Recently, we’ve been hearing the phrase, “Oh my gosh, we have to try this restaurant. I saw it on TikTok!” more and more. As social media continues to evolve, people are looking to more platforms, such as TikTok, to check out hip and trendy restaurants before their visit. Because of this, a new wave of “foodstagramers” and TikTok food reviews is gaining popularity from their presentation of photogenic, mouth-watering dishes.
Mimi, or better known as @feedmi_, is an Austin-based food TikTok star and Instagrammer who shares her favorite up-and-coming restaurants. AFM had the opportunity to speak with Mimi to discuss how her platform began and what she hopes to accomplish by showcasing her exciting eating adventures.
AFM: What inspired you to start a food blog?
Mimi: I’ve actually always taken pictures of my food since I was in high school. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when my mom questioned what I was doing with all my photos of food that my platform began to take shape. After I finished grad school, my life was moving slower and I had more free time, so I was like, why not start an Instagram and see how it goes?
AFM: Do you have a preferred platform (IG, TikTok, new website) and why?
Mimi: Since I started on Instagram, that’s the platform I’ll always prefer. However, I do think that TikTok is really giving Instagram a run for its money! TikTok is really changing the game in the food scene. It has the ability to reach far more people than other social media platforms. I’ve had multiple restaurant owners contact me and tell me that people have visited because of my TikToks. A few hours of editing can be a lot, but it’s messages like this that make me want to continue. Austin wouldn’t be a great city to live in without all our amazing restaurants, and I would hate to see my favorites shut down.
AFM: Your TikTok account has gained a massive following. Was there a specific TikTok that blew up? Or did you gradually gain a large following?
Mimi: My first TikTok to break a million views was a video of when I traveled to Vietnam and showed chefs making a crunchy rice dish. This is another reason I love TikTok, because it’s unpretentious. Instagram sometimes can be just a big popularity contest and almost too perfect. On TikTok you don’t have to have a lot of followers for your video to blow up. Anyone can go viral. It’s more about your content than your follower count. I remember I had 19 followers when I posted this video.
AFM: What is the process of making your TikToks?
Mimi: Making a TikTok takes at least a couple hours, due to editing and syncing the clips to music. In TikToks where I feature one restaurant, it will take around an hour to create. However, my list of five can take one to two hours. Usually, I’ll begin by digging through my laptop and finding clips, then deciding what category I can come up with that fits all five restaurants.
AFM: A big part of your TikToks is featuring a restaurant and its ambiance, etc. Has this become difficult due to COVID-19?
Mimi: A lot of clips I use are older — pre-COVID. I started to be active on TikTok during quarantine out of boredom. Restaurants were struggling, and we couldn’t go out and about much, so I pulled videos in my archives from the past 2-3 years of food blogging and started making TikToks about local restaurants. I try to only create TikToks now for restaurants I know that have a takeout or delivery option. If I am picking up something, I’ll try to take a quick video at the exterior or entryway of a restaurant. Sometimes if they are not busy, I’ll ask if I can get behind the scenes videos of them making the food. I always make sure to wear a mask while I’m there. Then I will take the food home to eat and a lot of times will take close-up videos of the dishes at home.
AFM: Have you worked with any restaurants or organizations that are making or made meals for healthcare workers during COVID?
Mimi: I did a campaign for Snarf’s Sandwiches called “See a Sandwich, Send a Sandwich.” The idea was to post a pic of your Snarf’s order, tag @snarfssandwichesatx and tag a deserving, local Austin organization, and Snarf’s will send them free sandwiches (could be healthcare, nonprofit, service workers, etc.)! I tagged @caritasofaustin (nonprofit) which helps the homeless community in Austin. They provide free lunches to those in need, no questions asked, from their community kitchen Monday-Fridays. This is just one of their many services they provide.
AFM: From your posts, I’ve seen you’ve done partnerships with products. Have you gotten to work with any Austin brands you’re passionate about?
Mimi: Recently, I worked with Tandem, @drinktandem. They’re a flavored water enhancer, who are female-led. A portion of their profits are even donated to Central Texas Food Bank.
I’ve worked with Afia, @afiafoods, who sell frozen falafel & kibbeh. They are female majority-owned as well as minority-owned.
I also worked with Cuvée Coffee, @cuveecoffee. This was a TikTok partnership. They are a local coffee shop, and sell coffee products nationwide.
AFM: What is your take on the Austin food scene?
Mimi: I think Austin is really good at cultivating creative, fusion and modern foods. They are lacking in the true, authentic, ethnic food scene, but I love the creativity that Austin offers. Restaurants are always coming up with fun, new ideas!
AFM: What has been your favorite recipe discovery while spending more time at home?
Mimi: Recently, I went and bought this Jamacia jerk seasoning from Fiesta and have been obsessed with it. I’ve been making jerk chicken almost every day. It’s super easy to make, and I usually try and stick with easy recipes because my days can be pretty busy.
AFM: Is there an ATX restaurant that stands out among the rest? If so, why?
Mimi: I really like Haru. It’s a moderately priced sushi restaurant. They have a great happy hour, their fish is super fresh and even their non-sushi items are really good. It was one of the first restaurants I ever visited when I first moved to Austin.
AFM: How would you describe your platform? Is there a message you want to encourage?
Mimi: I want to approachably empower people to try new foods (food from a different culture, new restaurant, etc.), try cooking new dishes (sometimes I think, “This is too hard,” but when I actually attempt it, it’s not at all) or try new experiences (traveling). Basically, I want to encourage people to go out of their comfort zone and that trying something new isn’t always as intimidating as it sometimes seems.
Where to Find Mimi: