SA chef a finalist in UK Blog Awards

Monya Kilian Palmer’s blog Mud & Love is regarded as one of the finest culinary blogs in the UK.

A South African blogger has been nominated among the top eight culinary blogs in this year’s UK Blog Awards. Monya Kilian Palmer, who now lives in Berkshire, UK, with her husband Mark and their two dogs, Mr Higgins and Maggie Mae, cracked the nod in an extremely competitive field for her Keto-themed recipe site Mud & Love.

A former multimedia designer, Kilian Palmer changed her life around in her early thirties, closing her business down and choosing instead to enrol in culinary school.

Starting out at the Caviar Group of Restaurants (Beluga & Sevruga) in their central test kitchen in Cape Town, Kilian Palmer was soon on her way to the UK to work in Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen in Bray, where she spent three and a half years working with the development team on books and TV shows.

“My role first lay in development which evolved into a recipe writing and project management role,” she explained, adding that she left the Fat Duck to work for just over a year as the culinary editor at Le Cordon Bleu International, driving their publishing projects all over the world. In early 2017, she set off to work for herself as a freelance culinary consultant.

“No two days are the same! I am either creating content for clients all over the world by developing original dishes and shooting them in my kitchen studio at home, or I am behind my laptop writing.

“I am currently ghost-writing a Gujarati cookbook for a client in the US, and I also consult part-time at the Fat Duck where I assist in recipe writing and some marketing projects. Over the past two summers, I have been private-cheffing for Grigor Dimitrov and his team over the Queens and Wimbledon Tournaments.”

Her blog, which would go on to capture the attention of the UK Blog Awards, was founded in May 2017 principally as a way for Kilian Palmer to showcase the food she and her husband were eating in their own home.

“We both follow the ketogenic (low carb, high fat) lifestyle and I just felt that the world needed to see some of the great things we enjoy,” she said. “I get to use all my skills – cooking, styling, photography, writing – and I get to use my brain and knowledge of ingredients and nutrition. There is a bit of personality in the recipes too, which I hope shines through. I guess I just love the idea of putting something out there three times a week.”

Even with the attention, she has been receiving, Kilian Palmer still thinks of her blog as a personal hobby.

“My husband is a travelling comedian. With no kids and dogs that can’t talk back to me, I use my spare time to create beautiful dishes, photograph them and write up an easy-to-understand recipe. This is usually done after making it for Mark two or three times, thus I can confidently say all the recipes are triple-tested,” she said with a laugh.

“I invested in excellent software that calculates the nutritional information per serving, which I think really sets the blog apart, making it slick and professional. It’s essential that it’s accurate, especially for those on a ketogenic lifestyle, which is about balancing the [low] carb, protein, and fats in the ketogenic lifestyle,” she said, explaining that it was one of the elements that made her blog stand out along with neat styling and elegant presentation.

With almost two and a half thousand readers a month, the blog has come a long way since it was only her husband and mother-in-law who were liking the posts, which Kilian Palmer said she could hardly believe.

“I haven’t had the time or cash to do any other kind of SEO or marketing so it’s been a slow climb, but at least it’s going in the right direction,” she explained.

The winner of the award will be announced in April, but in the meantime, you can follow Monya on Instagram at @mkilianpalmer or go right to the source to see what all the fuss is about on her blog Mud & Love.

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