Creating a New Foodscape: Natasha Ali

There is a great reverence in the art of cooking and presentation and most restaurants and pubs are innovating new ways to please the palate with nouvelle cuisine, giving the classic dishes and cocktails a welcome twist. Adding to the camaraderie and celebration of various cuisines are food bloggers and influencers, who have emerged with their robust content and visual presentation, luring food lovers far and wide with their huge outreach. The city’s obsession with food is clearly on the rise. Eating is a multi-sensory experience and the blogger brigade is using enticing ways to cash in on how you eat with your eyes. Even research suggests that it is our eyes that lead the way and our tongues merely follow. NAMITA GUPTA meets some of Bengaluru’s top food bloggers and influencers who’re doing their bit to spread the word to the ardent foodies on the lookout for spanking new hotspots to dine in and lounge at.

Name of your blog?
It’s called PlatedThoughts. As a content writer, I wanted something that connected with that aspect as well as my writing on restaurants in Bengaluru and wherever else I travel/visit. Mine is purely about reviews and experiences, I don’t post recipes.

One thing you love about cooking and eating?
Cooking for me is about experimenting with flavours and also a way to connect with the various food cultures I have grown up with. Hyderabadi Muslim cooking, Tam Brahm cooking – these were day in and day out at home, alongside my mom’s Indo-Chinese and Tamil non-veg dishes. As a teen, I moved to the US, and got exposed to a whole slew of cuisines there. What I love about eating – well aside from the satisfaction of a delicious meal, it is about discovery, and I plan my trips whether to Ahmedabad or Florence or Kuala Lumpur, around explorations of that place’s food culture.

How important are photographs and knowledge of food for food bloggers?
I write for a living, and I’m more convinced than ever that long form content is not something people engage with as much. So today, I think it is the pictures that get more attention and so being able to take a good pic is essential for food bloggers. That said, I often I’m cringing when it comes to the posts people put up in the name of blogging and talking about food. Having at least some knowledge of cuisines and flavours and food culture should be a requisite, not to mention the ability to write a sentence clearly. But I’m well aware that I’m in the minority here – these days it seems like anyone with a camera and blog /instagram handle becomes a food blogger.

An interesting experience as a food blogger?
One of the most memorable was being at a dinner where Chef Gary Mehigan, of Masterchef Australia, conceptualised, cooked and served up a meal for an exclusive group of diners. Aside from his love for food and cooking and his great storytelling, he interacted with those seated at all the different tables. I was one of three bloggers there – one of those times when I felt rather privileged to be part of the scene.

What else do you do? How lucrative is it being a food blogger / influencer?
I do food writing and influencing purely out of love – for food, for trying new places, for spending time with the food fam and because I want to share my experiences with food. I’m not in it for money, and have stayed away from turning it from passion and hobby into a paid gig. However it does seem like it is lucrative, seeing that quite a few folks I know gave up full time jobs to pursue blogging. I work for Wipro currently, for their inhouse magazine and also a part of the marketing team.