It Was Just an Idea
What started as a hobby in April 2019 grew into one of the biggest social media accounts in the San Fernando Valley. Meet 818 local Ralph Nicandro, creator of San Fernando Valley Eats, the number one source for food and drinks in the San Fernando Valley. A foodie at heart, he is no stranger to marketing and promoting, having run one of the biggest EDM related platforms on Instagram with over 500,000 followers.
“It was just an idea and I played around with it–nothing too serious. I was already a foodie prior to San Fernando Valley Eats, even before Instagram started back in the day. I was a night club promoter and was trying to look for something to transition into and I was like—There’s an LA eats but there’s no San Fernando Valley Eats—so that’s how I got started with the SFV eats,” Ralph shares about why he started his platform.
That idea tuned into a community of about 116,000 followers. Features on his platform focus on how restaurants create their signature dishes. He describes them as “how-to videos”, letting the footage speak for themselves. He goes for the speed of making and releasing the videos. He would usually go to three to four places a day to film. Narrating is not his style since it tends to become a bit more formulaic and redundant. And that’s what sets his platform apart from everyone else.
In the beginning, Ralph would message restaurants and establishments before going in to take footage for the feature. “It shows that you respect their time. Because if you just do it on the spot, you become a nuisance and they can’t really entertain you. It’s not a good situation to be in if that’s the case.”
Because of the platform’s following, restaurants, and establishments now contact him to be featured but he still schedules his visits because it is the right thing to do.
In all the cuisines he’s featured, there’s one that he can eat every day.
“If there was one cuisine I can eat every day, it’s Japanese. They have fried rice, noodles, soup, sushi, and veggies. It’s such a variety that you can just change it up. The second would be Mediterranean because they have a variety of meats and veggies.”
As far as his favorite Filipino restaurant in the valley, it’s Nipa Hut on Sherman Way in Canoga Park. He comments, “Their food is always on point every time. They don’t miss. Their sisig and how they fry their fish is just really good. I love that spot!”
When asked about expanding the variety of the valley’s culinary landscape, he stated: “Everyone can start an idea, but you have to look at the consumer base. If the customer base isn’t even willing to try, then the restaurant can’t be successful. Once you invest 200,000 in a business, it’s hard to get that back. For example, shabu-shabu. Because we’re Filipino or we’re Asians, we know about it but some people aren’t going to know about it. Even Korean BBQ—you still have to introduce people to it. So think about it from that perspective. You still have to educate people about what shabu shabu is—and how do you even cook this thing? If they see red meat uncooked, they’re going to look at you and ask what’s going on? You have to understand the process as both a consumer and a business owner.”
Ralph emphasizes the importance of educating and introducing new cuisines—which is also his approach various features.
In the future, Ralph wants San Fernando Valley Eats to be housed on a webpage or even have a YouTube account to broaden the platform’s reach. As for what’s next, he simply smiles and says, “We’ll see.”