Some refer to the activity of blogging as cathartic, a distraction of sorts when handling life’s daily routines. For Hanson Do, he was searching for a way to fuse his love of food with the online pastime, so he created Nosh and Nibble. Founded in 2014, the food blog began as a pastime to document Do’s outings, while functioning as a creative outlet for the stresses of his student life.
Staff Writer: Chloe Hoy
As a 2015 B.Sc. graduate from UBC, Do currently works as a Quality Assurance Engineer at an energy intelligence software company. While his studies and profession are in the engineering sector, Do maintained an interest in dining culture by constantly trying new foods and by making a committed effort to keep his hobby active. Do spoke with us to discuss his definition of “foodie,” reflect on his time with UBC Food Society, and share his ideas on how to enhance one’s online presence.
ON THE FORMATION:
Do created Nosh and Nibble midway through his third co-op term. While working two jobs, he found that a lot of his income was being spent on food. “I was asked by my friends for restaurant suggestions quite frequently. I also noticed that a lot of food blogs I read did not focus on much more than the food at the restaurant.” Seeing this as an opportunity to make an impact and bring a new element to his posts, he made it a priority to add in words about the atmosphere and service of the restaurants he wrote about. “After all,” he mentions, “the experience begins and ends at the front door (or the back door sometimes at Asian restaurants).”
Expenses for his blog were never a large issue, with free hosting for photos and content, and a minimal amount spent on a domain. Originally, choosing which restaurants to eat at and review was a harder decision. “I had to be selective and I would usually go out to eat if I could dine for $20 or less. I found Groupon-esque deals to be quite handy, in addition to Tuesdays, where some restaurants offer deals to pick up on a slow day. Happy Hour was also a way to shave a few dollars.”
ON THE BRAND AND WEBSITE:
“The Nosh and Nibble brand is meant to represent an objective view of dining in Vancouver and where my food travels take me. It’s important to me that the website is easy to read, that posts retain a consistent structure, and that different cuisines can be easily accessed through searching, tags, and the navigation bar.”
ON UBC FOOD SOCIETY:
Self-proclaimed as “UBC’s largest club for food lovers of all kinds,” Do found himself among like-minded individuals at the UBC Food Society. Having been appointed to roles such as Mini Club Leader and President, he gained valuable experience organizing food-related events and working alongside a sponsorship team to form partnerships with restaurants. “This helped me with communicating with industry and media individuals, or when looking to attend professional events in the city,” he shares.
ON FINDING A BALANCE:
While he never found difficulty updating Nosh and Nibbleduring his undergrad, today, Do sets aside an hour or two each day to work on a new review, or on other aspects of the blog. A peruse from an outsider’s perspective sees a polished website, highlighted by lengthy and detailed restaurant write-ups and colourful photographs.
“While I love writing and editing photos, there are times when other priorities arise. It’s good to allow for some flex, and accept that it’s not a bad thing to take a day off from writing if I don’t think I’m going to write good quality content.” Setting priorities helps Do regularly update his blog while maintaining a level of status quo in life.
Unlike many other local food blogs, Do is not interested in monetizing Nosh and Nibble. Instead, he sees it as more of a creative pastime or restaurant resource, and focuses on the realization of “other goals around the blog.” While he doesn’t receive any monetary compensation through ad revenue, he does receive perks from the non-monetary rewards. He is occasionally invited by restaurants and industry professionals to complimentary tastings or food-related events. Recent invitations include tastings at Storm Crow Alehouse, Hapa Ramen, and a ticket to the Vancouver International Wine Festival. On other occasions, Do will publish a review of a food product before keeping it for himself. Nosh and Nibble’s organic growth won him a first place title in the 2014 Made in Blog Awards.
ON FOOD AND BEING A FOODIE:
“Food is a means of survival. Everyone needs food and nutritional value at some point,” he says. “My definition of ‘foodie’ is somebody who really enjoys the experience of eating, whether it be perfecting a new recipe, or trying out that new ice cream place that keeps popping up on Instagram. They don’t necessarily need to be a person who takes excessive photos of food, nor should they feel pressured into thinking about it as a negative stigma.”
ON BITES ON A BUDGET:
For students, Do recommends the “Warehouse Group” of restaurants, which includes Granville Street’s Famous Warehouse,The Hastings Warehouse, in addition to five other locations in B.C. “They have cheap food that’s also quite satisfying since every food item is $5, if you can ignore the calls for alcohol,” he adds. Basil Pasta Bar is his second recommendation. The Italian restaurant has two locations (including one in Kitsilano, close to UBC), and allows guests to create their own $8.95 pasta dishes with over 50 different pasta, sauce, ingredient and garnish options. “It’s super customizable and every meal I’ve finished there, I’ve felt defeated afterwards and wish I saved some leftovers to avoid the impending food coma.” Let’s call this a quantity endorsement.
ON PLANS FOR 2016:
This year will act as a catch-up for Do, who finds it a struggle to keep up an average of one post a day, especially on vacations where each day entails multiple meals out. Event-wise, Eat! Vancouver is a standout for its convenience. “I love walking down the aisles and seeing all the food vendors – these stores are normally so far apart from each other!” As for restaurant reviews? Without naming anyone in particular, Do is looking forward to reviewing as many as he can.
ON WORDS OF ADVICE FOR ENHANCING ONE’S ONLINE PRESENCE:
“I’d say, just focus on making sure your profile fills up the Internet as much as you can. If you have a blog, make sure you are consistently sharing your posts on social media to attract a bigger audience. If you want more followers on Twitter or on Instagram, try to join a blogging group or go to events that will have a common hashtag for you to connect with others (for example, Dine Out Vancouver used #dovf). Always stay active on social media platforms [that] you want to grow a presence on, and follow back as relevantly as possible unless you are the Kevin Bacon of social media; not everyone knows who you are until you reach out to them.”
Follow along on food adventures with Hanson Do at www.noshandnibbleblog.com, on Twitter at @hansondee and on Instagram at @noshandnibble.