Mario Batali: Why a successful food blog is like a restaurant menu


Atlantic Magazine recently reported on an interesting discussion among Mario Batali (no introduction needed), Deb Perelman (Smitten Kitchen blog), and one of their editors about the digital side of the culinary world. The entire article, How a Restaurant Menu is Like a Website, is well worth reading as the two chefs make several interesting points. Here are three that struck us as especially insightful:

First was Batali's comment that websites and restaurants ultimately succeed due to the same factor - loyalty of returning customers. "You have to stay on it," Batali said. "It's not like, 'Oh, there I am. I'm done. Now I can just cruise and let the restaurant go.'" On the contrary, he said, in the restaurant world, "what would be intuitive shortcuts are obviously the bad ideas. And a lot of people have squandered that opportunity by just going for fast money." Perelman agreed, saying in effect, "You're not sure exactly why people are coming to you, but you want to give them good stuff, and show them a good time, once they're there."

Second, was the huge importance of branding - which defines the relationship. They point out that Julia Child was the consummate example of a food brand - her material always took food seriously but would never, ever be intimidating.

And third was Batali's comparison of a blog or website to a restaurant menu: "You want a menu to explain what you're about, but also to intrigue people and delight them. You want it to be familiar ... but also a little bit mysterious. Grounded, but flirty."

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