Gourmet Pigs on The Rise of Southeast Asian Eats

Meet Fiona Chandra. You might know her online as Gourmet Pigs — she’s been blogging for over a decade, sharing her food explorations and adventure travels with a loyal audience who has followed her across the country. Nearly five years ago, Chandra left Los Angeles to make her way to MIT for her studies. She works as a modeling and simulation scientist in preclinical oncology by day, a vast contrast to her food & travel blogging, but come evening (and the weekends), it’s all about the eats. Below, she gives some thought to the next big food trend for restaurants, shouts out to her favorite BBQ spot and opens up about which Boston neighborhood she sees as the leader in trendy cuisine.

Tell us a little about yourself. How’d you end up in Boston, and what inspired you to create your Instagram account?

I actually started my Instagram way before I moved to Boston. I moved here for my postdoctoral fellowship 4.5 years ago and got a job in the area, but I started food blogging in 2007 while I was still a graduate student and then started Instagram when other bloggers I knew did to promote the blog and connect with others. It was much more personal then, not like Instagram businesses these days.

Name the top five dishes on your Boston food bucket list.

1. Craigie on Main Burger
2. Duck Carpaccio at Coppa
3. Foie Gras Sushi at o ya (especially when they have the aged sake to pair it with)
4. Cannoli from Modern Pastry
5. Anything at Sarma, honestly …

What do you think the next big trend is for restaurants?

That’s a good question and I think it calls for a different answer in Boston than for the rest of the country. In general, Southeast Asian food like Filipino food is making waves and we are getting places like Tanam in Bow St Market.

Which chefs are your favorite to follow on Instagram and why?

@chefchriscoombs because he posts beautiful photos and he’s better at social media than I am.
@chrischung118 from Momi Nonmi. I love seeing his sushi creations.
@saenzin who’s heading BISq in Cambridge. He posts great photos of not just the food but the process behind preparing it.

Beyond chefs, what are your top three favorite food Instagram accounts to follow?

In Boston, I love following @briansamuelsphotography. He’s a professional food photographer.

I also am a big fan of @mikedaikubara. He’s urban sketcher and he sketches the food he has at restaurants! He used to be in Boston but recently moved away, but you can still see his old Boston restaurant sketches.

I actually like following you guys too @bostonchefsnews. You guys post a lot of news, pop-up announcements, etc. that are actually useful.

Describe Boston’s food scene in three words.

Trendy and vibrant

Which restaurants haven’t you been to but you’re eager to try?

I’m finally going to Tasting Counter and I’m really excited. I’ve heard great things about this place and I’m excited to do their sake pairing.

What’s your food photography philosophy, and can you share your top tips for taking awesome food photos?

Lighting is important, but don’t be afraid to experiment in low light and try out different angles.

A Few Of Your Favorite Things:

Favorite brunch spot: Area Four, the South End location. I’m partial towards their Hong Kong waffle with pistachio ice cream.

Favorite place for outdoor dining: The back patio at Oleana. It’s so charming back there.

Favorite BBQ joint: Firefly BBQ

Favorite late-night: Dumpling Palace in Back Bay. Can’t go wrong with Chinese food that’s open ’til 3:00am.

Favorite neighborhood for food: That’s another hard one. It’s a tie between Somerville and South End. South End has the trendy restaurants but Somerville is seeing the new ethnic restaurants popping up.

Favorite new restaurant: It’s a toss-up between Chickadee and Nahita right now. Chickadee has great pastas and Nahita is churning out some exciting Latin American inspired food.

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