Skyler Bouchard is still in college. But the New York University senior and FoodBySkyler.com blogger is already well-known among New York food aficionados and her 16,000 followers on Instagram because of her passionate musings about new, interesting, even outrageous (think Cap’n Crunch ice cream sandwiches) ways of experiencing some of our favorite foods. Being a successful and popular food blogger for any 21-year-old would already be a big deal. But Skyler is also the editor in chief and founder of the online food magazine NYU Spoon, where she manages a staff of writers.
In addition to managing a full course load at NYU (she will graduate early this December!), Skyler takes joy in wowing her friends and followers with sensational, brightly-colored pictures and recipes of her latest food concoctions or thoughts about New York eateries. The Wilmington native and 2011 Archmere Academy graduate has always loved to eat unconventional, original meals and explores the dining experience everywhere she goes.
Town Square Delaware caught up with Skyler here in Wilmington — of course, over lunch! As her kale salad was served, she snapped a quick picture. “This salad is so pretty. I might just have to post a photo about it.”
TSD: When did you first realize you loved food and wanted to write about it?
Skyler Bouchard: I honestly don’t remember when my love for food developed, I think it’s just in my DNA. I was born into a huge French-Canadian family and have had the privilege of attending family gatherings with excessive amounts of food since I popped out of the womb. Lucky for me, almost everyone on my dad’s side of the family lives in Delaware, so we would have family gatherings often. My grandmother would always make delicious pies, cakes or cookies, and two of my Uncles would always work together and cook. My Uncle Paul is a chef and has been serving my family gourmet food ever since I can remember. While most people may enjoy Christmas with a roast chicken, my Uncle Paul will whip up a Beef Wellington or a homemade bouillabaisse like it’s no big deal. I am 21 years old and I’ve never been served the same meal twice at a Bouchard family gathering. I think this sparked my love for trying new foods and going on different dining adventures. On the other hand, my parents are actually the only people in my family who don’t cook (sorry Mom and Dad), so I also got to experience my fair share of Delaware takeout from a bunch of different places. Our favorite spot was Toscana. Toscana will always have my heart.
TSD: Your social media posts are filled with eye-popping, colorful photos and quippy remarks. But with so much food content out there, what are you finding most effective in breaking through?
Skyler: There are so many food blogs out there today that provide readers with restaurant reviews or recipes, but not as many blogs highlight one of the most important parts of dining: the experience. My blog is different because it is my way of sharing how I interact with food, experience food, and experiment with food anywhere from the kitchen to a high-end restaurant to a local hole in the wall that no one knows about. It’s food from my perspective and my adventures finding and creating unique food concoctions. I think this outrageous “surprise factor” keeps viewers engaged and on their toes and that has definitely helped me gain such a following.
TSD: One of your many goals is to dine at every restaurant in New York City. What are some of your favorite Delaware dining experiences?
Skyler: One of my all-time favorite restaurants is Toscana in Wilmington. Growing up, my family would always go out to dinner there or order take out for our huge family gatherings, and the food is delicious. We still go there all the time!
Aside from Toscana, I love Domaine Hudson and La Fia Bistro. The menu at Domaine Hudson is classic, yet creative and each dish I’ve had there has been extraordinary. The chef definitely knows how to pair unique ingredients together to create innovative, fun, and delicious dishes. One time I ordered the sweet corn agnolotti appetizer and it came out with popcorn on top of! It tasted amazing and was such a creative pairing that I really admired. La Fia Bistro is also a great restaurant in Wilmington with a nice atmosphere and fresh food made with locally sourced ingredients. The menu changes every week and that also keeps it fun and exciting to revisit.
TSD: You have 16K followers on Instagram, and NYC restauranteurs know you by name. How does someone so young — a college student! — rise to the level of a seriously followed food journalist?
Skyler: I’m not going to lie, it’s a lot of work! I basically breathe, sleep and eat (haha) food when I am not working or in class. Putting good content out there is the best way to develop a following and make connections in the food world, so this means creating a recipe that is unique and fun that no one has done before or finding new or unique foods in the city and telling my followers about them. Instagram has been a great way for me to do this on a daily basis. I can cook something really interesting one day and show my followers instantly or go out to a restaurant and discover a new food and post it. Then when I have time, I will write about it or make a video for my blog that people are excited to see because they enjoyed my Instagram post. It’s important to consistently surprise people with creative posts, and that’s something I try to do.
TSD: How do you balance your NYU studies with your food ambitions?
Skyler: The two things I love to do are experience food (whether it be dining out or in the kitchen) and entertain people. Because these are my passions, it is actually easy to integrate my food ambitions into my life because I love to do it. I am constantly thinking of new ideas and adventures to embark on (oddly enough, most of my most brilliant ideas come to me as I am running on the treadmill) and once class or work is over, I spend my free time working on those projects. Sometimes my schedule gets really busy, and I won’t have time to write an in depth post or edit a video, so I will just post to Instagram or do a smaller, more visual blog post. Regardless, I always try to post at least once every day. Sometimes this means waking up extra early to make a really cool breakfast, cooking ahead of time and posting it later that week, or going out of my way to try a cool dessert – I just fit it in as best as I can.
TSD: How did you land TV network internships and the NYU Spoon assignment? Do you have advice for kids who might be thinking about careers in journalism?
Skyler: I always knew I wanted to work in entertainment, so I started my internships very early — my senior year in high school. That year I interned for a semester in the promotions department at 99.5 WJBR. Then I spent my spring semester of freshman year at NYU as an editorial intern at Bullett Magazine. Spring of my sophomore year I wrote articles for The Daily Meal (a food website), and that summer I worked in public relations at Hearst Magazines. Junior year I interned for two CBS televisions shows – Entertainment Tonight and The Insider – and later that year at CNN. This summer I interned with the Living Unit of NY1 News, writing feature stories about the arts, entertainment, health, technology and theatre. I will be spending my final semester interning at CBS This Morning. All of my internships were for school credit except for CNN and CBS This Morning, which are paid.
I have found my short-lived career in broadcast and digital media to be incredibly rewarding and fun. But advice I would offer? I would say that whenever a student seems to sense that he or she might be developing a passion, don’t be afraid to pursue opportunities to get your feet wet and learn more from a first-hand perspective.
TSD: Food from Skyler’s perspective — it’s fantastically fun. But do you actually expect people to make triple-layer Pop-Tart ice cream sandwiches?
Skyler: I make these crazy concoctions mainly because I love bringing my outrageous food visions to life. I never really expected other people to make them, but then a lot of my followers began asking for recipes so I started to post them. You’d be surprised how many people love a crazy food challenge! Some of these recipes are one hit wonders for foodies like me who love to spend their time making crazy desserts and blogging about it – I have seen quite a few people post reenactments of my Cap’n Crunch ice cream sandwiches, Pop-Tart ice cream sandwiches, and Oreo cupcakes. But I also have posted some creative recipes that are on the healthier side such as my Mediterranean breakfast pizza and the PB&J Chia pudding bowl.