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Work It Wednesday - Abhishek Dekate

We've been following this Toronto food influencer on social for a while and envying his interpretive, edgy photos - so it was only suitable that we asked if he wanted to be part of a group of incredible local influencers and entrepreneurs that caught out eye! We can't help but also LOVE that he is a Work It Social client regular at Boxcar Social ;) (we meeeaannnnn.. what's not to love?) If you don't know him already, you'll be glad that you do now: meet Abhishek Dekate.

1. First off, share a little about YOU. Who is Abhishek Dekate?

I'm a 20-something-year-old boy who left a small (ish) city to fulfill my passion for food in Toronto. I owe my passion to my family, who never stopped encouraging me to experiment and create new tastes. Through this, I was able to create my own identity in the kitchen. I showed a keen interest in recipe development - the gateway to the beginning of a never-ending culinary journey. A Calgary native, my love for food lead me to George Brown Culinary School in the heart of Downtown Toronto. There, I found a hidden passion for food styling and photography. For me, recipes didn't need to just be tasty, they needed to be visually appealing. Food photography became my outlet, a translation of my passion for food and styling through my own lens. Today, my passion lies in the intersection between creating, developing and experiencing the one thing I love most, food.

2. You were named one of Toronto’s hottest male bloggers by Narcity. Congrats! What do you think makes you different?

I would say the one thing that sets me apart from others is my style of photography. Over the years I’ve managed to build a distinct tone of voice through the types of photos I take, along with my editing style. When it comes to food, I like the dish to stand out. Therefore I like to work with dark, moody surfaces. When it comes to post-processing, I play with tones and contrast to make the food the star of the photo. Once upon a time when everyone was focusing on bright, white photos with marble, I was doing the complete opposite and that caught people’s attention.

3. Do you have any advice for brands who want to work with influencers like you?

My biggest piece of advice for brands today is to stop focusing on one metric, ie. the number of likes a photo gets. Instead, focus on the quality of engagement. With the Instagram algorithm constantly changing, many have resolved to buying fake engagement via likes, comments and engagement pods. This makes it challenging for people who are trying to grow their brand organically. As a result, the ones buying their engagement have the numbers but their quality lacks as the people liking and commenting are inauthentic. On the other hand, there are influencers who receive less likes but the quality of insightful engagement they receive through comments is amazing and that itself is a metric on its own.

4. What has been the biggest challenge of growing your brand?

As a brand, one of the biggest challenges I face is keeping up with all of the platforms you can create and publish content on. That is, beyond Instagram. YouTube and video in general is the next big thing and hopefully in the next few months I’ll have the courage to push out video content.

5. How did you get your first 3000 followers on Instagram?

I began my journey on Instagram during culinary school. We were asked to build a portfolio that highlights a handful of our top accomplishments throughout the years. Instead of going about it the traditional way, I decided to do it digitally via Instagram. At the time, it was a way for me share what I was cooking and where I was eating with friends and family back home in Calgary. One thing led to another and I realized people were becoming more and more interested in what I was cooking and that’s how I gained my first 3000 followers.

6. Who are your favourite bloggers these days and why?

- Lauren from @thisrenegadelove

She’s a champion for authenticity and always provides great insightful tips and tricks on how to grow your brand beyond Instagram. I love the fact that she’s not afraid to speak her mind!

- Diala from @dialaskitchen

She inspires me to cook at home on a regular. I love how creative she is in the kitchen and her photos never fail to make me drool. Her waffles are my absolute favourite, even to the point that she influenced me to invest in a waffle maker of my own. She’ll be launching her own cookbook soon and I can’t wait to cook more of her recipes.

- Nora & Laura from @_foodstories_

Their photography and food styling speaks for itself. Everything photo is beautifully curated and I love that their recipes are vegan and gluten-free, yet everything still looks absolutely stunning! Overall, their kitchen and at-home studio is an absolute dream and I often take photography inspiration from their account on a regular

7. Where do you see your brand growing in the next three years?

In the next three years, I see my brand growing beyond Instagram. The end goal would be to invest in my own studio space where I can shoot food content on a regular basis and host food styling and photography workshops. In addition, I would love to have a communal space where I can host friends and family for meals. For now, I see myself taking baby steps in the next few years to reach that end goal.

8. How do you #workit everyday?

Working as a freelancer, organization is key. I plan my days ahead of time and use my Google calendar to keep me on track. To be more effective, I take breaks periodically and squeeze in a few things I love. This includes reading, catching up on one of my favourite tv shows or testing out a new recipe in my kitchen. I believe ‘working it’ everyday means fuelling my creative energy, daily, while maintaining the perfect balance of living in the moment. It’s the only way I can find balance and maintain a healthy lifestyle both online and offline.

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