Who is Adele Conn?
Adele Conn grew up in South Africa but has spent half of her life in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she currently lives. She is a food lover, wine enthusiast, and gin guru with impressive certifications, including a Diploma Level 1 WSET in Wine and a Diploma in Gin from Edinburgh Whisky Academy.
She started reviewing food on TripAdvisor but experienced a long approval time for her reviews, which frustrated her. They also told her that her reviews were too long and felt too much like a blog post, rather than a shorter review for their website. This led her to look at other review websites, like blogs.
Adele Conn began her blog after she met her partner, who was a chef. Adele and her partner would go to impressive restaurants so that he could taste other food to help him develop new ideas for his own cooking. Along the way, Adele Conn became even more of a “foodie” and was fascinated with the many ways that food could be prepared and presented.
She didn’t think much would come of her blog. However, she has a successful blogging and Instagram career today.
What is TartanSpoon?
When asked how she came up with the name of her blog, Adele shares, “So I know I wanted something that was quite Scottish, which is obviously tartan, and then I wanted something to do with, with food and I tried spoon or fork or a knife.”
She landed on TartanSpoon and developed a review system based on spoons.
“So, a gold spoon is nine out of 10 [and] a silver spoon is eight out of ten.”
If she gives a restaurant a wooden spoon, their food isn’t so good, but a TartanSpoon is the highest award.
The Review Process
Her process has become increasingly complicated over the years.
“I think over the years has been quite difficult because I think the more you become a food reviewer, the more you understand the food and how it’s cooked and where it comes from, and whether or not what a restaurant says is true or whether they’re just using all these kinds of fluffy words and sentences.”
As her tastes have evolved over the years, she notes that she also takes into account whether other diners are clearing their plates and enjoying the food. Adele shares that she wants her reviews to be for the average diner, so if others are enjoying their food greatly, she takes that into account for her reviews even if she was a bit critical of the food herself.
Other things Adele Conn considers include, “The ambiance. The service. It’s about being friendly, is the food good?”
Seasonality is another significant factor in her reviews, especially because Scotland prides itself on seasonal foods.
“A lot of them [restaurants] will bring in … north Atlantic prawns and stuff like that… but that’s not Scottish and it’s not seasonal, so there’s quite a few things that… I think the general public could fall for.”
Adele Conn shares that one of her strangest experiences was getting her first PR invitation to a restaurant around 18 months after she started blogging.
“I was super excited because I had no idea about this whole blogging, reviewing world that there is and it was the weirdest feeling of finishing my dinner and then just saying “thank you very much” [and] leaving without paying. It was very, very strange.”
Growing Her Food Blog
Soon after her first PR review, she began branching into other social media platforms. Today, her three main social media platforms are TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram.
With these platforms, she is able to share and promote her blog posts, but she notes that algorithms are constantly changing.
“Instagram changed their algorithm every other day. TikTok came along. Pinterest has come along. You know, there’s so many more influencers kind of jarring at the edges.”
Adele Conn shares that she previously spent maybe an hour or two promoting her blog on social media.
However, she now “spend[s] about four hours, just on all of the social media platforms editing videos… It feels quite constant now… and I feel like sometimes the world wants you to have this telephone stuck to the end of your hand… every single thing is about creating content.”
Working with Brands & Income Streams
Adele Conn shares that she makes money with her food blog in various ways, including Google ads on her blog, affiliate links, and working with brands directly.
Initially, she was just gifted free things and meals, but now she charges a fee for the work that she does.
“So I work with a lot of small independent brands, but also quite big brands, [such as] Walmart.. I’ve worked a lot with them.”
She also expanded her blog into travel and food, which has led to opportunities for her to travel for free and eat abroad. One of her favorite experiences was traveling to Poland for a whole week’s worth of content production. Everything was pre-arranged and paid for, and she got to meet many great chefs, producers, and other influencers from the UK.
“My most read one [blog post] is with a company called Virtuoso, so they are a car rental company, which really has nothing to with food or drink, but obviously it’s travel. So that’s probably my most-read post which is really random.”
Her most successful campaign has been with a local brand called Simon Howie, where she did a competition giveaway on Twitter that reached tens of thousands of people.
To make her campaigns successful, she focuses on short two to five-second videos.
“So I think one was just literally squirting tomato ketchup on a hot dog.”
Another highly successful video on TikTok that got about a hundred thousand views was her cracking a creme brulee.
When asked about recreating her successes, she notes that “I can’t fight the algorithm. It’s just insane.”
Adele’s Recommendations and Plans
Adele predicts that blogs will continue making a big comeback as brands start to realize that a blog post is far more permanent and evergreen than an Instagram post.
She also shares, “I’ve been accepted as a member of the Guild of Food Writers in the UK, which is quite a big thing, which I’ve not really told anybody about, so that is really great news. I’m really thrilled to be a part of that.”
Hungry after reading this interview?
Adele’s top food recommendations in Scotland include, “Down the Hatch, which is a burger joint and they produce really big sloppy joe burgers… so that’s definitely one place I would suggest, and then if we were to go somewhere that was not fine dining, but just a little bit more elevated… I would probably take them to Par’s Lane.”