Lorraine Elliott is a luxe food and travel blogger, photographer, stylist, content creator and recipe developer better known as Not Quite Nigella. The little blog she started nearly 15 years ago took off quickly, and Lorraine is now one of Australia’s most popular foodies! Here’s how it started, and how it’s going.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I grew up in Sydney and have spent most of my life in Sydney. My mother is from Singapore and my father is from Hong Kong. I can’t say that I enjoyed my childhood but my adulthood is making up for it.
I’ve always spent a lot of my money on food and eating out although I didn’t start cooking it until just before the blog started. A turning point for me was when I travelled to Japan after university. It gave me a new outlook on food and an appreciation of it.
When did Not Quite Nigella start?
It started in 2007 which is a long time ago! Back when you had to explain what a blog was.
You now have quite a following (62.4k Insta followers!) – was there a point where it really started to take off, or was it a steady, gradual growth?
Funnily enough the blog (rather than Instagram) is actually my main thing and it is what everything else is based on. The blog currently has over half a million unique (550,000) readers every month. Social media are like arms and the blog is the main body of work with the bulk of followers. In the first six months of the blog I had 30,000 unique readers which was such a lovely surprise for me because I had just assumed that I was writing to my friends and family!
Is Not Quite Nigella a full time job for you? How much time goes into it each week?
Yes I often say that it’s full time job and a half. I’d say around 70 hours a week go into the blog and social media, sometimes more.
You develop recipes; do you have any formal chef/hospitality training?
No I don’t but I don’t think that you need it to develop recipes. You do need to have basic foundations of food knowledge because that makes it easier although you don’t have to gain a formal qualification for that. You do need to write recipes with the end user in mind so my recipes are aimed at home cooks. I find that if you eat out a lot and eat broadly that also helps you develop recipes because you learn more about flavours and foods from cuisines other than your own.
What’s the best thing about it (food, travel etc)?
Both food and travel (when we could!). It really is a dream life but it’s also one that involves a lot of hard work. Like most people who appear to have a dream life, behind the facade is a lot of hard work and rejection.
How has COVID-19 affected your ability to blog?
I think I was fortunate because I have three pillars: recipes, restaurant reviews and travel. Obviously the second two weren’t a) possible or b) what people wanted so I pivoted to recipes. Trying to create, develop, style and photograph recipes seven days a week during the peak of COVID-19 was actually the hardest I have ever worked but there was a hunger for new recipes. It was a crazy, busy time yet I didn’t earn much at all because everything froze including budgets. But we all, including myself, needed the company and the camaraderie that comes with cooking recipes together.
When travel is an option again, where is the first place you’d like to go?
I did have a lovely birthday trip to Turtle Island in Fiji booked for my birthday in May 2020 which was cancelled so hopefully if there is a Pacific Island bubble, I would love to go.
If you had to choose, are you more of a savoury dish or a dessert lover?
I definitely love savoury more than sweet because cheese is my favourite food but I couldn’t end the day without a sweet if that makes sense. Usually it’s chocolate in some form.
What’s the best city/location you’ve eaten in?
Oh that is way too hard! So many countries and cities have so much to offer. It would be like choosing my favourite pet.
Plans for the future?
This is very new news but I just started a photography studio called @project.somewhere where I develop recipes and style and photograph dishes for clients and create reels because I am finding there is a demand for content for social media. The demand has surpassed my expectations which is really a lovely surprise!