Interview: Ketty Elisabeth (French Foodie in Dublin)

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]’m French, therefore I eat,” declares the popular food writer Ketty Elisabeth, better known by her online alias “French Foodie in Dublin”, a blog devoted to the gastronomic adventures she experiences in her adopted city of Dublin. Elisabeth’s blog, a Gallic interpretation of Dublin cuisine, has earned her legions of followers across the social media spectrum, as well as an array of Irish Blog Awards. Elisabeth first arrived in Dublin exactly a decade ago, in October 2004, for a brief weekend trip but she describes how her instantaneous connection with the city inspired her to move here permanently: “It was so vibrant and friendly, I decided to leave Paris for Dublin two months later.”

Elisabeth began writing her blog as a journal of her food and drink experiences in Dublin; she recounts being “a poor student before I left my native country” and therefore unable to afford to eat out in Parisian restaurants, however she relished the opportunity to dine out in Dublin. “Going to a fancy restaurant in France can be very intimidating but I find fine-dining much more approachable here in Ireland and less formal.” While the restaurant scene in Dublin at the time wasn’t exactly setting the culinary world alight, Elisabeth strongly believes that “Dublin’s food scene is becoming more exciting. There is more creativity and will to use the best of Irish ingredients to create a new Irish cuisine.” She is highly optimistic for the future of Dublin dining, commenting that “while it might be behind other capital cities a little, it’s slowly getting there and becoming a food destination. We have fantastic raw products here and at the moment people are finally celebrating them and being proud of them.” When asked to list some of her particular favourites, Elisabeth points to “La Maison if I want some French food, 777 on Georges Street is great, Etto is fantastic and Terra Madre is my favourite for a casual meal. I’ve only been to Forest Avenue once but I loved it and have to go back there.”

Inspired by the developing variety of the Dublin food scene, Elisabeth began keeping an online journal of her food experiences, which soon became her French Foodie blog. She didn’t set out to become the sizeable online presence that she now is, barely even expecting to have many readers: “I got a lovely surprise when I realized that people were enjoying it and talking about it. I’m not sure how it happened but my readership and following on social media have been constantly growing.” This has continued to such an extent that she can now boast of almost seven thousand Twitter followers, and one of the most popular food blogs in the Irish blogosphere. The popularity of the blog has encouraged Elisabeth to expand into French Food and Wine tours of Dublin every Saturday, attracting a mixture of “francophiles, food lovers and people who lived or studied in France”. Similarly popular is her monthly Foodie Movie Club, which brings food and film aficionados together to meet and mingle while watching a movie, then enjoy food inspired by the film. Elisabeth has successfully made a living from her simple love of good food, and encourages other foodies to do likewise: “A blog is a great outlet for creativity and if you love writing about food just do it. I don’t consider myself a food writer, I’m a blogger. I think lots of people would love to be paid for writing about food but there are only a few jobs out there!”

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