As Canberra’s food scene continues to grow so too do the people that keep it alive.
Emma Bickley is just one of the many food enthusiasts blossoming in Canberra. She has a very intimate relationship with food and cooking, and shares this with her ever-growing following on Instagram, Photo Before We Eat.
The account is a mix of creative inspiration and advice around using local and seasonal produce in everyday cooking. Emma says she loves when she can “share something that has a story behind it”.
Whether it be a recipe that her mum taught her or simply testing a new ingredient in the kitchen, “I love when I can show people something they may not have seen before,” she said.
It is this passion for inspiring others that enabled Emma to make a big splash on the foodie scene, also guiding her nomination for the 2019 Fresh Awards in the Blogger category for her blog, Photo Before We Eat.
“It’s exciting to be nominated especially given the other nominees have been doing this for a longer period of time. I am excited to simply be recognised for what I love to do and to meet great people who work in this awesome industry.”
Emma is the only Canberra-based blogger nominated in her category.
When she first started Photo Before We Eat over 18 months ago, Emma never imagined that sharing her love for food would have turned her into one of Canberra’s biggest culinary inspirations. She admits that “it was on a bit of whim” that she started Photo Before We Eat.
“I cook a lot and always took photos of my food for my personal social media. I realised that my phone was filled more with photos of my food than anything else in my life. So, I started Photo Before We Eat and now it has just become part of my life,” Emma recalls.
The account now has over 2000 followers, with more and more people captivated by her bubbly online persona and wide knowledge of food.
The name Photo Before We Eat also came about as part of joke. Emma’s husband used to make fun of her need to take photos of their food before they could actually eat it. But this habit is one that reflects her relationship with food and her joy of storytelling.
“Food has been such an important part of my life, beyond lunch and dinner. There are so many processes like going out to get meat or going to make prosciutto, or going to get cabbage to make sauerkraut, or waiting for the yeast to rise when making donuts in the morning. That’s always been a presence in my life and food has always had a story with it,” Emma explains.
One of the things that differentiate Photo Before We Eat from similar accounts is Emma’s willingness to take her audience on her food journey. She regularly cross-posts content from her blog and her social media accounts, from going out to buy ingredients for a recipe, cooking in the kitchen, to publishing that recipe on her blog.
“When you become aware of the role food plays in your life you can get inspiration anywhere, whether that be in the magazine you pick up or chatting to someone at the markets. The other day I was at the markets and looking at a coconut and this woman came up and showed me how people smash open coconuts to get all the flesh out in Nigeria! That got me thinking, I might do a recipe with coconuts.”
Having lived in Canberra since the age of 17, Emma has been closely observing the transformation of Canberra’s food culture. She admits that there is a ‘vibrancy’ in the Aussie capital, one that wasn’t there over ten years ago.
“There has been a shift whereby Canberrans have said yes we are going to embrace food as something that is important to us,” Emma explains.
But perhaps the biggest change is that Canberra-based food influencers like Emma form an even bigger part of this growing ‘vibrant’ food culture.