If you’re on a mission to discover some of Amber Valley’s top dining spots then blogger Monet Brooks could have all the answers.
Ripley writer Monet, 22, has capitalised on her passion for good grub by setting up Munching with Monet – an online account of her experiences in local eateries.
Monet, of Slack Lane, set up the blog last May, originally as a favour to friends but she had no idea that less than a year later it would be viewed by thousands. She explains how it all began:
“I’ve tried to get into many hobbies over the years but none of them actually stuck. I’ve always loved eating out and many friends would ask me where they should go.
“I started the blog to keep my recommendations all in one place and to help other people to choose where they could dine next.
“It turned out that I actually really enjoyed writing it up, a lot more than I expected.”
Monet, who works full-time as a receptionist at James Engineering in Alfreton, uses her spare time for visits and blogging.
She said: “I can be extremely busy, but it’s all worth it. I don’t have a set schedule for my reviews. I’d say on average I visit one or maybe two restaurants per week.
“It varies but I like to go out as often as I can.
“Twitter has been a big help in deciding where to visit next. It’s been a great way to extend my knowledge of local restaurants as I didn’t know a lot of them even existed until then.
“I also like to ask my readers for recommendations. I’ve found that the number of people telling me where they’ve had a good meal has increased significantly since I started blogging.
“But then some of the time, they’re places that I’ve just always wanted to visit!”
Monet, who lives with her mum and brother said going out and reviewing was a great way to experience new things and broaden her horizons. And she is happy to share her experiences with a dining partner, which is often her boyfriend and chef Ashlea.
She said: “I really enjoy reviewing. I like being able to sample new foods, visit new places and towns I’ve never been to. It’s been a great way to get myself out and about and do something that I am passionate about and enjoy.
“I always think that it’s great to try new places rather than sticking to the usual. Sometimes people get stuck in a rut and stick to what they know, but how much would we all miss out on if everyone did that and no one tried anything new? I also like how it helps to spread the word about some amazing local businesses that others may not have heard of before.
“The success of the blog so far has led to me getting invites from restaurants to go along and visit them which I’m extremely grateful for.”
But she said she does not aim to give anyone a bad reputation.
“When it comes to restaurants that I don’t enjoy, I do not write a review. It’s not my goal to give anywhere a bad reputation but I do include constructive criticism as I have worked in the hospitality trade previously and give my opinions based on this,” she said.
Monet has high hopes for the blog this year.
“I hope to continue to visit as many restaurants as I possibly can in 2016, see an increase in regular readers and become a go-to website for local reviews.
“As well as restaurants, I’d like to review a wider range of local foodie products and cover events too. As well as my blog, I also write for the Food and Drink Guide’s blog – Fed Up & Drunk as the Derbyshire regional blog editor, so keep an eye out for those!
“I want to thank everyone for viewing the blog and for all the encouragement from both readers and restauranteurs.”
For more visit: www.munchingwithmonet.co.uk.