Deep down, I've always been an artist, not a businessman. #authenticity
It isn't always easy. This is a subject that's deep and personal to myself and I haven't really been able to put it into words. Many friends and acquaintances look upon me and my work and say you're an inspiration or a similar expression of "your life must be super exciting."
Let's get back to the drawing board though.
Everyone's journey is invisible. You're unable to see what's actually going on in someone's life. You're able to make assumptions and attributions based off the minutes or hours you seem them, and the rest you fill in the gaps with social media.
What bothers me about social media is that people do not understand each other. There's a huge connect between the who you really are versus the facades that are visible.
For business reasons, I must continue to put up jer.chung as it is a brand and not a person, however much I consider myself an artist and not so much a business person.
I've recently realized my mistakes in my life. It dawned on me that I have to fix them. I can't repeat the same mistakes.
I sometimes have these suppositions that I am not doing enough with my life or maybe that I screwed up things in the past regarding my career, academic, or love life. As if it's indicative of imposter syndrome.
I sometimes wonder whether I'm doing the right thing with my life, to simultaneously burn myself out with an MBA program while trying to run my own food tech startup. Whether it's easier to just join a 9-5 and to be a sheep like everyone else.
But no, most people are wrong in this world. This is why leaders comprise such a small portion of the world. And even so, many leaders are wrong.
I reconcile that it's in my best interest to stray away from the norm, to keep fighting for what's right, and being authentic to who I am. I realized that I never want to work a 9-5, but there may be a day if this all fails that I might have to, temporarily or whatnot.
Would I recommend anyone to be a food photographer / food entrepreneur? I'm not so sure.
I don't mean this to be a piece that resonates with other liberal millennials hogwash - a subtle reference to how we are always whining and entitled. The hustle is difficult and requires constant attention, planning, and action.
It requires an immense amount of attention and even if you're burnt out tired, you need to be responsive via email and calls and be willing to meet and drive long distances while it's raining really hard outside.
There are days of ups and downs - where I feel like I made it and can rent a house in SF, or also days where I feel I'm going to starve over.
I'm good with action and impulsivity, but not planning. And it's sometimes scary, not knowing what will happen next.
Entrepreneurship is a difficult journey, because no one tells you what to do and you must hold yourself accountable for everything. Your friends and family will be there to root you on, but have no idea what you're actually doing.
It's a journey that I'm not so sure I'd recommend to everyone; it does take a certain type of personality type for it to all work.
See, when people ask what I do and I tell them I take photos of food, they get all confused. They think I eat all day long. It's also easy to mix up food photographer with food blogger (which I am not). My focus is on providing food photography services to restaurant and other food businesses. On the other end, which is the b2c side, Dish Crawl Co focuses on helping food entrepreneurs, whether through helping restaurants through influencer marketing and helping aspiring food photographer master their craft from both a technical and business side.
As a food photographer, my job often looks easy and is met with awe and admiration. Through the beginning, I've been blessed with positive comments and adulation. Friends often come to me and say how much I've inspired them. I am equally thankful for these encounters and could have never dreamed that I'd inspire anyone with my work. Through the countless positive remarks, there have been only about a handful of cases of negativity - passive aggression as we call it, but I won't go into that here.
My work requires a lot of due diligence and grind. 90% of this game is strategy and understanding how this ecosystem works. Currently, my wish is to dominate the ecosystem of food photography within the SF Bay Area region. This means that, I'm hoping to work with larger deals than restaurants currently. I'm looking for commercial deals as well as cookbook deals. If you have any leads, I'd love to hear you.
All creatives deal with emails, logistics, and planning, and the business talk. It's essential to learn to deal with people with the highest level of professionalism. If a deal isn't fair, you must learn to communicate it in a cordial manner. You must also know how to provide value and continue providing the amount of value to match your pricing strategy.
No two days are the same. I'm currently enrolled in a masters program at a university within the SF Bay Area and have been trying to run my own food photography business, as well as Dish Crawl Co which helps many restaurants in SF Bay Area. I wear many hats as an entrepreneur and realized that since I do not deal well in structured environments, this is the way I learn the fastest. I have dealt with the simple side of business from communications, public relations, and email marketing, to accounting and finance, managing invoices, customer service, account management, marketing, and most importantly, sales. I couldn't have learned any of this in an MBA program, and I'm thankful that I now have the opportunity to apply all of this skills in a way that makes most sense to me.
Through my time as a food photographer, the most part is executing the actual food photoshoot. It does not take too long, and I always love meeting the restauranteurs at hand and having a good time with the shoot. The hardest parts involve the logistics.
Currently, I plan to do food photography for a long time - as long as I can. I'm also working on my food videography to capture more of the market, but to also target online education for food photography workshops. These videos will serve 2 sets of consumers, 1) consumers who want to learn about branding and food photography and 2) consumers who want to learn how to build a customer base for their restaurants. This will all be done through Dish Crawl Co.
That said, no days are the same at all. On most days, I'm working on school work, and then working on food photography edits and photoshooting at restaurants. I attend many tastings for influencers that help restaurants and host an occasional food photography workshop event. I also wrote an ebook recently that can be found here. I've been working on brainstorming and ideating for my next ebooks, workshops, and photoshoots. I'm also working on different post-processing techniques, and finding a way to streamline my food photography business from a logistics standpoint. I also spend a lot of time talking to restauranteurs and finding a way to bring in more customers for them on a macro aspect. This is managed through Dish Crawl Co.
I'm often hustling at this work during school (during class time) and during meetings that are not related. As an entrepreneur, I realize that there needs to be a time for proper relaxation, as life is stressful and these tastings are not healthy. As such, I try to make a point to exercise around 5 days per week. On Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday, I lift, and Wednesday I run. I occasionally run or hike on the weekends. These gym sessions help me stay grounded and keep me happy.
I realize that a lot of what I do is potentially glamorous, but many people do not understand what goes behind it, and what the diet entails. I believe that much of it is unhealthy as it is filled with processed foods, high carbs, high salts, high cholesterols, fatty/oily foods, and ultimately food that should have no place in my body. As such, I have decided to change my life, by still attending these tastings, but really just tasting, instead of ingesting a full meal of it. I plan on focusing on a more wholesome diet that is high in proteins, and low in carbs and sugars to ensure that I have a higher energy throughout the day. I have recently heavily decreased the amount of coffee I drink and that has made me already feel much better. I used to drink coffee a high amount per week and believe that is not the way to live.
Through all these tastings, adventures, and shenanigans, I now know that I want to live a healthier life, one that is healthier in terms of diet, exercise, and relationships, as well as one that free from stress and maximizes experience based happiness. I know that it doesn't take much to be happy, and understand that a focus on finding my purpose, working towards it, as well as working on myself in ways that are simple, yet make a huge difference will ultimately garner the highest level of happiness.
I never want to stop doing what I do and I'm very thankful for those who have supported me. I hope that my work inspires others to lead a life that he/she has always wanted and to never stop learning and doing.
People are on constant auto-pilot. Traditional success these days means going to school for 20 years, graduating from high school, college, and graduate school with a fresh MBA in hand. Those degrees grant you a shitty 9-5 job with an $80K salary surrounded by people you don't even know, doing things to impress people you don't know at all. Then, you may get married and work for the rest of your life to pay the debts of your childhood. They live without purpose.
Purpose is all that matters, because at the end of the day, all you have is yourself. If you're constantly lying to yourself to impress others, tons of regret is going to start building up.
This fact that people are constantly on auto-pilot is something that bothers me very much. It's because society has imposed great demands upon itself to create bullshit and make everything seem OK, when they're really forgetting to cover their ass.
Here in Silicon Valley, it's astounding that we're constantly trying to innovate, when in all honesty, we've haven't gotten the greatest inkling of what to do with the problems right in front of us. Things that really matter - people starving on the streets everywhere, for instance.
People just don't seem aware of their existence and the greater purpose of their lives. Many lack authenticity. They're busy constantly. Blowing off things that really matter - family, close friends, their health. They're just in this rat race to make more money, dealing with more bullshit, just to impress the people around them that they don't even know.
At the end of the day, many seem content with just watching TV and drinking beer. Calling it a day. Going to Costco and Target on weekends. Not really taking their time to see the sky, or watch the stars at night. Not enjoying a good meal over weekends. Things that are normal.
This is ultimately why a city like SF appeals to me so much as opposed to Silicon Valley. People seem more normal, and at the same time paradoxically weird. They're weird, because they're just doing normal people things - drinking coffee at cafes, walking their dogs down Hayes Valley, chatting with friends over mimosas during brunch, chilling at Mission Dolores, watching the boats at the Marina, or eating at a classy restaurant. Living life.
I'm unabashedly a work in progress myself. I know my purpose and am working on myself every day. I'm always looking to improve my health through lifting and running, and constantly curious on how to improve my relationships. I'm also strongly in tune with my moral compass and know that it'd be wrong to follow the path that society dictates, though it has not been an easy path to follow at all. Today, I identify as a food photographer and entrepreneur. My dream is to help restaurants around SF and around the world. Through a variety of services stacked upon each other, we focus on helping different aspects of restaurant business, as well as those who are chefs or really enjoy eating. Ultimately, I want to be able to run a small company remotely, from where ever in the world I am.
That said, my plan of action for Dish Crawl Co includes expanding the food photography workshops to other cities on the west cost of the US first. These workshops have been focused on building a larger presence for restaurants, as well as helping eaters better their food photography to attract more clients. I am first owning the process of food photography workshops and food photography in SF. After, we will expand to a city such as LA or Seattle. My hope is that once we've taught someone food photography and how to build your brand, they will be able do food photography under us with many restaurants through the different cities.
Currently, I'm building out the different resources, such as ebooks, guides, and videos. Once these are all in place, eaters learn a lot from our free content as well as paid content, if they do choose to buy them. There will also be ebooks, guides, and videos for restauranteurs to study to help them boost their customer base. At the workshops, we will have these guides available for eaters to read. We are also opening the private coaching for eaters, currently starting at $270 per 2 hours - the price will increase.
This is why I've been working so hard at my food photography and Dish Crawl Co. I don't want to be another cog in the machine that deals with shit every day. It scares me to see and hear about it, and it's also extremely motivating to see a few others join me on this journey of making it every day.
This is my purpose - now what's yours?
Check us out at Dish Crawl Co!
On July 7th at 6pm, I hosted my Instafood Workshop at Scotland Yard in SF. When Scotland Yard in SF agreed to have me host my Instagram Workshop at their venue, I couldn’t have been more excited. Scotland Yard is one of my favorite restaurants in SF, serving a double hash burger that is a top 3 burger in SF. Thanks to Executive Chef Jason Raffin’s generosity a few months ago, a friend and I shared the entire menu - all 19 courses in its greatest glory. I only wished to return the favor by helping this restaurant grow by hosting a unique event. As a result, many people associate this restaurant with me and there was much outreach and exposure via the Instagram community, which resulted in many more customers within the first month.
Since this was the first Instafood workshop, I focused on the bare basics and covered mostly breadth: such as how to take photos at different angles, basic lighting principles, and how anyone could do it. I was pleasantly surprised that 30 people showed up to the event. During the event, someone told me that I was featured on SFGate which prompted many people to contact me in the following weeks after the event as to when my next event would be. I’m thankful to have received hundreds of inquiries on my workshop and am pleased to announce that I will be holding a series of 3 Instafood Workshops in the next months.
What to expect next: In the Instafood series, I will go into depth in lighting, composition, editing, tagging, camera gear, as well as fundamental business principles needed on how to turn your hobby into your dream job. I’m super excited to announce that my next Instafood Workshop is on August 22nd at 7pm at The Lodge.
Once we have enough Instafood Workshops running concurrently, with the right instructors, we will begin to offer beginning, intermediate, and master classes.
Is a restaurant worth going to if the food and interiors are not Instagram worthy? While I'm all about finding the best food whether it's high-end or budget eats, I can't help but let my camera eat first. Those who take dining seriously know how important it is to get that perfect shot. We're all chasing after that spot which will help us garner the most hearts.
From high-end to fast-casual, I've curated a list of the 38 most Instagram worthy restaurants in SF Bay Area.
Inspired by Scandinavian design, it's hard not to fall in love with this minimalist, meditative, and spacious coffee shop.
2340 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109, saintfrankcoffee.com
Eggs on anything make it ten times sexier.
311 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117, ragazzasf.com
Din Tai Fung
The long wait for your one shot at xiao long bao? #worth
2855 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95050, dintaifungusa.com
Mission Beach Cafe
A Mission District neighborhood classic.
198 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94103, missionbeachcafesf.com
Orchard City Kitchen
Chef Jeffrey Stout's hipster New American restaurant is one of a kind in South Bay.
1875 S Bascom Ave, Ste 190, Campbell, CA 95008, orchardcitykitchen.com
Beignets, po' boys, and oysters make this a New Orleans favorite in sunny California.
532 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos, CA 95030, thebywaterca.com
The sexiest burger in town is finally here.
3232 Scott St, San Francisco, CA 94123, scotlandyardsf.com
Cozy, intimate, and romantic - no one will bother you while you take food pics.
609 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102, petitcrenn.com
The Gipsy Darling
The name is one of a kind and so is the place and food - remarkably New American
3347 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123, thegipsydarling.com
The greatest sushi in town is also aesthetically beautiful.
665 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94103, omakasesf.com
Looking for that cute spot to share desserts with your bae? Look no further.
500 Westlake Ctr, Daly City, CA 94015, ketsourinemacarons.com
Chef Cosentino's space is rustic, spacious, and very masculine; the sandwiches have a similar level of grandeur.
564 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94107, cockscombsf.com
Old Bus Tavern
They put flowers on every dish.
3193 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, oldbustavern.com
The fried arancini left me craving them again for days.
145 2nd St, San Francisco, CA 94105, jerseysf.com
Only the Oakland location hosts the tasting menu - and what's better for photos than a tasting menu?
2100 Franklin St, Ste 2190, Oakland, CA 94612, umamiburger.com
Thoughts Style Cuisine Showroom
The fashion showroom for food is finally here.
139 8th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
The GM asked me if the food was aesthetically beautiful - I thought it was.
3619 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121, marlabakery.com
Black Sheep Brasserie
The first New American / French in South Bay also serves beautiful dishes.
1202 Lincoln Ave, Ste 30, San Jose, CA 95125, blacksheepbrasserie.com
ICHI Sushi + NI Bar
You can't get your photos without a hefty price tag - be prepared to drop $90+ per person, even if you're not hungry.
3282 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, ichisushi.com
Modern Mexican fare dressed to impress.
1224 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122, nopalitosf.com
Hipster milk tea shop at the outer edge of Union Square - Instagram enthusiasts rejoice.
341 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108, plenteasf.com
Fans of hipster restaurants rejoice.
4001 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122, outerlandssf.com
An impulse walk-in to try the tasting menu resulted in a major success.
199 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102, richtablesf.com
Farmhouse Kitchen Thai
Farmhouse modernizes Thai and makes it attractive.
710 Florida St, San Francisco, CA 94110, farmhousesf.com
Korean fusion eatery serves some nice looking tacos and bowls.
521A 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107, hrdcorp.com
A Divis classic.
661 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117, laurbanasf.com
Hipster milk tea shop in South Bay.
989 Story Rd, Ste 8018, San Jose, CA 95122, tealyfe.us
The best pastries in Bay Area are also extremely beautiful.
2821 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115, bpatisserie.com
I think I'm in love.
5657 Auto Mall Pkwy, Fremont, CA 94538, http://www.milkcow.kr/korea.html
Koja got everyone posting about them on Instagram.
2395 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704, kojakitchen.com
Flowers on salads, anyone?
753 Alabama St, San Francisco, CA 94110, thetradesmansf.com
You cannot go wrong with this New American classic across from the HQ of Uber and Twitter.
1420 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102, altaca.co
Am I dining in a palace?
1355 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103, dirtywatersf.com
Steve Jobs' favorite sushi place. The sushi is sexy.
454 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306, jinshorestaurant.com
This local ice cream shop should popup on our Insta-feeds more often.
121 Lytton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301, gelataio.us
Blue Plate epitomizes the ideal romantic neighborhood restaurant of SF.
3218 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, blueplatesf.com
Most expensive piece of pork belly ever.
1552 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115, mosusf.com
Elite Audio Coffee Bar
I didn't know that I could fall in love with a drawing of a cat on a latte.
So you decided to eat at one of these restaurants? Send me an email at email@example.com before you dig in!
Through the past many months, I’ve been able to experience some of SF’s top restaurants. What’s most interesting to me that expectations and reality often don’t match.
Some restaurants when I least expected it, exceeded my expectations. Others fell a bit short, and I felt surprised. To me, good food isn’t about price tag, service, or ambience. It’s about state of mind that I’ve reached when encountering some top tier food. Good food can be found in any cuisine. In my case, I’ve found cheap good food as equally comforting as designer food. And while New American cuisine is my favorite and Traditional American cuisine rests on the other end of the spectrum, I’ve encountered a few Traditional American restaurants that comforted my soul. It happened when I bit into double hash burger (hi, Scotland Yard) slathered with bone marrow aioli, beef lean and grilled to perfection, and brioche bun buttered like no tomorrow.
Recently, I had the honor of dining at Rich Table, which really showed me how judgement we are as humans. Before going in, I already had these preconceived opinions, knowing that it’s one of the top .1% of restaurants of SF, let alone SF Bay Area. The bill came to a humble $128, wouldn’t I expect to be sipping away to god’s nectar - or at least something like Project Juice in the form of solids? The dry aged rib eye from Los Angeles was amazing - lean, flavorful, yet no wow factor. It’s as though I were waiting for the angels to come out from the beef.
While my experience was greatly positive, the cuisine came across as too try hard, even for someone who really enjoys the creativity that stems from New American cuisine.
It's too easy to form judgements about something just based off photos. I'll have to monitor what I'm thinking subconsciously because apparently I'm supposed to not have opinions before going into restaurants. This is why social media (especially Instagram and Yelp) is so unfortunately powerful to the success of restaurants. And especially if a critic (like Michael Bauer of SF chronicle) posts an unpopular opinion, it's potentially destructive to the growth of lesser known more deserving restaurants.
Here is a quick round-up of 5 great restaurants I’ve eaten at within the past couple of months:
Scotland Yard: I’m actually not a fan of Traditional American cuisine; yet, Chef Jason Raffin, who has experience overseeing Marina’s Bin 38, set my expectations high, and the execution ultimately exceeded expectations in every way. What interested most is that Scotland Yard infuses New American cuisine into Traditional American. That is, Chef Raffin designed the menu to reflect American comfort food, yet many he infuses other cultures into his food. The Korean fried chicken, for example has candied kumquats, nigella seeds pepitas, gochujan ginger glaze, and parsnip puree. It is a clear standout dish, along with the double smash burger. I’d dare to say Scotland Yard has the best burger in SF (many critics like Causwells, with no good reason).
3232 Scott St, San Francisco, CA 94123, scotlandyardsf.com
Rich Table: I impulsively tried the tasting menu which costed $128 after tax and tip. I started the meal with some bites of 7 things with a side of pear cider. The anchovy dip was delightful. I enjoyed the seared foie gras toast. These 7 things spoke to me about the chef’s likes and recent experiences. Chef just returned from a trip from Asia - namely Japan and India. As such, the curries were imbued with so much flavor. The Alaskan halibut was accompanied by Japanese green curry. The chitarra was beautiful - great contrast of flavor from wasabi and farmer’s cheese - tasted sweet, savory, and spicy. The burrata was accompanied with strawberry gazpacho and country ham - beautiful contrast of colors and flavors. To finish, the grilled ribeye was perfection with black garlic, ramps, and snap pea chimichurri. Lastly, the dessert started with a palate cleanser: a macaron hybrid. For the dessert main, I had a chocolate crisp with mint ice cream topped with chocolate mousse. It was decadent, rich, and memorable.
199 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102, richtablesf.com
Omakase: I had the 10 piece omakase. Needlesstosay, this 10 piece platter was the best omakase I’ve had in my entire life.
665 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94103, omakasesf.com
Cockscomb: I’ve been here two times and had amazing experiences. I was happy to see Michael Bauer’s recent 3 star reviews of the place. Cosentino’s space is rustic, spacious, and very masculine. It feels like a butcher’s shop and very well is. Cockscomb is the king of meats in SF. I enjoyed a half dozen of oysters to start, some terrine, and pork belly sandwich with fried clams. The variety of oysters was magnificent. Loved the small sweet oysters. The terrine consisted of chicken and foie gras, pickled quail egg, salad, and crostinis. It was beautiful. Then, the sandwich was extremely rich and crunchy, flavorful… something that I’d dream of in a sandwich every single day. The bread was fresh, crunchy, crispy, buttery -- I’d pretty much eat lunch here every day if health were no issue.
564 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94107, cockscombsf.com
Corridor Cafe: This place is phenomenal. From pastries and coffees, to HK style milk tea and wraps, Corridor Café is like the pret-a-manager (grab-and-go) of SF. I feel that we need more grab-and-go cafes in SF. In the current state of the market, we have two kinds of restaurants - one that caters to the extremely high-end and the other that caters to the general public in the form of hipster modern casual fast food. This is evinced by places like Asian Box, Sajj, Glaze, Roam Artisan Burgers, Super Duper, and much more. With Corridor Café, many people are in a rush to get something quick to eat and want something simultaneously healthy and tasty. The croissants, whether plain or chocolate, are to die for. They're extremely buttery and melt in your mouth. The HK style milk tea is as authentic as genuine ones from HK. They’re also same owners as the top name restaurants Trestle, Stonesthrow, and Angel. Whole heartly recommend.
100 Van Ness Ave San Francisco, CA 94102, http://corridorsf.com/