Chow Down USA on Insta-Friendly Photos

Photo from Chow Down USA

California-native Chelsea Marrs didn’t just fall in love with Boston because of its seasons, but also because of its fun, evolving food scene. In her hit blog Chow Down USA, the lifestyle and travel blogger snaps pics of her life traveling the globe and wandering around Boston – not to mention all the delicious food the city has to offer. Marrs recently took a break from restaurant hopping to chat about her favorite late-night dining spot, the importance of influencers in promoting restaurants and her favorite chef to follow on Instagram.

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

Gladly! So I’m originally from California (born and raised in San Francisco, went to UCLA), and always wanted to live in another area just to see what it’s like. While I truly love California, I moved out to Boston for what I thought would be a year or so, and that was 5-6 years ago! I ended up really liking the people and seasons here (yes, even winter)! Honestly, I started Chow Down USA originally just to document my friends and I checking out a bunch of restaurants in San Francisco as a way to push us out of our comfort zones and try new things.

This was back when I didn’t even realize there was an entire blogger community, so when people started picking up on the food reviews it was really exciting! Now it’s grown bigger than I ever could have imagined. I’ve been on NESN’s Dinging Playbook TV show multiple times, have had posters of myself in Uniqlo on Newbury Street and most recently even co-founded an influencer and social media company — Royal Horizon Media — to connect brands and influencers together, so I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!

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

I love almost everything from Barcelona Wine Bar, especially their croquettes. I’m a huge fan of lobster rolls from Saltie Girl and tacos from Lolita. The mango pulled pork pizza from Otto is my go-to pizza when I want something different. Burgers from Met Back Bay are always a hit as well, and the ice cream from Taiyaki never fails to put a smile on my face!

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

I think a lot of restaurants are going towards being very Instagram-friendly, with beautiful interiors and picturesque dishes. I think the next trend is to continue this photo-worthy strategy, but keeping the food delicious as well. Some try to make it beautiful, but if the food isn’t great it won’t keep people coming back after they took their perfect Instagram shot! I also think more and more restaurants are getting smart about utilizing influencers to help promote their location and dishes – from events to bringing them in for meals. I think this is a really smart business move, especially when using local influencers with an engaged community!

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

Gordon Ramsay because his brand is so comical and fun to watch, and his account gives great video tutorials of things like chocolate truffles.

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

This sounds so silly but I love the Great British Bakeoff show so their Instagram is always a fun one to watch! Tastemade also has great video recipes.

Describe Boston’s food scene in three words.

Evolving, Trendy, Fun.

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

Colette, Committee, Toro, Ladyfinger Lounge.

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

Lighting is everything! Brunch is perfect because you can get this great natural lighting. I would refrain from flash and always make sure you’re in natural light, and use either a macro lens on your camera (I use the Canon 5D Mark IV 24-70 macro lens), or iPhone portrait mode can work wonders in good light too.

A Few Of Your Favorite Things:

Favorite brunch spot: Barcelona tapas! You can’t go wrong!

Favorite place for outdoor dining: Barking Crab along the Boston Harbor – while watching the ships go by!

Favorite BBQ joint: Sweetcheeks BBQ – don’t skip those biscuits and honey butter!

Favorite late-night: Lolita tacos & cotton candy dessert!

Favorite neighborhood for food: Back Bay – so many great options!

Favorite new restaurant: Time Out Market in Fenway! It’s so fun and basically a modern food court with the best of Boston restaurants, from Union Square Donuts to Craigie on Main and Saltie Girl!

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