When 22-year-old Albert Cho aka Eat Lit Food isn’t hitting up your favourite restaurant and writing about it using charming metaphors that put urban dictionary definitions to shame, he’s taking his title of New Zealand’s official BLACKPINK Ambassador very seriously. To Albert, blasting the dreamboat K-POP girl group 24/7 isn’t just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle.
In celebration of BLACKPINK’s upcoming album we caught up with him to chat about his healthy obsession and music taste in general. Because if we’ve learnt anything from following his every move on Instagram, it’s that his “f*cking opinion” matters – whether it’s about food, music, or which bar in Auckland is the best to be in at 4am on a weeknight.
Firstly, for anyone who’s not familiar with Eat Lit Food, could you please introduce yourself and tell us about your brand and what you do?
My name is Albert Cho and I started Eat Lit Food in my final year of university. Anyone who has studied communications at AUT will know that it’s piss easy and you end up with a lot of free time. In that time, I found myself going to restaurants a lot. I was planning on going back to Korea at the end of the year to model but that meant I had to maintain my low weight. To do that, I was only allowed one meal a day and I got really obsessed with guaranteeing that meal would be perfect. This led to me looking at reviews on Zomato and I f*cking hated the app, as well as the way people tried to write like actual food critics. So I just started my own page on Instagram and it began as a thing for me and my friends to laugh about. Then one thing led to another.
I just want you to know that each and every one of your posts on Instagram give me life. Your unique and honest approach to food reviewing is a breath of fresh air in an industry where critics are hesitant to give anything less than five stars. Why do you think Eat Lit Food has popped off so much in the way it has?
Aw that’s very sweet of you. I think people gravitated towards my reviews because I’m not trying to be anyone. I don’t consider myself a food critic, it’s the news headlines that give me that label. I talk about food like anyone else would. Nobody gives a f*cking if the meat was sous vide. As long as it’s tender and delicious, that’s all that matters. I’m also not scared to criticise a restaurant because I’m not actually in the hospitality industry so I don’t have a lot to lose. I can imagine that chefs would feel awkward talking about fellow chefs, but I’m just a person who dines out a lot.
Eat Lit Food secured you a full-time job as a writer for Denizen magazine, your very own burger at Burger Burger, and the honorary title as NZ’s official BLACKPINK Ambassador. What’s been some of your favourite moments you’ve experienced thanks to the account?
Making my own burger at Burger Burger was my first big collaboration since starting my account, so that one will always have a soft spot for me. Travelling around Asia to eat and talk s*it was another one that I’ll never forget. I went to four countries and 100 restaurants in 17 days! But honestly, this promotion with Blackpink was HUGE for me. I love Blackpink so much, I’ve been following their career trajectory since I was like 16 years old.
You’ve done some pretty amazing things in your life so far but you’ve said that becoming the official BLACKPINK Ambassador of NZ has been the “biggest moment” so far. Tell us why that is.
I don’t think you understand when I say that I f*cking ADORE Blackpink. They were supposed to debut when I was 16 years old but it kept getting pushed out and I was patiently waiting. When they finally debuted in 2016 with Whistle and Boombayah, I was sent to f*cking Neptune. Each and every member has their own set of unique traits and talents, and together, they’re f*cking unstoppable. Just the fact that I can be associated with these girls is an honour and it’s cool to see that Eat Lit Food is actually capable of more than just promoting food.
Obviously Covid-19 was a major d%&k and ruined your campaign for their ‘Ice Cream’ single release. Tell us about your original plan and how you wanted it to go down.
It just hurts to even talk about it. We were planning on driving around Auckland in a Duck Island Ice Cream truck, stopping off at various locations to sell scoops of ice cream and merchandise. The theme song for the truck was going to be the Ice Cream track as well. I hope we actually get to do this, maybe in summer time.
How’d you choose the flavour of ice cream?
I knew that I wanted the ice cream to be black and pink but I wanted to avoid activated charcoal. I mean, what the f*ck even is that flavour? Duck Island helped me out a lot and suggested black sesame and cotton candy. But I wanted it to have an element of sweet and salty to play on the meaning behind Blackpink. For those who don’t know, Blackpink means that the girls can be both chic, hence ‘black’ and feminine, represented by pink.
You said you’d received over 400 messages from people wanting the ice cream. That’s quite a lot of Kiwi blinks out there. Surely we can get the girls to come and play a show in NZ at some point?
Oh I’ll make sure it happens. I would take them on a full food tour around the city too and that’s when I know I have f*cking made it.
Two years ago you had just hit 10K followers on Instagram which is already pretty impressive, you’re now sitting at over 53K with a blue tick (!!!), a website and also a YouTube account – is that where you pictured the account heading?
Absolutely not. I thought my account would last around six months at most. Either people would become sick of me or I would grow tired of operating it. I’ve been so lucky to have opportunities come my way to keep me on my feet and interested in my work. This might sound stupid but I’m going to be real and admit that getting the blue tick was such a moment. I can now charge double and getting with guys and girls has become so easy.
Speaking of YouTube, I wanna talk about how you’re basically a pro vlogger now – nailing the long-form video. But I noticed you’re not active on TikTok or are yet to do any Instagram Reels. Do you see yourself making any short-form video anytime soon?
Oh god. TikTok is an app that actually makes me feel old. I have an account but haven’t made any content yet, I just don’t get it! Am I too old to be on TikTok? I know I’ll have to start making Instagram reels and TikTok videos in the near future because that’s where social media is heading and I don’t want to be left behind and forgotten. I just need some help on how to execute it in the least cringe way possible.
Like you, I was also made redundant from my job due to Covid-19. Did this give you the push you needed to make Eat Lit Food a full-time gig? Or was that on the agenda anyway?
For the last three or four months that I was at Denizen, I really wanted to leave. It wasn’t anything against the workplace, it just felt like we ran our course and I needed to do my own thing. However, it’s quite hard to leave a job that you’re comfortable in. I liked the girls I was working with, the pay was alright and it was easier to stay than leave. Then Covid-19 happened and I was made redundant and it was the push that I needed. I would probably still be there right now and missed out on so many opportunities if it wasn’t for the pandemic.
Okay, so we could talk about food all day, but now I wanna know your f*cking opinion on music. How much do you think the music playing in a restaurant or cafe adds to the overall experience of dining in?
I would say that the music is just as important as interior design for restaurants. For me, it needs to be in the middle point between elevator music and Tame Impala. Slow and jazzy but not like you’re at your auntie’s house in Philadelphia. But I also don’t want to feel like I’m at a gig in Whammy Bar. A restaurant with no music hits different. Xi’An Food Bar has no music whatsoever and I’ve dined there by myself once and almost had a f*cking meltdown. Just me, alone with my thoughts and a bowl of carbs, it wasn’t pretty.
You have an incredibly close and wholesome relationship with your parents. What sort of music did they play whilst you were growing up and what sort of influence did this have?
My mum’s favourite artist is Prince and she f*cking loves rock. But then again, she’s a sucker for Robbie Williams and she always taught me that your taste in music should have no boundaries or be restricted to specific genres. My dad likes Norah Jones and it shocks me that he doesn’t fully agree with me being gay. Like bro, you like Norah. Anyways, I guess he might be why I love female vocalists so much.
Who are your all-time favourite artists?
I tend to like female vocalists a lot. My favourite is Amy Winehouse. Her song Love is a Losing Game f*cks me up every time and I listen to Addicted every day. There’s also a Korean singer called IU and she has one of the prettiest voices. Her song ‘dlwlrma’ is the perfect morning tune to start you off on a good note. I used to be embarrassed of saying this because she’s one of my best friends but Lorde. I know every song from The Love Club EP, Pure Heroine, Melodrama and even her f*cking Hunger Games soundtrack that she curated. Last but not least, Blackpink. They’re the most powerful group of girls I have ever seen. They can sing, dance, rap, they’re super f*cking hot, you can’t fault them.
Speaking of our homegrown hero, Lorde (hope she’s thriving). What’s your favourite song of hers and why?
Gah that’s such a hard question because I love them all so much. I think it might be Supercut. There are so many layers to that song. You can dance to it, walk to it, cry to it. That part “wild fluorescent come home to my heart ARGGH!!” it gets me every single f*cking time.
Some of your best content is your “lit af” Instagram stories. What’s the best recipe for a night out?
Pace yourself because you’re in it for the long run. Sip on your drink throughout the night and stop drinking after midnight. Only have a shot at around 1am if you’re DESPERATE for a little kick because every drink after midnight will just intensify the hangover while making you sloppy during the night. Don’t ask for drugs, you’ll build a reputation for yourself as being a Dyson. You have to be open to spending money on a night out if you want it to be good. And don’t be that guy who gets quiet when we have to get an Uber!
I saw you strutting around Laneway Festival earlier this year (next time I’ll say hi), how was your day and what acts were a highlight for you?
I wish I could tell you but I was honestly so cooked to remember anything from that day. I remember a bit of Charli XCX though and I made out with so many random strangers in the crowd. That was fun I guess! Overall, it was a super fun day and it was actually my first ever Laneway.
How do you feel about the cancellation of next year’s festival?
So f*cking upsetting. I only just got on to the Laneway buzz and it sucks that I can’t go again sooner. I think Ella should just do a concert in Albert Park and do her hometown a favour.
Lastly, everybody loves a good round of quickfire questions. The first one, which song right now is out the f&#king gate?
What You Waiting For – Somi
What’s your favourite swear word?
What’s the weirdest thing one of your followers has ever said to you?
“I want to see you and your sister f*ck each other”
Go-to karaoke song?
Put Your Records On – Corinne Bailey Rae
Where’s the last place you went to eat? What did you order?
Andiamo – calamari, focaccia, burrata, mac and cheese. Very beige order.
If you were going to make a stan account for an artist, who would it be?
Lorde. Too many stan accounts f*ck up her facts.
What will yours and Ch’ilta’s wedding song be?
The greatest – Lana Del Rey or Get Free – Lana Del Rey or F*ck it I love you – Lana Del Rey. We listen to a lot of Lana Del Rey.
What do you think of the song ‘Goodness Gracious’ by Ellie Goulding?
Anything named Goodness Gracious can burn to the ground.
If a movie was made of your life what would be your theme song?
I want a customised version of the That’s So Raven theme song called That’s So Alby. And my friends to be in it as well.
Kewpie mayo or truffle aioli. I love fatty s*it.
What song do you hope is playing when you walk into Family Bar?
Sour Candy by Lady Gaga feat. Blackpink
What’s next for Albert and Eat Lit Food?
I’m writing a book right now. I won’t give any more information but yeah. I’m writing a book and it’ll be out in time for Christmas this year so stay tuned.
Finally, if you could say one thing to BLACKPINK right now, what would it be?
저랑 밥 같이 드실래요? – “Would you like to eat with me?”