So today is my first birthday! Woo! Go me!

No, that doesn’t mean I’m an infant prodigy that has mastered writing a food blog before I’ve taken my first steps. But it does mean that TheWhyChef.com has made it to the grand old age of 1! This calls for cake!The_Why_Chef_Logo-birthday

(I won’t mention that I’m actually 1 on Saturday, but my posts go out on Thursdays so I brought it forward two days…)

Being the Why Boy, I figured my year end review should go back to my first few posts, look over my work, and build on what I have achieved so far. It will be a good test to see if I’m actually learning and improving, plus a great chance to reminisce over good times of old!

It also reminds me of a saying I heard somewhere, but even the internet doesn’t help me remember where I first heard it! I love this saying as it really exemplifies the concept of continual improvement that I always strive for in cooking.

“A great chef doesn’t cook 100 dishes once, he cooks one dish 100 times” – anon.

The idea that a dish is never finished, that there is always something we can do to better and improve it, that nothing is taken for granted, and that even the most simple things are actually never, ever simple!

My first ever post was about salting coffee to make it healthier. Ok, there isn’t an awful lot I can do with this post other than learning the importance of salt in our food. But it was a lesson well learned about the effects of salt and bitters on the tongue.

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Next up was Oreo Dunking in 20 Seconds. I love this post still to this day – it’s everything I wanted from my blog. Something entirely simple and almost thoughtless, analysed and investigated to show there is so much more going on that just a quick cookie dip in a milk bath.

I’ve tried Oreos dunked in strawberry, banana, and chocolate milkshake + mango lassi. The mango lassi combo was vile – do not do this! The others worked, and the strawberry milkshake was clearly the best flavor pairing – quite tasty! Certainly a decent dessert can come from this, of which I’m sure t’internet has thousands.

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My first ‘proper’ recipe was Easy Slow Cooker Turkey Leg Stew. This is where I really want to stake my claim to improvement and betterment as its something I knocked out from scratch while our kitchen was a building site. A total ‘me’ recipe.

I’ve read back through my Why’s and two things spring to mind – I need to trim down how much I waffle on, and sectioning off the Why bits into their own section was very very necessary. I spoke some good sense then though – I need to write these up!

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I have two planned improvements in the works – a turkey leg tagine, full of Moroccan spices and a great flavor profile, and slow cooking a turkey leg to ‘pull’ it and make a base for a cottage pie that is both rich and healthy.

Watch this space, and please do tell me if you think they are improvements! 🙂

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I also thought I’d share a little bit more about me (Martin). I do speak of myself on here a little, but I get a little shy from time to time and don’t like to dwell an awful lot on me me me stuff!

So some ‘fun’ Martin facts:

  • I’m married to the wonderful Emma. She’s quite literally perfect in every way.
  • I’m 33 years old, birthday in September. Feel free to send me cake.
  • I follow football, and am an Arsenal fan. Emma hates football.
  • I have 3 brothers and 3 sisters, plus a brother-in-law and sister in-law. Them siblings have managed to spawn no less than 16 nieces and nephews for me, with #17 on the way.
  • I don’t have kids of my own yet!
  • I live in East London.

Food things:

  • There is no food I don’t eat. If I don’t like the taste of something, I ‘train’ myself to like it by finding a characteristic about it that can be liked, and focusing on that until I start enjoying it. I love coffee now, but a very sugary frappe was my gateway in – I hated it before then! Only olives I really struggle to eat – they taste like soap!
  • I love British food more than any other, but that’s primarily just pride in my home country. Secretly, it is always Asian food that I get excited about.
  • But forgetting what I just said in point 2 – I’m an incredibly moody eater. My preferences change like the wind, and my favourite dish on a Monday will certainly not be favourite on Tuesday!
  • I part trained as a chef in 2013-14. I should have finished my NVQ level 3 in Professional Cookery in 2014, but my dad passed away and I needed to earn a proper salary so went back to work. I’m now a regional facilities manager for a national charity, with cooking being what I spend the entire time out of work (and some cheeky time in work) talking about, thinking about, and doing.

Blog things:

  • The dish I’m most proud of in my first year are my Chicken Wings with Homemade BBQ Sauce. Just a couple of weeks ago a friend told me to “bottle the sauce and get on dragons den mate” 😀 Forget the chicken wings if they’re not your thing – just try the sauce. It’s awesome!
  • My blog runs like a dog, and I’ve been meaning to change my theme to speed it up… Watch this space for when I finally work it out!
  • I accidentally deleted my entire blog about 2 weeks ago while playing around with plugins. Thank goodness for backups! Oops!
  • I’ve worked out why my photography is still pants: telephoto lens. My phone camera (Huawei Honor 6) is absolutely fantastic for a phone, but it allows far too much background into the photo. I need to figure out my DSLR…
  • I’m rubbish at social media and need to do so much to improve this. Pinterest, hello!

So that is year 1 in a nutshell! I feel my blog is growing nice and organically, and I like the direction it is taking. I’ve already started to make some great friends out there, and find some awesome blogs that I love reading.

My recipe development is improving, as is my photography. There is plenty of room for improvement though – please always share your thoughts with me, good or bad! 🙂

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