Last updated October 11th 2014
At Eat.Drink.TelAviv we are excited when we have a chance to share with you some interesting personalities in the food industry here in Tel Aviv be them chefs, sous-chefs, sous-sous-chefs, sommeliers, picklers, inventors, foodies, and social media mavens.
Eat.Drink.TelAviv’s Meet.Talk.TelAviv would like you to welcome Jackie Gebel, food adventurer and the brains behind the Instagram food profile @noleftovers_.
Jackie majored in Hospitality Management and Marketing at Syracuse University in upstate New York, where she enjoyed taking cooking classes and learning the different facets of restaurant management. Soon after graduation, while many of her classmates went on to culinary school and to manage restaurants naturally, Jackie moved down to the Big Apple and took a more artful direction. Stemming from her love of art, she did some graphic design work for a social media agency in New York City. Thru her work there, she began freelancing with social media and brand building for several New York City restaurants. She brags about having over ten Instagram profiles on her phone that she cycles through and sends updates. She loves the food scene and the city so it is a match made in foodie heaven.
Her work with these restaurants is just the tip of the iceberg. This young woman, with seemingly unending sparks of energy wants to continue developing her @noleftovers_ into a well respected brand online with an accompanying website noleftoversnyc.com as the go-to foodie guide for the “best restaurants, bars, culinary finds, hotspots, and happenings” to quote the website.
While the New York City market seems quite crowded with restaurant resources such as websites and Instagrams, Jackie is undeterred. With her understanding of social media outlets like Instagram and Foursquare she has developed and curated lists upon lists (upon lists!) of top-rated, personally-tested and friend-approved spots for whatever type of place you are craving.
With over 40 lists so far she has a unique answer for you.
“Some [lists] are very specific, i mean some restaurants cross over lists, but if I want a West-Village date spot that’s not so expensive, or I want a good place that has cocktails and tapas, I have it on a list,” she states confidently.
We at EatDrinkTelAviv were excited to sit down with this young entrepreneurial mind, talk about one of our favourite cities New York and help demystify the wild, wild, often confusing world of social media .
We meet at Frischman Beach at La Mer Beachside bar. The sun is out in full with the Tel Aviv May summer heat scorching the sands. Thankfully we are protected by the large parasols blanketing the beach, giving us full view of the beautiful Mediterranean sea. Jackie is in full vacation mode, relaxing here waiting for the interview between seeing friends. We each order a drink, I get some mango nectar (in a can) and she orders a blended slushie like beverage that puts my drink to shame. Before we begin though, she raises her drink in the air and takes a picture with her phone.
“For later,” she says.
And I know exactly what she is talking about.
Prof. NomNom: Tell me a bit about how Instagram is changing the way people find restaurants, or go to restaurants.
Jackie: Instagram is changing the way people eat. Food pictures, some people hate it, some people love it, but that’s how I find restaurants. You don’t know how easy it is. When I got to a restaurant I’m looking at pictures to see what’s good, what’s recommended.
Prof. NomNom: I never thought about searching hashtags on Instagram for restaurants, what a great idea! You mentioned Foursquare as another main social media component.
(FourSquare recently pivoted, since this interview and has changed since it first began. You can click to their website HERE, read up on their new business model HERE and learn what “pivot” means HERE.)
Jackie: Foursquare is my main social media that I use, that is how this whole thing got started. I used Foursquare to create these lists – Top Healthy Eats for Lunch, Top Chinese Food… So whenever I was craving something I had something to choose from. It was more of a personal thing, but then people started to ask me for recommendations, and I needed to make these lists easier to share. I have have some really detailed lists, about forty of them on my phone.
Prof. NomNom: Have you been to all these places?
Jackie: I haven’t been to all of them, but I have been to a lot. But I don’t do anything unless I’ve heard about it from a few trusted sources. I’ll do research or friends will recommend me places. Friends will always send me photos of where they have been. What I trust the most is Foursqaure because it is such a niche social media place that is targeted to specific places.
Prof. NomNom: Can you explain FourSquare a bit?
Jackie: They released a press release saying they are changing their concept, but for now it’s checking into places. I can see [on a feed] where my friends have eaten, and my friends go to great restaurants, so I can ask them about it later. Or for example whenever I go out somewhere I’ll put a picture and tell people about it, and then people will “like” it. They can add it to their own lists, save it to a to-do list, you can even make reservations, view the menu, see more pictures. It’s like Instagram but with more details.
Prof. NomNom: When did you decide to start @noleftovers_?
Jackie: Well I quit my job [back] in October (2013) and moved to Israel. I got a job here, but long story short I ended up going back to New York, but I started realizing that I wanted to build a website.
Prof. NomNom: Start-up Nation will do that to you. And where did the name “noleftovers” come from?
Jackie: I wanted something witty, something different. There are a million food blogs…(she laughs) so many food blogs, especially in New York. I don’t know if you know Immaculate Infatuation, that’s one of the biggest ones and they created a hashtag #eeeeeats that is their thing they added to food culture in New York City.
Prof. NomNom: Wow! Do you know how they did that?
Jackie: I think they were one of the first [on Instagram] and they have a website and a mobile app. They had a bigger reach, and they featured this hashtag and made it into a contest. You don’t win anything but it is a personal win. I did it a couple of times from my personal feed and won a couple of times, so I’d get a few more followers that way. Now I love food pictures but I didn’t want to flood my own Instagram with just food pictures so I started a handle that I could put my food pictures.
Prof. NomNom: Do you have any rules when you Instagram?
Jackie: I have some rules, I don’t take pictures when I’m out on dates.
Prof. NomNom: (laughs) That’s probably a good idea! Any advice on how to get more Instagram followers, or drive traffic to a website?
Prof. NomNom: I noticed that thank you!
Jackie: No problem. So having a unique hashtag that people want to use. And every so often feature another person’s photo. People just want their photos liked.
Prof. NomNom: What are some of the Tel Aviv restaurants you’ve checked out?
Jackie: I have a roommate that is from Tel Aviv so he kind of takes me to all the best things. I was at Thai House this weekend. I’ve never been to Thailand, but my roommate has, and it was so authentic and so right you could just tell it was straight from Thailand. I found out they grow their own Thai ingredients for the restaurant.
I was at Raphael’s [at the King Dan Hotel] for dinner. The bread was probably the best thing I have ever eaten. It was this hot, glazed baguette. The food was great French food. We both “Noleftover’d” out plates! (she laughs out loud.)
Prof. NomNom: Haha. So do you get funny looks when you take pictures?
Jackie: In New York you do, but you gotta do it. In a way I look at it like it is my job. I’ve got a lot of comp’d meals in New York, for example there is this huge food fair in New York called Madison Square Eats.
Prof. NomNom: Yes I know it, they have it twice a year in May and October.
Jackie: Right! So one of the restaurants I was working with had a stand there, and I was sending photos to the PR person. And this person got me into the press day where I got to eat from all the forty vendors. Free amazing food, and my first press experience. I met another food blogger that sort of took me under his wing.
Prof. NomNom: What was one of the things you learned from this experience?
Jackie: Just to get out there as much as possible and go to as many food events, reach out to the foodie scene. Restaurants want you to publicize [for them]. The more people see the food, the more people want to go there. If you want to find something Instagram connects to the social aspect of your life… and you don’t have to be this huge foodie to be a foodie.
Prof. NomNom: It’s making the food from restaurants more accessible?
Jackie: Yeah! You don’t have to be reading all these specialty blogs. I personally want to be a reference. My tag line for my website is “Your trusted guide to New York food – No Leftovers is taste-tasted, friend- approved, dining discovery done right.” When my friends are asking for recommendations they want to hear it from a friend not a professional business.
Prof. NomNom: What do you think about these trends in New York like the Cronut by Dominique Ansel and its impersonations?
Jackie: Well Dominique Ansel is always coming up with new stuff, he just came out with the cookie shot and now this waffle/coffee thing. [The Waffagato]
Prof. NomNom: Wow this guy is out of control! So what bothers you about the food scene in general?
Jackie: The word foodie. I just love food. I’m a culinary explorer. Or an adventurer. I like to experience things like a culture through the food, or through shopping, I mean whatever your vice is… but I love food. What better way to see a city then thru what they are cooking. I don’t like souvenirs but I’m bringing back dates, and tahini. With the internet you can get any t-shirt you want from around the world in two-week, but you can’t get those authentic flavours.
Prof. NomNom: Any last advice about New York City?
Jackie: Try food fairs. Don’t get a hotdog and think that’s New York. Go to Smorgasburg in Brooklyn instead. Stay AWAY from touristy places or business areas. The side streets of Soho or the West Village are insanely awesome. And don’t get recommendations from anyone that works at a hotel, especially the concierge. I have a friend that’s a door man and he tells me that people that ask him for recommendations he usually tells them the expensive places across the street. I had to sneak him a list of really awesome places – like Ippudo. They have really great ramen, pork buns, it’s one of the best.
And check out Instagram, you’ll find something awesome!!
Prof. NomNom: Are there any Instagram people you look up to?
Join Jackie on her food adventures through New York with @noleftovers_
And feel free to add EatDrinkTelAviv on Instagram at @eatdrinktelaviv and hashtag #eatdrinktelaviv or tag us so we can repost and share your wonderful food photos!