Susan Behrends Valenzuela
If you’re anything like me, your Instagram Explore page consists almost solely of food pictures, food videos and recipes, or as I like to call it, “the algorithm’s way of enabling my love for food or just telling me I probably need to go out more.” With all my scrolling, I’ve seen a lot of foodies. But, probably one of the most passionate in the foodie community is Skyler Bouchard.
From a college student with spunk and entrepreneurial spirit to a successful name in the culinary industry, Skyler Bouchard has far surpassed her 18-year-old aspirations — and she’s nowhere near finished. Bouchard has hosted numerous Food Network series, including “Treat Yourself with Skyler,” “Full Dish Hustle” and “Sipping With Skyler,” and has contributed to media platforms such as INSIDER, Amazon and the Cooking Channel.
Before achieving such great success, Bouchard was just a student in the College of Arts and Science’s class of 2015. She launched “Dining with Skyler,” a blog that continues to be updated with creative and approachable dishes and functions as sources of culinary inspiration for homecooks nationwide.
At NYU, Bouchard initiated a chapter of Spoon University, a culinary website for college students, and attended a graduate program in Hong Kong to study cuisine and culture. While reviewing restaurants for her food blog, she learned to cook and studied with chefs, other food specialists and culinary textbooks. All the while, she dreamed above and beyond, hoping to pursue a career in food television.
For 18-year-old Bouchard, a solo-dining experience at an eclectic SoHo restaurant sparked a passion, the start of a food-filled adventure and highly successful career. Thus the broadcast journalism and communications major evolved into a self-taught expert in the culinary industry. WSN had the opportunity to speak with Skyler about her path, and she generously shared advice for current students.
WSN: Something that sets you apart from many other food influencers is your content of real dishes with carbs, fats and all that good stuff. You don’t just cater to the health community. What’s your take on this?
Skyler Bouchard: I think it’s important as a female in this industry, who loves to eat, to show that you can balance eating cheese, oils and butter with a healthy lifestyle. Incorporating these foods into life is not a big deal, and I’m glad that you notice this through my feed. There is a lot of fear-dialogue around foods that I grew up with, foods that I want other people to enjoy.
WSN: What tips do you have for students who are trying to make a brand for themselves on social media?
SB: Stop thinking about what the brand should be, stop brainstorming so “big picture,” what the font should be, all the small details like that. Brainstorm for a little bit, but then just go. Just start. No matter how you see it happening, it’s going to evolve based on what your audience wants and what you want. Everything will change once you start executing. It’s having the vision, and then just doing it. It’s being able to adapt and not feeling discouraged when what you’re doing isn’t working … We all want growth on social media, but if what you’re doing is not who you are and simply for the sake of likes, it will only get you so far. One day you’re just going to get burnt out.
WSN: Do you have advice for students who have a passion but aren’t sure how to actualize it?
SB: Every passion, of course, is different … I think number one is looking within yourself, and understanding what aspect of that passion it is you love. Using myself as an example, I love cooking, sharing with people, and entertaining. I also love the production side of things, so that’s why I naturally gravitated toward culinary production. Take that lens for your own journey, figure out what aspect you love about your passion, and then in a very realistic way, look at what jobs will allow you to fulfill this aspect.
Also, if you have a passion but don’t feel financially comfortable to take a full leap and start something, assuming you have the time, I would make it your side hustle. That’s what I did when I was in college. Being at NYU in the city, being able to take my classes and work while doing this on the side was life-changing for me.
WSN: What advice would you give to your college self?
SB: I would tell my 18-year-old self to not feel like you have to put yourself in the corporate box, and that doing things differently is 100% okay. When I was a student studying communications it was standard to get an internship at a network or magazine, but I would go back in time and tell myself to not be scared of being outside of that box.
WSN: Career-wise, what future goals do you have?
SB: I would love to simply take on the chef and host role instead of being the producer, editor and food stylist all in one. I would also like to do some kind of pop-up, in-person dining experience — I was thinking of wine pairing. I’m not there yet, but it’s definitely a goal of mine.
Contact Ora Sidlow at [email protected]