Despite its name, Valerie Gordeski’s Instagram account @oysters4dessert does not only involve oysters but rather an assortment of everything from pizza to ramen to donuts (and, of course, the occasional oyster). The only common factor is that all the food she snaps can be found in and around the Boston area — a city Gordeski fell in love with during college and eventually relocated to. She took time aside to chat about her food bucket list, the difficulty of opening up a new restaurant in Boston and where in the city you can get your hands on fruity pebble pancakes.
Tell us a little about yourself. How’d you end up in Boston, and what inspired you to create your Instagram account?
I ended up in Boston the way most people do — I came here for college and loved the town. I made a lot of good friends, many of whom were staying here after college. So I got a job in Boston as well, and have been here ever since. I was initially introduced to Instagram by my good friend and blogger @gourmetpigs and through her, I attended several blogger dinners, although I wasn’t on Instagram myself. Then when I first met my husband, he also had his own food Instagram account and was spending considerable time on it. So I decided to check it out to see if it lives up to the hype. I started using the platform just as a way to remember places we’ve been and restaurants we’ve eaten. After he got a Leica DLUX, I started using it to take photos and saw just how much camera matters and what it can do, and I was hooked.
Name the top five dishes on your Boston food bucket list.
Top five dishes that everyone should try are: burger at Craigie on Main, hot lobster roll at Neptune Oyster, torched salmon belly at Saltie Girl, fruity pebble pancakes at Lincoln Restaurant, and the peruvian chicken from Machu Chicken
What do you think the next big trend is for restaurants?
As long as it’s not more food halls, I am fine! In all seriousness, the Boston restaurant scene is difficult — the rents are sky high, it’s hard to find good kitchen staff because they can’t afford rent in town either, so unless you are backed by a big restaurant group, it’s difficult for “mom and pop” restaurants to open or to stay open. Now we are seeing celebrity chefs (Fieri, Morimoto, Kim) coming in and opening their restaurants, because they have the money to do it. I would like to see Boston provide resources to encourage new/local chef talent, like Portland does.
Which chefs are your favorite to follow on Instagram and why?
Chef Tim Hollingsworth of Otium @cheftimhollingsworth — I watched the Netflix “Final Table” show where he competed, and since then I’ve been a really big fan (that’s all I am going to say because I don’t want to give any spoilers!) Chef Tiffani Faison @tiffanifaison (Sweet Cheeks, Orfano, etc) is not only an amazing chef, she is an inspiration figure to many in the industry and she is never afraid to speak her truth on social media. Chef Tzurit Or (@tattebakery) is an immigrant who came to this country and build Tatte from the ground up; I have admired her courage, her strength, her creativity and of course, I am in love with 100% of the items she dreams up for Tatte’s food line-up.
Beyond chefs, what are your top three favorite food Instagram accounts to follow?
I have top four: I love following @nomnom_boston for her perfectly curated flatlays and coffee, @boston_mouthful for her new restaurant tips, @forkingwitharmani for his delightful puns and perfecting the art of the iPhone Portrait Mode, and @gourmetpigs for all her incredible food knowledge and her never ending desire to really know food, its history and origins, and not just snap some photos.
Describe Boston’s food scene in three words.
“Diversifying, albeit slowly”
Which restaurants haven’t you been to but you’re eager to try?
Orfano (and everything else by Tiffany Faison), Rochambeau and Mariel
What’s your food photography philosophy, and can you share your top tips for taking awesome food photos?
I am still learning how to take good photos – but the number one key is having plenty of natural light, and the number two is having an amazing camera. If the restaurant is dark, I have a selfie light (props to @forkingwitharmani for introducing me to one) so that I can create daylight-“looking” light artificially. I would also advise to avoid taking food photos with a flash. In a pinch, use a flashlight feature on (a friend’s) phone, cover it with a napkin and then aim it towards your food while you snap a phone with your own phone – the soft light will be more flattering and reduce contrast between highlights/shadows.
A Few Of Your Favorite Things:
Favorite brunch spot: Lincoln Tavern
Favorite place for outdoor dining: Deep Ellum
Favorite BBQ joint: Redbones BBQ
Favorite late-night: Pinocchio’s cheese Sicilian pizza (Harvard square)
Favorite neighborhood for food: Allston, with so many new and affordable restaurants popping up, you never know what you can find!
Favorite new restaurant: No Relation