I remember one night I was scrolling through Pinterest, trying to find some new egg recipes when I came across an article headline that read, “I Tried Anthony Bourdain’s Secret to Making Scrambled Eggs.”
As an avid Anthony Bourdain* follower, my interests were piqued and I clicked on the link. It was a simple recipe. Honestly, I was looking for something a little more intricate and creative than scrambled eggs, but Bourdain has never led me astray, so I gave the article a read.
Months passed before, as I was walking through the University of North Florida campus, I saw a flyer about Spoon University, a college-student driven food website that seeks to help other college students around the world face their fears both in and out of the kitchen. Whether it be new recipes, restaurant reviews, or new drinking game ideas and instructions, Spoon University has become the mecca for college student foodies.
UNF has its own chapter and, according to the flyer, was looking for writers, photographers, videographers, marketers or anyone passionate about food. After browsing through the website, I realized Spoon was the same place I found the scrambled eggs article. I went back to the link, clicked on the writer and read that not only was the piece written by a UNF journalism student, but one with whom I’ve had classes. I joined immediately.
“That was my first heavy traffic article and it made me feel good and gave me a confidence boost,” said former writer and video director, Alexandra Torres-Perez, who’s scrambled egg article brought in almost 40,000 views to the UNF chapter.
Spoon University gives aspiring multimedia journalists, marketers or even foodies the opportunity to shed some light on their work, meet, network and collaborate with different local businesses and companies, and publish fun, creative pieces outside of their college coursework.
“Spoon has definitely been beneficial to me. It’s taught me lessons and also opened up relationship with food influencers and owners of restaurants around Jacksonville,” says 21-year-old, UNF senior Morgan Bouloy.
“I initially joined because I love cooking and trying new food. I [already] followed the Spoon University main page. I thought, ‘Man, it would be so cool if our school had one.’ I looked it up and there it was under the list of clubs, so I had to join immediately,” she said.
Bouloy is a business management major also minoring in marketing. She started as a Spoon marketer, but once the club almost fell apart due to lack of membership and the graduations of many of the chapter’s founding members, Bouloy became the new “Founder” of the Spoon UNF chapter.
“I ended up having to bring the chapter back to life with one other member. I learned how to deal with different opinions, how to contact local companies for collaborations, and how to post pictures with captions that attract an audience,” Bouloy said.
Small, but mighty now, the UNF chapter of Spoon has managed to captivate students, gain more consistent followers, and increase the brand’s social media presence, overall. Bouloy’s secured support from companies, such as The Hyppo popsicles, which has catered local Spoon events and she’s helped strengthen relationships with other local eatieries like Bento Asian Kitchen and Sushi Cafe, both of which have become official partners of Spoon UNF. The chapter’s gaining even more traction as members attend new restaurant openings, food tastings and other food-related events alongside local foodies, like @NateDoesFood .
Spoon members also go on monthly “foodventures” to try out new spots in Jacksonville and review their experience. This month, members will visit Jax Beach’s Ruby Beach Brewing, which just opened this past month.
“We just wanted to build something with friends about how food fits into our lives,” says Spoon University co-founder, Sarah Adler, who started the company while attending Northwestern University and now works out of Spoon’s headquarters in midtown Manhattan. “By the end of our senior year, there were more than 100 students on staff and we were making money selling ads to local businesses. Kids from other schools started hearing about it and asked our help in bringing Spoon to their campuses. It wasn’t until then that we realized that Spoon was bigger than Northwestern and could have a big future,” Adler explained.
According to Business Insider, Spoon attracted more than 2 million viewers each month in 2015 and raised over $2 million dollars in investment capital that year alone.
“The people who have been impacted positively by Spoon are the reason most of us at Spoon come to work everyday,” says Adler.
“Not only are we driven by the audience, but we’re also driven by our thousands of content creators- the college students on campuses all over the world who create almost all of the content for Spoon. We want to build the very best, most empowering experience possible for our content creators and community members so that they can reach as many others like them as possible.”
Give UNF’s Spoon chapter a follow on Insta @spoon_unf.
*This article was written and posted days before the death by suicide of renowned celebrity chef and television personality, Anthony Bourdain. We are deeply saddened by his passing. If you’d like to connect with a local organization working to raise awareness for the prevention of such tragedies, you can visit The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s North Florida Chapter, here. If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “TALK” to 741741.