This month, I talked with Anh, creator of the foodlove website Hangry Foodies. Anh was kind enough to answer a few questions from me in between dining out throughout Toronto and attending food and drink events (two activities on which her site offers extensive insights). A gamer and customized mustard mixmistress, she shared on topics from her interest in food photography to the chief differences between the restaurant scenes in Toronto and Montreal.
Flavorful World: Which of the multiple food and/or drink events you’ve attended in 2016 would you say you were most excited to attend, and why?
Anh: I would say Toronto Taste was the one event where I was extremely excited to attend to! Though the ticket was expensive, the chance to try some of the best restaurants in Toronto while rubbing shoulders with some of Toronto’s renowned chefs was definitely worth! I even had the chance to take selfies with a few! Oh, and of course, the free unlimited food and alcoholic beverages.
FW: Your blog describes you as an amateur food photographer. Tell us how your interest in food photography was born, and one piece of advice that you would offer to others seeking to enter the craft.
A: Growing up I was always interested in photography but never really took the time to learn it. I also never felt inspired to take pictures. However after using my iPhone to take pictures for food blogging, I realized after a while that a great plate of food is an art and like any art, once made, there is a desire to share it and showcase it to the world. That’s when I decided to pick up photography to improve the quality of my pictures.
My one piece of advice is to not purchase a camera (mirrorless or DSLR) unless you are serious about photography. People often think that a $1000+ camera can produce a Food & Wine magazine quality photo, but that’s not the case. Cameras don’t take picture the photographers do. You can take a stunning image regardless of the tool your use. If someone purchases a camera and only wants to shoot in auto, I would lose respect for that person.
FW: What are your three most important criteria when selecting restaurants for review on Hangry Foodies? Tells us one attribute (aside from poor food or service) that would cause you to decline to review a restaurant, and why that attribute is a disqualifier.
A: I don’t think I ever declined to review a restaurant upfront. If the restaurant asked for a review, I would gladly do so as they are my “client” after all. I think of my blog as a destination for people to look for both positive and negative reviews, thus a mixture of both must be there.
FW: Your blog speaks of your being a gamer. Create a Fall-inspired three-course menu for an afternoon of gaming that features an appetizer, small plate, and dessert. Tell us what makes these ideal gaming fare.
A: To be honest, I’m not sure if a three-course meal would be appropriate while gaming. As a gamer who has grinded the long hours, a few key considerations for gaming-friendly food are:
- Quick to make. I can’t give up 1 hour to make food when I can run a dungeon instead.
- Healthy. Sadly you eat more when you game regardless of the hunger cues.
- Not greasy. Who wants dirty keyboard?
Thus I don’t think a 3-course meal would satisfy any gamers at all.
FW: You attended the 2016 Taste of Toronto, where among other activities, you customized your own Maille mustard blend utilizing ingredients like maple syrup and basil. Tell us the best food pairing for your creation, and why it works so well.
A: Since maple & mustard is quite a classic combination, I often brush the customized Maille blend onto poultry while cooking to give it a sweet and tangy flavor.
FW: What was your most recent instance of growing “hangry” and to what meal did that feeling lead you?
A: To be honest, there were only a handful of instances where I felt “hangry.” The last time I felt that way was during a tasting after a long day of work. All the food bloggers took quite some time for their shots and I wasn’t necessarily happy as they were moving the plates while I tried doing my own shots. Anyhow since I felt “hangry” that night, my feelings were reflected in the quality of my pictures and I did not enjoy my works at all.
FW: Earlier this year you visited a number of restaurants throughout Montreal. Tell us how Montreal’s food scene differs from Toronto’s, and what dining experience you enjoyed the most while in Montreal.
A: The one distinct difference I found between Toronto and Montreal food scene is that Toronto offers endless options for authentic ethnic cuisine. With a growing multi-cultural population, it enriches Toronto’s food scene as well. Whereas I found in Montreal, the chefs embrace local products and often reinvent old and somewhat primitive dishes—the locals are much more open-minded to these types of dishes than Torontonians.
FW: Excluding the name of any of your pre-existing blogs, websites, or print/online personas, tell us what name you would give to your memoir about your culinary exploits?
A: I haven’t thought about that at all! Perhaps “Fat 4 Lyfe” or “Petite Foodie” are the best names to describe my culinary adventure.
FW: When you aren’t cooking/eating delicious things, how do you most enjoy spending your time?
A: As I work in the IT industry, I often try to find activities where I could relax. Other than food/cooking, I find editing pictures at a nice coffice (coffee + office space!) to be quite therapeutic.
This article first appeared on FlavorfulWorld.com.