROTFLMAO.

I have no moral objection to these and many other related practices.

I’m a life-long career newspaperman with long involvement in the entertainment industry under my belt, so am well acquainted with doing deals and the art of compromise.

It’s just in the case of blogs, food blogging, food bloggers and Melbourne food bloggers in particular, bloggers are being had.

Read about it at the Deep Dish Dreams posts Food Bloggers as Marketing Puppets Part 1. Evolution and Food Bloggers as Marketing Puppets Part 2. Marketing Tricks and Psychology.

I may well have a price, but if so it is a bloody long way short of being mentioned to this point.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to stick to our version of the high road while looking for ways to leverage our blog in ways that keep our self-esteem and integrity intact.

A restaurant dude said to me a few weeks back: “Kenny, you should understand – people trust your blog.”

Put that up against piffling Nuffnang dollars and PR-fuelled hackery and it’s no contest.

In any case, I was intrigued when – last year – I received an email from an outfit called StudioCea announcing a new monthly Melbourne foodie magazine called GRAM.

It’s aim was to “collate” the work of Melbourne bloggers, supply links back to the blogs of origin and get A3 newsprint copies around the city. Part of the deal involved barcodes to scan with mobile devices linking punters to the blogs involved.

I was fascinated – perhaps here was something that could be an opportunity for me as both blogger and journalist.

Long before the first issue hit the streets, I engaged Roberto and Merita from StudioCea in email and, eventually, face-to-face dialogue.

I liked them, I had some fun with it.

Right from the start, though, I warned them that one of the fundamentals of their approach – paraphrasing blogger posts and then providing links – was doomed to failure.

Unlike others, I believed them in terms of sincerity. The magazine publishing game is tough and I knew enough to believe that the full-page ads in the first few issues were falling way short of making them big bucks or even covering costs. 

I predicted, though, that many bloggers would see those same ads and scream: “RIP-OFF!”

Not a good look either, was GRAM’s decision to let individual bloggers opt out rather than opt in to a relationship with the magazine. Thus a blogger could find his or her work rewritten and used online at the magazine’s website and the hard copy without permission being granted.

All perfectly legal, but hardly the way to make friends with the food blogger community.

And so it turned out to be.

While I went about my business with Consider The Sauce and elsewhere, GRAM became a big talking point, a brouhaha with which I only recently became familiar.

Read about it in this news story at Crikey and feisty posts and comments at Tomato and Sarah Cooks.

After a few issues, the GRAM crew changed tack.

Henceforth, they would use entire bloggers posts and at least some of the photos involved.

Bloggers would be paid.

While the magazine continues to evolve – it’s up to issue number 9 under new ownership – the change in the ongoing relationship with Melbourne’s bloggers created an immediate and substantial improvement in the product.

While inevitably fewer bloggers are being used in each issue, the varied personalities of the bloggers selected for each issue are allowed to breath and shine.

As such, IMHO, it goes pretty close to mirroring the diverse, argumentative and colourful Melbourne food blogging scene.

As Roberto was happy to concede in an email to me, after I suggested the enforced change of structure was very much a blessing: “You are right – I (and others) do think it’s an improvement. It’s funny how these things turn out for the better hey?”

If my own experience is anything to go by, management old and new have adopted a very much hands-off approach to meddling with copy.

What’s that?

“Well, of course, he would say all that, wouldn’t he?!”

It’s true Consider The Sauce has been included three times in GRAM so far. It’s true I’ve been paid at rates that, from what I can gather, are more than fair when compared to, say, The Age’s Cheap Eats Guide or even Gourmet Traveller.

It’s true, too, that recent editions have included several of the Melbourne food blogs I admire and follow – while including none of those I detest!

Nevertheless, it seems to my admittedly biased eye that in a rapidly changing media landscape that affects the dynamics of the hospitality industry as much anything else, GRAM is playing a pretty nifty role in merging the passions of food bloggers with old-school publishing.

GRAM is now owned and operated by Prime Creative, which publishes such foodie titles as BeanScene and Italianicious, and a number of others magazines as well.

Prime Creative management and new editor Danielle Gullaci are letting their new baby continue to operate very much along the same lines as before, despite GRAM being very different from their other mastheads in terms of paper quality, size, distribution, readership and relationship with contributors.

This is both a good and a bad thing.

There’s always room for improvement, but GRAM seems to be striking a good balance at the moment.

On the other hand, GRAM’s distribution continues to be restricted to Melbourne’s CBD and hyper-inner-city suburbs such as Carlton.

I guess for some, GRAM and anything like it will always be anathema just on principle, and others may struggle to ever forgive the publication for those early mis-steps and clumsiness.

I’ve long maintained that the likes of The Age’s Cheap Eats Guide and its bigger and more formal and more big bucks sister are well out of date by the time the new editions hit the street each year.

A fellow blogger was more strident when commenting to me recently: “Mate, they’re out of date even before that!”

In that sort of context – of sweeping change and uncertainty – GRAM may not represent the future but it strikes me as a pretty fine present.