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Episode 186: Finding and Embracing Your Niche with Chelsea Cole

In episode 186 we talk with Chelsea Cole, blogger at A Duck’s Oven, who shares how finding her niche helped her find blogging success.

We cover information about what nicheing down is and isn’t, how interacting with your audience gives you lots of feedback and your niche is right there in front of you!

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.


Guest Details

Connect with A Duck’s Oven
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Bio Chelsea Cole is the food blogger behind A Duck’s Oven and author of Everyday Sous Vide: It’s All French to Me. She was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and lives with her husband. She’s been food blogging for over 10 years and is a marketing director by day.

She spends most of her free time in the kitchen. Cooking became her stress outlet in college, and remains that today. Instead of using it to tune out the pressure of school work and a part time job, it now serves as her way to unwind after work and her favorite creative outlet.

Takeaways

  • You have a niche and share some recipes that would interest your audience outside that narrow interest if it interests you too.
  • There is a lot of ways to determine a niche – it can be a diet style, related to an appliance and you should also consider if you’re unique in your category and that could become a niche.
  • Pay attention to your audience on Instagram or wherever you are to help you niche down. You can really interact with them and use polls to get useful information.
  • You probably already have something that you can pursue as your niche and you just don’t even know it yet. Stare at your top 10 ranking Google posts and see what’s there because there is a very good chance that you already have something and it’s right in front of you and you don’t even know.

Resources Mentioned

Everyday Sous Vide: It’s All French To Me Cookbook
Sous Vide School– a beginner’s interactive guide to sous vide cooking

Ready To Learn More?

Megan shares in episode 136 ways to tidy up your blog for a better user experience and ultimately help increase your organic traffic.

Transcript

Click for full text.

Intro:

Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, where food bloggers come to get their fill of the latest tips, tricks, and insights into the world of food blogging. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll provide you with the tools you need to add value to your blog. And we’ll also ensure you’re taking care of yourself, because food blogging is a demanding job. Now, please welcome your host, Megan Porta.

Megan Porta:

Are you a motivated food blogger, striving to meet financial or freedom goals? If so, then the Eat Blog Talk membership is for you. Take a journey with like-minded peers that will bring you past the overwhelm and straight into the arms of clarity. You will have direct access to guest experts, delivering massive amounts of value into your business. You will have the opportunity to participate in monthly strategy calls, focusing on different aspects of food blogging. And most importantly, you will be part of a tight knit, supportive and encouraging family filled with people just like you. Visit eatblogtalk.com for more information. And the rest of us cannot wait to see you inside.

What’s up food bloggers? Welcome to Eat Blog Talk. This podcast is for you, food bloggers, wanting value and clarity to help you find greater success in your business. Today, I have Chelsea Cole with me from aducksoven.com and I’m so excited to talk with her about finding and embracing your niche. Chelsea is the food blogger behind A Duck’s Oven and author of Everyday Sous Vide: It’s all French to me. She was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and lives with her husband. She’s been food blogging for over 10 years and is a marketing director by day. Actually that’s different, right? Chelsea, you just started full-time blogging.

Chelsea Cole:

Yeah, that’s right. Yep. Between scheduling this and now, yeah.

Megan:

So that was a very recent thing. Chelsea spends most of her free time in the kitchen, cooking became her stress outlet in college and remains that today. Instead of using it to tune out the pressure of school work and a part time job, it now serves as her way to unwind after work. And it’s her favorite creative outlet. That is an awesome bio. I love it, Chelsea. Before we dig into niching down, give us your fun fact.

Chelsea:

Yes. So my fun fact is that I am allergic to melons, which is very sad as a food person.

Megan:

Interesting! Has that been a lifelong allergy?

Chelsea:

Yes, they actually always kind of made my mouth feel irritated when I was a little kid. Then when I was 14, I had a full on, full blown, allergic reaction and I’ve been wanting to test and see if I’m still as allergic as an adult, but my husband is not onboard with that.

Megan:

Let’s not test the waters, right?

Chelsea:

No, but I have to add to when I was talking to my husband about what a good fun fact for me would be. He goes, how about that you have a closet full of dishes and silverware we never use. Ah, the thing is, every person who’s listening also has that.

Megan:

I was going to say, that is not too unusual because I have that as well. But I suppose from a spouse’s perspective, who’s not living in our worlds, they’re probably thinking this is weird. That is a fun fact. So I totally see where he was coming from. So I’m curious about your allergy. What happened when you you said you had a full blown attack, what happened?

Chelsea:

I was actually in Scotland with my mom and aunt and cousin. We were just doing continental breakfast and I was eating melon . As a kid, I know this hurts my mouth, but it also tastes good. So that’s the compromise I’m making. I was eating like a dish of melon and full blown my mouth totally swelled up and my throat started to swell up. Luckily it was as simple as I took some Tylenol and everything went down. I didn’t have to go to the hospital or anything, but it was quite alarming. I guess I’m done with melon. Melon and I are no longer friends.

Megan:

Those life-threatening allergies are really scary because they can creep up just out of nowhere it seems and be so severe. I mean, you kind of need your throat to breathe.

Chelsea:

I know it’s been interesting to figure out too, even if I go get a facial, can I use a product that has melon, and that appears all to be fine, but it’s been an interesting life long experiment.

Megan:

It sticks with you. It’s always in the back of your head. I’m glad to learn that about you. I will never serve you melon Chelsea, but let’s talk about niching down. This is such a buzz phrase right now in our world. I absolutely love watching food bloggers find a really specific niche that allows them to serve in a new and really unique, very specific way to an audience. So your niche is sous vide cooking, which is super niche. I didn’t even know what sous vide cooking was until I met Jason Logsdon. I was like, Sue, what? You need to explain that and now I get it. It’s really cool and I’m fascinated by it, but I would love for you to just talk us through how you landed in that niche and what your journey was.

Chelsea:

I have always been a bit of a carnivore. I come from a family of hunters and fishermen. I’ve always enjoyed eating like a really good steak, really good seafood, things like that. I was lucky enough to literally eat so much salmon. I always feel really guilty saying this, but it’s the truth. Growing up, we would eat so much salmon that I would be sick of. I’d be like, mom, I cannot eat salmon again. It was this beautiful spring Chinook salmon here in Oregon. As an adult and even I’ve been food blogging since I was 20 and my food blog started as a college student who was figuring out how to cook and sharing tips with other college students. It developed from there.

Even as somebody who cooked frequently, really nailing stuff like salmon and steak and other seafood to get that perfect medium rare that everybody’s after was always a struggle. With practice, obviously I got better at it, but it’s always so disheartening when you cut into a steak that you’re eating and it’s beyond rare, it’s like just not cooked. Then you throw it back on the grill and then you accidentally over cook it. It’s just a whole disaster and so when I was about 26 I heard about sous vide. I don’t remember how I heard about it, but I was like, huh, that sounds interesting. Then I mentioned it a little bit, but it sounded a little scary to me.

I thought, that’s something for chefs, that’s something for fancy cooks. I am not a fancy cook. I had talked about it a little bit with my mom and for my birthday that year, she just got me an immersion circulator, which is the device you use for sous vide cooking. I thought, I guess I’m going to figure this out now. So I did. It’s so funny because my experience was what so many other people have with sous vide. It sat in my kitchen, in the box for a few months, and this happens to so many other people, they get it and they’re just afraid to start using it, or they feel like it’s going to be so hard to learn the process. So it sat in my kitchen for a while.

Then finally, I got it out of the box, did some research and figured out how to use it. I was immediately in love with it. So the whole idea of sous vide cooking for those of you who don’t know is you put food in some kind of a container. So whether that’s a vacuum seal bag or a Mason jar, those are kind of the two common things. Then you put that in a temperature controlled water bath. The idea with sous vide is when you’re cooking in an oven, you’re cooking in a 425 degree environment, right. Or whatever temperature you’re cooking., You don’t want the inside of your food to be 425 degrees. That’d be awful. Let’s say for a chicken breast, you’re wanting it to get to 165.

Then you hope that you pull it out exactly when the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees. Which is this funny game that as home cooks we get better at figuring out, but it’s never perfect. With sous vide cooking, the temperature of that water bath, in other words, the temperature of your cooking environment is the exact temperature you want the inside of your food to come to. So you literally can’t overcook it. You can try really, really hard, but you’re not going to overcook it. Once that all kind of clicked with me, it occurred to me how beneficial it could be in so many different ways in my kitchen. One kind of hack I use it for every day is just defrosting things more quickly. If you set something on the counter, the counter underneath it is going to get super cold. But in this case, it’s surrounded by water. So you can defrost really quickly because you’re keeping the environment a certain temperature anyways. I just fell in love with it immediately.

Megan:

Yeah. I love that. I never would’ve thought of that. That’s a fun little hack. If you do have the equipment to use sous vide. I don’t even know how you say that, to sous vide, or is it, how do you use it?

Chelsea:

I use it as a verb. It’s technically just a cooking method. So just a noun, but I use it all the time. I say, sous viding, you can sous vide it.

Megan:

I would totally do that too. So if you’re into sous viding, defrosting is a great hack. Okay. I’m sorry. I interrupted you. Go ahead, Chelsea.

Chelsea:

No, that was essentially the story of how I discovered sous vide cooking and just how quickly I took to it. Some people don’t take to it quite as quickly. They need a little bit more of a push, but for me it was love at first sight.

Megan:

That’s great. It’s great when you find that thing, whether it’s an appliance or a style of cooking or whatever, that you just immediately fall in love with, like you said. I feel like a lot of food bloggers have the same experience, not with sous vide necessarily, but with something that they fall in love with. I always tell the story that I had my Instant Pot for one year. It was sitting in my pantry on the floor and I used it as a step stool for an entire year. I am not kidding. My husband and I had friends who always said, you have got to stop doing that. You’re going to break it and you need to use it, get it out. So reluctantly, I got it out. I think my first thing was hard boiled eggs. I thought, I’m not going to be impressed with this. They were the best hard-boiled eggs. The shell just fell off of them. So yep. Fell in love, just like what you were saying about sous vide. You fell in love immediately. So that’s really cool. You already had an established blog though. What was your previous niche or did you not have one?

Chelsea:

I didn’t really have one before. Previously, like I said, it started as like I’m a college student and I’m learning to cook and here’s my blog. Then it developed into like my focus was more easy recipes that invited the home cook into the kitchen, was kind of what I was going for. Just because my approach since I started food blogging is I’ve wanted to encourage other people to cook. Especially in college, I saw all these college students around me who relied on ramen and take out and Mac and cheese. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, but cooking is so fun and it’s cheaper and it’s better for us. Here’s all the reasons that you should do it. So that was my approach the entire time. I still do retain some that, not every single recipe that I post is about sous vide cooking, but a lot of it is about sous vide.

Megan:

So what percentage would you say on your site is sous vide.

Chelsea:

When it comes to publishing new content? It’s probably 80% sous vide at least and 20% other.

Megan:

I think it’s always interesting to know that because people do tend to leave a wiggle room for those extra non niche recipes, which I think is really smart. I have a bunch of recipes on my site that don’t fall in line with my niche really at all. I did whole 30 once, one time. I put a handful of Whole30 recipes on my site and they’re wildly popular. So I’m keeping them there. I am not by any means a Whole30 or a healthy food blogger, but hey, if people like it, then I’m just going to keep it. Once you found your niche, where did you go from there and how did it open up doors for you?

Chelsea:

I started talking about sous vide on Instagram a little bit and got lots of questions about it. So this is clearly something people are curious about. Then I started sharing recipes on my blog, and I think my first sous vide recipe was for sous vide tri tip steak. It’s still one of the most popular posts on my blog. As I just saw that people were gravitating towards these sous vide posts and that they were ranking, I was like, okay, there’s something here. I tend to think my brain is half creative, half strategy. I always say I’m like a type C person somehow. I’m a trained marketer and I discovered I really liked sous vide. The other people in the sous vide space are almost entirely men. The people who are using it are almost entirely chefs or they’re food geeks who’re really into homebrewing or more intense things. Or they’re barbecuers, they’re pit masters, they’re really into grilling. I am none of those things. I’m a woman. So you might see that and think I don’t have a space in this community, but I saw that and that means I can introduce home cooks to sous vide cooking. That can be my little slice of this pie. So I was really, really drawn to that immediately and so much so I was like, I need to write a book about this.

Pretty much within a few months decided, okay, I am going to self-publish a cookbook and it’s going to be about sous vide cooking. My cookbook is going to be hot pink, and it’s going to be geared towards home cooks. That changed my career as a food blogger. Because the great thing about sous vide cooking is people may have kind of heard of it, but they don’t really know what it is. It’s something people are curious to learn more about. Then once a home cook, at least in my experience, has seen how it can benefit them in the kitchen. They really, really gravitate towards it. I live in Portland and people here are so supportive of everyone in the food community. It’s wonderful.

I got involved with some local food organizations who immediately helped me and gave me tables at holiday markets. I launched my cookbook over black Friday weekend. It was great timing. In Portland we have all these like local maker events around the holidays. I got a table at all of those to sell my books. I was able to go on several podcasts. For the first time, I would say that this was the most exciting thing for me. It’s something I have continued doing. That benefits me every single time I do it, which is going on live local TV. Again, the Portland food community is amazing. I met with a woman in food PR here, just got coffee with her.

She literally gave me her contact list and said, you can’t afford to hire me, but here are all of my contacts. Have fun, which was amazing. I just cold pitched TV producers and they said,, Oh yeah, we’d love to have you on. I remember the first email I got, I was at work and I just started crying at my desk. Because you want me to come on TV? What is this? It was like the coolest thing and the great thing about having a niche and then if you do something like a cookbook or something like that, it gives people a specific reason to talk to you. That’s not to say that can’t be the case, if you are a more generalized food blogger but it’s a lot easier when there’s the specific hook that you have, this thing that you can be an expert on and share about. I was able to do that again and then again and again which has just really, really changed things for me.

Megan:

I love your story, Chelsea, just hearing you talk about how you decided to write a book after you fell in love with sous vide, which led to TV opportunities and things that just really excited you and also how you explained having a niche gives people a reason to talk to you about something really specific. I’d never thought about it like that, but when people ask me, Oh, you’re a blogger. If I don’t talk to them about what I blog about, the conversation ends really abruptly. It’s okay, cool. We all love food. But if you have something to offer, I love cooking with sous vide, then that gives them a chance to say, oh my aunt does that. That is a conversation starter. So I love that perspective. So I wanted to ask you about how others can do this, because I know a lot of food bloggers are listening, who really struggle with finding that really specific niche. I think we’re finding out more and more that the more you can niche down, the further you can niche down, the more successful you can be, the more tuned in you will be to your audience, et cetera. So what’s your advice for other people?

Chelsea:

First and foremost, after I discovered this and after I wrote my book, after I was getting attention for being known for sous vide, I kind of had a moment where I freaked out about that. I didn’t mean to be known for sous vide. It just happened. I thought, is this what I want my thing to be? Am I sure about this? I felt very freaked out about that for a little bit, because I was worried it meant I couldn’t do these other things on my blog. I just want to reassure you that that is not true. It’s still your platform. You still get to do whatever you want. Frankly, I only cook sous vide probably once or twice a week. I still share on Instagram, everything else that I’m cooking and people are still interested.

Megan:

So they don’t say okay, Chelsea, it’s not sous vide so we don’t care. They do still show interest in your other recipes.

Chelsea:

Exactly. Yes.

Megan:

That’s good to hear.

Chelsea:

Last year I did a polenta lasagna recipe that had a moment on Instagram. You still get to do all the other things that you want to do. So I want to reassure everybody. I’d say the best way to find what your niche is, is to really pay attention to Instagram. It’s one of the best ways to find your niche. That was really helpful for me, at least. The reason being is because it’s such a great platform for you to talk with your followers. I’m really active on Instagram. I story quite a bit and you know, I really like to talk to people and I make a point of that, of building relationships there.

But for me, the moment I realized I had something with sous vide, was when people were talking to me about it. So when people would ask me, what is sous vide? Why do you sous vide? Do I really need another kitchen appliance? Lots and lots of questions about it. One thing that’s great for you to look for, is share a lot on Instagram, share how you’re cooking, share why you’re doing things a specific way and see what people gravitate towards and see what people are asking you questions about. That’s where I think even like the poll in question features on Instagram are super helpful as well. One thing, and this is my marketing brain a little bit coming in here, but one thing I see food bloggers and it’s not a mistake. Mistake is like a strong word here, but it’s something that they do that could be more effective in their Instagram stories, if they’ll post what kind of recipes you want to see from me? If I see that, that’s like a huge generalized question. I have no idea what I’m going to write there. That’s just too big. So if you can do things like using the poll future and a lot of times people will have back-to-back poll questions. Are you more interested in seeing Instant Pot recipes or Crock Pot recipes, or things like that and kind of see where your audience is at? That’s a really great way to gauge what could be a potential niche for you. I think another thing that is helpful is to expand your definition of what a niche is.

So for example, I don’t know if anybody follows Fed And Fit. Cassy Joy Garcia. I love her cookbook. So she wrote a cookbook that’s called Cook Once Eat All Week. The whole concept behind her cookbook and behind a lot of what she produces on her blog and for Instagram, is batch cooking with the same ingredients and creating several meals out of it. So it’s not necessarily cooking one big batch of the same soup. It’s buying a ton of sweet potatoes and ground beef and making four different dishes out of those two ingredients. That is a niche in a way that’s a meal prep niche. But that’s something you’re known for. If you want to meal prep efficiently and effectively, you go to Fed and Fit for that kind of information. So it doesn’t just have to be a cuisine, a diet, an appliance, your niche can be so many different things.

Megan:

I love that. Just expanding that definition. I interviewed someone a while ago and I feel so terrible that I can not remember her site, but her niche was the coolest thing ever. It kind of goes along with what you’re saying. It’s just so different, but she makes recipes that are only made from ingredients that come from Aldi, the grocery store. I just think that is like the coolest niche ever, because who would ever think of that. Everyone loves aldi because it’s affordable and you can’t buy like a single ingredient on the planet there. So you are limited but you don’t like going to all the different stores. I have to go to this grocery store to get specialty meat and then I’ll go to Aldi to get my produce. But I just think there are so many ways to look at a niche, like you’re saying Chelsea, and it doesn’t have to be based around sous vide or crock pot or Instant Pot or a big appliance. It can be something really different and unique that is maybe sitting right in front of you. So that is really intriguing to me. I think that will stir up some ideas for people listening. I also wanted to ask you about equipment. So when you’re talking to people, do you feel like you are convincing some people to actually buy sous vide equipment and dig into it? How many would you say as a percentage of people who already have it versus people who don’t, who you’re like, yes, you should get it. Get on board. Because I feel like with the Instant Pot, I’m always trying to convince people to get it. But then there’s also a certain percentage that already have it. So I’m just curious about sous vide equipment.

Chelsea:

I think that’s a really good question. There was this one market that I loved doing. It’s called the Portland Night market. It’s like a really big thing here. It happens, I don’t know, four times a year. It’s in this essentially abandoned warehouse here in Portland. It’s just massively full of makers and this is obviously pre COVID times and food trucks and all this amazing stuff. So one thing that I really loved about doing those events is it was a great time to get in front of a ton of people. However, what I found myself doing over and over and over again. Then part of what I do when I go to these events is, I usually bring samples and my go-to food sample is sous vide cheesecake. It’s so good, sous vide cheesecake is phenomenal. But one thing that I would get a little bit frustrated with is the confusion people had around my table. So they would come up to my table and they’d ask, are you selling cheesecake? I’d say no. Okay, are you selling the immersion circulators? No, I’m selling my cookbook. They’re like, how do I buy an immersion circulator? I’d say, I don’t know, go to Amazon.

We can talk about that if you want to. But honestly it depends on the audience. Luckily I now have a lot of followers on Instagram who are already into sous vide. Then I have a lot of people too, who are just curious about it and they kind of watch me do it for a while and then decide if it’s something that they should be doing or not. But it is a conversation I have all the time. This is kind of my approach to life in general, is just to dive in. Just do the thing, just do the thing and see if it works for you. People think it’s going to be expensive to be a part of sous vide. I think that’s because of the type of people who are known for doing it.

But now you can get an immersion circulator from anywhere between 80 and 180 bucks. So it’s relatively affordable to get started and that’s the only thing you truly need to do it. That makes it a lot easier. Just because I love sous vide doesn’t mean I have to sous vide everything. One thing that I get a lot of hate for in the sous vide world is I think I think that sous vide eggs are a waste of time. Not egg bites. I love egg bites, but people are really into sous vide poached eggs and sous vide hard-boiled eggs. With a poached egg, people will recommend that you sous vide it and then finish it in simmering water.

I think, why wouldn’t I just poach it then? That’s stupid to me. Really talking with people about how they cook and then determining if sous vide is a good fit for them. I literally actually just made a reel over the weekend, that’s should I get an immersion circulator? My two determinants of that are, one, do you eat a lot of meat and seafood? Then my second question is, do you cook a lot, do you cook three to four nights a week, at least? Then you should probably have an immersion circulator, it would benefit you. But luckily in this case, I don’t think it’s a really hard sell. Another thing that helps with an immersion circulator versus a slow cooker or an Instant Pot, because that’s what people will compare it to with me, is it’s much smaller and people are sick of having so many kitchen appliances.

Megan:

Oh my gosh. Yes.

Chelsea:

So that makes it a little bit easier too. I’ve recently created a digital course meets ecookbook and it’s called Sous Vide School and I intentionally made it super low priced. Because one way people have been using it is they’ve been buying it before they even buy an immersion circulator and going through it and deciding if they want to get into sous vide or not. So that’s been really helpful for me too.

Megan:

That is cool too. So you’re really serving people recipes who already have the equipment, and then you’re also kind of marketing yourself as an expert to convince people to launch into it. That’s kind of what your course does, right?

Chelsea:

Exactly.

Megan:

Can you tell people how to find your course? I’m curious about it and just give us a description. Is it video modules? How do people move through it?

Chelsea:

So if you go to aducksoven.com/sousvideschool, that’s where you can find all of the information about it. For a week I had it priced at only 19 bucks. Now it’s $27. The whole goal, of course, as soon as I launched it, I had so many friends be like, Chelsea, this is priced way too low. I totally hear you. The reason I’m pricing it so low is because this is going to sound very cheesy and wooey, but truly my mission is to bring the magic of sous vide to home cooks. Because people think it’s for someone who is like an advanced cook, who’s this fancy chef, blah, blah, blah. It’s truly an amazing fit for people who aren’t as comfortable in the kitchen, because it takes all of the guesswork out of cooking hard things for you.

I made a lobster for the first time this year with sous vide and it was so easy. Lobster tails, I shouldn’t say lobster. It was fantastic. It was so easy. I just didn’t have to think about it because sous vide did all of the hard work for me. So I created Sous Vide School just with really, really beginners in mind. People who have maybe only used their immersion circulator once or twice, or it’s still sitting in the box at their house. The way it works, the first module is the super heavy module. It really takes you through in an inviting way and non-scary way, the science of sous vide cooking and why it’s beneficial. Because I think it’s important to understand that so you can understand how it’s going to change your cooking game, as I like to say.

Then literally after you learn the science of sous vide, I say, go cook a steak. So at the end of each module, there’s a lab where you just go cook. Don’t think about it, just go do it and follow these instructions. Here you go. Just because I want people to dive into it and stop overthinking it so they can see the magic of it and just fall in love with it like I did. Then the second module is really similar. It teaches you some more finishing aspects of it and to make sure your meat is flavored well and things like that. Then again, it’s now time to cook this, over and over. It covers everything from sous vide steak, egg bites, pork chops. Now I’m releasing new content every two weeks through April. We’re getting into liquor infusions, which is something really fun that you can do with sous vide. Why are delicate proteins different from a more sturdy protein like salmon versus steak, for example. Sous vide desserts, combining cooking methods like sous vide and deep frying. So we’re kind of getting into the more fun stuff now, which is exciting.

Megan:

Dang it, Chelsea. I am attempting to, I just don’t need one more thing. You know how it is, you hear these things that are so inspiring, like a new method of cooking or a new appliance or food blogging is full of new ideas. I have such a hard time saying no, but this looks so tempting. I love meat . I’m such a hardcore carnivore right along with you. So I’m trying to resist, but your cookbook is so pretty and inviting and your sales page for your course is also inviting. So nice work on all of that. This is really exciting. Also, I have to say that I love that you came into this scene as a woman, because you mentioned earlier that it was filled with men typically. Are there any other women who are known for cooking sous vide?

Chelsea:

Not really. There’s a few food bloggers who I’ve become friends with, who do sous vide and then I’ve gotten involved with the International Sous Vide Association. Jason, who you mentioned earlier and Mike run the show over there and they’ve been phenomenal. They actually asked me to be a part of the inclusion committee for the ISVA. So the inclusion committee, my job is to literally find women, people of color, home cooks, bartenders, these people who aren’t usually the people who are featured in the sous vide space and give them this voice, give them this platform, invite them to share what they’re doing. For example, I recently just started talking to a bartender on Instagram who’s using sous vide to fat wash cocktails, which I didn’t know what that meant.

Megan:

What is fat washing? That sounds really involved.

Chelsea:

It’s wild. You literally infuse liquor with fat.

Megan:

What?!

Chelsea:

Yeah, it’s very interesting. So I started talking to him and I was like, Oh my gosh, I think that you should do a demo for the ISVA. He’s like, well, I’m not a sous vide expert. I don’t know. It’s not about that. We just want you to share this really cool thing that you’re doing. So that has been really fun. A lot of people have imposter syndrome, not just in the grand scheme, but like in a little aspect of what they do. So many of the women that I reach out to, to get involved say, I don’t know if I can teach this. I tell them, you have this recipe on your blog about sous vide, so you’re already teaching it, so you can absolutely, if you’re comfortable on video, do a prerecorded demo and submit it to the ISVA. So that has been so fun for me. Just get other people who are more similar to me involved with sous vide cooking.

Megan:

I love that. I love that whole concept of just including everyone and trying to branch out from, quote unquote, the norm. That’s great. It made me think of when you were talking about that initial Susie Bullock from, Hey Girl, Hey, and she dove into the barbecue scene a handful of years back as like one of the only woman barbecue bloggers out there at the time. Now she’s got a show on the Food Network and that served her very well. So there is something to that, coming in to something a little bit different than what the norm is, right?

Chelsea:

Absolutely. She’s an amazing example of that. That is a niche, right? It’s not that grilling is necessarily her niche. I mean, it is, but it’s also that she’s a woman who’s known for grilling. That’s what is different. So I guess even for people listening, a way to think about it is what differentiates you. What is something that you can be known for? People can say, Oh yeah, that’s the woman who grills. They can say, Oh yeah, that’s the woman who does sous vide.

Megan:

That’s really cool. I also have to ask you, Chelsea, what is your favorite thing to sous vide? Is it too hard to pick or can you choose a handful?

Chelsea:

I’m going to say there are lots of things, but I think it’s going to be pork chops. I’ve been talking about this on Instagram actually a lot lately. I actually just made a reel about this as well. But the reason I say pork chops is because pork chops have such a terrible reputation.

Megan:

I agree. I agree with you. I love them, but everyone’s afraid of pork chops. So they think they’re boring or they’re often over cooked.

Chelsea:

Yes, exactly. I was on TikToK and just scrolling through videos and seeing all these teenagers who were literally crying at the dinner table cause their mom was serving pork chops. Okay, we gotta change this. So with a sous vide pork chop is phenomenal. It is so meaty. It’s so juicy. It’s perfectly cooked. There’s so much flavor. Once you have a sous vide pork chop, it completely changes what a pork chop is in your mind.

Megan:

That’s great. I, so I grew up with a mom who cooked pork chops, insanely well. They were always delicious. She pan fried them. So when I got married, my husband was like, why are you buying pork chops? He thought I was insane because his mom probably over cooked them and stayed away from them because everyone worries about them not being cooked through and all of those worries. So when I started cooking them my mom’s way, he said, Oh my gosh, these are so good. So that in itself is enough to sell me on sous vide because with sous vide, you know the exact inner temperature. So you know that you’re not eating undercooked meat.

Chelsea:

Exactly. Yes.That’s actually one reason sous vide is so great for squeamish people. My father-in-law is notorious for eating well done steaks, which just hurts my heart every single time. With sous vide, it’s like okay, father-in-law I have literally pasteurized this steak. You can pasteurize with sous vide. Every single germ is killed and it’s still medium rare. Will you eat it? Now he’s into it.

Megan:

Good. Yeah. I can see where that would totally transform people who do eat meat even more and help them to explore more. Then you mentioned cooking lobster, lobster tails. That is so appealing. How long does something like that take typically?

Chelsea:

Typically about 30 minutes. So that’s something that’s like kind of a weird adjustment with sous vide. So the benefit of cooking at a high temperature, like when you’re cooking in an oven, is it brings whatever you’re cooking up to temperature faster because the cooking environment is so hot. So with sous vide, everything takes longer, which is something you kind of get used to. You begin to see it as a benefit. So for example, I usually cook a steak for about two hours. Which is really weird for people when they first hear it. I get my steak in the water bath. Then I go about my day. We’ll start prepping side dishes, I’ll clean the kitchen, I’ll keep working, whatever. Then that steak is ready to go whenever I’m ready. A lot of people actually use it for par cooking. So for meal prep. So I’ll cook like a ton of chicken thighs at the beginning of the week and just keep them unfinished in the fridge. Then when I’m ready to eat, I’ll just sear them and serve them and they’re ready to go.

Megan:

Oh my gosh, I am so hungry. I just want to sous vide now. Okay. I feel like this is turning into, I just have one more question, sous vide conversation. About desserts, how your cheesecake, how in the world do you cook cheesecake in sous vide? Like a water bath?

Chelsea:

Okay. So it’s a little bit different than what you normally think of as a cheesecake. In that closet, my husband mentioned dishes we never use, are dozens and dozens of jars, or Mason jars. So I always do little individual cheesecakes that are in a jar and it’s super cute for serving. Then everybody gets their own cheesecake, which is awesome. You could do a crust along the bottom. Usually if I want to do something like that, I’ll sprinkle a Graham Cracker crust on after I’m done. But sous vide is amazing for cheesecake, creme brulee, flourless chocolate cake, things like that, because you’re going to get a consistent temperature the entire way through the cheesecake. So it’s not going to be over cooked on the edges and still watery in the middle. You’re not going to worry about cracks or anything like that. The texture is so consistent and so good.

Megan:

Well I think I might be convinced. I will report back soon, Chelsea, to let you know. What if I really like it? Now I’m worried because I’ve just got a new rebrand on my website or I’m working on it right now. What if I really like sous vide and I’m like, dang it. That’s a worry that actually makes me want to push it away.

Chelsea:

You can always try it and then just try some steak and then see how it feels and then go from there.

Megan:

I would start with steak too, because steak is one of my absolute favorite meats. Love a good steak. My husband has always perfected his delicious steak recipe. Thank you so much for all of this information, not just about sous vide, but about finding a niche and how people can dig in and ways to go about figuring out what people want from you. You mentioned Instagram, really paying attention on Instagram, listening to your audience. You made a super great point about polling your audience. Instagram is great for that, but sometimes we can be really generic and general. What do you want for me this week? As a user myself, when I see that, I’m like a nap. Just very open-ended questions. So being really specific with what you ask people and the polls feature is really great for that. Then you also just touched on how to expand your definition of a niche. You know, a woman in barbecue or a woman in sous vide is actually a niche, so expanding what that means for you. So thank you for all of that. If I had to ask you for one main takeaway along the lines of finding and embracing a niche, what would it be?

Chelsea:

I think that it would be, you probably already have something that you can pursue as your niche and you just don’t even know it yet. I encourage you even to just stare at your top 10 ranking Google posts and see what’s there because there is a very good chance that you already have something and it’s right in front of you and you don’t even know.

Megan:

Oh, I love that very well said. Thank you so much for being here, Chelsea. This was a very fun conversation. Before you go, do you have a favorite quote or words of inspiration to share with food bloggers?

Chelsea:

I’m going to go with our words of inspiration here, which is, don’t feel discouraged by the prospect of finding your niche or be concerned that there’s a thousand other people who are already doing your niche. One thing that I always like to think of when I have that moment of everybody else’s already doing this, is think about other people that you truly know in your life, in person. Is anybody else doing that? That’s always a little bit of a good reminder for me. It only feels like everybody else is doing it because that is the world that you’ve put yourself in. So there’s still plenty of room for you too.

Megan:

That is great advice. It is so easy to look at other people and say, Oh, they can do it because they’ve got a great personality or they’re really fun, but it doesn’t make sense for me because everyone else is doing it. Somehow we just need to flip that around and just see ourselves like we see other people. But that’s really hard to do, but I love it. Just a great nugget of wisdom for everyone who struggles with that. So we will put together a show notes page for your Chelsea. If anyone wants to go peek at that, we’ll also put the link for Chelsea’s Sous Vide School there. If you want to pick it as well as her cookbook, you can find [email protected]/aducksoven. Chelsea, tell everyone where they can find you online.

Chelsea:

So you can find my blog at aducksoven.com. If you haven’t guessed already, Instagram is my favorite place to hang out. So you can find me on Instagram at @aducksoven, and I’m always down to DM. So happy to field questions, or just chat about this more.

Megan:

Great. Well, thanks again, Chelsea for being here and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you next time.

Outro:

We’re glad you could join us on this episode of Eat Blog Talk. For more resources based on today’s discussion, as well as show notes and an opportunity to be on a future episode of the show, be sure to head to eatblogtalk.com. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll be here to feed you on Eat Blog Talk.


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Megan
Megan

Megan started her food blog Pip and Ebby in 2010 and food blogging has been her full-time career since 2013. Her passion for blogging has grown into an intense desire to help fellow food bloggers find the information, insight, and community they need in order to find success.

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