Even long-standing LA institutions like 34-year-old California Donuts are purposefully getting in on the Instagram action now. Steppie Kuoch, who inherited the Koreatown mom-and-pop shop from her, ahem, mom-and-pop, explains that they’ve expanded from traditional donut offerings in recent years to eclectic and photogenic toppings ranging from Oreo panda bears to Froot Loops and beyond. “In the last few years, there was a sudden boom in the donut and dessert trend and it opened up the opportunity to experiment, have fun with our products, and help us reach a community outside of Los Angeles. Instagram really became that vehicle, and it's been our constant connection and communication with our growing customer base.”
But, Does It Taste Good?
Pretty pictures are all well and fine, but when chefs start experimenting with crazy flavors and otherworldly designs, you start to wonder: am I actually going to be able to keep this down? “I think many chefs are prioritizing presentation before taste now,” says Chef Michael Fiorelli, of Love & Salt in Manhattan Beach. “A picture might say a thousand words, but a bite says one that's more important than all of them.” No stranger to a drool-worthy, Instagrammable dish (take, for instance his fierce whole roasted pig head) Fiorelli emphasizes how important it is for the food to actually deliver, or otherwise the whole plan backfires. “Ultimately, you're trying to draw people into the restaurant. If a certain dish catches fire on Instagram, people are going to want to eat it, but if it doesn't deliver [taste-wise] then it's the worst advertisement you can put out there.”