If you're a foodie who is addicted to Instagram, you may have come across a fast growing Malaysian account that has a fan base of nearly 16,000 users in just under 4 months.
The last time I checked her account (about a week ago), she had 14,800 followers. That's an increase of 7.5% in just one week.
However, it is wrong to believe that this is just another regular food verification account.
No, what's unique about Anne Luxury Eats (ALE) is the fact that she only rates upscale dining experiences.
Not much else is known about her other than the fact that she eats pretty abundant almost every day and that her ratings stay at 3 U: Unbiased, Unsponsored, Unfiltered.
So who is this mysterious woman behind the account?
Her love of luxury guides her lifestyle
"Anne is my real name, you can address me from Anne," she told Vulcan Post in an interview after we only asked for security.
She had only started posting on ALE's Instagram account on May 29, 2020, but 3 to 4 years ago she started discovering great food.
An example of her Instagram posts / Photo credit: Anne Luxury Eats
Her love for beautiful things began even earlier and led her to trade in luxury goods.
This career provides her with a sustainable income to fund and maintain her expenses on ALE's unsupported ratings, some of which can cost as much as RM 2,000 per person or more.
She doesn't really have a budget specifically dedicated to ALE reviews and enjoys both fine dining and casual dining almost every day as this is usually her choice anyway.
Before going to a gourmet restaurant, she looks for reviews or ratings.
However, she later found that most of the reviews she found either weren't reliable or didn't meet her expectations.
"So I decided not only to create ALE for reference, but also to share my experience with all customers who pay for every single meal by my own standards."
In Anne's eyes, good food requires a different level of appreciation for food.
"It's a work of art by the chefs with a combination of taste, texture, technique, presentation, culinary background and much more."
Some dishes from Apollo Dining that Anne rated 8.5 / 10 / Photo credit: Anne Luxury Eats
"More often than not, people want to choose a nice place to celebrate a special occasion, but they don't know where to start."
In this way, ALE gives these people an idea of what to expect from their dining experience at a particular restaurant that Anne reviewed.
Don't let the glamor blind you
While ALE's pictures usually show Anne alone with her fine food, she usually has a team of 2-4 people with her.
“They are my photographers and also my second opinion / taste buds. If something goes wrong with a particular dish and more than one person shares the same opinion / criticism, the decision is final, ”said Anne.
To choose which upscale restaurants to review, she chooses based on her preferences, but also tries to include a wider variety of cuisines.
Some restaurants come from their followers' requests or recommendations, but regardless, there are several rules that ALE abides by.
Firstly, it doesn't write about casual dining, and secondly, it doesn't run any promotions or offers on the restaurant unless Anne and her team really like it and have given it a good rating beforehand.
But since Anne was brutally honest even in her unfavorable reviews of a place, we wondered if companies had reciprocated in defense of their brand image.
A brutally honest review / Photo credit: Anne Luxury Eats
"So far we've only been invited to revisit (some accepted and others refused) and free meals (which we 100% refuse)," she replied.
"If we ever visit a restaurant again, ALE pays for it in full and writes the experience accordingly."
People love it real and raw
As well as providing people with references and reviews, Anne aims to educate the masses about fine dining.
Many people have different expectations when it comes to eating well. For example, a person pays RM500 and expects RM2,000 quality. It just doesn't work that way. You get what you pay for and I think people need to be educated about it.
Anne of Anne luxury eats
As Anne continues to create ALE's Instagram and website of the same name to bolster her presence as a brand, she's also scrutinizing monetization.
The monetization model common in the food verification industry is content marketing, where food verification brands are sponsored by institutions for the verifications.
Another common model would be affiliate marketing, where the media might get a percentage of every sale or conversion.
Both would be difficult for ALE, whose niche is fine dining, a luxury that not all Malaysians can easily afford.
For example, Malaysian Foodie, on the other hand, rates foods that are generally cheaper for the Malaysian public.
It would be easier for them to convince their sponsors that they can turn readers into buyers that ALE may be struggling with for the above reason.
However, Anne has made it clear that the monetization model she is thinking of will be unconventional.
She further assured: "It will not change our core principle of being" unbiased, unsponsored and unfiltered "."
In addition to fine dining, Anne teased that she could expand her reviews to include luxury goods, hotels, and other aspects of lifestyle.
It will be interesting to see what she has up her sleeve for monetization as she has to strike a balancing act between believing her customers that she can convert her readers into paying customers while leaving her reviews unsupported and credible.
This is something worth seeing as it could mark the birth of a revolutionary monetization model in the review industry (in general) if Anne makes it through.
- You can learn more about ALE on Instagram here or on its website here.
- More information on F&B can be found here.
Selected image source: Anne Luxury Eats