For fitness enthusiast and food blogger Sandipan Sen, it’s all about balance when it’s comes to his hobbies. On his Instagram, you’ll see a little more food than fitness as he eats his way around Boston — there’s plenty of drool-worthy photos for you to bookmark, and he’s a pro at making recommendations on the best spots to check out. Here, he shares the inspiration behind how he started ‘gramming, why fusion fare is the hottest trend in his eyes and where to find late night kebabs.
Tell us a little about yourself. How’d you end up in Boston, and what inspired you to create your Instagram account?
Boston is a major hub for higher education in the US and that’s what brought me here. I came to get my Masters from Bentley. Little did I know that as a graduate student here in Boston, about 70% of the time you are out with your friends exploring spots like Harvard Square, Central Square, and popular Boston neighborhoods like Allston and Brighton, all of which have tons of options for students, cheap eats, bars, cuisines from all over the world, fusion food — you name it!
I am a big foodie and I love the excitement of eating in groups. While we were exploring all the new dishes which I hadn’t tasted before I got into the habit of taking pictures of the food and posting them on Facebook. It’s funny, the pictures were not nearly as good in quality as they are now, but my friends thought I did a great job with them and told me why don’t I post them on Instagram where majority of the younger generation is on today. They thought it would be a cool way to showcase our restaurant conquests! It all started out as a fun idea.
Name the top five dishes on your Boston food bucket list.
Clam Chowder at Atlantic Fish Co. – I hear they serve the best Clam Chowder in Boston. If you’re in New England it’s kind of a must eat if you know what I mean.
Black Pasta Linguine made with squid ink and garlic from The Daily Catch. I often think some of the best dishes are made at the less fancy places.
Sushi at o ya – I truly want to find out what a $40 worth 2 pieces of sushi tastes like.
Crazy French Toast and Waffles at Elm Street Diner – It’s a bit of a drive to CT but it has become very much a rave amongst Boston food bloggers.
Churros from The Painted Burro in Somerville – It’s not talked about much and is very underrated, but if you haven’t tried churros you’re not addicted to it yet.
What do you think the next big trend is for restaurants?
I am a big fan of fusion food. I think the market is slowly maturing and getting confident and willing to experiment with mixing concepts of food preparation from different parts of the world. It will take some more time before it becomes a thing. It is largely being influenced by the growing international crowd but its need a little bit more of commitment from consumers to really allow these restaurants to up their game. We are getting there!
The other big trend is the concept of plant based beyond meat products that have suddenly taken over the market. It’s selling as the new cool thing to eat. Being vegan today is cooler than ever — you get to enjoy all the flavors of meat without actually consuming any. It is influencing people’s lifestyle choices.
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Much thanks 🙏 to Mike and Brandon at @eat.hotbox for this ginormous pizza to celebrate my 10k!! . All credit goes to my followers❣️ for helping me get here and the constant support from the food blogging community! Without that there would be nothing to celebrate for 🥂 . . A month back my account was mistakenly disabled by IG when I was close to around 9800. It took about a week to get back my account after proving to IG that I was a real human being and there isn't anything crazy going behind my account. I know a few other accounts (blogger friends and Boston based restaurants) who are going through the same. I wish them all the luck and hope they can get back what they have worked hard for! It's been a bumpy ride for everyone lately but I am sure it will pass as IG strengthens the community! . #10kfollowers #caughtinataste #foodbloggers
Which chefs are your favorite to follow on Instagram and why?
Gordon Ramsay – I watch his videos whenever I get time. He makes grilling a steak look so mouth watering from the way he speaks and his accent.
Brian Poe – Ever since he made us those dessert tacos at Tip Tap Room, I have been keeping an eye on his page.
Matthew Jennings – He did wonders with Townsman which closed down last year but left memories.
Beyond chefs, what are your top three favorite food Instagram accounts to follow?
All of them have their unique style. @feedyourgirlfriend focuses more on desserts and prettier looking things to eat whereas @devourpower and @dcfoodporn focus on the experience. It portrays a lifestyle element to their feed which is enjoyable to watch and inspiring at the same time. Each have their own appeal. @devourpower and @dcfoodporn like to use more videos on their page, which I personally like better because videos are just more engaging to the audience than a photo. That being said @feedyourgirlfriend takes it to the next level with their dessert finds. All credits to Justin from @dcfoodporn for reaching such great heights in the food blogging community at such an early age. He is only 25. Greg and Rebecca, the couple behind @devourpower are the sweetest. They quit their job to explore food around the world! I would also like to call out Brittany from @bostonfoodjournal. I have met her in person. She is probably the most down to earth person I have seen even after achieving so much success. Her creativity is outstanding.
Describe Boston’s food scene in three words.
Brave, Catching-up, Authentic.
Which restaurants haven’t you been to but you’re eager to try?
Cinquecento – I want to feel the Italian upscale vibe!
Champions Boston – I want to try the Champions sampler tower which consists of an overload of chicken wings, cheeseburger sliders, cheese fries, stack of onion rings, and dips!
Time Out Market Boston – I want to experience it all under one roof.
What’s your food photography philosophy, and can you share your top tips for taking awesome food photos?
This is one of my favorite topics to talk about! I guess the real skill with food photography is to discover how you can make the “not so appetizing looking dish” into the “most jaw-dropping appealing looking food” people have even seen.
Do your homework: Before you take photos always do your research. Lookup hashtags about the food, check out how some of the top bloggers have done their take. Learn and apply!
Lighting: I can go on all day about this. Always go for natural lighting if you can. Boston summers are short but sweet, so this is the best time for your outdoor shoots. But don’t be afraid to stand out in the cold for a little bit during the rest of the year if it’s worth the shot. However there are times when you just can’t take the food outside. Use a compact LED panel or selfie light in these situations. They can make a huge difference in how your food looks.
Camera: There is really not that much of a difference whether you use a phone camera or a DSLR. I know people who take all photos exclusively with their phones and some who just like DSLRs better. In my opinion, it’s really about what suits you the best and your personality. The iPhones and Pixels these days are the best phone cameras I have seen. They can easily give DSLRs a run for their money. I personally own a pixel, my wife uses an iPhone and we also have a Canon. The phone is handy when you need to take a quick shot or if you’re in a place where there isn’t a lot of room to move around with a DSLR.
Don’t be embarrassed: The biggest and I think the most challenging thing for me was to overcome my shyness. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your shots, don’t bother what people around are going to think of you. They don’t know enough. Some may judge but that is part of life, but most will LOVE you and be amazed at your enthusiasm!
Editing: There are plenty of software/apps out there. Try experimenting with them. The ones I know people mostly use are Lightroom, VSCO and Snapseed. For videos, that’s a whole ‘nother story.
Style: Choose your style and stick to it. It’s good to learn but try not to copy others. Bring out your own individuality if you can. This could be either your photography or editing skills. At the end of the end of the day, make sure you are having fun doing it! Don’t worry about failures, it happens to all of us. Learn from your mistakes so that the next time you’re taking the shot you know exactly what needs to be done.
A Few Of Your Favorite Things:
Favorite brunch spot: Alden & Harlow – love their burrata, it’s the prettiest thing I have seen.
Favorite place for outdoor dining: Burro Bar in South End.
Favorite BBQ joint: Southern Kin and The Porch.
Favorite late-night: Ali Baba – they are open till 3:00 or 4:00am in the morning and serve delicious kebabs. Their kind of kebab reminds me of the ones I ate growing up back in India.
Favorite neighborhood for food: Harvard Square