Belén Fernández García graduated from the MIM Program in December 2011 with a specialization in International Business. Originally trained as an economist with a degree in Economics from the University of Sevilla, she has been working at Microsoft as a part of its Public Sector Team since graduation. In her spare time, she has created the website www.foodywine.com to blog about her passion for gastronomy. Belén has reviewed and photographed restaurants in Madrid, London and Cádiz, and in just over a month the site has already received 1800 visitors. Perusing the blog´s gorgeous pictures and fun layout, we are looking forward to discovering a whole new host of places with Belén!
Q: Belén, congrats on the blog! My first reaction was how professional the photographs look. Do you spend a lot of time working the artistic look of the blog?
A: First, thank you for the opportunity to do this interview!! I started the blog with no knowledge at all, but with a bit of time and interest it´s been quite easy to design the it and spread the word through social media. I love taking pictures myself but sometimes use pics from the official sites if they are good.
Q: How do you choose what restaurants to review?
A: I love to go out and try new places, I like gastronomy and design, and I like to cook as well. So, when I go out I need to find places where the food is good and the ambience is perfect. If I like a place that I´ve visited, I add it to a list. My friends are always asking me for recommendations which was one of the reason to start the blog in the first place.
Q: You write about the food, but also about the ambience, the décor and the entire experience of a restaurant. How important is the experience to you? Can it ever be as important as the food?
A: I think architecture, décor and ambience are all important. I’m from an architect´s family so it’s always on my mind. It’s not the same to go to a place that is buzzing with a cosmopolitan, well-heeled crowd than another that´s dirty and crowded and where you don’t feel comfortable. My aim is to find the best places to eat out in Madrid, London and around the world. This doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive places or Michelin starred places.
Q: Are there any food trends here in Madrid or in London that you´re particularly excited about?
The trends in both cities tend toward gastronomic fusion and “creative” cuisine. In Madrid, the latest fashion is the eco-restaurant—there are more and more every day. They emphasize organic foods that are 100% fresh, without additives or preservatives, prepared on the spot. In London, there is one on every corner. The design reinforces the theme—these are generally small places simply and cozily decorated, often with a communal table where sitting with strangers becomes commonplace.
Also, there are places for breakfast and light lunches. Places that are a mix of café, deli, desert shop, and health food store, of the sort that are common in New York, London, and some Nordic countries. Bakeries are definitely all the rage, both in London and in Madrid. I´m constantly bowled over by the creativity I find in deserts and pastries. You can find some highlights in the blog.
Q: Finally, any plans for expansion of the blog to other cities?
A: Yes, of course! I would like to expand my blog as much as possible. I’m focusing in Madrid, London and the South of Spain because the places I usually go to. But the next cities will be Paris and New York. I´m planning to make a few improvements to the blog and translate it into English or perhaps another language.
Thanks to IE Business School, I have learned from the best entrepreneurs, and they have given me the inspiration to do it, to take risks and maybe in my next future start my own business. It’s my dream.