Lima Al-Azzeh

Interview with Follow Me Foodie – Mijune Pak

In Food in Vancouver, Uncategorized on August 15, 2010 at 5:55 pm

A few weeks ago, I put out a call over Twitter requesting recommendations for Vancouver fashion and food bloggers to follow, partly for my own delight and partly because I needed to make amends with the city of Vancouver. Within seconds I received a bright hello from local food blogger Mijune Pak, otherwise known as Follow Me Foodie. I made the mistake of checking out Follow Me Foodie’s blog when I was hungry, a mistake I hadn’t realized was parallel to that old grocery shopping rule – never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry as it is likely to make you overspend and purchase more unhealthy food. Mijune Pak’s blog had the same effect, by the the time I finished reading through several of her posts I was near drooling and positively ravenous for anything.

I must confess, I was immediately impressed with the style and professionalism offered by Follow Me Foodie’s blog. I had half anticipated that it would look like just another WordPress or Blogspot blog with some recipes and maybe a few photos here and there – I hadn’t quite expected for Pak’s blog to have a magazine editorial feel reminiscent of the now regrettably defunct Gourmet Magazine. It’s hard to imagine that only a short year ago, Pak barely even knew what a blog was …

I, Vancouverite: For those unlucky few who haven’t looked up your blog yet, when and why did you start Follow Me Foodie?

Mijune Pak: I’ve always really loved food and would take pictures of all the dishes I ate over the years, especially when I was studying abroad in Europe. I would always seek out restaurants that were off the beaten path and not so known to all the tourists. One day, about a year ago, my older sister asked me what I planned on doing with all my food photos and my answer was just, “I don’t know, look at them”.

She suggested that I start my own blog, but I just thought well, nobody really reads blogs. Plus, I had no knowledge of how to set one up or anything really “computery” – I was kind of computer handicapped. I didn’t even know what Blogspot was. So she gave me a little tutorial and I saw how the set up was really nice and easy.

At first, it was really just meant to be for fun, but then I had like 5 people looking at the blog and as the weeks went by 5 became 10 and then 15 and then all of a sudden I had a comment! My first reaction was “WHAT? Someone I don’t know is reading this?” It becomes really addictive. A little while ago I moved my blog to WordPress which was really exciting because it allowed me to set it up the way it looks right now. It gets more exciting when you really love how everything is presented. That, and you eat everyday so I feel like I have to post about everything I eat. It takes a a lot of dedication but I’m happy to do it.

IV: What are some important notes about writing about food and maintaining a foodie blog?

MP: It gets really pricey so if you want to start a food blog you have to consider your budget. I recommend going out to eat with a lot of people because then you can order and try more things. Writing a blog is about passion and drive, you have to really love it.

A great tip I received from other food bloggers was to keep a copy of your receipts because you can write off that expense when you’re doing your taxes. For me, after about a month of consistent blogging, I started getting emails from restaurants inviting me to grand openings, I’m up to about one invite a week now! For fellow food bloggers, just remember that an opening may not be the best night to review a restaurant, I usually take it as an introduction to the place to see if I want to pay for the food later on.

On another note, I only accept media invitations to review a restaurant if there is an understanding that there are to be no expectations about what I post. My blog is really about me and the readers, it’s not for the restaurants. Maintaining integrity is really important to me.

IV: It’s a really hot, sunny day in Vancouver … what are you craving?

MP: I have a serious obsession with ice cream.

When I was in Italy I had a minimum of 4 scoops of gelato a day, up to a maximum of 8 scoops. I’m also an avid fan of slushy drinks.

I’m really into checking out new ice cream flavours, some of my favourites being at Bella Gelateria that recently opened in the Fairmont in Coal Harbour. For me, they have the best Gelato in the city with some really unique and gorgeous flavours like Lavender and 85% dark chocolate.

I’ve even tried an avocado gelato at Bao Bei Chinese Bistro.  There’s a great red beet gelato at McLean’s Restaurant (Gastown) that is surprisingly tasty. I’ve also tasted, and really enjoyed, an ice cream combo of really fig and marscarpone. I’m all up for trying new things when it comes to ice cream, combos that most people would typically say “ew” to. I just really enjoy finding things that you can’t get anywhere else. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t not eat a really well-made Vanilla, but I’ll usually go for something more inventive first.

IV: You recently were invited to compete in the Male Leaf Prime Pork contest – can you tell us a little about the contest, how you entered, and what you’ve concocted for it?

MP: Oh right, those are things that are interesting too, aside from receiving invitations to review restaurants, sometimes I get contacted to enter into a contest. I got this one from Maple Leaf where they selected 20 Western food bloggers to participate in a “pork” contest. I thought it was a good way to get some more readers and I was pretty excited for the challenge. Maple Leaf Prime sent me a meat thermometer, an apron, and some other goodies for entering. I have to send in an original recipe using their pork and the recipe with the most votes wins some products!

I found that I get a lot of comments on my “dessert” posts so I wanted to create a recipe that played with the sweet and savoury combo. I really love dishes that include elements that hit your whole palette – which is why I created “Maple Leaf Prime Pork Chops with Apple and Rosemary Crumble”.

I rarely cook using a recipe, I usually just think of flavours I like and try to put things together and experiment. I figured that the apple and pork combo is pretty common, and I wanted to stay true to how delicious that is, but I also didn’t want to create anything too exotic so people won’t be afraid to try it. This recipe kind of reminds me of that beet gelato I like so much, it’s a little bit savoury and a little sweet.

IV: What do you think about the latest development in Vancouver cuisine – the expansion of street food and mobile kitchens serving up healthy, international cuisine?

I’m HUGE on street food! I actually write posts about foods that I’ve tried while travelling. I’ve published several posts highlighting street food in Singapore, Malaysia, even Texas! Street food is so fun. In LA and Texas mobile kitchens were everywhere. In Texas they even had whole parking lots devoted to them and to street food vendors. It was a great way of sampling some of the local fare and a great way to introduce people to different types of foods, especially where they might feel more intimidated to try new things in a restaurant setting. You might be able to tell that I’m a big believer in trying new foods.

IV: What’s the craziest street food you’ve tried?

MP: When I was in travelling in Asia, I sometimes saw cages with live snakes and geese. I won’t lie, it kind of freaked me out. I wasn’t really sure what they would do with them or how it all worked. I did see some cool street foods while I was travelling though. Like in Korea I saw this guy who made Turkish ice cream. It’s not what you expect, it’s actually quite stretchy. I kind of loved how random it was to see a Turkish ice cream vendor in Korea of all places. Oh, and in China I saw a man with a cracker truck! How cute is that? It was literally just a truck with tubs of different kinds of crackers in the back.

Anyhow, getting back to the street food here, I think having it speaks a lot about a city and I’m so happy that Vancouver is embracing it. I thought it would do really well here and I even looked into starting up something similar, but then I did a little research and realized that there were a lot of restrictions! You weren’t allowed to be downtown because of potentially obstructing traffic and that was a major issue. I’m so glad they decided to bring great international food downtown. I was so excited when Japadog had started because it was nice to see that someone took a common Vancouver street food like a hot dog and managed to fuse it with a cuisine that’s really appreciated and loved in Vancouver.

IV: What’s your favourite family recipe/ home cooked meal?

MP: My mom makes these amazing peanut butter porkchops that she grills during the summer time. I wanted to use it for the Maple Leaf challenge but then I thought about it and realized I’d rather keep it secret and in the family. It’s my mom’s thing. I definitely see where my overall cooking philosophy comes from, and it’s definitely from my mom. This dish reminds me of that. I don’t even know if it has a set recipe, I think my mom just works with whatever she has and uses the flavours she likes in her cooking. She rarely replicates anything or works from recipes.

IV: Are there any foods you really dislike or are unwilling to try?

MP: YES! Red bean soup as dessert. I hate it, it tastes like sweet chalk. I love bean but not when it’s hot and soup and sweetened, you call that dessert? It’s not a dessert. I’m also not a huge fan of bitter melon and sometimes lamb. With lamb, I find that anything outside of the shoulder just tastes a little too gamey for me.

I spent the last few minutes of my time with Mijune exchanging restaurant tips, she even offered to guide me through my first dim sum experience, something I’ve been looking forward to for an exceptionally long time, and who better to go with than a resident dim sum expert? All in all, it was an absolute pleasure getting to know the delightful and driven Mijune. I wish her the very best in her culinary adventures and I’m certainly hungry to read more posts!

Vote for Follow Me Foodie’s recipe in the Maple Leaf Prime pork contest and receive a coupon for 50% off any Maple Leaf Prime pork product.

Follow Mijune on Twitter: @followmefoodie

Follow “Follow Me Foodie” on Facebook

  1. Thank you for the article Lima! I’m honoured to be featured on your blog and I am inspired by YOU! It was a pleasure meeting you as well and I know it will be one of many! Dim sum, Middle Eastern food, bakeries and more! I can’t wait.

    Oh and also a couple minor corrections – the red beet gelato is from McLean’s Restaurant and the avocado gelato was from Bao Bei Chinese Bistro. 🙂

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Janice Chan, The Brass Action and Mijune, Lima Al-Azzeh. Lima Al-Azzeh said: NEW BLOG POST: Interview with the lovely Vancouver #foodie and #blogger @followmefoodie #food […]

  3. Thanks for allowing me to pick your brain Mijune! You were wonderful to interview, you gave me so much to work with and made me hungry to boot. I’ve made the corrections to the article. Always give credit where credit is due 😉

  4. The fact that Mijune does not like red bean soup is a constant joke that she might not necessarily be “Chinese”! Of course, the bigger joke is that she does not seem to be able to gain any weight! 😀

    OK, OK, jokes aside. While most of us are (food) blogging for fun/kicks, in Mijune’s case, I believe it is different – as if there is something else that can’t be easily explained. That’s why the passion you can see in her posts! 🙂

  5. […] Surround yourself with people who inspire you and never fear reaching out to those who […]

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