In Hong Kong, the camera eats first. And all those food photos, as well as the opinions of the city’s legion of serious eaters, have for years been channelled onto blogs, which have in turn brought celebrity to some of these bloggers.
Chocolate Muimui is one of them. She has over 48,000 Instagram followers and posts her pictures to a blog. Like many bloggers, she started posting just for herself. ‘I wanted to keep a journal-type record of the desserts I’ve enjoyed,’ she says. ‘I think viewers can tell when someone is posting because of their passion or just for the sake of taking a picture. True food lovers care most about the food, not their photos.’
Most of these food enthusiasts reject the label ‘blogger’ or ‘KOL’, for key opinion leader. ‘We never intended to influence what other people think; I always just wanted to remember what I liked about certain restaurants and give good recommendations to friends,’ says Gary Suen, who started his food blog in 2007.
Despite – or perhaps because of – the ardent passion for food in Hong Kong, food blogging has been shrouded in controversy, with finger pointing at those who seem to only be in it for free food. ‘In the beginning there were few barriers to becoming a blogger,’ says Gloria Chung, a former food journalist who now has popular Instagram account. ‘A lot of people were taking advantage of restaurants, and many held a poor opinion of bloggers.’
Chung says in certain ways food blogging is just as valid as traditional food writing. ‘Some bloggers are more knowledgeable than food journalists, with photo skills that rival professional photographers. It’s inspiring to see bloggers turn their pastime into a career.’
In recent years, the blogging trend has waned, leaving mainly those serious about food. Says Suen: ‘We have our own circle and talk about good places to go – it’s all about sharing our specialised knowledge and mutual love of good food.’