Diana is the co-founder of The Food Travelist, a new blog dedicated to food cultures around the food. Not new to the culinary food and travel niche, Diana will be speaking at TBEX Cancun in September about building culinary food travel brands–it’s sure to be a great presentations. Enjoy our interview!
How did your blog,The Food Travelist, get its start? What was the inspiration?
My Co-Founder, Sue Reddel and I had a previous website (PoshPorts.com) that was more general in nature. Out of that we found that people were most interested in food and travel. We learned more about the culinary travel industry, earned our certifications as Certified Culinary Travel Professionals and decided to focus exclusively on this arena.
On your blog, you say that your mission is world peace through food. Could you elaborate on this a little bit more for us?
I believe that when people get to know one another, the barriers to understanding can be overcome. Food is our common ground and sharing a meal is a great way to get a conversation going. In fact, we wrote a chapter in Have Fork Will Travel, the World Food Travel Association Handbook, specifically about food and drink as communication.
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned since you started blogging? What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started?
I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is that nothing happens overnight, with few exceptions. It takes a lot of work, persistence and continued effort to make headway. I went to a conference recently where almost every blogger/speaker talked about how much they do without compensation. I wish I knew how difficult it is to get actual money from brands and sponsors. Everyone thinks that you work for free product or travel, which is nice, but it doesn’t pay the bills.
Where do you see social media going in the next 5, 10 years? What advice would you give to bloggers who are just “starting out” and who don’t know much about using social media?
I think social media, like all technology is constantly evolving and changing. What may be the most awesome platform for you today may be useless in the future. Find out where your audience is and keep your dialogue going with them. You will start to see the changes in what they want as they are happening and not be caught off-guard if one platform or another ceases to be useful. Don’t expect things to stay the same, and if you’re starting out, keep that in mind.
You’re going to be speaking at TBEX Cancun 2014 in September. Can you give our readers a little taste of what you’ll be talking about?
Sure! I’m honored and thrilled to be speaking at TBEX. My topic is for people who are interested in culinary travel as a blogging niche. I’ll show them the ways they can capitalize on the boom in this area, whether they want to focus on a specific aspect such as the cuisine of a specific destination or add culinary highlights to their already existing blog. People are interested in learning about the food culture of different destinations, getting authentic recipes, and discovering tips on the best spots for local fare. And food photos are always fun.
You recently returned from a trip to Cuba. Tell us about some of the highlights from the trip!
It was an extraordinary trip for me. The people I met were absolutely amazing. We visited a church where our hosts cooked not one, but two meals for our group of 13 in addition to our guides and translators. The food was delicious, extremely simple to make, using mostly citrus marinade with garlic and few spices. Beans and rice are their everyday food, but they made sure we had meat at both meals, which I know was a big treat for them. It was humbling and exciting at the same time to watch them in the kitchen. There’s nothing quite like someone cooking the food of their culture that they hope you enjoy. It brings us all closer together.
Diana Laskaris is Co-Founder of FoodTravelist.com, which launched in 2014 as an online publication and network connecting food travelers around the world with brands, destinations and experiences. Recently expanded, Food Travelist will begin hosting global tasting events offline in the fall and launched #foodtravelchat on Twitter, which garners more than 4 million timeline impressions per week. Diana is an accomplished culinarian, a professional member of the James Beard Foundation, Les Toques Blanches Du Monde, and The World Gourmet Society. She is the Chicago Ambassador for the World Food Travel Association and an active philanthropist in the areas of hunger and food insecurity as well as food waste management.
Interview conducted in August, 2014 by Kristin Winet.