If you want to become a food Instagram star, you may want to consider having babies.
Well, to be more specific, you might need Mike Chau's two adorable children, Matthew and Samantha.
Mike Chau, 32, is a Queens-based app developer with no background in the culinary world, but with a love of food and amateur food photography. One day, he ended up posting a picture with his now 3-year-old son Matthew in the background by chance... and the rest is history.
Chau initially gained notoriety by posting many reviews on Yelp. And now that these reviews feature the same, high-quality food shots synonymous with @foodbabyny, he now has the largest number of friends allowed by the platform.
Despite what you'd expect, it's not always donuts and dumplings for Chau. He acknowledges that his family needs to eat healthy—and that they usually choose to cook more nutritional meals at home four days out of the week.
We recently talked with Mike Chau on the phone about the beginning of @FoodBabyNY, his favorite places to eat, and what he'll do once his cute kiddos get older:
Food Hacks Daily: Tell me, how did this all get started?
Mike Chau: It started when we were stuck at home for the first few months after he was born. We were ordering in a lot and, by accident, got a few shots of my son next to the food. I have my own personal account dedicated to food pictures, but I wanted to start something different.
FHD: What has the response to your account been like?
MC: Surprisingly, there was a very positive response to me posting pictures of my children with food.
FHD: Has your brand changed at all since you first started?
MC: When I first started, I didn't know that influencers existed—that people were going to events and meeting with chefs. It wasn't like that ... and now it's still really just an Instagram. The brand has changed a little bit, though. I'm a bit more careful about what I say about places, especially small Mom and Pop shops. I don't want to hurt anyone's business prospects, especially since people do choose where they're going to eat based on my pictures. I have to curate more with the more followers I get. I posted non-stop when first started, now I focus on higher quality pictures.
FHD: So, does this Instagram reflect your actual food habits or is it for show?
MC: I love going to new restaurants and experiencing brand new places—we try to go to new places every day. People have come to expect that from the account. And we don't just go to kid friendly places. The kids are open to trying everything! I will say that the account is not consistent with our actual eating habits. I try to eat healthier during the week. We eat at home as many weeknights as we can, Monday through Thursday, and cook healthy. I don't spend a lot of time cooking though—we'll eat something healthy because we need to.
I do like and try everything I post. I still like to try going to new places on our own a lot of the time whether or not brand new places invite us. We do get invited to all kinds of different places, though. Small businesses and mom-and-pop shops recognize that social media is important.
FHD: What has been the coolest part of starting this whole thing, and what is your favorite bite in New York City right now?
FHD: What are you going to do when the kids grow up? What's next?
MC: I haven't thought that far ahead. I think the account can last a few more years while the kids are still young, but right now we're just taking it a day at a time and having fun.
FHD: What is the weirdest thing that has happened as a result of this account?
MC: The weirdest thing is that strangers on the street recognize us and want to take pictures of my children. People recognize us from Yelp, maybe more than Instagram, so that's kind of weird.
FHD: Do you have any advice for someone looking to start their own food Instagram?
MC: You just have to have fun with it. You need something unique to set yourself apart. Everybody's doing it now, so it's pretty hard in that respect. You have to have some kind of gimmick.
If you want to follow Chau and his children to find the best eats in NYC, check out @foodbabyny and @mikejchau on Instagram, @foodbabyny on Twitter, or Foodbabyny on Facebook. And check us out too, while you're at it: