On June 12, 2014, a soon-to-be Binghamton sophomore started a food Instagram. Five hours later, she texted one of her friends and they decided to run the page together. The account is @nyceeeeeats, and over the past two years, it’s garnered almost 170,000 followers. The women behind the page are Nikki Motto and Rachel Fisher, both of whom are currently seniors majoring in psychology.
The account is dedicated to showcasing delicious meals from the restaurants of New York City. From pasta to desserts, the variety of food on their account keeps followers engaged and coming back for more.
Motto and Fisher say that not only do they enjoy what they do, but it’s incidentally brought them a lot of cool perks.
“This summer we were really lucky,” Fisher said. “We got to go to a lot of different restaurants for free.”
In addition to taking their own pictures, they’ll sometimes do paid partnerships with restaurants in which they are sent photos and paid to post them. They also repost selected submissions from their followers.
The success of the account has gotten them more than just free food. They’ve been invited to speak at social media events, judge a steak competition and even attend the U.S. Open. But they were unable to attend the tennis competition, because they had to return to Binghamton for classes. Being away at school has proved to be a challenge.
“[Restaurants] invite us to come in, and we can’t,” Motto said. “So it’s a little difficult, but we make it work.”
When they aren’t able to go into restaurants, the restaurants sometimes send them complimentary food to photograph. This weekend, Baked by Melissa is sending them cupcakes.
As the page has evolved, it has essentially turned into a business, which is something Motto and Fisher never imagined would have happened.
“I literally just started it because I saw one other food account and I was like, ‘I love food, I eat food all the time, I might as well make one,’” Motto said.
One of their inspirations was the account @nycfoodgals, which coincidentally is run by two Binghamton alumnae. When Fisher and Motto started their page, @nycfoodgals had over 100,000 followers. After two years of playing catch up, the two accounts now have the same number of followers.
With aspirations in the marketing and medical field respectively, Fisher and Motto treat the account as nothing more than a hobby.
“Never ever thought I would make money from it, never thought I’d get free food from it,” Motto said. “People come up to me and are like, ‘Do you want to make this your business,’ and I’m just like, ‘I’m on a pre-med track, so it has nothing to do with that.’”
Although running the account isn’t a step on their career path, it hasn’t stopped them from working hard to curate the best work they feel they can put out.
“Whenever I post in the morning,” Motto said, “I always like to post breakfast food, because I feel like no one wants to see pizza at like 10 in the morning — at least I don’t. And then if she just posted mac and cheese, I won’t post pasta next, I’ll post something else.”
Even though the account is based in New York City, @nyceeeeeats has an international following.
“I went to Africa in January and I met people from Australia,” Motto said. “We were just on Instagram eating dinner one day and they were looking at the food account and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s my food account.’ It was so cool because they were from Australia and they followed it and they were like, ‘Oh my god I can’t believe it’s you.’”
At the end of the day, Motto and Fisher are grateful for their unprecedented success.
“We’re really proud of this and we love that everyone else is too,” Fisher said. “We’re not prejudiced to food; if you send us a picture, we’ll repost it for you. We really want to engage with people that are our fans and share our happiness.”