We had the good fortune of connecting with Caitlin Sakdalan and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Caitlin, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I used to think about risk very physically and literally. My stomach drops, and I fear for my life every time I have to ride a roller coaster. The thought of cliff diving terrifies me. I’ve never grown to truly enjoy the thrill of these physical risks, which is why I never considered myself a risk taker. I’ve always considered myself to be a grounded, stable rock with a rooted foundation in faith that’s reliably there for my family, my friends, and myself. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that this firm foundation has freed me up to take risks without even realizing I was. When I was a little girl, I was always choosing to try new foods like Unagi Eel Sushi (one of my favorite things to eat growing up), instead of the standard Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich (something I didn’t try until I was on a missions trip in high school). Instead of staying in my hometown, I chose to apply to a performing arts academy for high school. I tried out to be a dance major, when I admittedly didn’t have the most dance experience at all. I just grew up loving to be on the floor, moving to the beat at Filipino family parties. By the grace of God, I got in and became a dance major and theater minor. I’m forever grateful for those formative years that taught me so much about life and leadership, as well as afforded me incredible opportunities to grow. Most importantly, it taught me to be confident in my skin and let me explore who I was creatively. When I was in college, I took a risk again by starting @befatbehappy, a food Instagram, simply because I was extremely passionate about eating. I thought nothing would come of it. Then, when I completed undergrad, I took another leap of faith by taking my personal brand and creating my own small business, instead of taking a full-time job. While I may not dive off a cliff, I dove right into this intermingled food, travel, media industry that I love so much. 100,000+ followers and an evolving business later, I’ve realized I am risk-taker. It just simply doesn’t feel precarious because at the core of the risks I do take (and maybe when I think about it, I take too many), I have trust that everything happens for a reason. I 100% believe that God has the best plan in store for me, even if it isn’t what I originally intended.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I created @befatbehappy, a visual journal of all my FAT (Food And Travel) experiences. This ‘thing’ I created is at the core of my work, and everything else I do professionally stems from that. I conceptualize creative content for my personal brand, and I’ve become a pretty competent food and travel photographer as well as savvy storyteller of experiences. On a day to day, my growing audience sees life through my lens. And my lens is what sets me apart because I am like no one and no one is like me. I stay hungry to feed my appetite, feed my soul and feed others, and that’s what drives me personally, as well as what motivates my brand. As I grew my following, I started to build an ecosystem and began leveraging my network for branded business opportunities. I also became quite adept at all things social media and started to consult for various brands and businesses about building a personal brand, social media management, content creation, as well as influencer marketing. I also just love writing, so I began writing for various blogs and publications for work as well. I like to think of my job as a coursed-out meal that involves lots of different flavors and techniques and brings together various components to prepare something special. It’s not always easy, but the experience along the way and satisfying end result make it all worth it. A few of big things I’ve learned on this journey: 1) You will mess up. You cannot always be the ‘best’ or ‘number one’ and that’s OKAY. Everyone is on their own path with different timing. 2) Ask for help and leverage your connections. I believe we perform better when we have other people around to encourage as well as challenge us. 3) It’s okay to REST. Busyness does not equal success. In terms of what I want people to know about my story, it’s that I’m still writing it. This journey is far from over, and for the next chapter, I would love for that to include me hosting a food and travel show. That’s my next big dream that I’m going to pray for until it does happen.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my best friend had a week in California, I would 100% have them fly into Burbank if possible so that I could take them to Porto’s Bakery for some necessary cheese rolls and dulce de leche kisses. If it’s LAX, In N’ Out it is, which is a rite of passage in and of itself. Then I’d take them all the way from Santa Barbara down to Orange County. We’d start in relaxing wine country, sip through a couple of tastings, and then have tacos from both Mony’s and Lilly’s. I’d also 100% need the Raw Scallop and Uni special from either Santa Barbara Fish Co or Boathouse (owned by the same folks). As we make our way down, I’d want to stop in Thousand Oaks because I lived there, and it has a special place in my heart. Then, we’d head down PCH to Malibu to do some sightseeing, maybe have a cocktail at Malibu Farm and then chow down on some of the BEST Thai Food ever, Cholada Thai Beach Cuisine. If we had time, I also adore the Malibu Wine Safari experience. Stanley the giraffe is my favorite. As for LA, there are quite a few places to explore, but I’d probably focus on Fairfax, DTLA, Koreatown, and Little Tokyo. There are SO many great places to eat, so here’s a highlight reel of a few staples: Seafood City Supermarket for Filipino food (yes lol I mean it), Jon and Vinny’s, Jinsol Gukbap, Pizzana, Sushi Bar, Bavel, Sun Nong Dan, Wanderlust Creamery. We’d head back toward the beach and go to Venice because Venice. It’s just its own vibe, and we’d 100% need some Salt & Straw and a meal at Gjelina. Then, we’d head to OC. I’d have us stop in Costa Mesa for Sidecar Doughnuts, aka the best doughnuts. I also just think there are so many gems in this town, like Taco Maria, East Borough, The CAMP, Din Tai Fung… the list goes on, and it deserves more credit. Last but not least, I’d want us to spend time in one of my favorite places on earth: Laguna Beach. We’d 100% do a wine tasting at both Laguna Canyon Winery and Laguna Beach Wine Gallery (Owner Chris Olsen’s wine Mile 216 Pinot Noir is heavenly). We’d just enjoy exploring downtown, going on hikes, soaking up sand and sun on one of their many beautiful beaches… We’d have to eat at one of my favorite sushi spots 242 Café Fusion, and just bask in Chef Miki’s mouthwatering, artful creations. Other favorites: Driftwood Kitchen because it directly overlooks the beach, and they serve killer seafood; Skyloft OC specifically on their rooftop for brunch so I could have their Loco Okimoto and then go back another time for sunset and happy hour; I’m also just such a sucker for The Montage. It’s so luxurious and serene to either have a spa day or at least one meal. Lastly, to unplug and feel secluded in our own world, I’d take my best friend to The Ranch LB, a resort nestled in the canyons with the cutest suites and their own farm that has produce used in their restaurant, Harvest. We’d end it all by taking one last drive up PCH, for as long as possible before we have to hit one of the jam-packed highways, on the way to the airport.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents, 100%. On a daily basis, they have always provided me with love, support, mentorship, encouragement and wisdom. They are both my number one fans and greatest mentors in life.

Website: https://befatbehappy.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/befatbehappy/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/caitlin-sakdalan-befatbehappy/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/befatbehappy
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxtjSOzJXb1MzuDnDFtyKMA

Image Credits
For Influencer Awards Monaco: Paul Oatway For Portugal Travel Assignment: Jason Baker For Israel Travel Assignment: Netta Avisar

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