In the Spoon series Buttered Up, we interview content creators in the food space about what their job is like. This month, we chatted with Makena Yee of @seattle.grub, who was recently named the 2023 InfluenceHer Collective Food & Beverage Influencer of the Year.

Makena Yee, aka @seattle.grub, is a multitalented food blogger and content creator. She’s been eating her way through Seattle for over five years and has created tons of mouthwatering content along the way. You might want to grab a snack before checking out her Instagram or TikTok because her feed is guaranteed to make you hungry. 

But Makena isn’t just eating in Seattle. She has also traveled to many enviable food destinations across the globe, including Paris, Chicago, Rome, and San Francisco. We interviewed Makena about life as a food blogger, her top travel tips for food lovers, and more.

Spoon University: Why did you decide to become a food blogger? Did anything in particular spark your passion for food blogging?

Makena Yee: Funny story, I used to post all my food finds casually on my Snapchat or Instagram story throughout high school. I had so many people DMing me all the time asking about the restaurants, so I decided to launch @seattle.grub my freshman year of college. I’ve always loved taking photos so I decided to start posting all my food photos onto my Instagram page. Over the past five years, I’ve learned so much and have had the opportunity to work with so many wonderful brands!

Photo courtesy of @Seattle.grub on Instagram

SU: What’s your favorite thing about being a food blogger?

MY: There’s so many things I love about being a food blogger, but my top three favorites are engaging with an online community that loves food, supporting local businesses, and being creative. Of course, I love tasting the food and trying new cuisines, but learning the stories of local and national businesses and being able to collaborate is so much fun. I’ve learned so many camera, editing, and lighting techniques, so I get to be creative and experiment everyday.

SU: What’s your earliest food memory?

MY: One of my earliest food memories is going to a local Thai restaurant each week. My parents would sit me in the high chair AFTER they placed several pieces of newspaper on the ground because I was such a messy eater. I threw noodles everywhere, and I managed to get some stuck underneath my clothing. I guess ever since I was a kid I loved to grub.

SU: What are your top tips for finding restaurants while traveling?

MY: Social media is my new search engine. I love researching “must-try” spots on TikTok and Instagram, depending on where I’m traveling to. Word of mouth also really helps. When I tell family and friends about upcoming trips they typically share their food scene knowledge with me. Also, be open to discovery. While traveling, try a new cuisine or ask a local what their favorite spot to grub at. Don’t be scared to take risks!

SU: How do you budget for food and restaurant meals while traveling?

MY: Food is one of my biggest attractions when I travel, so I make sure to budget accordingly by balancing my spending habits and making the most of my budget at certain restaurants. For example, I’ll gravitate towards more casual restaurants and street food rather than splurge on one “expensive” restaurant.

SU: What’s the most memorable food experience you’ve had while traveling?

MY: This year, I visited Paris for the first time, and of course, I had to try escargot. After a long 10-hour direct flight from Seattle to Paris, I managed to stay up 24 hours to beat the time difference and dined on the streets of Paris by the Eiffel Tower with my best friend. This moment was so memorable because seeing the Eiffel Tower and eating a new cuisine was such a surreal experience. I tried the escargot, and it wasn’t my favorite, but I see the appeal!

SU: What’s your favorite food experience you’ve had while traveling?

MY: I recently visited Rome with my two best friends, and we stood in line for an hour for this famous Italian sandwich. You could smell the fresh focaccia being made while standing in line. Once you reach the front of the line, you’re greeted by friendly staff slicing fresh meats and ingredients. The best part was indulging in the delicious sandwich while standing in the sun.

SU: What’s your favorite fast-food/fast casual meal for when you need a convenient meal on the go?

MY: My rotation entails McDonalds, Panda Express, Jollibee, and Dick’s Drive In (which is Seattle’s version of In-N-Out)! You can’t go wrong with a spicy McChicken or Orange chicken! Although I eat at many local restaurants, sometimes I’m in a rush or have intense cravings!

SU: Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals for your food blog? Are there any specific projects or collaborations you would love to pursue in the future?

MY: Eventually I want to branch out and do Seattle food and beyond. I’ve been a Seattle girly all my life, and I’d love to travel and get more into the lifestyle/hospitality industry. Growing my account is one of my biggest goals, but I would love to also collaborate with more food-focused brand partnerships!