Mijune Pak_FollowMeFoodie_Influencer_Blogger 4


Mijune is the founder of FOLLOW ME FOODIE one of the most recognized and respected food and travel blogs in Canada with international recognition. Her infectious excitement, integrity, knowledge and passion make her one of Vancouver’s most influential food and travel media personalities. With an increasing audience of social media users and food enthusiasts, Mijune continues to influence the food and travel community locally and worldwide. We caught up with Mijune on her experience as a food and travel Influencer and what it takes to make it in today’s competitive social media space.

First off, tell us about what you do.
This is hard to answer because I do a wide range of things. In a nutshell, I started as a food blogger and then became a food and travel blogger. Now, I do a lot of social media impact/campaigns, hosting/emceeing events, public speaking, and pretty much anything under the umbrella of supporting the food, travel, lifestyle and entertainment industry.

Tell us a bit about the work you’ve done with Branding and Buzzing.
I worked with B&B for about a year in 2014. I was doing community management for a couple of their clients, at the time it was Fresita (sparkling wine) and Samuel Adams beer. I was planning and hosting parties, tweet ups, and special events with social media influencers to increase social media exposure for them. It was a great time!

What does Social Media mean to you?  
Social media is socializing through online forms of media through conversations, images, stories, audio and visuals.

What are some of the challenges you face working in the social media space?
I never get to see the people supporting my work! Sure, once in a while I see them at events or they introduce themselves, but I’d love to meet them and thank them in person! Another big challenge is that social media is a rather “new industry”. It’s not like a doctor, teacher, or accountant where your path is more or less laid out. The future is really ambiguous and everyone is still learning about all of the social platforms and how to make a living from them. People don’t always see value in social media and assume it’s free, so that’s a challenge, but I’m lucky to work with brands who value my time, effort, and work. It’s also kind of risky because you don’t know if social media is a just a “trend”, and everyone is trying to stay on this wave. Let’s hope it’s here to stay because it’s freaking awesome and life would be dull without it.

What expert(s) in the food and travel industry have been your biggest influence?
Wow… there’s a lot of food and travel people out there, but the first person I reached out to and gave me advice was my good friend Sherman from Sherman’s Food Adventures. Honestly, anyone that works really hard and is genuine in what they do, not just passionate, I look up to.

What do you think makes food and travel writing in Vancouver different? 
Vancouver is a small city with a big mind mentality. It tends to think it’s bigger than it is, which isn’t a bad thing, but it is. The food writing market is pretty saturated, but there’s always room for more… especially quality. There’s a lot of community support and initiative amongst restaurants and neighbourhoods, so local food events are rather common and consistent. Not saying everyone is friends with everyone because there are “groups”, but the overall feel is that it’s a tight knit community. There’s also a lot to explore in BC, so travel writing is easy to do locally if you want to stay within province. It’s gorgeous here and I don’t take it for granted.

What upcoming social media trends do you see in the food and travel industry? 
I have a lot of beef with the word “trend” because almost everything has been done before, it’s just being repackaged and redelivered. Food trends are more or less things we’ve forgotten about or things that have existed for years, but is foreign to the market it’s introducing itself to. In terms of travel, I’ll say video. However, there are a lot of travel vloggers out there, I just think it’s going to increase in popularity. Other social media “trends” are going to come out of new social media platforms, but it’s about branding, usability, and how it’s marketed. I mean there’s only so much we can humanly do… so the rest is up to technology, future, and what we don’t know.

How do you see influencer marketing evolving in the next few years? 
I hope it only grows. I hope companies see value in it, but are also careful with the influencers they work with. I think there needs to be more of a guideline and ethics code so people aren’t taking advantage of it. I hope to see more creativity and enthusiasm overall.

What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
I have a lot of energy, love to talk, and ask questions… many hypothetical and random.

What do you do when you aren’t attending events or writing?
I’ve really blurred the lines between work and play, so it’s hard. I’d say sleep, but I don’t do that much either. I don’t really enjoy sleeping because I feel like I could be doing other things, so it’s hard for me to sleep. I guess spending time with friends and family who I don’t get to see often enough since I’m out of town quite frequently.

Follow Mijune Pak:
Twitter: @followmefoodie
Instagram: @followmefoodie
Facebook: FollowMeFoodie
Pinterest: FollowMeFoodie
YouTube: FollowMeFoodie




Jason is the Executive Chef at LANGDON HALL COUNTRY HOUSE HOTEL AND SPA in Cambridge and is an influential leader in the culinary industry. Some of his most notable achievements include opening two restaurants at the TIFF Bell Lightbox – O&B CANTEEN and the more upscale dining room and lounge LUMAIn 2015, Jason was awarded the International Rising Chef Award in Paris, France by Relais & Chateaux and recently, Langdon Hall was recognized for being the only restaurant in Ontario that has achieved the CAA 5 Diamond award for excellence in 2015. We caught up with Jason on his experience as an Influencer Chef and what it takes to make it in today’s competitive hospitality industry.

Tell us how you first started your culinary journey.
I think my journey starts way back to early childhood. My parents are wonderful cooks. We always eat well and they love to entertain. As a child, holidays were split up between grandparents in Perry Sound, Ontario (hunting, fishing, cottage life, cooking) and Amherst, Nova Scotia (on the ocean digging clams and razor fish, visiting the lobster boats, cabbage rolls, boiled dinners and baking bread).

Iron skillet fried pike, bass and pickerel were always a treat after a day fishing on the lake in Perry Sound. Hunting season meant venison and moose would hit the plate and there was always time to forage some wild blueberries for dessert.

From as early as I can remember I knew I wanted to be a chef. And by no coincidence, also as early as I can remember, my family began spending summers on the coast of Nova Scotia with my grandparents at their cottage on Amherst shore. It was a time of relaxation, family gathering, tradition and good food – very good food! My grandparents were wonderful cooks, who enjoyed preparing great feasts of family rooted dishes. They would spend hours in the preparation. I recall vividly the aroma of fresh breads, pies and cookies in the morning, simmering braises in the afternoon and the sweet salty smell of the seafood we would boil in the early evenings after a bountiful clam dig on the sand or visit to the lobster docks. Nova Scotia for me came to represent the very best of my culinary heritage; what my family and my country had to offer.

My Auntie Jan is also a bit of a Gourmand. It was in her Toronto condo I was introduced to a heightened level of cuisine. Delicacies such as escargot, caviar and filet mignon.

In any of these homes, food was always a topic of conversation and always a highlight of family visits.

Tell us a bit about the work you’ve done with Branding and Buzzing.
I have worked with Branding and Buzzing to promote an event called The League of Extraordinary Chefs, a culinary series that integrated Samuel Adams beer with the Cheese Boutique, participating restaurants and the food community. During this event, I was able to collaborate with these two brands to create a Backyard BBQ themed experience enjoyed by the guests who attended the dinner at Langdon Hall.

What are some of the challenges you face working in the restaurant industry?
There are challenges in every industry. There always will be. That’s part of what keeps it interesting. I think the biggest challenge is finding and recruiting the right people. It is especially challenging when your restaurant is off the main grid. Being located in a forest a distance from any major city makes that the biggest challenge to date.

What chef or chef(s) have been your biggest influence?
So many, in so many ways. During different times throughout my development as a cook. Some chefs influenced me directly and some indirectly. I can honestly say that every individual I have worked with through all the kitchens I have stepped foot in had some impact on my development as a chef. The people you work beside day in and day out are the real force behind what you become. We push and challenge each other everyday. The chef sets the standards. It’s the sous chefs and the brigade who develop and train the new cooks.

What do you think makes being a chef different today than when you first started?
Today I think it is a little more hip to be a chef. Maybe even trendy. With the rise of Reality TV, social media, print media, and cookbooks the Hospitality industry now offers chefs a much wider career path, which in turn means there are a lot more restaurants opening.

I also think there is a bigger awareness in using responsibly-sourced products. Sustainable lake, ocean and river fish caught in a method that is eco-safe and harvest controlled. There is a strengthened connection with local artisans and famers.

What advice would you give to new chefs in this industry?
Know this is what you want to do. Being a chef isn’t easy. It takes time. You have to study. Many years. Actually all of your years. As a chef, learning and developing never stops. It’s on going. Understand it is a labour of love. If you are in it for the money, go back to school. The big ticket jobs come late in your career. You have to understand that and come to terms with it. You do it because you love it. And, if you really love it, it will be rewarding and you will enjoy it all your days. A sous chef once said to me, “we are a special breed of human. Us cooks. A small percentage of the human race.” These words have always stuck with me. I believe it true. You have it or you don’t.

What upcoming trends do you see in the restaurant industry? 
Back to basics. Real cooking. Real food.

Jason Bangerter_snacks_brandingandbuzzing_influencer

Crispy caribou moss, wild bear’s head tooth mushroom, salsify and truffle prepared by Executive Chef Jason Bangerter

How do you see collaborative menus evolving in the next few years?
Our world is so connected these days that collaborating with other chefs is just a click away. I have had the privilege this summer to collaborate with some amazing Canadian talent during Langdon Halls popular Summer BBQ Series. I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in Relais & Chateaux’s Gourmet Fest in Carmel by the sea last year working with some of the world’s top chefs and wine makers. Last fall Langdon Hall hosted chef Olivier Roellinger for a 3 day collaboration of culinary delights to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Relais & Chateaux. The camaraderie and team spirit that energizes the kitchen when hosting guest chefs is exhilarating. I’m also thrilled to be collaborating with Chef Daniel Boulud on September 19th for a county in the city Brunch at Café Boulud during the Toronto Food and Wine Show. I can only see the push and desire for collaborative menus growing from both the chef’s and guest’s perspective.

What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
I once went spot prawn fishing with David Suzuki! I was lucky enough to be invited to collaborate with Chef Ned Bell in Vancouver to promote the first ever National Sustainability Seafood Day. I’m serious about sustainability and was honoured to be included in the line up. It was during this amazing event that I had the opportunity to fish with the one and only David Suzuki. There may have been a couple of prawns consumed straight from the trap…and I may have been the first chef to have first of the season prawns in Toronto on my return! It was incredible.

What do you do when you aren’t cooking?
I spend time with my family, my two awesome boys, Christian and Sebastian. My beautiful wife Stacey, whose support and strength has been crucial to my success as a professional chef. Behind every great chef is a very strong, supportive partner. This is for sure!

Follow Chef Jason Bangerter:
Twitter: @chefbangerter@Langdon_Hall
Instagram: @langdonhallchef, @langdonhall
Facebook: Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa



Arlene Stein


Arlene has worked for over 25 years in event management, food program design and marketing communications.  She is the Executive Director of TERROIR HOSPITALITY, which takes place annually each spring in Toronto, Canada. She is also a speaker of food system issues and a curator of gastronomic programs world wide.

First off, tell us about what you do.
I currently run the annual Terroir Symposium – a not-for-profit committee of industry professionals that puts on an annual symposium bringing together education, networking and collective resources to build a community that helps to strengthen our industry. The focus of our 10th year is more consumer program driven. We’ll also have three satellite events in Norway, Minneapolis and Montreal. Aside from Terroir, i’m involved with food writing and contract food program for various clients that I really enjoy like Evergreen Canada.

Tell us a bit about how you’ve worked with Branding and Buzzing.
Terroir has worked in partnership with Branding and Buzzing for the past three years to bring to life some innovative concepts around craft brewing. Last year they helped us come up with content for the symposium itself, and this year we teamed up with the buzzing team to build a consumer dining series which allowed some of our Terroir delegates to showcase collaborative meals for Toronto dinners paired with Samuel Adams beer.

When you started building your hospitality community, how did you spread the word?
Our organization has been a grassroots movement within the hospitality community since our inception in 2007. We have built great relationships with producers, wine experts, chefs, restaurateurs and media who have given us a tremendous amount of support. Our network has been built through those relationships.

What are some of the challenges you face working in the food and hospitality industry?
In the beginning, it was about creating the conversation – getting people to trust that an annual formal education and inspiration was a necessity in order to build and strengthen our industry. Today 10 years later, it’s more about the amount of work that is being done within the industry. We in fact will be looking at diversifying our program after our 10th anniversary.

What experts in the hospitality industry have been your biggest influence?
Well there are the obvious big hitters who I think have revolutionized our industry like Rene Redzepi and David Chang. The ones that have been my biggest influence are those individuals that have helped to build the Terroir program including our committee members, local producers, chefs and restauranteurs in Canada. I think we have an exceptional breadth of talent in Canada in our culinary marketplace right now – and I hope that in some small way as a national community we can help share our story with the world.

What advice would you give to newcomers in this industry?
I think if individuals want to become involved with the hospitality industry they need to love it and then they need to commit to it. It’s not the easiest business to be in – hard work, long hours and for the early years of your career not much money. The payoff is that you will work in an exceptionally creative industry with super dynamic people and have a flexible(ish) schedule. There are also more opportunities to grow within the hospitality industry than there was 20 years ago.

What upcoming culinary trends do you see in the hospitality industry?
I think the next evolution of the culinary world, will not happen on the plate. But rather will focus on collaborating with communities and building human relationships. Our world is now so connected thanks to social media and the proliferation of chef partnerships, food conferences and hospitality symposiums shows a strong desire for individuals to want to collaborate.

What are some of the coolest culinary inventions you’ve come across during Terroir?
I think the coolest thing I’ve come across during Terroir is the connection between food and environment. During the symposium, chefs would look to wild and native food in their natural habitat to use as ingredients.

What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
I love restaurants, and being a part of this business. I have been working in this industry for 25 years and have done every front of house job from bar back to hostess to General Manager. I started Terroir because I genuinely believed that bringing people together in an annual forum could help strengthen our industry – this is truly a passion project for me.

What do you do when you aren’t attending events or networking?
I spend a lot of time travelling and attending events, but what I really like to do is entertain friends at home and spend time with family.

Tenille Lafontaine[3]


Tenille Lafontaine is a 30-something mom of three in Regina, Saskatchewan. She is the founder of FEISTY FRUGAL & FABULOUS, one of the top mommy blogs in Canada (in fact, in 2012 Reader’s Digest Canada named her among their top 10!) Over the years, Feisty Frugal & Fabulous has expanded to bring on three contributors, and Tenille can now regularly be heard on provincial talk radio and bi-weekly on Regina Morning News segments. We caught up with Tenille on her experience working as an Influencer for Branding and Buzzing and what it takes to make it in today’s competitive social media space.

Tell us how you first got involved with mommy blogging.
It happened more by circumstance than planning. I was living in a very small town and needed an outlet to write, share and interact with other moms. The blog started as a way to share online coupons and deal finds and eventually evolved into what it is today.

Tell us a bit about the work you’ve done with Branding and Buzzing.
I’m new to working with Branding and Buzzing but if my first experience was any indication, I’m a huge fan! I was asked to participate in Season Two of the TK Everyday contest and won the title of Season 2 Thai Kitchen Canada Ambassador with a delicious spin on a favourite childhood dessert – Banana Split Pie!

What does Social Media mean to you?
Social Media is all about connecting and having a voice. Today, brands can reach out to their customer base to advertise, gain feedback and learn. In turn, consumers have a voice more than ever before – they can connect with brands in real time and share insights that up until now, we reserved for sample groups and polling. Done right, social media can mean huge success for a brand and product.

How frequent do you post on your blog, Facebook and Instagram?
I’m a daily user. I think they have a support group for that but I’m not interested in an intervention! I love social media and will post somewhere on any given day and some days I’m everywhere!. If I disappear from the social space for more than 24 hours, you should probably send out a search party.

What are some of the challenges you face working in the social media space?
It’s harder to share tone and intention when writing than it is when speaking, so I’ve had to be careful to ensure people know when I’m being sarcastic or silly. That can be difficult to achieve on Twitter in 140 characters.

What blogger or blog(s) have been your biggest influence?
I started reading The Bloggess years ago and adore Jenny’s wit. I also love Illustrated With Crappy Pictures – Amber captures parenting like no one else can, even her stick figures are better than mine. For design and decor, I adore my friend Amanda’s blog, Natural Mommie.

What do you think makes blogging in Regina, Saskatchewan different?
Oh definitely having a prairie and western Canadian aspect to the writing. Bloggers in western Canada are, in my opinion, so different from bloggers in Toronto. We don’t have events three times a week to attend (unless you count backyard barbecues!) and we have a different perspective on lifestyle, food, fashion and travel. Parenting perspective is even different than it would be in a metro city.

What upcoming social media trends do you see in the mommy blogging industry?
I see moms branching out. We started writing about baby shoes and high chairs and our kids are growing. Sure, new blogs are popping up all the time and babies too (!!) but the bloggers here in Canada who have been doing it a number of years have children that are growing, so content is changing. Mom bloggers are now writing about fashion, lifestyle, and travel more than they would have when their children were small. They’re also, like me, utilizing traditional forms of media as well. My online blog has now helped move me into radio and TV.

What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
I’m scared of clowns. And the thought of hugging one makes me want to cry.

What do you do when you aren’t attending events or writing?
Sleeping? =)

Matt Dean Pettit


Matt is the founder of ROCK LOBSTER FOOD CO. Since his first ever pop up event in March 2012, Rock Lobster has grown into 3 bustling restaurants and a successful wholesale and retail seafood line, MATTY’S SEAFOOD RETAIL LINE. Matt’s latest exciting projects are his cookbook, THE GREAT LOBSTER COOKBOOK, which was published by Random House and has since become a critically acclaimed “Best Seller”, and SUPER SNACK BROS, his exciting new Food Network Canada TV & web show.

Tell us how you first got involved in the food industry.
My first job in the food industry was as a busboy at the young age of 13 at Casey’s restaurant in my hometown in Midland, Ontario, Canada. One afternoon one of the prep cooks called in sick and I was asked to fill in. From that day on I fell in love with the food industry.

Tell us a bit about the work you’ve done with Branding and Buzzing.
10 years ago, I met Sean while he was working in the Fashion industry, and a few years later I met Marian while attending a Chuck Hughes book signing and we hit it off immediately. I’ve worked closely with the Branding and Buzzing team to launch The Great Rock Lobster Cookbook and develop Matty’s Seafood line. From social media to restaurant branding, the team has a 360 full service approach that has helped build my brand as a whole.

What are some of the challenges you face working in the restaurant social media space?
Consumers expect answers right away. So making sure that you can deliver those answers is crucial. Complaints are another challenge I’ve come across while owning my three restaurants. Handling these complaints effectively must be done in a sensitive way since your feedback can be viewed by the entire social media space.

What chef or chef(s) have been your biggest influence?
Chef, Restaurateur, and MasterChef Canada Judge Claudio Aprile. He is chef and owner of Orderfire Restaurant Group, which includes Origin brand restaurants. He has been one of my biggest influences and has acted as a mentor throughout my career as a chef and brand ambassador.

What do you think makes owning a restaurant in Toronto different?
I think what really makes owning a restaurant in Toronto different is that people who live in this city love NEW things. Toronto is a place where you can experiment with flavours and multicultural food mash-ups. It’s a beautiful thing.

What advice would you give to new chefs in this industry?
Cook something that YOU want to cook and something that you are proud of. Take risks. Don’t be afraid to share your recipes. The more people who know about them, the more potential new customers for you! It’s a competitive industry, and if you want to stand out you need to be willing to put yourself out there. Attending smaller food shows and networking events can help grow your network. You never know who may end up working in your kitchen.

What upcoming social media trends do you see in the restaurant industry? 
Everything is fast paced and digital now. Consumers want to learn about where their food is coming from in a fun approachable way. From Periscope to real life Instagram videos people want that cinematic experience from food. Another trend in the restaurant industry is Tastemade, a video network built for the mobile generation. What they do is enable tastemakers to share their passion for food by sharing their stories of travel adventures and cultural and local flavours, all digitally.

How do you see Social Marketing evolving in the next few years?
Social marketing is here to stay and it’s evolving at an astronomical rate. I see social media marketing in the restaurant world becoming much more relevant. Nowadays, chefs are seen as celebrities of their restaurants so to speak, and they represent a much bigger picture. If you look at Jamie Oliver and the work he’s done fighting for food education or Chef David Chang, founder of Momofuku Restaurant Group, and how he’s shaped modern Asian cuisine. People want the big picture.

What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
Something people may not know about me is my extreme passion for sports. Nothing beats a tailgating party while indulging in snack foods.

What do you do when you aren’t cooking?
When I’m not cooking I LOVE to rest on my couch. If I can watch the 11 o’ clock news or catch the Sunday football game when the Buffalo Bills are playing then I’m a happy man.



As a Nutritionist focusing on Chinese Nutrition Therapy and owner of SEXY FOOD THERAPY INC., Melissa Ramos’ high-heeled approach to health helps people feel sexy from the inside out. She is a regular expert on CTV’s The Social, a TED speaker and has been named one of Canada’s up-and-coming health and wellness stars by FLARE magazine. Ramos is an official health blogger for HUFFINGTON POST and has appeared on CBC’s, Steven & Chris, CHUM and Virgin Radio and was named Woman of the Week from Women’s Post Magazine.

First off, tell us how you first got involved with nutritional food blogging.
Well for starters I’m not a huge fan of the term nutrition blogger because blogging is just a facet of what I do and not who I am. I do believe blogging is tremendously important however if you’re trying to position yourself as an authority, I believe in business you really have to learn how to adapt in an ever changing environment. I began my journey writing probably back when I was in school when I lived with three other women in what I called, The Estrogen Den. My focus back then was to write about how I emotionally ate the right way through my dating stories. Since then Sexy Food Therapy has really changed in terms of content, offerings and marketing objectives. 

Tell us a bit about the work you’ve done with Branding and Buzzing.
I’ve done quite a bit with Branding and Buzzing to be honest! I’ve worked with them on a program for Thai Kitchen Canada, where I won the title of Thai Kitchen Canada’s Brand Ambassador for 2014. Plus I’ve produced videos as well for various brands. Working with Branding and Buzzing has been great because I’ve had the opportunity to connect with brands that I believe in and are happy to promote.

What does Social Media mean to you?
Connection. It’s really all about connection and depending on the social media avenue that you choose, it simply allows you to connect with people on a much wider level. Social media has been rapidly changing so while people have generally been complaining about changes with Facebook, etc., I see it as an opportunity to become more innovative and creative on how I choose to use social media as an effective tool to connect with my tribe.

What blogger or blog(s) have been your biggest influence?
My influence really comes in piece meal from all over, from Australia to the US. I think people in Toronto tend to get pigeon holed with Toronto, but there’s more to the world than just this city, so look and think bigger. I love seeing sites that inspire me visually because I’m motivated by creativity and art. One great new site that I love these days is Garden Heart (funny enough a Toronto gal). Her photography is absolutely stunning. Other people I enjoy following is Melissa Ambrosini in Australia, Diane Sanfilippo in the US and who’s the author of NY Times Best Selling Book, Practical Paleo. There’s a ton of great people out there, so I do my best to connect with people who are playing at a much higher level.

What do you think makes blogging in Canada different than the US?
I think Canadians can be quite conservative in their approach versus the US. I also think that again, people in certain cities like Toronto won’t look past their city and get caught up in that. What I find happening in the US is people tend to play much bigger and I find that incredibly inspiring.

What advice would you give to newcomers in the food blogging industry?
Be you. Stop thinking you have to fit into a specific mould and just do you. When I came onto the scene people thought I was nuts with Sexy Food Therapy because it was a sassier approach. I used my so-call “weaknesses” to my advantage. So my klutziness and dramatic little personality is something I put out there rather than feeling like I had to repress it. 

What upcoming social media trends do you see in the blogging industry?
You need to pay to play. People have moaned about this for a while now, but I think the true marketers ( because I hate being called, “a blogger”) will win if they boost specific content that they create. Facebook organic reach is dead so boosting blog posts strategically is a must. And blogging with a purpose is a necessity.

How do you see influencer marketing evolving in the next few years?
I think brands are definitely seeing the value that influencers have to play. What I think will happen is that influencers will need to be more creative on how they use their powers with brands. Maybe it isn’t just blogging. Maybe it’s through instagram, or live-streaming through Meerkat or Periscope, but influencers will need to step up their game on HOW they’re influencing brands that goes beyond a blog post.

What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
That I’ll continue pushing the creative envelope.

What do you do when you aren’t attending events or writing?
NOTHING. Literally, sometimes I need to turn my brain and phone off. I’ll shut my laptop, ignore calls and messages and just refuel with my pup. I’d love to say that I’m out socializing but truly, I’m more of an introvert that my videos have me pegged for. So relaxing at home with Netflix and my dog is one of my favourite things to do.

Ethan Adeland Headshot


Ethan is the affable voice behind FEEDING ETHAN social connector and co-founder of FOOD BLOGGERS OF CANADA. He decided to pivot and change directions after spending over 10 years in the world of professional sports working with such organizations as the Montreal Canadiens and the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. He’s now telling stories about food and travel through writing and photography while also working diligently to provide food bloggers more opportunities to showcase their own work. He’s also a huge fan of Seinfeld and believes that soup with crackers is a meal.

First off, tell us how you first got involved with food blogging.
It was 2009 and I had just moved from Montreal while working with the Montreal Canadiens as their retail buyer to work for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The blog began as a way to share and explore my new west coast surroundings. Nowadays, it’s mainly documenting the food I eat/enjoy/devour and places I travel to with a few recipes and some of my own random thoughts thrown in for good measure.

Tell us a bit about the work you’ve done with Branding and Buzzing.
I was a part of the Sam In Hand program with Samuel Adams and was asked to make a snack using one of their beers. I opted for the Winter Lager which was perfect for my Beer Bacon Caramel Popcorn and to enjoy as a beverage too, obviously. 

What does Social Media mean to you?
It’s changed a lot since I popped online in 2009. But at its core and used properly, I think it still remains the same. For me, social media allows for opportunities to connect and create with anyone and everyone in the world. In fact, even my business Food Bloggers of Canada wasn’t even a possibility a few years ago, social media changed all of that. I met my good friend and eventual business partner Melissa Hartfiel Eyes Bigger Than My Stomach through the wonders of social media. 

What are some of the challenges you face working in the social media space?
I think the biggest challenge is that everyone is at such different stages of adoption and use within social media. And yet, everyone compares themselves to someone else and not always in a very healthy manner. I’m as guilty as it as anyone else, but instead of worrying or envying what someone else may or may not have based on perception, everyone should just focus on their own stuff and strive to simply grow and evolve as they want.

What blogger or blog(s) have been your biggest influence?
There are a few that I enjoy for various reasons. Joy Wilson Joy the Baker was one of the first blogs I discovered years ago, I’ve always liked how her blog is just a fun place to visit. Matt Armendariz Matt Bites takes beautiful photos and is just a great guy. We’re now friends, I’ve crashed at his place in LA and have even gone to Disneyland to visit Mickey together. Aimee Wimbush-Bourque Simple Bites blogs about a life that is completely opposite from mine but she inspires me in that a lot of what she does is within my grasp as well.  Unrelated to food blogging is Mark Manson Mark Manson, I just like how he tells it the way it is. I also like to browse Cool Hunting Cool Hunting, never know what you’ll see that will get your creative juices flowing.

What do you think makes blogging in Vancouver different?
I don’t think Vancouver is different but rather, every city just has its own unique vibe when it comes to blogging. From a food perspective, I find Vancouver is a much more restaurant blogger-driven than other cities where cooking and baking blogs are more prominent.

What advice would you give to newcomers in this industry? 
To begin with, invest the extra few $ and time to own your own domain as it makes life much easier down the road. Also, just have fun with it. Always try to keep in mind why you wanted to become a blogger. That should be why you want to sit down at your computer and tell your story.

What upcoming social media trends do you see in the food blogging industry? 
Thankfully Facebook has left Instagram pretty much as is for now. Instagram will only continue to explode. With people’s attention span at an all-time low, a photo (and its 1000 words) has never been more prominent than it is now.

How do you see influencer marketing evolving in the next few years?
It’s now to the point that we don’t need companies to directly tell us what we want or need like back in the Mad Men traditional advertising days. Influencers are the new spokespeople. I’m dating myself, but nowadays Dan Marino wouldn’t be on television pitching/selling/telling us about his comfortable Isotoner gloves, instead he’d be doing it from his own platform to the people who want to hear directly from him. 
I think it’s levelling the playing field a bit, big budgets can now be trumped by collaborating and creative ideas more than even before. 

What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
Hmmm, I’ve been playing the same Lotto 6/49 numbers for over 20 years. One day those six numbers will hit for me and it will be a glorious day! 




Erica is a nationally recognized stylist, TV personality, fashion expert and founder of ERICA ON FASHION. Her styling aesthetic is all about marrying unexpected pieces and inspiring others to look at fashion in new and unique ways. With appearances on CTV’s The Social, The Marilyn Denis Show, eTalk, Steven & Chris, BT Toronto and Entertainment Tonight Canada, Erica is all about having fun, pushing the boundaries and ultimately helping men and women find their true-style selves.

First off, tell us how you first got involved with blogging.
After completing a journalism degree and diploma program with Algonquin College and University of Ottawa, I wanted to write about fashion. I started freelance writing here and there for various publications, but wanted the opportunity to write more. A fashion blog seemed like the next step.

Tell us a bit about the work you’ve done with Branding and Buzzing.
Branding and Buzzing asked me to help find stylish people visiting Toronto Eaton Centre and have them snapped by the talented Mauricio Calero for some fashion-forward street style snaps for TEC’s social media. It’s always a fun-filled day when the team gets together to find style stars in Toronto’s fashionable mall.

What does Social Media mean to you?
Social Media is incredibly important; it helps me stay current in my industry, while reaching out to those who look to be inspired, educated and excited by fashion.

How frequent do you post on your blog(s), Facebook and Instagram?
I post about 3 times a week on Erica On Fashion, while posting daily on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

What blogger or blog(s) have been your biggest influence?
There are so many incredibly talented bloggers – I love Gary Pepper Girl, The Native Fox, Manrepeller… Olivia Palermo’s Style Blog is also great. There are also a lot of talented Canadian blogs like Backseat Stylers, the Beckerman girls, Lisa Dengler of Just Another Fashion Blog. I could go on and on.

What advice would you give to newcomers in this industry?
Look to be unique. There are so many fashion bloggers out there now, the market has been saturated. So find a way to make yours new, fresh and uniquely you. Be true to you and what you love; people will follow you if it feels real.

If we could only read one post you’ve written which would it be and why?
Oh man… I’ve been doing this for so long I don’t think I could say! Wark It Wednesday’s are probably the most fun for me as it’s me styling myself with clothing that’s currently in my closet!

What upcoming social media trends do you see in the blogging industry? 
I think Instagram is going to continue to flourish. It’s basically a personal photo diary of your life (very much like blogging), so  no matter what your passion is, you can share it with others and hopefully inspire them to do the same – and now that Instagram has started their ad program here in Canada, I think the opportunities for businesses will be endless.

How do you see Influencer Marketing evolving in the next few years? 
Consumers are really calling the shots now – brands are taking note of their likes, dislikes; who they surround themselves with, and what they’re passionate about. Reaching out to consumers on a grand scale is becoming increasingly difficult, so I think Influencer Marketing will only continue to grow in success.  People want to feel a part of something, while being unique at the same time – I think that’s why it is becoming increasingly popular.

What do you do when you aren’t attending events or writing?
If I’m not on set of The Social, MDS or eTalk, I might be working with private clients, styling shoots & videos or running through malls pulling and prepping for upcoming gigs. It’s a busy lifestyle but I couldn’t imagine it any other way.





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