F&B

Meet The Lady Who's Built A Brand On Fine Dining Reviews In M'sia—And It’s All Self-Paid

If you’re a foodie that’s addicted to Instagram, you may have come across one Malaysian account that has been growing fast, amassing a following of almost 16,000 users in just under 4 months.

Last I checked her account (which was about a week ago), she was at 14,800 followers. That’s about a 7.5% increment in just a week.

But you’d be wrong to think that it’s just another regular food review account.

No, what’s unique about Anne Luxury Eats (ALE) is the fact that she solely reviews fine dining experiences.

Not much else is known about her apart from the fact that she eats rather lavishly almost daily, and that her reviews stick to 3 U’s: Unbiased, Unsponsored, Unfiltered.

So, who is this mystery woman behind the account?

Her Love For Luxury Leads Her Lifestyle

“Anne is my real name, you can address me by Anne,” she told Vulcan Post in an interview, after we asked just to be sure.

She’d only started posting on ALE’s Instagram account on May 29, 2020, but she began exploring fine food 3 to 4 years ago.

An example of her Instagram posts / Image Credit: Anne Luxury Eats

Her love for fine things started even earlier, and led her into the business of trading luxury goods.

This career provides her with a sustainable income to fund and maintain her expenses for ALE’s unsponsored reviews, some of which can cost up to RM2,000 per pax, or higher.

She doesn’t really set aside a budget specially for ALE’s reviews and enjoys both fine-dining and fine-casual dining almost on a daily basis, as that’s normally her choice of dining anyway.

Before she goes to a fine-dining restaurant, she would search for reviews or ratings of it.

However, she later realised that most of the reviews she found either weren’t reliable or didn’t meet her expectations.

“Hence, I decided to create ALE not only for my own reference, but also to share my experience with everyone as a customer who’s paying for every single meal, based on my own standards.”

In Anne’s eyes, fine dining requires a different level of appreciation for food.

“It is an art piece created by the chefs, with a combination of taste, texture, techniques, presentation, culinary background, and many more.”

Some dishes from Apollo Dining, which Anne rated a 8.5/10 / Image Credit: Anne Luxury Eats

“More than often, people would like to pick a fine place to celebrate a special occasion, but they don’t know where to start.”

Thus, ALE gives these people an idea of what to expect from their dining experience in a particular restaurant that Anne has reviewed.

Not Letting The Glamour Blind Her

While ALE’s pictures typically feature Anne alone with her fine dining dishes, she usually has a team of 2-4 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/critique, then the decision is final,” Anne shared.

To select which fine dining establishments to review, she said that she chooses according to what she feels like having, but also tries to include a larger variety of cuisines.

Some restaurants come from the requests or recommendations of her followers, but regardless, there are several rules ALE sticks to.

Firstly, it doesn’t write about casual dining, and secondly, it doesn’t do promotions or deals with the restaurant unless Anne and her team genuinely like it and previously gave it a good rating.

But with Anne being brutally honest even in her unfavourable reviews of a place, we wondered if any establishments have retaliated in defence of their brand image.

A brutally honest review / Image Credit: Anne Luxury Eats

“As of now, we were only invited to revisit (some of which we accepted and some we rejected), and offered complimentary meals (which we reject 100%),” she replied.

“If we ever revisit a restaurant, it will be fully paid for by ALE, and the experience will be written accordingly.”

People Love It Real And Raw

Beyond simply providing people with references and reviews, Anne aims to educate the masses on fine dining as well.

A lot of people have different expectations when they go for fine dining. For example, a person pays RM500 and expects RM2,000 quality. It simply does not 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 build ALE’s Instagram and website of the same name to strengthen its presence as a brand, she’s looking into monetising it too. 

The common monetisation model in the food review industry is content marketing, whereby food review brands are sponsored by establishments for the reviews.

Another common model would be affiliated marketing, where the media may get a certain percentage of each sale or conversion.

Either would be tricky for ALE, whose niche lies in fine dining food, a luxury that not all Malaysians can easily afford.

On the other hand, Malaysian Foodie, for example, reviews food that is generally more affordable to the Malaysian public.

It would be easier for them to convince their sponsors that they’re able to convert readers into buyers, something which ALE might struggle with for the aforementioned reason.

However, Anne has made it clear that the monetisation model that she has in mind will be unconventional.

She further assured, “It will not change our core principle of being ‘Unbiased, Unsponsored, and Unfiltered’.”

Besides fine dining, Anne also teased that she might look into expanding her reviews to cover luxury goods, hotels, and other aspects of the lifestyle.

It’ll be interesting to see what she has up her sleeve for monetisation, since she’ll have to play a balancing act between convincing her clients that she can convert her readers into paying customers while keeping her reviews unsponsored and credible.

This is something that is worth hanging around to see, as it could mark the birth of a revolutionary monetisation model in the review industry (in general) if Anne pulls it off.

  • You can learn more about ALE on Instagram here, or its website here.
  • You can read more F&B related content here.

Featured Image Credit: Anne Luxury Eats

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