In the era of social media giants such as Instagram and TikTok, foodies have created a culture all their own. The mantra of “live to eat” is one many people embrace, and in an effort to truly subscribe to that lifestyle, the food-obsessed are constantly searching for the next viral food trend, the nearest homestyle eatery, the newest combination of flavors. They scour the Internet for the next stop on their journey of delicious, jealousy-inspiring goodness, and perhaps no one has contributed more to the growth of this viral food wave than food bloggers like Tim Cheung.
Raised in San Jose, California, Tim grew up in the heart of the rising tide of social media. Originally studying to become a computer programmer, Tim had a natural inclination for photography and an admiration for delicious food and international cuisine that led to a massive collection of photographs and videos of food accumulated in his phone over the years. The desire to share his near-obsessiveness with like-minded food lovers and his admiration for other successful food bloggers led to the creation of @bayarea.foodies on Instagram back in 2015. An astounding and unique brand, Bay Area Foodies was well received by the locals, captivating the audience with Tim’s authenticity and expertise in reviewing hotels, restaurants, and food trends. The growth has been non-stop since.
It is astonishing to see what started out as a hobby becoming a full-fledged career, and one that is constantly growing and adapting, at that. Not content to stick to a single platform, Tim has embraced the rise of TikTok with @bayareafoodies, garnering an additional 145K followers to his already astounding 170K on Instagram. His exemplary work ethic, adept content creation, and staggering display of food media is highlighted by his extraordinary stats: an Instagram post with over 7 million views and multiple TikTok posts with over 2 million views and counting. A believer in the power of “going viral” and the importance of staying relevant in the digital age, Tim, like many of his fellow foodies, is always searching for the next food hype. But he also understands the influence that comes with a growing social media brand and those who would most benefit from that influence.
One of the contributing factors to the rise of Bay Area Foodies back at its inception was the lack of online interest in the local food scene, especially amongst minority-owned restaurants and businesses. In an effort to provide exposure to the ethnic cuisines and underrepresented restaurants he loves, Tim focuses a good portion of his posts on local joints, mom-and-pop restaurants that have minimal or absolutely no online presence, and minority-owned businesses. Alongside posts of shaved ice lit on fire and the newest and cutest reiterations of boba are pictures of the best local pho spots and the small independent bakeries scattered throughout the Bay. Since the onset of COVID-19, Tim has been especially vocal about the support of the Bay’s local businesses during quarantine.
Changing the landscape of the food blogger industry and defining himself as a connoisseur of Bay Area cuisine, Tim has made sure to grab every opportunity and do a job that continues to keep him ecstatic and satisfied. He doesn’t believe in working the 9-to-5 corporate job, preferring the originality and creativity involved in working with the local food scene and collaborating with the fellow food bloggers that he’s met through his social media career. That creativity has certainly been tapped throughout quarantine, with the initial closure of many restaurants on Tim’s go-to list; like the rest of the country, experiments in cooking have taken place upfront and center, showing Tim’s understanding of flavor and food’s viral factor. And Tim’s growth won’t stop with social media; to further expand his business profile, Tim has even tapped into several other niches like social media marketing and consultancy, wherein he has helped many young budding artists and food joints to grow and make a name for themselves.
On his journey of making a difference for the Bay Area food scene, helping local artists, redefining the industry and blogging his heart out, Tim Cheung is elated and enjoying every moment of it. His future endeavours and big projects show promise; it’s only a matter of time to see how they’ll flourish and the impact. Until then, Bay Area food lovers will be waiting for the next post to make their mouths water.
Follow Tim Cheung on Instagram at @bayarea.foodies