We recently connected with Ryan Fernandez and have shared our conversation below.
Ryan, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. So, let’s start with a hypothetical – what would you change about the educational system?
Being an educator for the past decade, I have come to the conclusion that funding and salary have truly influenced the system. As much as ones heart is in for the sake of the kids, we live in a time where we economically cannot put forth the efforts we would like. Districts all over implement change and expectations without compensation for the work done in and outside of the classroom. Teachers are no longer inclined to go the extra mile because we financially cannot afford to do so. Students these days also see the burnout of their teachers, thus discouraging them in case they plan a career in education. If teachers are not motivated, it will spill onto the students. Morals and ethics are one thing, but to know that you are financially stable with your salary truly does motivate educators to give it their all to the kids.
Another thing I would change is the narrative of life after high school. The traditional 4-year university dream is no longer the only option to be successful in life. Many trade schools and other certifications are out there for students who cannot afford a traditional university. With the rising tuition and amount of young people going into debt for a degree they can get cheaper, we educators need to change the narrative of what options kids have.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
The old saying of “don’t judge a book by its cover” stands true to me. At first glance, you wouldn’t think this 6’1”, athletic build, Filipino-American would be a high school teacher and food influencer. But the journey is all but what it seems.
My path into education was a result of the job market in the 2010’s. After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin with a major in Geography, and aspirations of working in oil/gas gone with the market, I had to rely on my second degree in Education to get myself rolling. I have been blessed with great high school teachers back in my home area of Alief in Houston, TX where they recommended me to apply as a substitute teacher. From there I eventually transitioned into a full-time teacher and have been in my home district for the past several years teaching freshmen Geography.
Now one may ask, “how does one become a food influencer while being an educator?” The answer is simple: it is a hobby! My Instagram page of @datfoodporn was created as a joke back in college to showcase my home cooking skills. It was not until I moved back home to Houston where the page grew to what it is now. Being a new grad, money was extremely tight. I will admit, I became a food blogger for the free food, but at the same time the experiences that came with it. I would have never eaten, met, experienced many restaurants and events if it wasn’t for my page, and I am extremely grateful for it all. Many may see the lifestyle as a freeloader, but that is far from it. As a blogger/influencer, I genuinely love helping spread the word of a restaurant/event to the locals. I do not dine, take pics, and leave an establishment. I actually do make friendships and leave tips reflective of the amount of food given, especially during these hard times of this pandemic.
But how do these 2 lifestyles mesh? It is all about communicating and education. As a teacher, I love to use food to branch cultures together. We can learn a great deal when we all consume each others foods. As an influencer, it is all about networking and building friendships for the long haul to help one another out. I am happy to have helped the establishments that I have, and I am even more proud to showcase to my students that their teacher is multi-dimensional role-model.
We’d love to hear the story of how you built up your social media audience?
The social media build is as much mental as it is physically creating content, if not more. Starting off I had to figure out what would make me a notch above the rest. How would I even achieve such a feat? How I ended up watching Schindler’s list is beyond me, but it was the blessing I needed. The film is in black and white with the exception of a few scenes of a little girl in a bright red coat. The focus she commanded on screen was what drove me to my social media niche of “color pop”, where everything but the food is in black and white. From there, it slowly manifested itself. I became the only person in Houston with such a scheme and has been my thing ever since. My advise is go with your gut. If it makes you happy, do it. Sometimes one needs to tune out naysayers to get to where they want to be. But at the same time, do not be hesitant to change. Adjustments along the way do more good than harm.
What do you find most rewarding about being a creative?
The most rewarding aspect of my creativity is actually the reaction I get from my students and those I meet in public. When people hear that I am a full-time teacher, they are just wowed by that notion. The same is said with my students; they would have never guessed that their teacher is probably more famous than themselves on social media. I pride myself in being a Renaissance man because I am a firm believer in balance in all aspects, and what more interesting than balancing the life of an educator and the presence of a food blogger.
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/datfoodporn/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/datfoodporn21
- Other: Google maps: https://email@example.com,-95.6375249,11z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m3!8m2!3m1!1e1?hl=en&authuser=0
All were taken by me with my own camera