Created by four Taiwanese students and followed by 417k fans, Instagram blog 4foodie tracks down some of the world’s most delectable spots, bringing the best food in Taiwan and beyond to their large and hungry band of followers.
Looking to satiate your appetite from the safety of your phone? You could do a lot worse than joining the ranks of the 417k dedicated followers of 4foodie, one of Taiwan’s first and most influential food blogs. Created in 2015 and run by four Taiwanese students, the Instagram feed serves up an enticing visual feast, tempting its followers daily with a clever combination of enticing videos of melting cheese or irresistible Taiwanese treats alongside honest reviews and its own unique rating system, making it one of the most-followed food accounts in Taiwan in just three years. To decode 4foodie’s secrets of success, we sat down to chat with one of its founders Victoria Chuang, who walked us through their story.
Beginning its life in a living room, 4foodie was born from a casual conversation between four friends and a go-to restaurant list. “It was quite random!” Victoria laughs. “One day, my sister Ivy brought her friends Ava and Emily to our house. At some point, they began to discuss restaurants, and I, being a dedicated foodie, immediately jumped into the conversation,” the 21-year-old recalls. “I shared my restaurant bucket list with them, and it turned out we all had similar preferences and a habit of documenting the food we ate.” Inspired by their shared passion, the four girls launched a food blog to document their restaurant-hopping adventures. Three years on, that blog, one of the early starters on the now extremely popular Taiwanese food blogging scene, has grown to be one of Taiwan’s most followed foodie Instagram feeds.
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Today, the four girls live across continents, meaning 4foodie reports from around the world. Victoria is a communications major at the University of Southern California, Ivy is based in Tokyo, Japan, whilst the remaining two contributors remain in Taiwan. Whilst this geographical spread does present its own logistical problems – “the time difference is by far the most challenging part,” says Victoria – this has meant that 4foodie is now known for its coverage not only of Taiwan’s buzzing foodie scene, but also of Japanese delicacies and American cuisine culture.
A scroll down 4foodie’s Instagram feed attests to the girls’ creativity and an aesthetic they have carefully honed over time. “Every image is shot with this light we bring to the restaurant,” explains Victoria. “It’s kind of a hassle, but you get a nice photo as a result.” To add a personal twist, each 4foodie image is also adorned with doodled remarks on the dish. “They are all hand-drawn by Emily, it helps us stick out from the crowd,” she adds. Still, their success lies as much in their reviews as it does in their images. “Having compelling visual content is important, but our focal point has always been taste. Nowadays, restaurants try to make dishes that are pretty. Sure, they capture people’s attention and significantly increases readers’ engagement, but on the downside, they become so focused on the presentation that the taste itself is not important anymore,” says the food influencer. So, complementing their high-res, colour-popping pictures, 4foodie provides a detailed review on each and every plate. All posts come complete with their own ‘moon emoji’ rating system on service and environment as well as practical info such as location and address. “The authenticity of our reviews is what matters. Regardless of the restaurant, the type of cuisine, the plating, if the food tastes good, it’s good, if it’s bad, we will state that honestly.”
Trusted for that honesty, 4foodie has now branched out and started collaborating with brands. Recently, they have worked with emerging Taiwan boba tea store JIATE and lifestyle brand DYCTEAM on a 4foodie boba tea collection that comes in all-black packaging, including a black teacup and cup carrier. ”The monochrome design serves as a reminder, when savouring a dish, one should pay attention to what’s inside, not what’s outside,” highlights Victoria. “Food that looks normal or mediocre can be really delicious too!”
Going forward, the creators are keen to stay focused on the community around 4foodie. “Food has become an integral part of our social life,” Victoria states. “It brings people together, and, as four food bloggers, we aspire to do the same.” Next on the agenda is a 4foodie website powered by restaurant reviews from all their avid followers “We want to build a platform where everyone can be a food critic and exchange their genuine opinions, plus a search tool where people can look for restaurants based on the reviews in the forum. Perhaps one day, we will be the Yelp or the Openrice in Taiwan.”
All photos courtesy of 4foodie
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