Being a one-man-show can bring huge satisfactions

Oana Filip
interview

Thomas Alcay­ala is a hum­ble yet impres­sive food cre­ator. Madet Mere is the name of his out­stand­ing blog, where he’s orches­trat­ing every­thing. Please make sure you’re not hun­gry before enter­ing his fas­ci­nat­ing world. The drool­ing is unavoid­able.


I high­ly encour­age you to read this inter­view from start to fin­ish. It is a great les­son of hard work, per­se­ver­ance, pas­sion, and maybe a bit of luck. I don’t want to ruin the moment, so I’m going to stop here.

I am quite pas­sion­ate about what I do. Every­thing that I do. So after about 10 days I was own­ing a food blog, I made the 10 dish­es I was able to.

Thomas doing some mag­ic in the kitchen

Q: Who’s Thomas on and off the record?

Thomas: I’m a wannabe food pho­tog­ra­ph­er, styl­ist, blog­ger and food­ie. Off the record, I’m just anoth­er proud dad because I have a two year old boy and because I’m mar­ried with Karen. Noth­ing fan­cy beside that. Liv­ing in the Copen­hagen sub­urbs in a lit­tle house. Addict­ed to ceram­ics and truf­fles.

Q: Would you say that you’re a chef or just an enthusiastic food lover?

Thomas: I have worked pro­fes­sion­al­ly in kitchens when I changed my career path four years ago. Before, I worked as tech­ni­cal prod­uct man­ag­er for an inter­na­tion­al fash­ion com­pa­ny. But the work in the kitchen was just to fill up some time and get expe­ri­ence. Now, I do just as much cook­ing as I pho­to­graph and write.

Q: Where does this genuine liaison with the culinary comes from?

Thomas: I real­ly do not know. I come from a real­ly aver­age fam­i­ly, eat­ing crap­py to mediocre at best. But I guess I was pret­ty much intrigued by the food shows on the tel­ly – espe­cial­ly mis­ter Oliv­er. How­ev­er, I was watch­ing more than actu­al­ly cook­ing. Then sud­den­ly one day in 2012 I start­ed cook­ing and haven’t real­ly stopped since then.

Food art signed by Thomas

Q: How did you start blogging and what keeps your wheels spinning?

Thomas: At first, I start­ed a blog with­out any plan or direc­tion. Just as writ­ing a post­card home or a diary. I was work­ing 300 km away from my girl­friend. But I quick­ly ran out of things to write. Guess you don’t expe­ri­ence much when you are work­ing 14 hours a day, so I slept on the idea of blog­ging.

One night in 2012 I was lying in bed not being able to fall asleep, and I was think­ing about the name “Madet Mere”. I don’t know why. Because I didn’t real­ly cook. But for some rea­son I bought the domain “Madetmere.dk”.

For those who don’t speak dan­ish, it is kind of a word play on “a lot more”, but adding a bit of food to it. It is tough to explain. So actu­al­ly I had a food blog before I was able to cook a prop­er meal.

Food art signed by Thomas

I hope I can inspire peo­ple to be a bit play­ful around their meals. But also to learn the clas­sics. I think both are equal­ly impor­tant.

I am quite pas­sion­ate about what I do. Every­thing that I do. So after about 10 days I was own­ing a food blog, I made the 10 dish­es I was able to, and I start­ed to learn some new ones. I bought myself my first DSLR cam­era after five days. Had no idea what I was doing, so I had to learn.

For me, it is the process of get­ting bet­ter that moti­vates me. I have done cam­paigns for some of the biggest food com­pa­nies in Den­mark – Arla, Dan­ish Crown, Carls­berg. But I am not sat­is­fied, I still want to push on.

Q: How do you stand out in a world where the culinary experiences are the new hit?

Thomas: I do not know if I stand out. I just try to be as good as I can. But I am pret­ty for­tu­nate — the male food blog­ging scene in Den­mark is quite lim­it­ed, so I get type­cast a lot to be “male food blog­ger”.

I actu­al­ly picked up Julia because it looks dif­fer­ent and in my opin­ion bet­ter the every­thing else on the mar­ket.

Q: Where do you get inspiration for creating such authentic recipes?

Thomas: I get my inspi­ra­tion from every­where. It could be every­thing from chefs on Insta­gram to the local food marked, where I sud­den­ly find a beau­ti­ful beet­root, that I can turn into some­thing great.

Q: What do you want your audience to learn from you?

Thomas: I hope I can inspire peo­ple to be a bit play­ful around their meals. But also to learn the clas­sics. I think both are equal­ly impor­tant.

The rise to glo­ry is long. I know a lot of peo­ple stop blog­ging quite fast, because it doesn’t instant­ly come with thou­sands of fol­low­ers and free glam­orous stuff.

Q: How did you come across Julia and what grabbed your attention?

Thomas: I guess I have had about 20 dif­fer­ent themes on my blog in the past 5,5 years. I’m always eager to try some­thing new or bet­ter. Some­thing that suits the food and so on. And for some rea­son I am real­ly good at pick­ing up trend­ing themes before they actu­al­ly are in trend.

So soon after, what I thought was quite unique was sud­den­ly look­ing like every­body else. So I actu­al­ly picked up Julia because it looked dif­fer­ent and in my opin­ion bet­ter than every­thing else on the mar­ket.

The drool­ing home­page of Madet Mere

Q: Could you name a few ways in which our theme helps you?

Thomas: I like that the theme is so con­fig­urable, that I can decide what is shown where. When doing com­mer­cial work, it is nice that you can give those posts extra expo­sure.

I enjoy that it is thought of as blocks rather than just a way to show your posts from A to Z.

Q: How do you manage to be a one-man-show: content, photos, cooking?

Thomas: It is quite easy. Because I am real­ly bad at lis­ten­ing to oth­ers and not being in total con­trol. I have had 40+ peo­ple work­ing for me in for­mer roles, but the thing is that when it grows that big you end up doing all the bor­ing stuff and very lit­tle of what you actu­al­ly want to do. So I have decid­ed that in my small com­pa­ny I should only take in assign­ments that I actu­al­ly can do alone on a dai­ly basis.

I work with oth­ers, but that is in a dif­fer­ent way. I do not want to employ any­body because the focus moves from what I want to do to what they should do. And check­ing up on them.

Want to upgrade your blog’s design?

I’m here to help you cre­ate a fab­u­lous blog.

Give Julia a spin

Q: I guess you have a love-hate relationship with Julia. Could you share more?

Thomas: My only pain is that cur­rent­ly you have to fill in short­codes for the recipe part instead of just have a form you are fill­ing out. I would rather use some­thing native to the theme than adding anoth­er plu­g­in. But over­all I am a very sat­is­fied cus­tomer.

Q: How’s working with us and what are your expectations?

Thomas: Great, or else I wouldn’t be here. I haven’t got too many expec­ta­tions. As long as it works I am sat­is­fied.


Pay­ing it for­ward can lead to a bet­ter blog­ging ecosys­tem, so I asked Thomas (as I did with Steve) to share a mes­sage for all the peo­ple who love sto­ries and believe in the pow­er of them to make the world a bet­ter place.

The rise to glo­ry is long. I know a lot of peo­ple stop blog­ging quite fast because it doesn’t instant­ly come with thou­sands of fol­low­ers and free glam­orous stuff. But you real­ly have to wait and push through the long peri­od, even though it feels like you are feed­ing the inter­net with pure gold, with­out get­ting any­thing in return. But be patient, it will come in one way or the oth­er.

Learn from Thomas Alcayala how you can be a successful one-man-show as a blogger and do work that makes you happy and proud.
Oana Filip
Oana Filip

Digital storyteller @Pixelgrade and community builder for creative industries. A true believer in the power of making the world a better place.