I want to be Arantha Royce’s new best friend. A blogger that mixes her passion for trying and reviewing beauty products with her love for simple, healthy gourmet cooking, Miss Royce is a standout in the army of newly minted internet foodies that I have dubbed ‘The Google Gourmets’.
What is a Google Gourmet, you ask? Quite simply put; it’s me. It’s Scott and Elaine Harris, the incredible editors of cuisineist.com. Heck, it may even be you. Google Gourmets are the men and women who are taking over the web with fantastic, self-created sites about food, wine and restaurants. Unlike the gourmets of the past, the new voices likely didn’t go to culinary school. They usually have primary careers in something other than the food industry. However, when they get home from their jobs, their idea of winding down is opening a bottle of wine and spending two hours in the kitchen whipping up their own culinary masterpieces. Times have changed. Cooking is not a chore to these people. The cookbook holder on the counter top has been replaced by an IPad with a recipe app. Rather than telling co-workers and friends about the awesome supper they made last night, they are able to show them by immediately posting pictures of their creations to their Facebook pages and Twitter handles. This is the food future. The best part about the Google Gourmets? The old adage ‘you get what you pay for and baby, it’s free’ does not apply here. These sites are created with love and motivated by nothing other than genuine desire to share the joy of cooking.
You can get a tremendous education in cooking for the price of an internet connection. There is no competition between these gourmands. It’s a concept almost unheard of in this day, but these people are sharing recipes and tips out of a genuine passion for food. It’s different from those talented chefs working within the food industry. The Google Gourmets aren’t competing over externships in the best restaurants, and the likelihood of a blog turning into something more than a hobby is one in a million.
The online foodie community has become something of a brother/sisterhood, a judgment free zone where experimentation is encouraged and success is genuinely applauded. There are enough critics in the world. Here at cuisineist.com we pride ourselves on being food advocates, and it brings us joy to see how many out there are taking the same stance. Check out the comment section of any food blog. You aren’t likely to see the negativity that appears in the comments of virtually any other blog topic.
Be honest, how many times have you looked in your fridge, seen what you had, and then Googled something along the lines of: Beer Mustard Potato Pork Loin recipe (Okay, that’s just what’s in my fridge. Don’t judge me!) Chances are, you have, and the results were fantastic. You can thank bloggers like Arantha. She and others like her are the ones researching and testing new recipes every day and then kindly posting them on their blogs to share with the world. I sat down with Arantha to discuss her fantastic blog; Aranthasgourmetbeauty.com.
Arantha’s Gourmet Beauty is a blog created by New Mexico native Arantha Royce. An account manager for a news center by day, she combined her love of food and beauty products into a blog in March 2012. The name says it all. The blog provides a daily dose of healthy but delicious recipes, and a beauty aficionado’s reviews of her favorite products. It’s pretty much a foodie girl’s dream come true. After years of being a loyal reader of other beauty and food blogs and seeing the enjoyment blogging brought some of her friends, her boyfriend encouraged her to blend her passion for both healthy cooking and beauty products.
A friend suggested the very apt name; Arantha’s Gourmet Beauty, thus the site was born. The result was immediately successful. Food and beauty are two ideas that seemingly don’t go together, like chocolate and peanut butter, but the end result is so seamless that I can’t imagine why more people haven’t thought of it. Arantha is quick to point out that how you feel, and in turn how you look is a direct reflection of what you eat. That is the magic of her blog. It appeals to the reader who wants it all; the woman who wants to eat healthy and delicious food as well as look beautiful. It is one stop shopping on the quest for simple food and beauty knowledge.
Here’s the funny, and probably most inspiring part; Arantha only learned how to cook in 2009! Her mother had always cooked, but she never took an interest in it. It was only post-college, after years of eating Lean Cuisine meals and realizing that the nutritional value was virtually nil, that she first picked up a knife, pulled up the Food Network website, and started teaching herself how to cook. Most of her girlfriends didn’t (and still don’t) cook, so this was a solo adventure. She started with recipes from the Food Network and supplemented her education through blogs that she found on Pinterest. I asked her to recommend her favorite blogs to cuisineist.com and she opened my eyes to three excellent resources: Laaloosh.com, a great blog of recipes all created to fit within Weight Watchers guidelines, (I have already saved a few of the recipes to my browser to try out for dinner) Dashingdish.com, which provides recipes for healthy versions of comfort foods without losing any taste, and Thefitcook.net, a healthy cooking super-blog by Luisana Suegart that boasts almost 100,000 readers per month. What all of these blogs have in common is that though their recipes are extremely health conscious, they could be found in any top notch restaurant and are simple enough for the average Joe or Jane to make on a Tuesday night.
Arantha posts recipes on her blog almost everyday and always credits them to the creator. It’s a wonderful resource for her busy target audience of college students, single girls and working moms because she is doing the research for them. She has weeded through the dredge of the internet and provided insight into what works and what doesn’t. She loves good food, so you know if she posts it, it’s tasty. She cares about eating healthy, so you don’t have to worry that her recipes will break your diet. Ultimately, she tests all the stuff out there so you don’t have to. The end result is that you get the best of the best on her site, which is precisely why readers keep coming back. I’m not the only one that sees her appeal.
Arantha’s Gourmet Beauty was named best blog by ABQ the Magazine for 2012. No small feat, considering that the category had previously been awarded to the same political blogger several years in a row. Arantha’s dethroning of an established hot topic blogger is evidence that the times are changing. People are taking food bloggers seriously. Why wouldn’t they? Food blogging is the one area where the readers can test out for themselves if the blogger is legitimate. The recipes either work or they don’t. It’s as simple as that.
Arantha’s blog is so captivating and easy to relate to because she is as well. She is a woman who loves Indian food but is intimidated to cook it. She puts lemon on absolutely everything and sticks to a mostly Mediterranean diet when cooking at home. She swears by her cast iron skillet and loves the flavor that roasting gives to any food. Her recipes can be recreated with minimal equipment and a novice skill level. We want to read her words because in a way, she’s just like you and me. In fact, I found it very difficult to stick to interviewing her because she’s so easy to talk to. I just wanted to share techniques and beauty tips with her the whole time! She’s like your best girlfriend who always knows the best new makeup trick or what appetizer would be the most crowd pleasing at a dinner party. Beyond that, Arantha truly cares about who is reading her blog. She figures that only approximately 3% of readers leave a comment and she makes sure to respond to every single one.
It’s encouraging to see a blogger out there that isn’t all about themselves, she truly cares about what others have to say. After all, that is how she learned to cook. In her pursuit of culinary knowledge, she has reached out to other bloggers that she admires and now considers many of them friends. Further, she has taken care to let her following know just how much she appreciates them. As she puts it; ‘I like to support awesome women, doing awesome things, and looking awesome while doing them!’ This is evident in one of my favorite features of her website called ‘Arantha’s Beauty of the Month’ wherein she features gorgeous and successful women from all industries talking about their favorite recipes and beauty products. Basically, these are the girls you want to be.
Appropriately, Arantha’s favorite chef is Ina Garten. Another woman with no formal training who started out with a career far from the culinary world she now reigns over. (Ina was once a nuclear policy analyst for the White House) Like Ina, Arantha has dreams and goals beyond her current world and blogging has opened many doors for her. If you look at the wild success of other Google Gourmets like Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond and Rachel Ray you see that the sky is the limit. I have no doubt that Arantha will achieve any dreams she has in the future because while in the coal mine of the blogosphere there are many jewels, Arantha’s Gourmet Beauty is truly a diamond.