At least once a year, kids smile wide and pose for photos with a birthday cake or another sugary confection. For Mike Chau’s children, Matty and Sammy—the pint-size stars of the uber-popular @FoodBabyNY Instagram account—it’s a daily ritual, and the treats certainly aren’t limited to sweets.
Matty, age 4, and Sammy, age 1 1/2, are the offspring of Chau, 33, and his wife Alex, who live in Queens, NY. Each day, dad uploads photos of one or both of the kids. They're accompanied by delicious, drool-worthy ice cream cones, tacos, sandwiches, pastas, and more.
These food babies might be the luckiest kids alive. At the very least, the two are the most well-fed children in the city. Between exclusive restaurant invites and meeting famous chefs, the youngsters themselves are well-known around town—after all, they’ve garnered more than 212k followers since Chau launched the Insta in 2014.
From Neapolitan pizzas to nap time and cannolis to car seats, this family has it figured out. The Feast chatted with Chau to find out how he keeps it all together—family, food and a full-time job.
The Feast: How did you get the inspiration to feature your kids in food pics?
Mike Chau: I was one of those people who posted too many pictures of food before there was a concept of a "food Instagram," and then became one of those people who posted too many pictures of their baby. I thought either one on their own was too repetitive, and the same as every other photo out there, so I thought it would be fun to combine them to put a different spin on both.
The Feast: What's your secret to getting so many followers?
MC: I think, for me, it was doing something unique that nobody else did before. This led to news features, blog write ups, etc., which are what helped add a lot of followers. More recently, a feature on the @Instagram Instagram account really helped add a ton of followers pretty quickly.
The Feast: Do you eat all the food you post?
MC: Yes, I definitely try everything I post. What's the point of posting something you don't want to eat? People look at the account for recommendations and have come to trust us to provide them with suggestions for good places to try, so I wouldn't want to post something I haven't tried and can't recommend from my own experiences. We definitely don't finish an entire box of doughnuts, or we'll probably share a quintuple scoop ice cream cone with friends, but I probably end up eating more of what I post than I should.
The Feast: Do the kids eat all of the food you post?
MC: Definitely not. They're babies, so they can't down a whole pizza pie or a burger. They like to pick at stuff and try things here and there when we're out. Most of the time, we have the normal struggle a lot of parents have with getting their rambunctious kids to sit down and eat. They definitely eat more of the healthy stuff you don't see, like fruits and veggies that aren't entertaining for the ‘gram.
The Feast: Is there anything you don't let them eat?
MC: No. I like that they try all kinds of different things. Sure, they eat sugar, and try unhealthy things sometimes, but I think the fact that it's available makes it less of a forbidden thing, so they don't go crazy for it. A lot of times, I have ice cream or something, and they're totally uninterested.
The Feast: Is there anything you don't eat?
MC: Only shellfish, but that's because of an allergy.
The Feast: What are Matty and Sammy’s favorite restaurants?
MC: Definitely Flattopps for Matty. Mostly because they have "tableside gaming," where you can play Nintendo at your table while you eat. This answer changes all the time, since kids change so rapidly, but he's definitely very into the video game phase right now. Sammy is chill and just copies everything her brother does right now, so she likes whatever he's into.
The Feast: What are your favorite restaurants?
MC: I also love Flattopps. And Queens Comfort, from the same people, is one of our favorites, too. The new Emily in the West Village is also a go-to now that it's easier to get to. When I want something healthier to balance out all of the heavy stuff, I've been loving Made Nice or Chikarashi.
The Feast: You have a full-time job. How do you maintain to stay on top of all the new trends and restaurants?
MC: I am a software developer full time. I literally run, sometimes, at lunch to check out new places that are close by enough, which helps me get my workout in, too. I'll also do a quick stop sometimes on the way home, or just try to stop by a bunch of places on the weekend.
The Feast: Do you think the kids will go into food-related careers? Is this something you would approve of?
MC: I think, or hope, at least one of them will develop a love of food after growing up around it so much. I would definitely approve of and support that, since it's something I am so passionate about, so it would be a lot of fun to have a shared interest like that. It would also make them appreciate all of this Foodbaby stuff now if they love food one day!
The Feast: How do restaurant owners and chefs react when they meet the kids?
MC: Restaurant owners and chefs are always very positive and excited when they meet the kids. In fact, the first question I'm often greeted with when I go somewhere without them is "Where are the babies?" Womp, womp.
The Feast: Do people approach you and the kids on the street and want pics with them?
MC: It definitely happens more and more lately. People always ask for a pic with the kids, and sometimes even want my wife and/or me to be in it, too.
The Feast: How many restaurants or eateries do the kids go to each week?
MC: It's mostly limited to dinner on Friday, once my wife and I are done with work, and then we go out a lot on the weekend. We will typically grab some coffee and a pastry somewhere followed by lunch and a dessert spot, and then hang out at the park or somewhere they can run around and have fun for a few hours. Once they have enough of that, it's usually time for a nap, so we have a nice quiet dinner, or two, and of course, dessert to end the day.
The Feast: Do they enjoy food outings or do they get sick of it sometimes?
MC: I think like any kids, they definitely get in moods—when they're already sick of going to the very first stop of the day, before they've even done anything yet. Things change from minute to minute with kids, so it often depends on their moods and how tired they are.
The Feast: Tell us all about what Mom thinks!
MC: Mom loves it. We get to be together as a family all weekend long. Mom does most of the driving, which is a good trade-off for eating some of the best food in New York. Our relationship began over our love of eating, and most of our first dates were spent dining out. My wife and I met in high school when our palates were not quite as refined yet, but food was always something that bonded us.
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