Through the Lens: Skyler Bouchard

The Food Network’s Skyler Bouchard (@diningwithskyler) on Insta-fame, being #ballsy, and creating your niche.


The Gramlist: How did you get started?

Skyler: I was in college studying Broadcast Journalism at NYU and I noticed there were no younger women in the food exploration space. I wanted to do that, so I started a website first. I wanted to go find all of the best spots to eat in the city and blog about them. Then I snagged the name @nycdining on Instagram, which was my name for a while. The handle as more of a guide when Instagram was more of an editing software than a social tool.

The Gramlist: When was this?

Skyler: I think 2012, October 2012 actually. So I started figuring out what I wanted to do, going out to eat, capturing content before that was even a thing, and then I let it grow. By 2014 I was still growing and then when I hit 10k, that’s when Instagram really started kicking off. I started doing videos in 2014, I did a series called Table for One where I would film myself eating at different places. Then Ballsy Bites came along in 2015 and that was me cooking ball-shaped recipes by combining different flavors. So, a mac ‘n cheese lobster ball, a spicy tuna ball, things like that. I started doing it full-time in December of 2014, when I graduated early from NYU and saved money to just throw myself into it. Then, from that one semester where I really focused on this business, I was able to make a living from it by mid-2015.

The Gramlist: By monetizing the content?

Skyler: Yeah, through advertisement and also the Food Network. I was picked up by the Food Network in August 2015 as a Snapchat personality and also recipe developer. Then I moved forward as just on-camera talent. They got their own cooking staff, so they only needed me to be on-camera. So then I started doing a digital series with them called Sipping with Skyler where I do cocktails. Another one called Full Dish Hustle where I would scout out different food entrepreneurs, and a third one this year called Treat Yourself with Skyler, where I highlight different beauty treatments that incorporate foods around the city and how to make your own. So yeah, it all started with the blog and escalated into this. So now I do Food Network, Instagram full-time, and I just hired my first employee, my brand manager for Dining with Skyler.

The Gramlist: So what does your brand manager do?

Skyler: Her name is Hailey, and she helps me produce content. She basically helps me with everything. We brainstorm branded ideas, she helps me edit videos for IGTV episodes, YouTube, Facebook. She helps me write copy for things, she oversees a lot of that. She communicates with brands as well on my behalf. She helps me manage my brand, but with me.

View this post on Instagram

Friends season 11: they’re all addicted to matcha

A post shared by Skyler Bouchard (@skylerbouchard) on

The Gramlist: So what are you working on now that’s exciting?

Skyler: We’ve got a lot of really cool branded partnerships that I’m excited about. Also, we just launched two different IGTV series. One of them is called Skinny Swap, I love the concept. So basically finding different Instagrammable dishes that everyone is talking about, or that you see on the internet, and then making versions at home. Not necessarily low-calorie, but more wholesome, so with more nutritional value. I don’t want to promote ‘skinny’ as what’s in. We call it ‘skinny’ because it’s the healthier version.

The Gramlist: Plus the alliteration…

Skyler: Yes, it’s really the alliteration that we went for. Plus, being skinny isn’t bad, being curvy isn’t bad, but we make nutritious versions. So nothing is really low-cal, per se, but it could be dairy-free, it just depends. For instance, we took the Black Tap shake and made a tie-dye rainbow smoothie with fruit and coconut milk and a hazelnut spread with no sugar, which was really good. So you’d get fiber and you’re not having refined sugar with this shake, it’s different. We’ve done a bacon mac ‘n cheese but with butternut squash and cashew cheese sauce, just because a lot of people are doing that so we thought it would be cool to show.

The Gramlist: Cool! So that was one show, what was the other?

Skyler: We brought back Ballsy Bites, which was one of my YouTube shows in 2015, so we make different recipes where we turn everything into a ball. It’s a lot harder than it looks because there is a lot of physics to it. You can’t bake certain doughs because they’ll flatten, you have to figure out what you’re doing in all of those senses.

The Gramlist: So what’s the key to a good IGTV show?

Skyler: IGTV is so up in the air right now, but I think consistency and having a personality behind it, unless your whole brand is hands and pans like editorial shows such as Tasty or Tastemade. Everyone loves that, but you have to be looking for that. I think it depends on your channel, who you are and what you’re putting out there. The videos are normally two to three minutes. It’s longform, but I like to keep it short. So it can be up to ten minutes.

The Gramlist: How did you get into food? Who was cooking in your house?

Skyler: Not my parents, that’s for sure. My uncle is a chef in Delaware, he’s very talented. My family has always just loved food, my dad loves finding different restaurants. My Dad’s side of the family is a huge French-Canadian family, so food was always part of gatherings and enjoying life, so I think I adopted that concept early. I also grew up playing squash competitively, so I would travel internationally for that and I learned at about 12 to 14 years old that my favorite part about traveling was trying different foods. So then I stopped playing squash and started eating more.

View this post on Instagram

Does this maki me look strong????

A post shared by Skyler Bouchard (@skylerbouchard) on

The Gramlist: So how does one stay fit when they’re eating every day professionally?

Skyler: I get that all the time. But, when you do it full-time, sometimes you wake up and you’re like, “I’m so full from yesterday, I can’t do this.” It’s just about balance, when you’re in front of food and around food all the time you learn how to taste certain things until you’re full, but not Thanksgiving full. I have a whole thing on my page about how you can be completely healthy and balanced and eat pizza. You can enjoy things. I used to workout four days a week, but I have a dog now so walking is my exercise. So that’s why I focus more on balance. When I’m hungry I’ll eat, if I have a shoot at five restaurants in one day I’ll taste everything, and then package it up. But then if I have a work meal and I bring my boyfriend, we’ll eat everything. It’s a mix, it just depends on the day.

The Gramlist: How did you grow your own following? What were some things you found that worked?

Skyler: In the beginning, I liked a bunch of other photos with NYC restaurant tags and location tags. So then they would see my name, NYCDining and they would likely follow me because my photos were showing them good places to go. They weren’t even immaculate photos, they were fine. So that was a big tactic, and obviously consistently posting about different restaurants that are cool so that they could find my profile and be like “oh I should follow her because she’s finding cool places”. Now, it’s very different. I think my brand has changed completely. It’s more about putting unique content out there with a personality because nobody else can be like you and have your spin on things. Honestly, we just naturally grow at this point because of our content. I didn’t do the whole following and then unfollowing tactic, I don’t think that works and I don’t think it’s real.