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UAE: How the pandemic inspired food bloggers

Husain Rizvi/Dubai
Filed on June 12, 2021

Upasana Beg (Photos/Supplied)

Aisha Rahmatova

Fazlin Akbar

Sameer Goel

From drool-worthy dishes to fabulous insta pics, these residents talk about how the pandemic encouraged them to start food blogging.

Food blogging not only withstood the pandemic but was also revolutionised, courtesy of the Covid lockdowns across the world. While restaurants were shut, many people decided to explore their inner chefs, giving birth to various food trends.

Dalgona coffee, a type of Korean coffee, became a viral trend with every other person sharing their version on social media. While the pandemic brought out commis chefs, it also inspired coronavirus-shaped eggs and pakodas. Also, to our dismay, we witnessed Pani-Puri Maggi, Nutella Biryani, Gulab Jamun Pizza, and several other dishes that outraged hardcore foodies.

Self-made blogger

Those who always had a passion for cooking and baking, turned it into food blogging during the lockdown. Upasana Beg, a former flight stewardess, is a self-made baker residing in Dubai for the last 12 years. As lockdown struck, Beg started a food blog (@mykitchenchronicless) to express herself and her passion for food and food photography. “I always took pictures of my food, saw cooking shows and this was my to showcase it,” Beg said in a conversation with City Times. “Food blogging provided me with an outlet for photography.”

Keeping up with food blogging is a tough task as it requires a lot of work and originality, which is the key to a good food blog. “Creating your own voice through your food blog is very important, and original content is the key,” Beg said. Food bloggers have to think about what to cook, how to present, and all the extensive details that come into play. “It is not just waking up, cooking, and taking pictures. The content has to be useful and comprehensive,” she added.

Picture perfect

Not only for Beg but for all food bloggers, presenting their recipes is the bigger challenge. Aisha Rahmatova, originally from Tajikistan, is a food blogger living in Dubai for over a decade. Rahmatova, too, started her food blog (@aishascooking) in the lockdown last year. Preparing food at home, as Rahmatova says, has been a silver lining of the pandemic. “The struggle is to share my cooking routine on social media on a daily basis,” Rahmatova said. “Food photography is so important when presenting your recipes to the public. Thankfully, I have the support of my daughters during the weekends.”

Acquiring photography accessories also posed a challenge for food bloggers who started their journey in the lockdown. “Lockdowns made it hard to acquire accessories, props, backdrops, and other pieces of equipment due to fear of getting out,” said Fazlin Akbar, a south-Indian food blogger (@faz4flavours), who shifted to Dubai in 2008.

“I slipped into taking the culinary experience and kitchen adventures seriously while being host to many of my friends and relatives who started appreciating various food styles at the table during our casual dining,” said Akbar, an accountant by occupation, for whom food blogging was incidental. “It inspired me to invest my time and improve my skills in food photography.”

The challenges

While many utilised their free time in different ways during the lockdown, Sameer Goel, an Abu Dhabi resident, began running a food blog (@foodaddictduo). A lawyer by day, Goel turned his passion into food blogging last year in June when he had some additional time in the absence of travelling and outings.

What started on the pretext of just showcasing love for food, turned into much more than that for Goel who has hosted several live cooking sessions with many famous brands. “Applying my culinary skills in live cooking reels partnered with several premium brands, was when I knew my love for food and the culinary arts matters more than other things,” Goel said.

Goel, however, comes across many different challenges in his life as a lawyer and food blogger. “Managing time between your professional life, family, and food blogging becomes quite tedious. It becomes very evident that you would be required to put quite a lot of time, effort, and care into running a culinary handle that maintains a high-quality standard,” he points out. “Additionally, finding your own unique stance on the industry is another big challenge. There are many good bloggers in the market with their own unique brands that may intermingle and coincide with one another from an idea standpoint.”

Lastly, everything comes down to views, and food bloggers often face the daunting task of finding ways to improve viewership, followers, or subscribers. As Beg said, originality is key, indeed, but understanding the functionality of modern-day tools and technology in an appropriate and efficient manner is just as important to be able to make the most out of it.

And, while the pandemic happened for the worse, it certainly gives one a reminder: cooking is an essential life skill.