Chris Sinclair is the mastermind behind the blog FoodslashTech a food focused blog peppered with technology. Chris is humble and approachable. His blog is great for anyone who’s really interested in food but feels a little (or very) intimidated by it. He even has Experimental Wednesdays where he works on new recipes, ingredients and techniques. Really fun and really exciting. Being in food (and tech) I knew I had to chat up with Chris. Besides, he loves eggs as much as I do, I knew he had to be a good guy. Here’s what we discussed:
FriendsEAT: Where did you grow up?
Chris Sinclair: In Switzerland – first by the lake and then up a mountain!
FE: What inspired you to start a food blog?
CS: I just really wanted food to play a bigger part in my life and starting a blog seemed a good place to start. I also realised that the foodie movement in Oxford was too cliquey and very, very small. Part of FoodslashTech is to entice the foodies out, so one of the things I’m trying to put momentum behind is the Oxford Foodie Revolution. A bunch of Indy restaurants are keen to be involved so I’m trying to set up a monthly gathering to show off our local producers and restaurants.
FE: What field of food does your blog focus on and why?
CS: Ostensibly it’s food and gadgets, however I have only really concentrated on the food! In that regard, I have regular recipes but I really love experimenting with new ingredients and techniques, hence the “Experimental Wednesday” series, and I think that is the focus: trying stuff. Eventually, I want to make the step from home cook to pro-am techniques, if there is such a thing, and I would love my readers to come with me.
FE: What is a typical day in your life like?
CS: I tend to get up around 730 and take my dog for a walk. Get home shower and have a coffee. I cycle and go to the day job. I try to make a lunch time food excursion once a week or so, either to a nice deli or a butcher or some such. When I get home, I tend to do the cooking and try to write a bit and catch with my favourite bloggers. Wednesdays are an exception though, due to Jim McJim being a neighbour again; our Experimental Wednesdays are set to take off again which is very exciting. Then it’s off to bed and you should see the pile of books I have on my bedside table. Right now, I’m reading Michel Roux’s Pastry book and a really old school book about Mexican cooking.
FE: What was your childhood kitchen like?
CS: My father is a great cook, in fact, most of the men in my family are – and the women are fantastic bakers – so honestly, if I didn’t like being in a kitchen it would be odd.
It’s a bit cliché but our family has always had ‘social kitchens’. My grandparents’ kitchen has a breakfast room attached with the biggest table in the world and a sofa, so you’re hard pressed to not be in there even if you’re not cooking/baking/washing up! It’s always the hub of activity, the centre for gossip and everyone will be involved somehow in a meal. In fact, I’m surprised I’m not Italian to be honest…
FE: What is your kitchen like now?
CS: Depressingly tiny! I do love it though; everything is in the right place. I have a bazillion pans, utensils and gadgets in there now, too, so the lady is getting a bit miffed about the lack of space… The only slight difficulty is that it is still the hub of activity, so whenever we have a dinner party I’m in there with 8 or 9 other bodies – you have to be quite good at weaving through guests with very hot things!
FE: What type of people read your blog?
CS: I rather hope I’ve a couple; people who like cooking and are keen to try new things, and local foodies. But as I’m quite new to the scene, I’m also getting a lot of support from fellow food bloggers.
FE: What comes to mind when you hear the word bacon?
CS: Brunch. My favourite meal of the week is brunch… I can’t tell you quite why as I don’t usually eat breakfast, but put a plate of Eggs Benedict in front of me and I’m in heaven.
FE: What is your favorite restaurant and why?
CS: Wow – this is a tough one… For two very good reasons: I’m a bit biased, I’ll be honest, as I feel Oxford has a bad rep when it comes to dining out so I tend to sing and dance about places here. I also love trying new places, so I’m quite fickle!
If I judged it on my best meal ever; the Savoy Grill in London. I was treated to a Chef’s Table back when Marcus Wearing was there and it was not only a fabulous meal, but an amazing experience. However, if I were to tell you what my current, local favourite was, it would have to be the Magdalen Arms in Oxford. Florence and Tony have done a fantastic job of turning this run-down boozer into a lovely Italian-inspired, British gastropub. Seasonal, local, friendly and delicious food; next time you’re over I’ll treat you!
FE: What is your favorite ingredient and why?
CS: It’s a showdown between butter and eggs, and depending on my mood it could go either way. Eggs are so versatile and they’re not just about baking. And butter, where to begin? It finishes off sauces, you can’t pan roast anything without it and can you beat hot buttered toast when you’re feeling down? Now, combine eggs and butter and you can make some of the greatest things that will ever grace your table – sweet or savoury!
FE: What is your opinion of the current state of Foodtertainment?
CS: Be it competitive cooking or philanthropic concepts like Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, I just love a good cookery program. I would like to see more programs that make the difference between home cooking and being a chef clearer, a bit like Heston Blumenthal or Raymond Blanc have done.
Otherwise, the big thing for me is live events; masterclasses, tastings, talks, festivals – cooking is all about getting your hands dirty and trying stuff yourself, and that’s the whole idea behind my blog.
CS: 5 years? That’s an eternity on the Internet! Blogs are quite static for this web 2.0 (or is it 3.0?!) world. We’re seeing food bloggers get some serious respect as writers and experts, I think that’s the most exciting part about blogging now; it’s less cottage industry, if you see what I mean. In future, there’s going to be a lot more video and hopefully interactivity, too. Meaning live events or cook-a-longs, stuff the reader can actually get involved with.
FE: Would you like to give a shout out to the best joint that no one has heard about?
CS: Not really, otherwise people will start going! I actually tend to shout about all my favourite places very loudly so they quickly stop being secret. But there is one place at the moment that holds a special place in my heart: Sang Hing House. It’s a Chinese take away, just around the corner from my first house in Oxford. They make Roast Duck and Chicken with Egg Fried Rice; it is my ultimate comfort food and I still make the trip across town every now and then.
FE: What do you think is the most important issue facing foodies today?
CS: Jay Rayner and Ravinder Bhogal have been doing some interesting pieces on TV about how food gets to us. Not just looking at locality, animal ethics and “food miles”, but what are some of the real solutions to the issues of having supermarkets with massive buying power and consumers with growing moral expectations and ever tighter purse strings. You can’t expect this combination to continue working with oil prices going up, inflation going up etc If we’re not careful, the math will stop stacking up and we’ll lose our farmers and, possibly, rural communities.