Influencer of the Week – Sankara Narayanan #InfluencerSpeaks
As part of the #InfluencerSpeaks series, we bring you the interviews with top influencers across India. This week, we are featuring Sankara Narayanan, a blogger & social media influencer. Here’s the transcript of his interview:
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your blog/online presence
I am Sankar, born in Bangalore but settled in Chennai. Travelling to few Western countries helped me to discover the foodie inside me. I relish road side food as much as I enjoy gourmet food. I am a self-confessed vegetarian. By a stroke of serendipity a decade ago, I found out that I have a penchant for writing too. A marriage of two perfect partners inside me, led me to start my own food blog. I write about my experiences in restaurants, mostly in Chennai and also from my travel around the world. I would like to be known for my writing and an impartial one at that.
How did you get started online? How has the journey been?
I started writing in Zomato to share my eating experiences in restaurants. Then I started attending foodie events for which I needed a platform to share my experiences from such events. Moreover, Zomato had certain restrictions. Hence, I started a blog where I have complete freedom. My bog is less than a year old, but I thoroughly enjoy writing about my experiences. The journey has been fantastic. My blog is recognized in the food circles in Chennai. Even though initially I had to “push” it, now I have regular readers who come back to check the food scene in Chennai.
What type of content do you create?
As of now, I concentrate only on reviewing restaurants. I would like to tell my readers what to expect when they walk in to a particular restaurant, right from ambiance, food, service, cost etc. There are times I get invited for tasting sessions and I disclose this fact. I try to give an impartial account of my total experience so that the reader can make an informed decision about the restaurant. To give a wholesome experience, I also add photos. But they are not my primary focus. As always, the focus is on writing, but the photos just supplement my writing and not the other way round.
Tell us something about the most interesting projects you have engaged with.
I can perhaps highlight few projects I was part of. The first was when I got an opportunity recently to meet Masterchef Australia 2014 finalist Ms. Renae Smith and interact with her. It was a 3 hour demo session where she cooked few delicacies. It felt as if I was in a masterchef setting. Another recent experience I had was dining with an ambassador chef from Lebanon on a Lebanese food fest at The Raintree hotel, Chennai. It was a surreal experience to share the same space with a prominent chef. In another event, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the McDonald’s kitchen and learn about their operations. Being a fast food, I had my own vision of how things occurred in the kitchen. But during the course of the tour few myths were busted.
Which brands have you associated with in the past?
I have been associated with The Raintree Hotels, have attended two of their food fests. A Delhi food fest in Up North, and Lebanese fest in The Colony. I was invited for a chef’s conference organized by Indian Federation of Culinary Associations (IFCA) at ITC Chennai. My blog won a competition to gain entry to this prestigious conference attended by culinary expert’s world over. I also associate with Chennai Food Guide frequently, a prominent food group in Chennai. Besides these, I have also been associated with Phoenix Market City, Chennai in the past. I have visited Hard Rock Cafe and Habanero for a bloggers meet.
Where do you see opportunities and challenges in being an online Influencer?
An online influencer has tremendous opportunities. It takes time to build a steady following. Once done, it opens up door to tremendous opportunities. There is no limit as to what can be achieved online. Life is an accumulation of myriad experiences. For me personally, food is a very integral part of living. Writing about it has opened unknown doors for me. I get to experience global cuisine and get to know about it before many people. But with all this comes added responsibilities, as people tend to believe what you say. If not handled properly, it could lead to people losing trust. As the interactions with the readers are built entirely virtual, one has to be extra careful on what he or she says. It is a foot print that can be traced easily. I believe in sharing my experiences truthfully. I do not write to get paid, but to satiate my passion. One has to have a clear vision. I have received offers to get paid for writing, but I turned them down.
Any thoughts or tips to share with your fellow Bloggers and Influencers?
The only tip I would give to fellow bloggers would be share true and original content. Plagiarism should be avoided at any cost. It is easy to see through phony content. One has to be true to oneself and write only content that does not prick your conscience. It is easy to follow short cut route for quick fame but it will not last for long. Readership can be built over time, but once trust is lost it cannot be regained. Give sources if not using original content with express permission from the owner if possible. For instance, sometimes I use photographs captured by others, and I inform them if I use it in my blog and also give credits.