In Living Room with Hans Danial / Eatandtreats

16 October 2017 - As one of the prominent Indonesian food and travel bloggers, Hans Danial’s culinary journey on “Eatsandtreats” is a must-read for the foodies. Descriptive reviews and appetising imagerials, it has been Hans’ fascinating style that attracts people’s attention since 2012 and garnered him a place in Indonesia Tatler's "favourite food bloggers".

On his recent holiday to Seminyak, we caught up with Hans just a slight hour before dinner at Seasalt. It was a startling conversation as we jump from talking about his blogging tenure to the role of food bloggers in the fast-changing culinary industry and responsible eating.

How did you get into food blogging and Instagramming?

Actually, it started when I was an intern in one of Indonesia’s top teenage magazine. We were doing a food issue and interviewing some senior food bloggers. I suddenly realized that I love what I did at that time, writing, taking photos, and eating! It was actually my last week in internship. I launched my blog a week after the food issue published with no preparation. Even my blog’s name Eatandtreats was suggested by my friend. The initial idea was to name it Eatandtravel but someone used it already. So, yea, I took the suggestion to use Eatandtreats. It has no specific philosophy but it sounds nice. It rhymes well. That’s it. That’s how I started it *laugh*

How do you built and maintain your followers?

I think I always continuously post a fresh content. I mean, in the beginning, I thought everything is about food photos. Along the way trend changes. People like the mixture of travel and food. But I think my strongest point remains in photos. My friends also told me, that my photos have a unique mood, unique colors. I didn’t realise that, but that’s what they told me. But actually, I don’t even have plan or formula on how to gain more readers or followers. I just keep on blogging like two or three times a week

How do you shoot and how would you describe your aesthetic?

I bring four cameras because I’m too lazy to charge the battery. I like editing pictures. I like subdue colours, like something a little bit washed-down colours. I like seeing a neat Instagram feed with consistent tone, it looks lovely, so I implement that to my own blog and Instagram feed. It took years for me to learn about editing. My first photos are so ugly *laugh*. I used to oversaturating everything as I thought it would make the food looks more tempting. Now when I look back at it, it’s like “oh nooo”. Those ugly photos are still on my blog by the way. So, if you’d like to see my ugly photos, check out my old posts from 2012 and 2013 *laugh*

How do you strive to be consistently honest in the days where marketers seemingly rely on the influencers’ ability to shape public perspective?

For me, it’s about being honest with yourself first. That’s very important. I’m a very picky guy. Even when someone or a company offer me money but if I think it doesn’t suit me, I would not accept it. I’m quite known in Jakarta for doing something only what I like. There’s a case when a company transfer me money but I don’t like the product so I send back the money to them. I don’t care if they think I’m not professional

I also have rules. There are things that I don’t want to review like alcoholic beverage brands, I don’t drink alcohol, and mobile applications. Honestly, they do have budget, a very very big budget, huge amount of money, I could go to the US using that money *laugh*. They actively reach out to us (influencers) to promote them or their products. But basically I’m very picky, so not only alcohols and mobile apps, I will always do background check for every products, restaurants, everything, before I accept the offer. Some other bloggers might accept similar offer as they care about their earnings but I’m not

What makes a good food and restaurant?

My very first reviews are rubbish. It was just about good or bad, delicious or not. It gradually changed starting in my second year of blogging and after I learned more about ingredients. But I cannot specifically say which food or restaurant is good or bad. Every person has different preference. Even every region has different palate. For me, comparing Jakarta and Bali, many food in Bali taste more light compared to its Jakarta’s counterpart. Each food has its own character

What is your favourite food by the way?

Indonesian food! I really like Indonesian food, it’s rich in flavor

What do you think about the role of food blogger in restaurant industry? Many restaurants are taking benefits of being Instagrammable…

Oh, bloggers have a huge impact on it. It’s very huge. In Jakarta, as far as I know, they (restaurants) prefer to stop doing printed advertisement in magazines or newspapers. I think it’s because of the rapid growth social media, people tend to take advantage of it. But at the end of the day what makes a good restaurant is the food and service. I usually went to new restaurants alone as paying guest, so I can say whatever I want to say as a guest *laugh*. My earnings are mostly from repeat clients, some established restaurants, which I know about the quality and consistency

Now people prefer to read caption, they don’t read blog anymore

Yes, I’m aware of that. I used to have 20.000 readers in a day, now it’s going down to 12.000. On the other hand, I gain more followers, active ones, on Instagram

How do you see the current trend of food blogging and its future?

I think, I have discussed it with my friends, now it’s all about video. But I don’t really do video. I enjoy seeing other people’s videos, like when they explore traditional market or delicious street food that make me drooling. I can’t do that. I’m a perfectionist, I cannot do spontaneous video using my mobile phone and post it on Instagram Stories. If I want to do video, I have to do it properly

There is a growing trend on food and sustainability. What is your comment towards it?

I fully support that. Whatever to save the world *laugh*. I’ve been blogging for five years, I was ordering as much food as I can just for the sake of reviews. I’ve been there. I have to admit I was guilty of that. I once went to a chocolate factory in Bali and it opened my mind that having a bite a chocolate requires a very long process. It’s a learning journey which eventually makes me respect food and ingredients more. Now my review might not as lengthy as before but at least I finish what I order

But I don’t think everyone can accept the trend. It’s difficult to convince people to be environmentally aware. Some people care. Some don’t. It’s like wearing leather or fur. I don’t know how to convince them. I just hope I can make a little change starting from myself

What is your next project?

I used to dream of having my own restaurant but it’s no longer. In the last five years, I’ve seen ups and downs of restaurant business especially in Jakarta. It kinda scared me. When you open a restaurant, you’ll have to be fully committed on that, not to mention the cost. You’ll have to be a pioneer or be really really good otherwise you won’t survive. Maybe I will do restaurant franchise outside Jakarta considering its rapid return (of investment)

There’s a restaurant franchise that has been around in Jakarta for maybe four or five years. It starts to slowing down in Jakarta but their franchise in Palembang is a massive success. So I thought it’s a good idea to do restaurant franchise outside Jakarta. But to start my own restaurant? I will think twice. Or better I keep doing what I do now promoting other restaurants *laugh*