Instagram food sensation Tien Butts never posts images of herself to her account, @keepingupwiththemetabolisms. Instead, she broadcasts to her 11,000 followers just the delectable meals, snacks, and beverages she eats and drinks. Sometimes you’ll see her hand holding a black-and-white cookie, a sushi donut, or a watermelon-frozé-black-pepper-Moscow-Mule-swirl ice cream, but for the most part, she remains anonymous. Instead, she lets the tacos, cronuts, and dumplings, eaten in New York and during her travels, speak for themselves. Here, we got her to open up.
How did you get into food Instagramming? Describe how you built and maintained your following, especially while working a full-time marketing job.
I got into food Instagramming because, first off, I love food. I lived in small cities before I moved to New York. They didn’t have New York’s variety of cultures, thus the food options were limited. I loved trying new foods and when I moved here—I wanted them all. I’ve always been interested in photography so I would take pictures of my food for fun, posting some of these photos on my personal Instagram. After a while, I wanted to create a second account where I could streamline my food posts and document everything I was eating. I try to post at least once a day, so it’s not too difficult to keep up. At times, it’s hard to find time to travel to restaurants, so I’ll spend time during the weekend or after work on a weekday pedaling around, looking for new foods to try (and take pictures to gather post content).
Which three New York food or beverage openings are you excited about this fall, and why?
I heard a new restaurant opened called Thunder Bun. I’m not much of a burger person, but I love that someone invested in a restaurant with such an amazing name.
A new vegan spot, PS Kitchen, opened on 48th and 8th by one of the owners of the Terri vegan to-go chain. As a non-vegan, I can definitely say that I didn’t miss the meat. It’s a great place to get some food before going to a Broadway play.
I wouldn’t say I’m usually excited for new openings per se, but I do get very excited for the new cronut flavors every month at Dominique Ansel Bakery—I’ve been getting them monthly for almost two years now.
I love to discover great hole-in-the-wall restaurants while wandering around Chinatown. I think it’s my life mission to discover NYC’s best dumplings.
Tell us about the perks of being a foodstagrammer.
The perks of being a food Instagrammer are hearing about and trying new menu items first. Restaurants will contact you to promote their new items, invite you to try them and if you like them, post about them! Sometimes companies will send you their product in hopes that you might promote it.
Any favorite types of food to photograph, or favorite kinds of shots to take, and why?
My favorite kind of food to photograph is definitely ice cream because it’s the most photogenic. Ice cream and I have been in a long term relationship; I don’t remember a time when ice cream wasn’t my number one. Ice cream is the perfect model for my lens because in its most basic form—in a cup—it can be colorful, textured, and who doesn’t like ice cream? Then, similar to a model, it can be dressed up with whipped cream, cotton candy (check out Wu Kong in Chinatown), sprinkles, and a whirl of other toppings. Finally, ice cream can be placed on a variety of items like cones, donuts and more ice cream. There are just so many options! I could never get bored of photographing ice cream or, for that matter, eating it.