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exploring the deep, delicious world of being a food instagrammer

words: chau mui / photos: ben hon

Ben Hon, aka @stuffbeneats is a NYC food instagrammer nearly 40,000 followers deep in the insta-sauce. After being selected as one of Refinery29’s NYC grammer’s to follow - the New Jersey native has been making blows across the insta-verse with his deliciously mouthwatering food shots. ciaooo takes a dive into the dark chocolate side of being a “ food influencer” to see if it’s well worth it’s weight in gold...err edible gold.

There’s a gaggle of young, hip twenty - something millennial foodies in this room.

From the storefront looking in, the place looks like the setup for a commercial food shoot. A perfectly polished hand delicately places a teaspoon of 9 year aged Russian Sturgeon caviar atop a thick slice of French Camembert cheese. A circular golden reflector juts slowly out of the background, and a blinding bright flash goes off. Then another. And another.  A dozen or so continuous “crrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”shutters go off from 5-6 photographers behind Sonys to Nikons and of course, the indelible iPhone.

Then, a quick succession of Snapchat stories, Instagram stories, geotags, hashtags and filters.

"Dying. So delicious"



 Like routine, each influencer hashtags, tags and writes a pithy comment about their photograph - shooting off notifications to their thousands of followers in the cybersphere almost as fast as they took the pictures. This is the precise and pedantic world of being a food influencer, and right in the middle of it all is Ben Hon, native New Jerseyian and holder of the delectable food account @stuffbeneats.

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at a glance






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the food paparazzi

A Food instagrammer or influencer is someone who has built up a following of loyal, real followers from 15k - upwards of millions of followers on Instagram. A single post can garner thousands of likes and for brands, a trusted partner to turn into views and purchases. Being in the top portion of the influencer pool can rake in hundreds of thousands a year in sponsorship and ad revenue. I found myself wondering, what was it really like for a food instagrammer. 

At first it’s intimidating, and bizarre, but by the end of it, I’m all senses of flabbergasted and in awe. The dedication to perfection is imminent. Precise even. Instead of a gaggle of teenag-y girls who text way too fast, taking shots of their food as I imagined most influencers to be - everyone is actually pretty professional in their work. And YES they do get to eat it.

I’ll be honest with you, being in the middle of a food instagram event is bizarre. I only felt slightly out of place when everyone suddenly got up from the table and walked by the storefront window holding up their dishes of petit fours and caviar to photograph. I felt compelled to take pictures of food just cause everyone else was. Mine were nowhere near as delectable. 

On one end, you’ve got the plethora of instagrammers ruining the scape of photography and real life with their endlessly filtered, vapid, perfect lives inducing in millennials like myself a gaping, depressing crevasse of constant questioning whether or not we will ever attain that life (wait, is that just me?) On the other end, Instagram is an all encompassing, free market that allows for anyone to create, and anyone with a camera and a little vision and style to build a lifestyle and for the lucky few, a career for themselves. While we're on the topic, you should most definitely follow us on Instagram here. 

go ahead, stalk us we love it

During our first interview at Boucherie last summer, it took us 3 hours to get through photographing two apps, two entrees and two drinks. We shifted tables twice to capture the right lighting and in total photographed four dishes and two cocktails. Only one photo made it to the Instagram.