The new dream job — posting food pics on Instagram
Brad Wishen on combining his love of food, technology and Toronto’s restaurant scene
Brad Wishen, founder of TasteToronto and Cravings Food Co., has made a dream career out of Instagram and food.
“I had always been really tapped into social media as well as the Toronto food scene, so basically, with those two passions in mind, I thought it would be really cool to put together an Instagram page devoted to restaurants in Toronto,” Wishen says.
The idea started way back in high school at Westmount Collegiate Institute in 2006.
“That’s when Facebook got really popular, and restaurants started adopting Facebook as a means for them to advertise. That really helped me envision a world where there could be one account that would be featuring all these restaurants from sort of an unbiased perspective,” recalls Wishen.
Wishen’s passion for food started right at home, with a family that was always into food.
“My mom is a great chef, and as a kid growing up, I would always be interested in how she made some of her dishes.”
This led Wishen to his interest in Toronto restaurants, fuelling his TasteToronto Instagram account.
“At the beginning, it started off as me and a few of my partners going around the city and taking photos from restaurants that we liked,” Wishen says. “Over time, we built up a platform that was really community centric.”
Followers of the account began going to restaurants and hashtagging #tastetoronto or emailing photos hoping to be featured on the account.
The account has grown to a staggering 322,000 followers, meaning Wishen and his team have their hands full sorting through all the food submissions they receive in a day.
“When we do repost someone’s photo, there’s a really good reaction and some great feedback. People love seeing their content up on our channels,” Wishen says.
The quality and diversity of the Toronto food scene is what then inspired Wishen to start up Cravings Food Co., the business behind a collection of foodspecific festivals like Brunch Fest and Taco Fest.
“Over the years, we’ve obviously built up strong relationships with all these restaurants, and as great as it is to get them featured on our account, we had always wanted to do a little bit more and provide more value for both our followers and the restaurants.”
For Wishen, that meant being able to collaborate with restaurants to find a menu that fits one of the festival themes and providing a platform for these restaurants to get their food out there to all the people following TasteToronto.
Wishen still vividly remembers opening the first food festival under Cravings Food Co., Taco Fest, two years ago.
“We had been working on the festival for over a year, so the first day of the festival, when 3,000 people showed up and waited in line to come to the festival, and you see all that hard work pay off…that was what got us to where we are today,” Wishen says.
Wishen will be busy with food festivals all summer: Brunch Fest is from June 1 to June 3, Taco Fest is June 15 to 17, Pizza Fest is July 20 to 22, and Beer Bourbon & BBQ Fest is later this summer.
But Wishen isn’t done just yet. “Our plate is full, but there’s definitely some more room on that plate to add some more.”
So fans of the food fests and Instagram account should keep their eyes peeled to see what’s next.
Wishen and the TasteToronto team now have more than 322,000 followers