Top Food Bloggers Series: Anders Husa and Kaitlin Orr, Masters of the Nordic Food Scene
Meet Anders Husa and Kaitlin Orr, a Norwegian and an American living the food blogger’s dream life (more about this later) in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Years of hard work have put Anders and Kaitlin on the map as one of the top expert voices on the thriving Nordic food scene.
Their copious website – Andershusa.com – provides well trusted reviews and guides on the best food scene in places like Oslo, Stockholm, Tallinn, but also in Kaitlin’s native America such as LA and NYC (spoiler alert: Kaitlin loves both these cities).
Their blog is just one of their many communication platforms – Anders and Kaitlin are very active on social media (Instagram in particular) as well as YouTube, where they have developed a sizable and engaged audience.
How did they do all this? Read on to learn more about their life, but also struggles, and the reality of blogger/influencer in 2020.
1. Tell us a bit about yourselves and your passion for food.
Anders is from Norway and Kaitlin is from California. We both started food blogging (separately) about eight years ago, and it was our love of food that brought us together. We met at Maaemo in Oslo (one of the best restaurants in the world) and we’ve been a party of two ever since, traveling the world and sharing our experiences on our blog and YouTube channel.
2. Tell us a bit about your collaboration with World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
We are TasteHunters (a.k.a. digital ambassadors) for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. We were handpicked as experts of the food scenes in Scandinavia and the U.S. West Coast, and we represent our regions by promoting the best restaurants in each place.
3. You’ve witnessed the rise of the Nordic cuisine, which really seems unstoppable now. How did this happen and where is it heading?
Anders: I think most people will agree that it started with the New Nordic Manifesto back in the early 2000s, which was basically an agreement between Nordic chefs to use local and seasonal products, promote local produce, and be more sustainable.
However, the success of restaurant Noma was the real catalyst for the rest of the industry to follow suit.
Since then, we’ve had so many great restaurants open up here that it’s almost unbelievable. I keep talking about how much the food scene has changed in the last 2, 5, 10 years, it just keeps on evolving. Copenhagen in particular is a fantastic food city – our favorite in the world and the reason we wanted to settle down here.
4. How does Copenhagen’s food scene compare to LA?
Kaitlin: The big difference I see in Copenhagen’s food scene is the lack of diversity. Luckily, you have one great Mexican restaurant here (Sanchez). You have one great burger joint (Gasoline Grill). You have one great ramen place (Slurp).
So, I really have all I need to survive! But, in general, the food scene is very New Nordic – which makes sense, of course, but I was definitely spoiled by the diversity of the food scene in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles excels in the casual food scene and has an incredibly diverse selection of restaurants on offer. L.A. has the biggest “Koreatown” outside of Korea, the largest population of Mexicans living outside of Mexico, and so the city is home to countless outstanding Korean restaurants and Mexican restaurants, and of course Chinese restaurants, Italian restaurants, Thai restaurants, etc. etc. L.A. has it all!
But while it has many phenomenal street vendors and taco trucks, it doesn’t have as many high-end restaurants that are world-renowned (it’s getting there, but it’s not there yet). Both Los Angeles and Copenhagen are two of the most exciting food cities in the world, but for very different reasons, and with very different types of food on offer.
5. What did you find most striking about the food scene when you moved to Europe?
Kaitlin: The incredible seafood! Before moving to Scandinavia, I didn’t really think of myself as a seafood lover. After tasting Norwegian scallops and langoustines, I am fully convinced that Scandinavia is home to the world’s best seafood. We had the best omakase of our life not in Tokyo, but at Sushi Anaba here in Copenhagen (which uses local seafood).
6. What’s the best foodie destination in Scandinavia?
Copenhagen! It’s the reason we moved here! We believe it’s the food capital of Europe right now, largely thanks to amazing restaurants like Noma, Geranium, and Alchemist, but the more casual restaurants in town are also some of the best in the world. It’s a city exploding with great food.
Copenhagen is the food capital of Europe right now.
7. And the most underrated foodie destination worldwide?
Honestly, I would have to say Los Angeles. For too long, the city of angels has been overshadowed by its neighbor to the north (San Francisco) and of course by New York City, but we honestly think it’s the best food city in America, and also one of the most diverse food cities in the world.
I would have to say Los Angeles [is the most underrated foodie destination].
L.A. has such good food, from food trucks to fine dining – everything is executed to an extremely high level, and the fresh produce is unparalleled.
8. What’s your favorite food and cuisine?
Kaitlin: Cheeseburgers, Mexican street food.
Anders: BBQ pork buns, Asian street food.
9. What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Frantzén in Stockholm! It’s an absolutely flawless meal, and each bite is truly better than the last. It’s a magical place – once we spent over thirteen hours having lunch here because we just didn’t want to leave.
10. How often do you eat out?
On average, we probably eat out around three times a week. When traveling, it is obviously a lot higher as we are eating out for every meal and trying to test as many restaurants in a destination as possible during a short visit. But when we are at home, we still try to stay very up to date with the food scene in Copenhagen, so we are constantly going out to test all the best restaurants.
11. How often do you cook at home?
When we’re not testing a restaurant, we try to eat pretty healthy at home. 3-4 nights a week are spent at home, Anders is the cook of the household (he makes the best tacos!) and Kaitlin is the baker (buttermilk pancakes are her specialty).
Let’s talk a bit about your blog.
12. Is your blog a hobby or a business?
Believe it or not, this is our full-time job! And it’s actually a lot of work. We’re always “on holiday” on social media, and never “on holiday” in reality. While it is a “dream job” in many ways, what you see on social media is only the fun part, the curated content, and the highlights. What you don’t see are all the hours of work behind the scenes.
We’re always “on holiday” on social media, and never “on holiday” in reality
13. What is the platform you spend most of your time on and why (e.g. Website, Instagram, Youtube, Facebook)?
It’s the combination of all of it that takes the time! We post daily Instagram posts and stories, and we try to respond to messages from our followers as quickly as possible, so that requires a lot of time.
The website is updated constantly when we hear of restaurant rumors, and writing restaurant reviews and curating city guides is a lot of work. But, in general YouTube probably takes the most because of the time it takes to film a video as well as the days (and sleepless nights) spent editing. Luckily, we split up the work as much as possible. Kaitlin is in front of the camera, Anders is behind the camera. Kaitlin does more of the writing, Anders is the photographer and videographer.
14. How long does it take to get the perfect Instagram shot?
We’ve learned to be pretty quick when taking photos – otherwise, the food gets cold! Natural light, a good camera, and years of practice make it pretty easy.
15. How do you choose your content topics and travel destinations?
Our goal is to make city guides for our followers, so they can easily find the best restaurants when traveling. With that in mind, we gravitate toward the major cities and try to create a guide of the best restaurants in each destination.
Of course, sometimes the best restaurants in the world aren’t in a big city at all, but on a remote island, or on the outskirts of Norway. We travel to those destinations too!
We recently visited restaurant Koks on the Faroe Islands, and last year we went to the south of Norway to visit Under, the world’s largest underwater restaurant. Kaitlin has a special bond with Los Angeles and New York (having lived in both places) and Anders has the same relationship with Oslo and Copenhagen – these are the cities where we are truly locals.
Scandinavia gets most of our attention right now since it’s our home base, but we’ll continue to guide you to the best dining destinations around the world as soon as traveling is safe again.
16. You both have a big Instagram fan base with a high engagement rate. What’s your secret?
The truth is, there’s no secret, just a lot of hard work. That is the harsh reality of running a food blog. There is certainly no short cut to success – it has taken us many years to get to where we are today, and it still feels like we’re just scratching the surface.
There is certainly no short cut to success.
We’ve each been doing this for about eight years now (two years together) and it just takes time. It takes time to build up a following, an audience that trusts your opinions and recommendations, and it takes time to learn the ins and outs of the industry, to develop a palate, and to try many restaurants so you have something to compare dining experiences to.
17. This year’s pandemic has made things incredibly difficult for the restaurant industry. What was your experience of this period?
2020 has been quite a roller coaster, for us as well as for everyone else.
We moved to Copenhagen in January and started to establish our new life in a new country, before we went to visit Kaitlin’s parents in Los Angeles in February.
When we returned to Copenhagen it was March 12th – the day of the lockdown. Needless to say, the global pandemic we’re all living through right now has had a major impact on our little business. When the restaurant and travel businesses bleed, we bleed too. From March to June, we basically had no income.
There was nothing we could do about it, except focus all our effort on helping our beloved restaurant industry survive. We created take-away guides to all major cities in Scandinavia, and we produced a YouTube series in four episodes highlighting some of the coolest initiatives we saw around Copenhagen.
18. Food blogging is a very competitive space. What are your tips for new bloggers starting out?
We don’t mean to discourage anyone, but you probably shouldn’t start a food blog in 2020 unless you’re ready to put your heart and soul (and all your savings) into a passion project.
You probably shouldn’t start a food blog in 2020.
That being said, if you’re starting a food blog, get ready to put in the work! DON’T reach out to restaurants asking for free meals. DO practice taking photos, write from the heart, and try to build a community that trusts your opinions.
Photo credit for the featured image goes to Ian Ehm.