This week instagram sensation and one of olive magazine’s regular restaurant critics Kar-Shing (KS) Tong shares 10 things you need to know about being a top food influencer. including finding your social media 'voice', building an audience, and exactly how much work goes into maintaining an account with over 137 thousand followers!


Listen out for next week's episode to hear Morgan McGlynn share 10 things you need to know about being a cheesemonger.

How to be an influencer: KS Tong's tips

Finding your voice

I find that people really connect with things that are genuine. So, when I talk about finding your voice, I think a lot of it stems from being comfortable with who you are. My Instagram didn’t start off as a food account. It was literally just a personal account of my life in London that grew into what it is today because my life consisted of going out to restaurants and eating lots. Where I am online today (with 137k followers) is a by-product of who I actually am in real life. Some of my captions are quite wacky but I think that’s just a reflection of my personality. The people I’ve met and those who are engaged with my account have become a real community.

Using the correct light

I’m always on the hunt for natural light, as I think that’s what shows off food the best. You want to find as much lovely, soft, natural light as possible – stay out of direct sunlight because it’s quite harsh. Also, keep an eye on your own shadow and avoid casting it over the food. Recognise where your light source is coming from, then almost stand behind the food so the light hits the food. At night, a top tip I have is get your dining companion to put their phone onto a white screen (something like a notes app is good), then turn that screen up to full brightness. That will provide a really nice white light that will light up the dish or even the whole table, so you can take a great photo of the food.

Being respectful

When I’m checking out a new place, it’s important to be respectful to both my fellow diners and the restaurant. I’m trying to capture my experience for the account but there are also customers who have come to enjoy a meal. If you’re dining in a very nice, dark room, the last thing you want is to have a bright phone light in your face, so I do try to keep that in mind. It also means being respectful to the business. If there’s a particular order or something that I want to ask the chef to do, – for example, if I ask for the starters and mains to come together because I know it will make a great shot – I always check that it’s okay with the kitchen first. The kitchen is a very stressful place already and I don’t want to add to that.

More like this

KS’s top 3 cooking hacks

Buy a wok

I use mine every day. Not just for stir-fries but for deep-frying, boiling, steaming – it’s so versatile. And, the more you use it, the more it gets seasoned and the better it gets.


Adding a spoonful of Marmite to a bolognese sauce is a total game-changer. I add a tablespoon towards the end of cooking and it gives an amazing umami flavour, and so much extra depth to the sauce.



When I make scrambled eggs or an omelette, I like to take the pan off the heat when the eggs are still a little undercooked. The residual heat of the pan will finish the cooking process, so you’ll have perfectly fluffy eggs without overcooking them.


Janine Ratcliffe Portrait
Janine RatcliffeFood director

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