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Eat & Drink

Swallow Food is Toronto's newest food web site

Posted by Tim / February 27, 2012

Swallow FoodSwallow unveiled itself last week to a throng of hungry party-goers at the Drake Hotel. Founded by veteran food writer Ivy Knight along with pastry chef (and web developer) Kristina Groeger and barfly Kerry Knight, the new web site aims to provide a new spin on local (and international) food coverage with recipes, chef interviews, restaurant reviews and wine writing. Far from a daily blog, Swallow promises updates three to five times per week and to provide a perspective that only those who work in Toronto's restaurant industry can bring to the, um, table.

I recently connected with co-founder and Editor-in-Chief Ivy Knight who gave me a rundown of what Swallow is all about.

When did you decide to launch Swallow and what were some of the challenges from that moment to finally launching the web site last week?

Swallow started slowly about a year ago but didn't really start to come together until six months ago. Kristina Groeger wrote all the code and designed the logo, her challenges were many, juggling a job as pastry chef at the Ritz by day and coding a new website by night. My biggest challenge was keeping it a secret until it was ready to launch, it was tough not to shout it from the rooftops each time we posted a new article or review.

There are plenty of sites to go to these days for food coverage and restaurant reviews. What was the insight you had that compelled you to add a new food-focused site to the mix?

We felt that there were no sites that we knew of doing this mix of high-low fun content with a food focus. Also, we're professional chefs and food writers, we're not mommy bloggers or gourmet snobs - we know what we're talking about and have connections to the real food world that the average self-confessed foodie probably doesn't. For instance, in the coming months look for interviews with Top Chef's Gail Simmons, Laura Calder and Noma's Rene Redzepi.

Was Lucky Peach an inspiration or something you're at all modeling this site after?

We love Lucky Peach but we're not modeling the site after anything and have no interest in making it a print publication. The site is an expression of the way we talk, eat and think about the food world, it is totally unique to myself, Kristina Groeger and my husband Kerry Knight. If we had people like Ruth Reichl and Anthony Bourdain as buddies, then sure we'd get them to contribute, but alas we don't so we just get our friends, Special Agent Food Nerd, the Diner Waitress and the Party Animal to write for us when they can.

Professionally, how do you balance your commitments to this site with your food coverage for other publications?

This site is where all the stories I want to write but didn't have an outlet for before now, these are stories that aren't necessarily suitable for the Globe & Mail or Bon Appetit. Having our own site gives us a venue to write a restaurant review, test a recipe or critique a cookbook and publish it immediately, rather than pitching it to an editor and waiting for approval, the immediacy of that keeps our work fresh and vibrant.

For blogTO readers discovering Swallow for the first time, what's one article they should read right now?

That is a really tough question. I guess if you can only read one thing it should be one of the Cookbook Crapshoot reviews, they're hilarious. But, to get a true sense of our style I would suggest reading a few articles:

RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:

Favourite Toronto restaurant? The Gabardine
Most overrated Toronto restaurant? That bland, lifeless peameal sandwich from the Carousel Bakery in St. Lawrence Market
Most underrated Toronto restaurant? The Bellevue in Kensington Market
Most unheralded Toronto chef? Chef Matt DeMille, Enoteca Sociale
Favourite place for brunch in Toronto? Brockton General
Favourite place for drinks/cocktails? the Sky Yard at the Drake Hotel or Mezzrow's back patio
Best value wine current available at the LCBO? vinho verde from Portugal, never more than $10 and slightly effervescent, it's a poor man's cava
Favourite food publication/web site that's not yours? FoodNetworkHumor.com and blogTO of course

Discussion

29 Comments

erfin / February 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm
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If Ivy were really tuned in, she'd sknow that FoodNetwork Humor is on haitus and is likely going the way of TasteTO... Deadpool.
Rich / February 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm
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The writers are quite full of themselves on this site. One visit and I'm done!
Mark / February 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm
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Geez. Now we're going to see stories about random Toronto blogs that pop up? Big deal...
Rico / February 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm
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Wow off to a bad start. Database Error on the top page. Fail.
Chris / February 27, 2012 at 01:56 pm
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Having read a few bits on the site, and being completely turned off by both the tone of the writers, as well as the lame content, when I read Ivy say: "My biggest challenge was keeping it a secret until it was ready to launch, it was tough not to shout it from the rooftops each time we posted a new article or review", I'd argue her biggest challenge will be continuing to keep it a secret, until they completely redo the site and make it at least halfway decent.
Me2 / February 27, 2012 at 03:08 pm
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Agree with other comments. Writers sound like a-holes. You don't like winterlicious because it brings out the dirty masses? It's always the douchebags who complain endlessly about how everyone around them is a douchebag. Grow up.
Jordan / February 27, 2012 at 03:29 pm
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Couldn't agree more with the other commenters - the writers sound like complete douche bags.
J / February 27, 2012 at 04:06 pm
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I find it refreshing and funny, I'm pretty sure the writers are trying to poke fun at themselves. I guess some people are unable to detect sarcasm?
Mark / February 27, 2012 at 06:08 pm
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Not sure how she was 'coding a website at night'. Not much coding here. This is built on Wordpress! Smells like one big BlogTO advertisement to me...
Stra replying to a comment from Mark / February 27, 2012 at 07:55 pm
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Mark, you're an idiot.
Kathryn / February 27, 2012 at 08:49 pm
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Didn't like this website at all. Other writers & bloggers in Toronto can and have produced much better info/opinion.
Allen / February 27, 2012 at 10:11 pm
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Question - There are plenty of sites to go to these days for food coverage and restaurant reviews. What was the insight you had that compelled you to add a new food-focused site to the mix?

Her answer -- "Also, we're professional chefs and food writers, we're not mommy bloggers or gourmet snobs - we know what we're talking about and have connections to the real food world that the average self-confessed foodie probably doesn't. For instance, in the coming months look for interviews with Top Chef's Gail Simmons, Laura Calder and Noma's Rene Redzepi."

FYI it sounds to me like your definitely a gourmet snob. Bravous to you and professional hipster douche bags for ripping on mommy bloggers and pretending you know something just because you made a website.

Stra / February 27, 2012 at 10:35 pm
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So I just got through the website, and just one quick comment. If you guys were on the back patio of Mezzrows and brought this stuff up in the same manner as your site, nobody would talk to you. Everything written is soooo nose pointed up in the air. Why? My suggestion is tone it down a little and stop trying to sell yourselves as hard as you are.
Snaggles / February 27, 2012 at 10:50 pm
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Food blooggers ragging on gourmet snobs (aka: foodies) is just like hipsters not believer they're hipsters.

Just do your thing...
badabing replying to a comment from Stra / February 28, 2012 at 12:41 am
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He's not an idiot, the site is simply using the 'Spectrum' theme for Wordpress, it takes literally no time to set something up with a WP theme. http://demo.woothemes.com/?name=spectrum

And oh yeah, this site sucks so much. On all levels. (and then swallows)
badabing / February 28, 2012 at 12:47 am
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"Kristina Groeger wrote all the code and designed the logo, her challenges were many"

MEGA LULZ... wrote all the code. It even says the name of the theme, "Spectrum" in the source code of the website.
Ranchie / February 28, 2012 at 01:20 am
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Just Eat!!!!! Its food!!! DO we really need to argue and complain and analyze it? Just eat it, if you don't like it, don't eat it...
Alyn replying to a comment from Allen / February 28, 2012 at 08:32 am
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Likely, they sent out a "press release" and since BlogTO likes to show up and be all groupie groupie at events, this site ran a feature on it.

Or... they paid.

I think Ivy wants a Food Network gig. Raymi The Minx is gonna get one first!
Renee / February 28, 2012 at 09:20 am
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The tone of their site is sarastic and mostly joking.

If you don't get that you seriously need a labotomy.
Me2 / February 28, 2012 at 12:03 pm
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...if you don't understand that "joking" requires humour, you need the lobotomy. It's bitchy and snarky, and reeks of angst-ridden twenty-somethings desperate to be accepted as cool...so lame.
sturpy / February 28, 2012 at 12:29 pm
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Ladies and gentlemen, the NYT lauded 'Swallow' so it's not as if any of these pans bear relevence.
sturpy-derpy / February 28, 2012 at 01:20 pm
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...NYT writer said she is 'reading' the site. "Swallow Food: A smart, elegant new food blog out of Toronto" - Julia Moskin.
Not really lauding, more likely they are friendly with each other and just mentioning it to give them some news.
Yasir / February 28, 2012 at 07:09 pm
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This is so much fun just to hear some professional shots about foody site let see what they comes up with
Becky / February 28, 2012 at 07:32 pm
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Wow, this site is super lame. I really didn't appreciate the dig at vegans in the advice column. Also, please feel free to send the abundance of guy vegans my way, as I have only met one in my entire life. thx.
Tom / March 3, 2012 at 12:25 pm
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Ugh, it is posts like these, that make these "writers" seem like incredibly stuck up jerks.

http://www.swallowfood.com/the-diner-waitress-restaurant-coupons/

No one is forcing your restaurant to offer a coupon deal, but the restaurant willingly did so. Suck it up! Maybe if you see a person with a coupon, and then notice they are ordering something not part of this coupon, you could say something? Oh, would that be too below you?
Alan / March 24, 2012 at 03:38 pm
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I really don't care for Ivy Knight's work, so when I heard she went and figured out how to buy a domain and install Wordpress (or code it rather), I figured it would be a waste of people's time. And it is! I'm sure the NYT were just being sycophantic.
Sean / July 24, 2012 at 08:53 am
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This has to be the ugliest, most disorganized sites I've ever seen. It's a visual abomination. Reflective of their events as well I might add. The articles are little more than bitchy, snobby and amateur. That's if you actually manage to not run into a page or database error. Seriously bitching at people for using coupons? Get bent. Honestly there are much more professional and credible food sites that I'd rather spend my time on.
Chad P / January 19, 2013 at 07:47 pm
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Swallow is a great site but its writers do come across as a little snobbish at times. Scarborough Website Design
Muslim Property Finder / February 14, 2014 at 11:27 pm
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You really make it appear so easy together with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I
believe I'd by no means understand. It kind of feels too complex
and extremely vast for me. I'm taking a look ahead on your subsequent submit, I'll attempt to get the grasp
of it!

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