I had the pleasure of interviewing Dara Pollak- she’s a digital creator and also happens to be one of my personal favorite food bloggers. She brings a mix of “snacks + snark” to her followers.
Tell readers a little about yourself?
I’m a born and raised New Yorker, half Greek, half Jewish (by way of Romania). I grew up in Queens and moved to Brooklyn in 2010, and have been here ever since. I love food, writing, photography, and dad jokes. And my mom. My life has been all over the place in terms of career and relationships – a lot of “seemed like a good idea at the time” – but that’s life, isn’t it? Constant learning experience. I also hate cilantro because I have the gene that makes it taste like soap.
What is the Misfit Creatives, and what inspired you to start that business endeavor?
It’s a bit of a work in progress still, but my initial idea was that I felt a little like a “misfit” in my own social media world, but I’m also a “creative”. I create content for my clients on social media, primarily restaurants at the moment, but I’ve been branching out a bit into 1:1 coaching for other creators, and the name just kind of popped into my head. I also wanted to start sharing more about what I do to make a living. Right now I write a newsletter on Substack, The Musings of a Misfit Creative, where I dive into social media struggles and career stories, and occasionally mental health topics. I suffered a bad car accident injury when I was 17 and have battled a ton with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, so sharing my experience and helping others is another big piece of the Misfit Creatives mission – growth isn’t linear!
You have moved more into the social media consulting and management space- what does this look like for you?
I’ve actually been doing it since 2018, but a lot of people don’t know that because I rarely talk about it (which is my own fault). So I’ve started talking about it more on my social media as I mentioned prior, and it’s been exciting to see the response but also sometimes a struggle. People are used to just seeing “foodporn” from me, so navigating the shift is challenging, both in real life and online. But when people ask for my advice or I get new clients from it, I know things are moving in the right direction. It’s not easy pivoting a brand that you’ve built for over 10 years.
You are a well-known and respected food blogger. How and when did you get into food blogging?
First off, thank you! Long story but the short version is I was a dancer – ballet, tap, jazz – and I got hit by a car in my senior year of high school, almost losing my leg. It was a very bad injury and I was in the hospital for a month, over 20 surgeries, but I did keep my leg. I couldn’t pursue dance anymore as a career and was horribly depressed, so I watched Food Network constantly because I found it relaxing and an “escape” from the negative thoughts I was battling every day. I took to cooking and writing about food as my new creative outlet, and ended up going to FIT for Advertising & Marketing. Jumping ahead a few years later, food was still a huge passion, so I took a food writing course with Andrea Strong, then I started The Skinny Pig food blog in 2008. The rest is sort of history! You can read that full story here though.
If you could have one meal for the rest of your life- what would that meal be?
Oh god. This is too hard. But probably pizza, a perfectly cooked ribeye with creamed spinach, and a Crunchwrap Supreme from Taco Bell. Don’t judge me too much. We all have our guilty pleasures.
Absolute favorite pizza place in NYC? And bagel spot?
Again, too hard to pick just one. But Joe’s is my go-to “NY slice,” Prince Street Pizza for the Spicy Spring square slice, and Rubirosa for that crispy, thin crust vodka pie. Bagels would have to be Bakers Dozen or Bagelsmith in Williamsburg.
What is your favorite cuisine?
Probably Italian food. I love pizza, pasta, and fresh mozzarella/tomatoes – a good caprese salad with fresh basil is hard to beat in my book. I also love Greek food and make a mean spanakopita.
What do you think makes a successful content creator?
Great question. It depends because there are so many different kinds, but I think someone who is good at attention grabbing, engaging with their audience, and clearly enjoys what they do. Someone who works to be better and improves over time as well. I’ve seen some people just stay stagnant (and I don’t mean by follower count), and I think that you should always be evolving.
What is your favorite meal to cook and why?
Probably my pomodoro sauce with pasta, or garlic and olive oil pasta with fresh parsley and chili flakes. It’s just so easy and comforting. When I was going through a horrible breakup last year, it was all I could muster the energy to make and it was also a nice distraction from feeling like shit. Cooking is great for the soul.
What piece of advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
Don’t burn bridges and stay open to new experiences. Don’t be so hard on yourself because it’s never going to be perfect. Be curious, not judgmental. I 100% stole that last quote from Ted Lasso, but it’s a great one! I think when you’re young it’s easy to judge because you haven’t fully experienced life yet, and that can make you rough around the edges. Listen and be compassionate, because you never know what people are dealing with.
Which food bloggers, if any, inspired you, or do you enjoy collaborating alongside?
Hard to say because I haven’t done it in so long! But I’d love to collaborate with some more food people in the future. @dennistheprescott always has incredible content – I’ve been following him for years. And maybe @bradtheboxer on TikTok. Simply because I refuse to believe he actually chops that fast and need to see it to believe it.
Do you have any new exciting news that you would like to share with readers?
Nothing new yet really, got some things in the works but I’m hoping that this year I may actually get around to that book I’ve been writing for the past 5 years! It’s a combination of funny (and occasionally deep) essays from my life mixed with a few recipes. Think Ruth Reichl’s style – she’s the reason I wanted to be a food critic once upon a time. I love her writing. I also tried standup comedy for the first time this year, and it was terrifying but I may give that another go at some point if I get the courage!