Interview With An Aspiring Food Blogger

So I took about a week off from blogging to recalibrate my brain and get back onto gear. Hopefully you’re all still tuning in!

Well, I’m the aspiring food blogger and last semester I was interviewed by my dear cousin, Christine G for a project in school. You can get to know me a little better if you keep reading!

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I mustache you to click “Continue Reading” (Source: @micca.dj Instagram)

Christine: Tell us about your career. How did you start? (before you decided to become a food blogger)

Micca: I’m your typical Chinese Filipino kid (or adult now omg) working in our family business. Before moving back home, I had worked as a photographer for a start up and as a Lyft (like Uber but with a pink mustache) driver. Definitely nothing related to food but enough to sustain my very low key lifestyle!

C: How/ why did you become a food blogger? Who/ what was your inspiration?

M: The first food blogger I encountered and started following was Lori Baltazar from Dessert Come First (www.dessertcomesfirst.com). That was back in 2005 when the internet was even slower than it is today and I would wait so long for her page to load just so I could see her food photos. On a desktop. With dial-up internet. Fast forward to 2015: I first started writing about food/restaurants because I wanted to complain about a very bad experience I had at a particular restaurant and I wanted the world to know. Sad, I know but thank you to that restaurant and I really hope your service improved. The blog just came around when I realized that it’s hard to maintain multiple accounts on different platforms for different countries (Yelp, Zomato, Open Rice, etc.)

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Lori Baltazar of Dessert Comes First (Source: e-rockwell.com)

C: What’s the story behind your blog name?

M: Micca Matakaw came from a running joke my parents have about me. According to them when I left the hospital after I was born, the nurses joked that “Si matakaw uuwi na!” (The gluttonous one is going home!) I supposedly drank a lot of milk very very fast. I also really like alliteration so there’s that. Miccadj just comes from my name because it’s easier to remember if you don’t speak Filipino.

C: What was it like posting your first blog online?

M: I was pretty nervous because I wasn’t sure how people would react. I have a very strange sense of humor and I’m not sure how that would translate into writing. As much as possible I didn’t want to offend anyone and I wanted to stay as anonymous as possible (difficult, I know).

C: What kind of experience does Micca Matakaw bring to its readers?

M: I try to keep my blog as real as possible. I’m not gonna sugarcoat any feelings I have towards something and do forgive me if I curse. I think it creates emphasis especially when I’m frustrated. In a way, I’m sharing a part of my personality (even my Instagram account, oh God) to the public so it’s a little risky since I’m quite a private person. But what’s life without a little risk? Scathing review: ✓ Overly loving review: ✓ 100% Micca: ✓

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Staying true to my name, I eat one Hot Star chicken all by myself :> (Source: @micca.dj Instagram)

C: By creating this blog, what do you aspire or hope to attain?

M: I started my blog mainly to entertain myself. I have a desk job and I get pretty restless since I’m not used to sitting in one spot for a long time so it was an outlet for whatever little bit of creativity I had. I would like to provide a possible different perspective for readers in regard to not all food bloggers will like the same food or restaurants so a second opinion if you will. I hope it’s at least funny!

C: Walk us through the process of making a blog (how many days it takes you to try food, edit your blog, etc…)

M: It always starts with a place that I want to try out. I usually find these places on Instagram, Facebook, or other food blogs. I then write the details into a little notebook I almost always keep on me and when I get the chance to try the restaurant, I go for it. I’m one of those people with a little black book of numbers and addresses. Except it’s for food, not people to hook up with. When I’m eating, I want to be as inconspicuous as possible because I think that if people know you write about food, they definitely treat you differently. Fact of life. Then everything goes on my computer which I have found difficult to leave home without and everything gets written out on Pages (or Word) before posting. Makes it easier for continuity when I don’t have wifi. Photos usually get edited on VSCO because I really don’t want to whip out a big camera when I’m eating. I usually like to write during my downtime: tea/coffee time at a cafe, in the car when I don’t have to drive, sometimes at work… I also schedule my posts so that I don’t forget because I want my them to be as regular as possible. I tried to pick an ideal time between Manila time and California time (somewhere around 10am Manila time) because I have a lot of friends in both places so my posts will reach them at an optimal time of bored Facebook browsing. Finally, I post a photo on Instagram and Facebook with an attempted witty catchphrase to get people to click my link and love me.

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One of many little black books (Source: @micca.dj Instagram)

C: How has the experience been like for you so far?

M: It’s been really fun so far! I think writing about food has changed the way I think about it. I’m more willing to try different restaurants and dishes that I wouldn’t normally go for. I do more research about food and even my vacations have started to revolve around what restaurants I want to try. I’ve also used thesaurus.com a lot more than I’ve ever expected to! 

C: Did your expectations of being a blogger change once you started? (reality vs expectations)

M: It’s a lot more work than I expected it to be! From the writing to the photo editing to making sure everything gets uploaded properly. It takes a lot more time than people think. Mostly because I think the internet is slow in the Philippines. I’ve also been hiding out in my room more because I like writing while blasting baroque classical music and rock alternately on my speakers.

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Pusheen and I are one and the same (Source: giphy)

C: What has been your biggest challenge been with food blogging?

M: How to be creative. Those close to me know that I’m a very plain and boring person so somehow weaving words into descriptive paragraphs takes the most effort for me. If only I put this much effort into writing essays in college. Also, keeping the pounds off!

C: What have you learned from being a blogger?

M: I’ve learned that not everyone will always agree with what I believe in so it’s best to let those feelings go. To allow people to have their own opinions and to challenge myself to see it from their point of view without giving up on what I feel is right.

C: Based on your experience with various restaurants, do you think that restaurant owners must have prior experience in the industry before the open their business? What qualities do you think a restaurant owner should have?

M: It’s an advantage to have prior experience but I don’t think it’s a necessity. After all, everyone has to start from no experience at all. I think restaurant owners should be open to constructive criticism especially at the beginning. It’s always hard to say what might work and what won’t so trial and error is one of those experimental processes you’ll definitely have to go through.

C: Based on your experience with various restaurants, what do you think are the important things restaurant owners must be aware of in order to keep customers satisfied and to keep them coming back? What should they improve on?

M: Be very updated on social media! You know how rumors spread like fire? Well, a couple of bad reviews on the internet can probably spread even faster depending on who writes them. If someone pens you a compliment, respond to them. If someone pens you a complaint, respond even faster. It shows that as the proprietor, you actually value your customers’ opinions and seek improvement.

C: What are your favorite dishes/ restaurants within your blog? How about your favorite Filipino dish so far?

M: I grew up really loving Japanese food and sashimi has got to be my favorite even if it’s so simple. You’ll usually find me ordering a chirashi (ちらし寿司/sashimi over rice) especially if I don’t have to share. I’ve recently been into less traditional food so a couple of places I gravitate towards are Your Local (Legazpi Village) and 12/10 (San Antonio Village). For drinks I’m usually at ABV (Jupiter St) but I tend to avoid popular hours. Cafes I frequent include Yardstick (Legazpi Village), EDSA BDG (Greenhills), and Refinery (Rockwell). For Filipino food I really like tinola because it’s oh so comforting especially during a rainy day. I also really like dinuguan when I feel like a cholesterol rebel! Oh and I almost forgot kinilaw! It’s very hard to pick amongst those three so depending on my mood…

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Probably my favorite chirashi bowl from Musashi in Berkeley, CA! (Source: thirstyreader.com)

C: What are the current food trends you’re noticing? Do you like them?

M: What I’ve noticed since I’ve moved back a year and a half ago is there is a big growth of quality Western food. There is a rising fusion food movement coupled with tasting menus. Farm to table restaurants that focus on local ingredients are also on the rise. There are also a lot of bespoke cocktail places popping up so it’s nice to see a focus on quality instead of always having the same bucket of 5 beers all the time. It’s a nice (but a little pricey) change for some days. I believe that as more Filipinos are able to go abroad even for just a vacation, they’re able to take in ideas and make them into something here. The Filipino palate is evolving so the food scene will have to evolve along with us.

C: What can you say is something that you really love about being a food blogger?

M: Pushing myself to try new restaurants! It’s a comfort zone thing for me: Would I like to risk trying something new that could go either way or just eat at where I know the food is good? I’ve been leaning towards the former a lot more now. Most of all, I love being able to unapologetically talk about anything I want! Sometimes I bring up social issues that are close to my heart, I will be talking about sports, and every Wednesday I try to post a funny image I found on the internet. It’s great to not be bound by the constraints that other kinds of writing will have placed on you.

C: What can you say is something that you dislike about being a food blogger?

M: Being responsible for any backlash that could come with a post. It’s very hard to control how other people feel about a certain restaurant/topic and with a public blog, it’s easy to have anonymous people say whatever they want. Also, if a restaurant was really bad, I will actually write about it but it’s very hard to be nice sometimes.

C: How can you see your blog 5 years from now?

M: I hope my blog is still alive 5 years from now! Maybe the index page will be too long and I’ll have to have a professional help me with HTML!

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5 years from now, I’ll still be sneaking snacks in the office (Source: miccadj)

C: What advice can you give future food bloggers?

M: Start. If it’s on your mind, go for it (doesn’t even have to be just a food blog). Nothing will happen if you don’t start somewhere. Find the motivation to write or even just take pictures even if it’s slowly at first. Try to remember your experiences. What made them unique? What made you remember them after all this time? If you want to go deeper, try to think about food critically: Is it sustainable? Are we supporting local farmers?, etc. 

C: Anything else you can like to tell us about you or your blog or how you can also aspire others to be as successful bloggers?

M: Be consistent with your writing if you choose to start. I believe that the more you write, the more natural it will become and eventually the words will just flow automatically. Do your research and proofread so that mean, anonymous trolls won’t school you on the internet.  Lastly, I’m also gonna take this time for some free publicity (no shame haha)! Please check out Micca Matakaw at www.miccadj.com when you get the chance. I’ve got a lot of new material lined up for the next couple months so do watch out for that! :]

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Also, look for the Mustache King! (Source: miccadj)

In a way, I was able to think about why I enjoyed doing what I do even if it’s not my day job. Makes me appreciate the time have to be able to blog.

Cheers,

Micca

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