In college, most of Alana Steinberg’s pals didn’t spend much time off campus but four years ago, she decided to venture outside of the hallowed halls of Harvard to truly get a well-rounded education (including insight into the local culinary happenings). Her search for the city’s best food was the impetus to create an Instagram account, aptly named Boston Bites, to share her findings with friends, family and foodies in general. Here, she gives away her secret to capturing post-worthy food photos using your phone and talks about how Boston’s history impacts its food scene.
Tell us a little about yourself. How’d you end up in Boston, and what inspired you to create your Instagram account?
I just graduated from Harvard! I decided to start Boston Bites for a few reasons. Let’s just say people don’t go to Harvard for the quality of the dining hall food, so I wanted to have opportunities to get off campus and eat tasty things. I also started it because I knew Harvard students often didn’t explore Boston, which is such a shame. I go into Boston 2-4 times a week for events, restaurants, or exploration on my own, while many of my friends only go into Boston 2-4 times a semester. I’m originally from Boston (go Sox!), so I feel a very strong connection to the city.
Name the top five dishes on your Boston food bucket list.
Any type of Kane’s Donuts
A lobster roll
Corn pancakes from Alden & Harlow
A drink by Tenzin Samdo (@bostonmixdrink) who is now at the ArtScience Culture Lab & Cafe
A slice of Pinocchio’s Pizza! (Preferably past 12am)
What do you think the next big trend is for restaurants?
Instagram-focused food and design. Many restaurants are being mindful of their lighting, even creating dishes that are meant to be aesthetic. Other restaurants are being mindful of lighting in their restaurants and even creating tables with controllable lighting for bloggers and food photography aficionados.
Which chefs are your favorite to follow on Instagram and why?
Chef Tatiana Rosana from Outlook at the Envoy Hotel is my favorite to follow. I met her when I visited once, and she is one of the kindest and most creative souls out there. I love her posts on Instagram! She’s humble but also proud of herself and celebrates her accomplishments, and I always want to stay in the loop so I can celebrate with her!
Beyond chefs, what are your top three favorite food Instagram accounts to follow?
@bostonfoodies, @bostonfoodjournal, and @twohungrybostonians. I have met all of them through different blogger and media events, and they are all innovative, creative people with a great eye and palette!
Describe Boston’s food scene in three words.
5 years behind. If you look at NYC and other food-forward cities, you will notice that Boston errs more on the side of tradition. It makes sense, given the history and culture of the city. The Instagram-worthy food design is starting to gain steam in Boston, while it has been all the rage in NYC for years now. In some ways I like it, though, because it means that the chefs here are focused on the food and its flavors. Boston is an underrated food city with incredible chefs, but people overlook it because it isn’t a super photogenic food city.
Which restaurants haven’t you been to but you’re eager to try?
Oleana and Yvonne’s
What’s your food photography philosophy, and can you share your top tips for taking awesome food photos?
My food philosophy is to order what makes you happy, not just what will photograph well! Boston Bites isn’t about sharing pretty food; it’s about sharing delicious food and experiences. I don’t want to post only burgers dripping with cheese and gigantic slices of pizza. I want to share all that Boston has to offer and hopefully encourage my followers to try something they never have before.
My secret to food photography is my Ztylus ring light. Natural, soft light is always the best, but I often eat when it’s dark outside or in dimly lit restaurants. After using the ring light, I can never go back to using someone else’s iPhone as a flashlight. It’s adjustable, and my photos always come out looking like I lit them in a professional studio. It can be embarrassing to whip out a light like this in public, but you just have to own it! Your photos (and your followers) will thank you.
A Few Of Your Favorite Things:
Favorite brunch spot: Alden & Harlow
Favorite place for outdoor dining: Anything in the Seaport!
Favorite late-night: Pinocchio’s Pizza (what other answer were you expecting from a Harvard student??)
Favorite neighborhood for food: Cambridge
Favorite new restaurant: Spyce — designed by MIT students, this is the coolest fast casual place. A robot makes your food, and the team collaborated with chef Daniel Boulud. So, the food is affordable, fresh and incredible fun to watch as it is prepared.