If you follow Mistral, Sorellina, Teatro, Mooo, Ostra or Bar Lyon on Instagram, then you’ve seen the work of Brayan Mesa. He’s the creator behind every post you see on those restaurant accounts and even when he’s not working, you can still find him online sharing the best of Boston’s restaurant scene to the 34,000+ followers on his personal account, @brayanmesa. Here, he chats about how he landed his dream job, why cloudy days are actually when he prefers to take photos and which East Boston spot has a must-try, off-the-menu burger.
Tell us a little about yourself. How’d you end up in Boston, and what inspired you to create your Instagram account?
Born in Medellin, Colombia but raised in Boston, I’ve been that person in my family and friend groups in charge of taking photos for as long as I remember. In 2012/2013 I discovered this little app called Instagram where you could share your photos with the world and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to display my love for Frappuccinos and sunsets. One of the very first accounts I remember following was @IgersBoston, highlighting the best photos of Boston every single day. From there on, I began following more and more people in Boston and around the world, began attending Instameets, and learning more about different styles of photography.
My time in college is when I really began taking my photography and how I managed it on Instagram seriously. This caught the attention of the Director of Social Media at my alma mater, Bentley University, landing me an internship managing all of the university’s social media accounts. After finishing college, I was fortunate to be working with some incredible brands, which allowed me to push finding “a real job” to the side. Six months later, the perfect job opportunity came up for me and I could not say no: Social Media Manager for the Columbus Hospitality Group! I currently manage, create content, and more for six restaurants that have come to be some of my favorite in the city: Mistral, Sorellina, Teatro, Mooo, Ostra, and Bar Lyon!
Name the top five dishes on your Boston food bucket list.
What do you think the next big trend is for restaurants?
Experiences. In the era of social media, many restaurants are trying to capitalize by having gorgeous interiors and dishes, but as we move away from photos and turn to videos, restaurants will continue to come up with creative ways to present their dishes and cocktails in ways that can be captured by the guest for their followers to enjoy!
Which chefs are your favorite to follow on Instagram and why?
I currently only follow Tracy Chang (@TracyPagu) of Pagu and Chris Coombs (@ChefChrisCoombs) of Deuxave, Boston Chops, and D Bar on Instagram. These are two Boston chefs that I greatly respect and enjoy watching the behind the scenes of their restaurants via their Instagram stories — they also serve as a friendly reminder of how much time and effort these chefs and their teams dedicate to each restaurant.
Beyond chefs, what are your top three favorite food Instagram accounts to follow?
I really enjoy following @BostonFoodies because Tiffany is usually one of the first people in the city to experience new restaurants and I love being able to see these places for the very first time through her lens. Another food account I really love following is @SoulCakeShop. I recently saw one of her cakes at a wedding and was in total awe… then I saw her Instagram and fell in love. Each cake is a work of art! Last but not least, my good friend Lena’s @EastCoastFeastCoast. She will literally travel anywhere for good food and her captions are hilarious.
Describe Boston’s food scene in three words.
Unpretentious, passionate, vibrant
Which restaurants haven’t you been to but you’re eager to try?
Pammy’s — I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about their food, plus the interior looks stunning! No Relation — While having dinner and drinks at Shore Leave, I took a peek into No Relation and immediately felt transported to Japan.
What’s your food photography philosophy, and can you share your top tips for taking awesome food photos?
It’s not about the camera, but about the photographer. While I do use a professional camera for my full-time job, all of my Instagram photos are taken with my iPhone 8 Plus. To many people it often comes as a surprise, but it’s because I stick by two rules: take photos on cloudy days, and always choose the table next to or near a window. To me, cloudy days are the best because light is evenly distributed and when you pair that with a table filled with beautiful and delicious food, you’ll have the perfect opportunity for beautiful photos!
A Few Of Your Favorite Things:
Favorite brunch spot: Barcelona in the South End — I’ve definitely spent a fair amount of Sundays here enjoying their tapas and sangrias for hours
Favorite place for outdoor dining: Banyan Bar + Refuge — offers the perfect shady outdoor seating for those hot summer days
Favorite late-night: La Chiva — you have to experience the “Hamburguesa Paisa” an off the menu Colombian Street style burger … AMAZING!
Favorite neighborhood for food: The South End — can’t really go wrong with any of the restaurants there.
Favorite new restaurant: Longfellow Bar in Harvard Square — three words: Crab Rangoon Nachos!!!!!