341: Eat the Culture – Building Community and Empowering Black Culinary Creators with Meiko Temple

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An image of vegetables and the title of Meiko Temple's episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Eat the Culture.'

This episode is sponsored by Clariti.

Welcome to episode 341 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Meiko Temple about how she’s empowering Black culinary creators through Eat the Culture.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Benjamin Delwiche from Benjamin the Baker about how he has grown his TikTok account to over 500k followers. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Eat the Culture

Meiko Temple is the writer, chef, photographer, and recipe developer behind the popular food blog Meiko and the Dish. But beyond her own blog, Meiko also runs Eat the Culture, a community-centered space that nurtures, supports, and amplifies Black culinary creators.

Through collaborations like recipe roundups for Black History Month and a Holiday E-Cookbook featuring mouthwatering recipes from across the African diaspora, Eat the Culture empowers Black creatives through a celebration of Black food and culture.

In this episode, you’ll hear how Eat the Culture started, how it has evolved over the years, and how it is building a bridge for equity and representation in food media.

A quote from Meiko Temple’s appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'We are building community with Black content creators in order to help build value for them so that they can grow their businesses.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How Meiko got into food blogging
  • What mistakes she made when she first started blogging
  • How her blog helped her get freelance work
  • Why and how she launched Eat the Culture
  • How Eat the Culture empowers Black content creators
  • What it looks like to run Eat the Culture


About This Week’s Sponsor

We’re excited to announce that this week’s episode is sponsored by our sister site, Clariti!

With Clariti, you can easily organize your blog content for maximum growth. Create campaigns to add alt text to your posts, fix broken images, remove any broken links, and more, all within the Clariti app.

Sign up for the Clariti waitlist today to receive:

  • Early access to their $25/Month Forever pricing
  • Optimization ideas for your site content
  • An invitation to join their exclusive Slack community
  • And more!

You can learn more and sign up here.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

Food Blogger Pro logo with the words 'Join the Community' on a blue background

Transcript (click to expand):

Bjork Ostrom: A big thank you to Clariti for sponsoring the Food Blogger Pro podcast. You’ve heard me talk about Clariti before. It’s a tool that we’re building and using for Pinch of Yum, but also a really powerful tool for anybody who’s focusing on content. That’s kind of one of the main vehicles for growth or revenue for their site. And we’ve been working on Clariti for a couple years, but it hasn’t been until recently that we’ve started to bring other people in to sign up and become a part of it. We’re doing an offer right now that we’re calling 25 forever. So, the first 500 people who sign up for Clariti will get their account at $25 a month forever. We’re still in the early stages of offering this, but we’ll cap it at 500 people. So, once we have 500 people who have signed up, then we’re going to cap that we’re going to move to a different pricing for Clariti.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s still in the early stages. It’s not going to be the kind of thing where at this point where we’d cap it and say, hey, you can’t sign up. You’ve missed your chance, but slowly and surely, we’re moving to that 500 mark. So, if you’re interested in joining and checking it out, now would be a good time to do that. There’s no commitment. There’s no plan that you have to join and can’t cancel so you can check it out. You can see if it’s a good fit. And how do you know if you would even be interested in it? Well, Clariti’s for anybody who’s focusing on content and also starting to focus on optimization of their existing content. So, we have this belief that any and every site is going to be sub-optimal right now. There’s going to be broken images, broken links.

Bjork Ostrom: There’s going to be posts that don’t have internal links that could, or don’t have external links to helpful resources. There’s going to be images with missing alt text. There’s going to be content that’s starting to perform worse that if you looked at and kind of improved and enhanced, it would increase rank. We’re really just thinking about that for Pinch of Yum a lot. What are the ways that we could improve the content that’s currently on our site as to just creating new content. And we’re using Clariti as a tool where we track that and make those enhancements and improvements. One of the things that comes along with that is you can join the Slack community that we have of other content creators. And this just came up the other day, somebody posted and they said, I had no idea that it had broken images on my site, but somehow those images broke.

Bjork Ostrom: So, I need to number one, find out how they broke and then number two, fix them. But they were just saying that they noticed that because of Clariti and some of the filtering that they were able to do. So, they created a project. They filtered first and said, show me all the broken images on my site. And then it was like, oh, there’s some broken images. And then they filtered. After filtering those, they created a project that was fix broken images. Now you could then have somebody on your team go in, make those improvements, make those enhancements. Or if you don’t have somebody on your team, that can be the type of stuff where maybe once a week, once a month, you kind of have this maintenance or kind of like spring cleaning mindset, where you go in, you block the day out to make improvements, make enhancements.

Bjork Ostrom: You’re not creating new content. You’re just going in and optimizing and improving and paying attention to older content and making sure that it’s at a 100% as opposed to 70%, which if I were to guess, I would say all of our sites, Pinch of Yum included would probably be operating at like 70% of their true potential value. And we want to find ways that we can improve that. And we’re using Clariti as the tool to not only discover those things, but also to organize the tasks and projects that go along with improving them. So, we’re still in the early stages of it. We’re excited about what it’s going to be and what it’s going to grow into. And we’re also excited to learn from you in the process of what you would want it to be, which is why we have that Slack community, that we will welcome you to, if you are interested in signing up.

Bjork Ostrom: So, you can go to Clariti.com/food, C-L-A-R-I-T-I.com/food. If you’re interested in signing up getting a little demo of how it works, seeing if it’s a good fit for your account or for your site and would love for you to check it out. Let us know if you have any questions. And again, it’s Clariti.com if you want to learn a little bit more. That’s Clariti with an I. All right. That’s a wrap for this little ad read. Let’s go ahead and jump into today’s episode.

Bjork Ostrom: Hello. Hello. You’re listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. My name is Bjork Ostrom. And my guess is that you knew that you were listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast, but I just say that every week, because it feels like a tradition at this point. Speaking of traditions, we’ve been doing this podcast for years and years and years. And when of the great honors that I have is to talk to creators who are doing wonderful and impactful things. And that is going to be the case today as we talk to Meiko from Meiko and the Dish, as well as Eat the Culture. She’s going to be talking about what Eat the Culture is, how she created a community, how she connected with different publishers and how she’s looking to really place a focus on Black culinary creators and entrepreneurs and shining a light on the work that they’re doing and being really strategic about that.

Bjork Ostrom: And she’s going to talk about what that looked like, and the reason why she’s doing that and also the how behind it. And both of those things are very fascinating to me and Meiko herself is a creator. And she’s going to be talking about that as well. Especially important as we are coming up on Black History Month here in February. So, perfect timing for this conversation. One of the things that is true about this podcast is it’s often conversations. It’s either me talking or it’s me having a conversation, like I said, a little bit ago with another creator or influencer or publisher, whatever we’d want to call them. One of the things that we don’t get to do as much is have conversations as a community, like us, the podcast listeners. And we want to start to do that more. And in order to do that, we decided to create a Facebook group.

Bjork Ostrom: So, if you’re interested in joining that group, be sure to go to food blogger pro.com/facebook. That will bring you to the page where you can apply it to join, to be a part of that group of podcast listeners. We have 200 folks there, I think, last I checked who are joining in on the conversation around questions that we could potentially ask upcoming guests, as well as follow-up questions that you have for people who were a part of the show. So, it’s something that we’re trying out. We’re kind of demoing that to see what that might be like to build up that community, so there is more of a community element for this podcast. It’s one of the great joys that we have is being able to gather people around and have a conversation around something that we’re all interested in. Whether that be one on one, like I do in the podcast or one to many, like we are doing within the Facebook group and even more so within the Food Blogger Pro kind of the membership side of it.

Bjork Ostrom: So, if you go to foodbloggerpro.com, you can sign up to be a member, and we’re starting to do things like Food Blogger Pro study hall or Food Blogger Pro live Q&A’s, we’re figuring out ways to really add a layer of connection and learning, deeper learning, along with the things that we’re doing, like blog content and podcasts, where everybody’s able to access those. So, let’s go ahead and jump into this conversation with Meiko. I think you’re going to enjoy it. Really appreciate not only the heart behind what she’s doing, but also the strategy, the brain, the head behind what she’s doing, because she’s mixing those two things really well. Thinking strategically about how to build a community and build a movement that is really impactful. It’s going to be a great conversation. So, Meiko, welcome to the podcast.

Meiko Temple: Thanks for having me, Bjork.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s going to be a fun conversation. You have a lot of things going on and you’re doing those things really well. And I’m excited to talk about each of those, but before we jump into it, one of the things I always like to hear is a little of a backstory for people where they’re coming from and what led them to where they are now. And I’m interested in your story because a lot of the work that you were doing originally was in design. It was in marketing. And my feeling is you probably carried over some of those skills and abilities into what you’re doing now, but where were you before you were doing any of this exciting stuff that we’re going to talk about that you’re doing now? I don’t want give it away, but what were you doing before that?

Meiko Temple: Well, before food blogging, I was in marketing, I was in investor relations. I dabbled in a little bit of everything. I also worked in retail management. And like you said, yeah, a lot of the skills that I learned across all those different careers definitely helped feed into the blog. As a matter of fact, the blog even helped me get careers. So, happy to talk about that as well. But yeah, I was doing marketing and investor relations for a small oil and gas company out in San Diego.

Meiko Temple: Then I just had to go to business school in Michigan. And then from there move to Minnesota. Right before I had went to Michigan though, I started a site that I won’t call a blog, because it was recipes and no story. And it was all created. It was under the name Cooking with Meiko. And that was back in 2013. And it was just a way for me to share my recipes and I wasn’t even as excited about it as my friends who wanted my recipes. So, a couple of my digital media classmates helped me create the site. I self-published a book and then I got accepted into business school.

Bjork Ostrom: And so then that was the focus, like that took up most of your time after that.

Meiko Temple: Yeah, absolutely. But right before I did, I had gotten my book into a couple Barnes and Nobles out in San Diego. So, it was like, it was gaining some steam, but yeah, MBA completely took my attention and I veered a completely different direction thinking I wanted to be a beauty executive. So, went to Minnesota where, I don’t know if you remember this, I’m going to put you on this spot. Do you remember meeting before?

Bjork Ostrom: Well, remind me where it was. I feel like you have to set up where it was.

Meiko Temple: I know. Okay. Okay. It was a couple of times. I’m sorry to put you on the spot.

Bjork Ostrom: No, it’s great.

Meiko Temple: One, I interviewed for Lindsay for a job…

Bjork Ostrom: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Meiko Temple: …at Pinch of Yum. And then two, I also took the photography workshop at the warehouse.

Bjork Ostrom: Totally. Yep.

Meiko Temple: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: The interview was there as well, right?

Meiko Temple: Yes, the interview was there as well.

Bjork Ostrom: Totally.

Meiko Temple: Yeah, yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep, I can imagine that…

Meiko Temple: I was wondering, I was like, I wonder if you remember.

Bjork Ostrom: And there was a few, there was a handful of people. I think it was maybe like three or four people that we interviewed at that point. Totally. Thank you for giving my brain like 30 to 60 seconds to get there and additional clues.

Meiko Temple: I got to give you context clues.

Bjork Ostrom: I would not be the kind of person who would be like, yes, I remember where it was when it was and what we talked about. Yes. So, interesting in that it sounds like even just from going through the interview process, being a part of that on the pinch of side, but also doing MBA school, thinking about becoming a beauty executive. It sounds like you kind of had this split path or not split, but just maybe back and forth a little bit, which I think people can relate to. Like, hey, I know I’m interested in this. I maybe want to do this, but also there’s this potential thing over here. What did that look like for you as you were sorting through that?

Meiko Temple: Honestly, it was the bane of my existence. So, it’s literally what I’ve been dealing with my whole entire life. This really strong, lean towards creative energy and creating, but then also this lean towards business and food blogging was the first thing that was able to combine both of those things for me. When you go to work for a corporation, they want you to be a subject matter expert and you’re kind of in a narrow space.

Bjork Ostrom: For sure. You know one thing really well.

Meiko Temple: Exactly. And that just never fit who I was because I always wanted to exercise both sides. And so as I was at Target, that was actually exactly what was going on. And it wasn’t the right fit because I wanted-

Bjork Ostrom: Because it’s too focused.

Meiko Temple: Exactly. It was too focused. And so I actually decided to take a risk and well, one, Minnesota’s too cold.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Not today. Today’s like 33 degrees. Yesterday was like negative 20. It was like so cold.

Meiko Temple: I have a story about it being negative 40 and the little film over my eye freezing. And then that’s when I knew, it was time to go. But it was cold. So, I wanted to go to a warmer climate. So, it was it the career not necessarily fulfilling what I needed, the climate not necessarily fulfilling what I needed at the time. And so it just kind of boiled up into this big thing is like maybe it’s time to make the change. And so I moved down to Dallas. I launched the blog before I moved, moved down to Dallas, and started pursuing the blog.

Bjork Ostrom: And can you talk about what that looked like? What does … Because I think for people, they love the idea of doing that, but once you actually have that in front of you, it’s super intimidating to sit down and be like, it’s kind of the opposite of this really siloed job at Target corporate, where suddenly you have this really broad job and you’re responsible for everything and everything to some degree is important. And then you sit down at the computer to start the day and you’re like, what do I do? Did you find yourself kind of struggling through prioritization of tasks and figuring out a system for that? Or did you know, hey, here’s the thing I’m really passionate about. I’m just going to do that. How did you in those early stages know what to focus on and anything that you learned in that process?

Meiko Temple: I’ll say, and I don’t know how many people come on here and say this, but I did everything wrong. I started off and I did every single thing wrong, but it taught me a lot. It definitely, I think has kind of slowed down my growth in a way, but I’ve learned so much and that’s why I’m able to do work now that helps other bloggers, because I’ve made so many mistakes, but in the very beginning, I think I was having a quarter-life crisis. And I would not recommend this to anybody. I mean, I was able to save up and I think savings and resources and funds are very important, even though I would say blogging is not a super intensive, investment in the front end. It doesn’t have to be. But when you really want to be good, when you really want to have quality work, the dollars start adding up.

Meiko Temple: And so for me, before I left, I started purchasing equipment. I think my first one was like a Canon 70 that I bought used or something, but I knew I needed a DSLR camera. So, I started buying the equipment that I needed before I actually left the job. And then once I had kind of reached my boiling point or when I had found a place to stay, I guess, in Dallas, I decided to make a move, but I had savings and I had my initial gear that I needed to kind of get started. And I had my ideas, like I said, when I first started it was just about my family recipes.

Meiko Temple: It was a way for me to share the recipes that my friends loved, because I always felt like they were like, this is the best site ever. And I was like, oh, okay. Let’s have more best I ever had experiences. And then it turned into really trying to find ways to tap into what I’m innately good at. Like cooking I feel just naturally good. I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to take classes. I mean, I do take classes to be better, but I can do well without it. And there’s nothing else that I did in my life that felt so natural for me.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I’ve talked about this a couple times on the podcast, but one of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is coming from this book, this person that I’m following, his name is Michael Hyatt. And I’m just starting to work with an assistant. Anyways, he wrote a book around how all of us should be thinking about as much as possible working in our desire zone and what he calls that is like the things that you’re passionate and proficient at. And that’s the stuff that you should be doing. And it sounds like what I hear you saying in response to the question of like, what did you work on? How did you know what to do? It was like, what are the things that I’m passionate about and what am I proficient with and doing as much as possible spending as much time as possible on those things and anything, especially if you’re not passionate and not proficient with it, you definitely don’t want to be doing it.

Bjork Ostrom: But even if you’re not passionate and you’re proficient, or you’re proficient, but not passionate. You don’t want to do those things as well. You’re focusing on the things that you were really good at, cooking, recipe development, as an example of that. If you were to look back and you were to say, hey, you know what, some of those things were mistakes that I made, what would those be? And then on the opposite side, what were the things that you did that were really smart and you look back on and you’re like, gosh, I’m glad I did that?

Meiko Temple: So, yes, I think I found the crossroads between the passion and proficiency, but any food blogger who has been in the space for any amount of time knows cooking is not the only thing you have to know. And I really did go in there green, like, all I need to do is cook good food and people will find me. And that couldn’t be further from the truth. So, first thing I did, I kind of mentioned before, I started a blog without a blog. So, that was like two years of just wasted time.

Bjork Ostrom: You were publishing recipes, but not really publishing content that would encourage people to follow you or engage.

Meiko Temple: Absolutely, absolutely. Then I eventually switched to an actual blog format, but it wasn’t with any known CMS. As a matter of fact, it was a friend who was creating his own CMS. So, what kind of challenges that presents with optimization. It was just the worst situation. So, I spent a couple years there trying to make that work. So, I bucked that system. And then finally, I was like, you know what, I need to figure out photography. So, I did at least do that, but I bought the camera without really learning. But thank you, Lindsay, for teaching that class.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally.

Meiko Temple: That did help me get a kickstart on that. But then I would say another really big thing was the lack of commitment. So, I started the blog and I was committed to doing it full time. And then life happens. And so I got engaged and I wanted to stay in Dallas, but my fiance was in New Orleans and he had his own business in new Orleans, a private chef business that is really based on relationships. So, uprooting and coming to you based on my request means I’m partially responsible for figuring out how to make this finance thing work. And I had an MBA. And so for him to continue his chef business in a completely new state, that means I needed to go back to work to one, pay for a wedding, but two make sure that we had insurance and all the things that we needed to have to build a family.

Meiko Temple: So, because of that, there was a lot of opposing commitments to the blog that took my attention away from the blog for a considerable amount of time. And I just kind of part-timed it for a pretty long while, because I just, I couldn’t handle all of the responsibility because I was trying to do everything on my own.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. And one of the things that I think is important to point out is I think there are seasons. And I also think that in a season, because something didn’t work doesn’t mean that it won’t work in a different season.

Meiko Temple: That’s right.

Bjork Ostrom: And for what I hear you saying is you went through this season of corporate work and then you said, you know what, I’m going to be strategic about making some decisions here. What I liked about that part of the story was this idea of like, hey, I’m going to purchase the equipment that I know that I’m going to need when I know that I have cash flow. And then I’m going to go into a season where I have some savings, but, and talk about burn rate, What is your burn rate for when you get to, if you’re investing in a startup, let’s say you invest $120,000 and the burn rate is $10,000 a month. Their runway is going to be a year. But what you were saying-

Meiko Temple: I had about a year runway, I had about a year runway. And so I knew that I couldn’t go through the year without having something. So, I started exploring freelancing and what’s very interesting is the blog helped me explore freelance. So, out of the blog, I started a couple of businesses. So, I was doing photography for food companies out of it. I started doing in-person events where I was the chef, the event organizer, the ticket taker.

Bjork Ostrom: So, those are people who are coming to you through your site. So, in that way, it almost becomes like a portfolio or it becomes a showcase of the work that you’ve done. How did you find the-

Meiko Temple: The site became my portfolio. And then from there, I was hired as a contractor for another beauty corporation out here where I was doing art direction based on my blog. So, my blog’s pictures, my writing, I was doing social media, art direction, and creative direction for this company because they saw what I did with my blog.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. One of the things I love thinking about for all of us as people who are in the world, working in the world, doing creative things is really like, we are the CEO of our own life, right?

Meiko Temple: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: So, we CEO of the work that we do, the income that we create. And one of the things I think that’s important to point out is sometimes we can get narrowly focused on like, hey, I want to build my blog so it gets more traffic and I create add income. That is great. It’s one version of a business that you’re the CEO of. One thing that’s great to hear you reflect on is you becoming the CEO of your business, your business being all of those different things and the creative work that you did with your blog, being something that is a multiplier on those things. It’s multiplier on connection, probably a multiplier on income.

Bjork Ostrom: And that you have a proven history of being able to do that well. And putting together the pieces to build a career, to build an income and your site being an important piece of that. It’s interesting, in the prerecording, we also talked about the different things that have come related to your site. And one of those things being, Eat the Culture, and I’m curious to hear you reflect on when that came about and your realization for that needing to exist within the world.

Meiko Temple: Yeah. So, as I kind of mentioned before, the dividing of it attention between the corporate world and the blog. I think one of the things that I always tried to do is still put out content when I could. I never completely walked away. One of the things that was a commitment for me and a driver for me was doing ground ups with other Black content creators. So, what I would do is every Black History Month and then later every Juneteenth I would pull together Black content creators that I knew and didn’t know. And most of them were, were growing, were looking for opportunities to get their name out. And we would basically collaborate by combining our social equity and reaching out to media outlets to tell stories about our Black History Month and what it looked like around food or what our Juneteenth looked like around food.

Meiko Temple: And it created story concept that media outlets like Food 52 or The Kitchen were very, very interested in. Got us exposure got bumps in traffic to all of our sites. And we started doing that in 2017. I remember 2000, I think 19, I was like that rallying 30 to 70 content creators at one time is a ton of work because we’re not just asking them to use an existing recipe. We’re asked them to develop a recipe around the theme. So, one it’s like working within all these individual content calendars or development calendars, having them do something new based outside of what they would typically be doing, thinking about that while also thinking about the needs of the media outlets and what they need. So, it was a whole case study in project management and working and managing people.

Meiko Temple: But ultimately it’s proved to be very valuable for the Black content creator community, particularly in the food space. And in 2019, I was like, I don’t know. If no one says nothing, I’m not going to do it. And they were like, Meiko, is this happening? And so every year it was like, okay, is this coming out? Yeah. Like when are you going to ask for us for our recipe? And so at that point, it had been proven like there’s demand for this. They’re finding value. The media outlets are finding value. And so just this past year, we made it official under the title, Eat the Culture, where we now officially do these round-ups for Black History Month, Juneteenth, and for the holidays.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. So, the episode will be coming out end of January, coming up on Black History Month. For those who are creators, who are publishers in the world, what does that look like to come alongside a movement like Eat the Culture and support that? Or for white guys in suburban Minnesota, like myself, what does that look like to come alongside a movement like Eat the Culture and support that, knowing that we do have a voice. Part of it maybe comes from conversations like this, but also I’m sure there’s lots of other ways that, that can happen. And I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on that and what that looks like.

Meiko Temple: Well, I think one way very easy for sharing anybody is just sharing the recipes. I mean, in this case, I think we’re approaching about 13, I’m sorry, not 13, 30 semi-content creators who are developing recipes around Afrofuturism, so kind of the intersection of technology and art and food. We’re constantly trying to push ourself with new themes every year. This is the theme that we’re approaching. So, I mean, I think that also presents an interesting conversation because we’re also looking through the lens of geopolitical issues and how to interpret that through food. Just going out there and playing with our food.

Bjork Ostrom: Do you have an example of what that looks like?

Meiko Temple: Yeah, sure. My submission this year is going to be brûléed Sombi. Sombi is a Senegalese rice pudding. And as we all know, rice pudding is like a humble dish. It’s just rice, coconut milk, salt, and water. But the brûlée over the top represents what I like to say is gentrification. So, just thinking about humble communities being taken over and beautified for wealthier people to come in. And so I’m doing a humble dessert that I’m brûléeing it and adding gold flakes over the top to kind of symbolize the gentrification that has been happening. And I’m telling that story along with the food.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And then, so do you publish that recipe on your site?

Meiko Temple: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Along with kind of an explanation of like, here is this piece really.

Meiko Temple: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: Here’s this art that one of the things I appreciated growing up, my dad as an art teacher and him helping me sit with something and try and understand it and letting that then impact me and art at its best, I think, impacts people. And I think food is art and no better example than this. So, how does that then, so you are developing that for, within the kind of movement of Eat the Culture. How does that fit in? So, you publish that on your site, is Eat the Culture then doing kind of like a roundup of that content and presenting it to food outlets or what does the in-between look like?

Meiko Temple: So, how it’s executed is basically each person submits their recipe to the roundup. We then do a blog post on our individual site, sharing our recipe along with links to every participant in the roundup. So, we’re do some external linking going on there. Then from that everyone has to be published at the same time so that we can then share all of our blog posts with the media outlets and the media outlets then, they actually share each … typically most media outlets share every person the roundup.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure, cool.

Meiko Temple: Share their recipes, they include pictures. And then we tell a story of what the theme of the roundup is all about. And we normally call out summaries from each person’s contribution. So, we get to see all the stories that people … and the concepts that they’ve come up with while also kind of telling how this all came together.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s really cool. So, essentially it’s like a…

Meiko Temple: It’s like a virtual potluck. That’s what we call it.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure, sure. Yeah, like everybody’s bringing this. What I was going to say is on the art side of it, it’s almost like a mobile art gallery that could be duplicated.

Meiko Temple: Yes, I love that.

Bjork Ostrom: So, you can go to all these to different places and you can say like, great, here we’re going to put these on display. People can click and they can go and visit and kind of read a little bit about it and understand it. And there’s a theme to it. Like, hey, here’s the theme for this year’s roundup of content. And then each people kind of does their own take on it. Is that getting close to kind of what Eat the Culture is?

Meiko Temple: That is very close to exactly what we do. And we typically do some variation of that with each of our virtual events. Sometimes they’ll be accompanied by a workshop or a conversation, a virtual conversation where we talk about something like one time we did a virtual conversation about what is Black food, this concept of Black food. And we did that and invited anybody who wanted to come in and talk about it. So, that’s one way to support is join the conversation and to share some of these recipes, to try the recipes, and to follow someone new.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. So, does that happen primarily in February where you’re doing this roundup content or is it throughout the year that you’re … the events seem like they could maybe be something with throughout the year, but maybe a big push in Black History Month? Or what does the schedule look like?

Meiko Temple: We do typically align with holidays like Black History Month, Juneteenth.

Bjork Ostrom: Juneteenth.

Meiko Temple: And we do have a holiday roundup. This last holiday we did a virtual cookbook where we also, because Eat the Culture is about the roundups and the activations, but it’s also about teaching. And so we did a course on how to use your cellphone to record cooking videos. And because obviously video is so important now. And so we taught how to use the specific application, how to create a video and in order be a part of the book, you’d have to submit a recipe and do a video with that recipe. And every video in the book, in the virtual book, is linked to, I’m sorry, every recipe is linked to the video. So, it was like an interactive book that we gave away for free, but we just want to push people or our Black content creators to continue to grow their business and push pass maybe their comfort zones.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. When you say activation, what do you mean by that?

Meiko Temple: Well, that’s just the roundups themselves.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Meiko Temple: It’s … yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. That makes sense. So, Eat the Culture, when you describe it to people, are you describing it as a community? Are you describing it as a movement, as a like… How do you describe it to people or even how do you think of it? And maybe that’s a better question.

Meiko Temple: Does it have to be one thing? I mean, I feel like-

Bjork Ostrom: Sure, yeah.

Meiko Temple: …I feel like it’s a community and it is a movement. I mean, at its core, we are building community with Black content creators in order to help build value for them so that they can grow their businesses. That is at the core of what we’re doing. We’re creating a space for them to ask questions, to learn and to activate what they learn immediately through our roundups.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Yeah. That’s really, really cool.

Meiko Temple: And from the movement part, one of the things that I think not just with Black content creators, but in general, the power of new media is just immense and food bloggers are our storytellers now. We hold the key to our family histories and stories and it’s all encapsulated on our blogs, which is so beautiful. And so when I think about my history, my grandmother was adopted. So, I feel like we kind of have a place where things stop and I long, so much to know where I’m from and where do I get this desire to cook? Because it’s definitely not my grandma.

Bjork Ostrom: But like where-

Meiko Temple: But it just feels like it’s in my blood, but I don’t have all that history. And so for me it’s very personal, because I really want to make sure that these things are documented for generations to come. And so that is the movement, making sure we document and tell our stories from our perspectives and share with the world.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I’ve been importing all these old VHS tapes for my parents. And I came across this one that was like a VHS tape of another movie that had been imported. I don’t know what, whatever it was like before VHS, but what was so interesting is it was like multiple generations removed. So, it would’ve been like, I think my grandma’s grandpa and for me it was this moment of like, oh, that’s like my family and part of me is in them or part of them is in me. And it’s interesting to hear you reflect on that, also as it relates to story, this is more just a question towards you, I’m curious to know, what does that look like for you to try and find that? Have you tried to navigate to say, who is my family and what were they like? And because…

Meiko Temple: Yeah, absolutely.

Bjork Ostrom: …I’m curious after having gone through that.

Meiko Temple: I have a complicated family history. So, there’s a lot of disenfranchisement that for those who are still living, but I definitely long for that. And I definitely have tried to kind of do my own search. I’ve done the genetic testing to figure out…

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, 23andMe or…

Meiko Temple: … where I’m from. And it’s completely in conflict with what my family told me. So, there’s a lot of just like eye-opening happening in the process, but I’m actually in the process of that right now, because it’s definitely something that I long for. I feel like outside of not having true lineage understanding, the Eat the Culture community has helped me kind of find roots and understanding, but family-wise, I’m on the journey as we speak.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting just everything that’s made available through that. And especially the story like yours. So, I’m curious to know for the movement side of it, what have you learned in terms of being the kind of central person in a movement, organizer, facilitator around with either culture, but also just like, what have you learned in the process of rallying a group of people around something and being the central person for that? Because that’s a significant thing. And especially when it’s not like Plant-Powered January, which is like an important thing that Pinch of Yum does, but it’s kind of this like, hey, people want to eat better in January, but what you’re doing is significant in a very real way. And do you feel like a weight around that or do you feel obviously a passion around it? What is that like for you?

Meiko Temple: It is a weight, but it’s a weight of love. I love what I do. And like I said, when I wasn’t doing anything else, I was committed to doing the roundups. When I wasn’t doing my blog, I was committed to the roundups, because it wasn’t only affecting me. I was helping other people. So, there was a lot of weight around it. But some of the things that I’ve learned is to overexplain. I think some of the things that you think people will automatically get, they don’t necessarily get. And you’re dealing with people who are very busy if they’re running a food blog. And so sometimes you have to repeat 101 times just until it clicks. It’s almost like the marketing thing. People have to see it seven times before it actually sinks in.

Meiko Temple: You have to do that as well when you’re rallying a group of people. That’s from the blogging or the influencer or content creator side. And that’s even from the media outlet side. I’ve reached out to media outlets on behalf of the initiative. And first time I don’t hear anything, but you just can’t stop. You just got to keep pushing forward. And for me, if it were just for me, when I am turned down, I just kind of walk away. But this definitely just felt deeper and stronger and more important than myself. And so I would push past rejection, I guess, in order to make sure that we were properly placed and bringing enough awareness to the initiative. So, I would say over-communicating, being okay with rejection and keep pushing forward.

Meiko Temple: And then you have to kind of think about where you want to, like where the goal is, and how to work backwards from a timing perspective. Because ultimately the goal is to get our story in as many media outlets as possible. That means copy has to be written and it has to be different for every media outlet, because there’s that SEO component that you’re dealing with. It can’t be the same. So, you’re telling a similar story, but it has to be different enough for every outlet. You got to have to take a slightly different angle. So, I had to learn not only how to prepare for that, but even enlist the people who are participating and say, if you’re participating, are you okay with copywriting? Are you okay with helping to tell this story, I’ll start it off. You build from there and kind of thinking about it that way.

Meiko Temple: But after you get everything together for the media outlets, then you have to get the full list of participants and have all of their links. I wanted everything laid out for those outlets. So, all they had to do was copy and paste and that’s made it the easiest for them so that they continue to bring us back. And so that’s what I thought about is like, what do they need? And then after I thought about the needs of the media outlets, I’m like, okay, so what do these content creators need to make it easy for them? And so I created a schedule. I added deadlines to their calendars. I shared, I have this system now of Google Files where they always enter in their information. We create folders for uploading everyone’s images to make it easily accessible, to share across all of our different platforms. You just think about what you need to do to make it easier for everybody involved. And it’s a lot of manual will work, but eventually once people find value in it, they’ll start wanting to help you make it easy as well.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So, one of the things that’s so interesting to me about this is that you have, the social impact is obvious, right? So, the things that you’re doing have a very real impact, not only around shining a light on Black creators, but also on the stories that they are interested in sharing the most. One of the questions I have for you is, so there’s all different types of income. And I feel like social income, social impact income is one outcome. The other is income, income. And that can usually sustain you, whether it be through a nonprofit or like a B Corp, which is kind of a hybrid or somebody who’s just saying, you know what, I’m going to do this because I think it matters. And I want to make the time for it.

Bjork Ostrom: So, I’m curious for you, obviously it takes a lot time. It takes a lot of energy, a lot of brain space. How do you fit that into what you do on a day-to-day basis? And do you think of it as, hey, you know what, this is kind of something where there’s a double bottom line here in that I’m able to create an income from this. And that also is going to have social impact. That would be kind of the B Corp model or like, hey, this is a nonprofit. Or like, you know what, this is something that I just believe should be done in the world and I’m going to do it no matter what, that being another category. So, I’m curious to know how you think of that work that you’re doing there and how that fits into your day-to-day, knowing that you’re busy and capable of a hundred things. What does that look like?

Meiko Temple: Well, when I started, it was just like, I felt like this needed to be done. It was important for me, but even when I wasn’t committed to my blog, it made me still feel a part of the community. It made me feel like I wasn’t completely disconnected. And so it was serving a purpose for me as well, even though there was no official pay. And I say official, because when you write for some of these outlets, they give you a small stipend for writing for them, but it’s not like anything major. So, there was no major income incentive in order to do it. But at the, I’m sorry, at the bottom of last year, formalizing the organization to Eat the Culture, the plan is to have a double bottom line to hit with value and the movement piece of it, but also to make some sort of income and not income, but funding for the work that we do. And that’s been the initiative…

Bjork Ostrom: And you can do the work better if you have the funding to support it.

Meiko Temple: Yeah, exactly. So, when we first started it, this was new communications coming from Meiko. And so they knew to look out for Meiko, but since I changed the name, I feel like there’s also still the cred credibility piece to it to reintroduce, not everything is changing, we’re still providing value. And so we haven’t approached the first year, because I have a board now, and we haven’t approached the first year in any way trying to make income from any way, shape, we’re just providing value and getting people used to the Eat the Culture name, but eventually the plan is … And in this year we’ll be formalizing into a nonprofit, but we’re juggling our own individual businesses as well. But that is the plan. Absolutely. We do plan to go that route because I think that we have enough behind us as far as our portfolio to show that we are adding value to the community and we could do so much more with more funding.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. I did an interview recently that will be coming out with a Food Blogger Pro member who runs a nonprofit as his full-time gig and uses his food blog as a kind of support to that.

Meiko Temple: Okay.

Bjork Ostrom: But one of the things that I’ve observed is I think a lot of times people will have, like my friends who are in corporate, will have their nonprofit and my friends who are in nonprofit will have their side hustle to support it. And I feel like I’ve flip-flopped on that. Personally, I’ve worked at a nonprofit and then was kind of doing our side hustle while we’re building it. Now we have this as our main thing and spend some time with the organization called the Children’s Shelter Of Cebu, which is a nonprofit Lindsay and I were involved with. But what I love about that is I feel like the skills and abilities that you have, that we have as creators, as builders, as creatives, those are so needed within starters really.

Bjork Ostrom: Like you being somebody who can start something and rally people around it are needed in a social impact environment. And you being somebody who’s been willing to say, you know what, I’m going to focus on this because it needs to exist within the world, when you could just focus on your own thing and focus exclusively on that. I think it’s worth shining a light on that and acknowledging that as something that’s sacrificial and world impacting, which is really cool. What is your advice to people who see that and say, you know what, I’m inspired to start something like that? Whether it be a movement or a community or something that has some level of social impact and they’re inspired by your story around starting that. What’s your advice to them in doing that?

Meiko Temple: The space that we’re in is pretty interesting, because everything leads you to be competitive. I mean, even when you think about SEO, it’s like rankings. Everything feels very competitive. And I would say just don’t underestimate the power of collaboration and working together. You know what I mean? Find a common thread line and find people. I mean, there’s so many groups right now, particularly in food blogging where you can share your interests and get other people to jump in. At least to try something until … get your feet wet. So, I always say leverage those groups and those groups are very valuable for sharing information. And if you have my idea, throw it out there. I remember when I first opened my shop, I feel like, I don’t know how many food bloggers were doing this, but years ago when the drop shipping first became a big thing. I started doing shirts on the blog.

Meiko Temple: And so I dropped in a hey, I’m thinking about doing foodie-related shirts. What do you think? And people were sharing ideas about what … I was like, oh my gosh, because I used to keep everything here. Because I’m afraid to share my ideas, but I’m like, if I want these people to buy them, I need to know what they want. And that’s the same thing. If you have an initiative that you want people to rally around, you need to know what they think about it. So, use those groups in order to ask and see who would jump on board. I think that’s the easiest way to do it and to get started.

Bjork Ostrom: Love that. I think so rarely do we talk about the things in an open way that we’re thinking about or pursuing or hoping to do in the world. And I think the more you can enlist other people to, even if just for 15 minutes, they give you part of their brain or maybe it’s longer than that. Maybe they say, hey, this is something that I’m passionate about as well. I would love to come alongside you and be a part of this just through sharing and being open about what it is that you’re doing.

Bjork Ostrom: So, I love that. This is awesome. It’s inspiring for me to hear, Meiko, your story and what you’ve been up to. And I think a good reminder of what matters in the world in that we should be prioritizing impactful work like that. For people who want to follow along, this will be kind of a double share, but with your blog and what you’re doing online, but also Eat the Culture, especially as we’re coming up on Black History Month here, what are the best ways to do that and to follow along with both of those areas?

Meiko Temple: Sure. I try to make it as simple as possible. So, eattheculture.com is the site where we live and where you can find out about our initiatives. And we are everywhere on social at Eat the Culture as well. And if you want to follow Meiko and the Dish, it’s simple there too. The only difficulty even Bjork had to clarify is the spelling of my name, which is M-E-I-K-O and the Dish. And that’s meikoandthedish.com and Meiko and the Dish on all social media.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Thanks, yeah. We both have those names where I would say, maybe yours is different, I would say like, if I were to just type it in and like somebody at Starbucks were to read it back, it’s like 80% of the time it’s right. But it’s 20% of the time. It’s like, it’s kind of right, but not exactly. Especially with the silent J in my name.

Meiko Temple: Exactly, that’s what gets you is that silent J.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, exactly. So, that’s great. Meiko, thanks so much for coming on.

Meiko Temple: It was a pleasure. Thank you so much.

Bjork Ostrom: Another big thank you to Meiko for coming on and sharing her story and everything that she’s doing. My encouragement to you as creators is to think about what are the ways that you might want to create something impactful. We have the ability as people who have a following, who have impact to use that to make an impact. It might be within a really small group of people. It doesn’t have to be this huge movement, but it might be. And there are a lot of opportunities that you have before you. And in some ways I think there is a lot of truth.

Bjork Ostrom: In a lot of ways there’s truth to the phrase, “To who much is given, much is expected.” I think that was a Spiderman quote when Peter Parker, it was like his uncle or grandpa or whatever it was, I think maybe. True Marvel people are going to be like, ah, Bjork what a disgrace. But that phrase is really true. And as we think about scaling traffic and followers, I think we can also think about how do we scale impact. So, let that thought bounce around a little bit this week and see what comes from that. Thanks for tuning in. Thanks for listening. Thanks for following along. We’ll be back here same time, same place next week. Until then our hope is that you can get a tiny bit better every day forever. That’s what we’re all about. Bye-bye.

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