It’s time for another #CookItSpotlight! This month is all about Ed Duffy and his increasingly popular food blog, Dwardcooks. Ed is a former high school English teacher turned healthy-ish food blogger and stay-at-home dad. With a focus on family, he uses his platform to share quick, easy, and satisfying recipes that are perfect for working parents with active kids. He lives in the Philly suburbs with his wife and two young daughters, who you can often see cooking alongside him in the kitchen.
We sat down with Ed to learn more about his recipe inspiration, his thoughts on cooking with kids, and his favorite memory from his journey to becoming a full-time food blogger.
How were you first drawn to cooking? What was the lightbulb moment that inspired you to pursue becoming a food blogger?
Ed: I became a food blogger kind of by accident. I made an Instagram account to spare my friends from seeing bad pictures of my food and the account ended up growing. Before blogging, people would ask for one of my recipes, so I would write it in a Google doc and share it that way. I never anticipated my food blog becoming a thing!
You mentioned that you used to be a teacher before becoming a full-time blogger. What’s the biggest takeaway you’ve had from making this change in your career?
Ed: I think one of the biggest things I’ve taken away from becoming a full-time food blogger is seeing how it impacted my kids. Showing them that it’s never too late to make a career change and dive into something that you’re passionate about. Being able to share that with my kids and allow them to explore things that they’re interested in is really important.
Where do you get your recipe inspiration from?
Ed: I get my recipe inspiration from a mix of my grandmothers and local Philly foods. I grew up with my grandmothers doing a lot of the cooking, so that’s how I learned how to cook. Now I take recipes that I grew up with and I try to either elevate them or make them slightly healthier and more accessible.
What are your favorite ingredients to cook with right now?
Ed: So now that it’s grilling season, I love finding different ways to utilize our grill and to stay outside as much as possible. I’m always looking for new ways to reinvent a burger or grilled chicken, things like that. Another favorite recipe of mine is biscuits! I will find any way possible to incorporate my biscuits into my meals.
Many people would consider full-time food blogging a dream job. What are some of the common misconceptions people have about what you do?
Ed: It’s a lot of work! It seems so easy to post a picture of dinner or whatever, but it takes so much time behind the scenes that people aren’t seeing, whether it’s engaging with followers, doing research, or recipe development. The final product might be a picture, but I’d say that 80% of the work is offscreen.
Cooking with your kids is a big part of your blog. Why is it so important to get kids in the kitchen?
Ed: Getting my kids in the kitchen is important because it develops a curiosity for food and it allows them to take ownership of the food that we’re creating. It gets them comfortable with trying new things. It gets them involved. My oldest daughter says that it’s like doing a science experiment, so she’s always wanting to explore and try new things. Before cooking together, they were pickier eaters, but now they go out of their way to try new things.
Last summer my daughters were trying to master cooking eggs. My (at the time) seven-year-old was really dead set on trying to cook eggs as many ways as possible. Now, both of my daughters can crack eggs with one hand! They make scrambled eggs, sunny side up eggs, omelets, even poached eggs.
If you could go back to the beginning of your food blogging career — knowing what you know now — what advice would you give to yourself?
Ed: I would tell myself to start making videos, ha! Also to get in front of the camera earlier. For the first year or so, I did not show my face at all. I remember I posted a picture of myself as kind of a “face reveal” as my daughter would say, and people loved it! Putting myself in front of the camera was a way to connect with my audience that I underestimated.
What has been the greatest memory from this journey so far?
Ed: Okay, so it’s not “great” because of the context, but remember when COVID first started, and everyone was panic buying things and the grocery stores were completely empty? That was the first time I ever did an Instagram story where I talked to the camera. I was basically having a slow burn public panic attack, but people connected with that!
I was going to grocery stores in the middle of the night and I was laughing about how crazy it was. So many people connected with that and were reaching out to me. Now people go out of their way to watch me grocery shop. I still go grocery shopping in the middle of night because that’s when I have the most views on my stories. People love seeing it because it’s relatable.
That first public meltdown, so to speak, changed the way I presented myself on social media. I used to get all my fake backdrops and props out, and try to be as clean and precise as possible, but when I let my guard down, everything just came more naturally.
Can you name a few of your favorite influencers/bloggers?
Ed: My favorite food bloggers would be @sweetsavoryandsteph, @litecravings, and @mybizzykitchen. My original niche was within the Weight Watchers community, and those were my core group of people who were really awesome for brainstorming and bouncing ideas off of. And now with video and everything, @philiplemoine is a big inspiration. His TikTok channel is awesome.
If you had to recommend one recipe from your blog, what would it be?
Ed: I would say my Chicken and Broccoli. It’s crazy how easy and fast it is. It’s one of the lighter recipes I’ve created that does not taste light at all. It’s a really solid dish that people love. Also my mac and cheese! My mac and cheese is top tier mac and cheese. That recipe blew up my TikTok account – I think the video got like 15 million views.
It’s an involved recipe, but it’s amazing. I stand by my mac and cheese as being one of the best on the internet. It’s so good! I’ve been making it for years and years.
What are your goals for your platform in the future?
Ed: My current goal for the future is to expand more into video. Once my daughter is officially out of preschool, I’m setting up a YouTube channel to expand my audience. I’m also trying to make more approachable recipes for families and expand my niche.
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Bing Bing Dim Sum in Philadelphia
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