As a kid I have always been into food. My parents owned a restaurant in Long Island and consequently, that meant that they were always working. I was taken care of by my grandparents. At our place, I just remembered watching a lot of Food Network and becoming in awe with all different types of cuisines and dishes that I have never seen in my life. I knew I wanted to try them all.”
It almost started instantly when the dishes came out at Lafayette, a French restaurant, where I sat down with Rebecca Chu, better known as @rebecca_chews_nyc. The tap tap sound is the sound of Rebecca focusing her iPhone camera on the decadent dish on the table to start her food photography process. This process includes two to three adjustments of the plate, 10 – 20 snaps for options, and 1000 taps on her iPhone (okay, 967 to be exact but I’m rounding). Although the numbers might make the process seem complex, for Rebecca, this process has become second nature. In fact, this has been her process for the past three years, since her venture into her food photography hobby. Rebecca’s interest in food was developed from countless hours watching the Food Network during her childhood. Being visually exposed to cuisines that were different from her parents’ cooking sparked her desire to try out as many different dishes as possible. As a kid, Rebecca didn’t saved money for toys or clothes like her fellow peers; instead she would save up to enjoy different cuisines.
For me, it started on Facebook first. I was checking in on Facebook and taking pictures to remember the places and the dishes that I adored. Then I moved on to Instagram and to my surprise, there was a whole food community. I was so happy to find so many liked mind individuals with my interests who support each other. I am very happy to say that some of those amazing individuals are now my closest friends.”
According to Rebecca, her Instagram started to pick up after a year of eating, posting, and contributing to the food community. Since then, Rebecca has lost count of the number of restaurants, events, and people she has encountered through her passion for food. Despite all this time, it is still the deep connections and quality time, whether it is she with other instagrammers or she with restaurants, which means the most to her. Just this past birthday, Rebecca and her family went out to have a dinner at Atoboy, a restaurant specializing in unique Korean dishes. She remembers tagging their handle in her Instagram stories and towards the end of the meal, receiving a heart-warming surprise. The Atoboy team brought out a cake and complimentary desserts to wish her a “Happy Birthday” and to let her know that they’re big fans of her and her work for the food community. Needless to say, that is one present that Rebecca won’t forget.
Food is becoming more and more digital and personally, I love it. It means more access to food information than ever before but it also means that there is a higher interest towards food from the general public. I see more and more people starting to see food as experiences and as an art and that makes me so happy. At the same time, I do see a majority of food photography leaning towards food that are more photogenic. This can create an imbalance as only those types of food will get exposure. I believe that food, inexpensive, expensive, not photogenic, photogenic, should be enjoyed equally. If I can inspire people to be open-minded to try new things outside of their comfort zone and increase exposure to all sorts of cultures through food, that would be my greatest goal. As foodies and food photographers, we should keep an open mind and try any and all good, and do our best to share it.”
Rebecca’s Instagram speaks for her love and open-mindedness when it comes to food and gastronomy. Scroll through her instagram and you will find eats and cuisines from all backgrounds and price points. According to Rebecca, there isn’t really a dish or cuisine she won’t try. Her diverse adventure of food is no accident; Rebecca is an avid reader of the New York Times, Eater, and just about any food editorial. She also frequents the websites of restaurants to learn about their cuisine and the chef. All of this helps Rebecca get a better understanding, and consequently, a deeper appreciation. On a day off from her regular nine-to-five, Rebecca will visit two to three restaurants to eat and share. She has found this to be a perfect number as it allows her to indulge in her hobby without it feeling like a job.
In the future, I’d love to be more involved in the food industry. I can’t tell you what position exactly, but I’d like to spend the day embracing my love for food. If we are talking way, way down in the future, my ultimate goal would be to open my own coffee place. There are many reasons for this. One, I really really love coffee. Two, my love for food has led to many amazing restaurants and meeting the amazing people behind them; hearing their stories and seeing how they’re spending their day living out their dream through their love of food has really inspired me. And three, I’d like to have my own coffee shop just in case Eddie Hom ever decides to try coffee.”