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Indulge in a Culinary Adventure with Fort Wayne Foodie, Stephanie Bonner, Creator of BonBon Appetit

Stephanie Bonner is a Fort Wayne entreprenuer ready to take on the restaurant food scene by storm. Follow her Instagram page to be apart of her journey as she explores what all Fort Wayne Indiana has to offer.

In today's digital age, social media platforms have revolutionized how we connect, share, and explore the world around us. Among those platforms, Instagram has become a hub for food enthusiasts where captivating visuals and mouthwatering dishes have taken center stage. The rise of food influencers has transformed the culinary landscape, creating a new group of tastemakers who inspire and entice their followers with their recipes, dining experiences, and culinary advice. Among those foodies is Stephanie Bonner, creator of BonBon Appetit, who's made her way into the food influencer market and has taken Fort Wayne, IN foodies by storm. Through her simple recipes, culinary exploration, and cinematic abilities, her page has been steadily growing as more and more as people discover the wonders of what BonBon Appetit has to offer.

Entrepreneur Stephanie Bonner was born and raised in Northern California. When we discussed what it was like growing up, she explained that her family was always on the go. Due to their busy schedule, fast food or takeout was usually on their dinner menu most nights. When Bonner was in high school, she became more interested in making home-cooked meals, so she started teaching herself how to cook. When she talked about this time, she said,

"I remember my family members throwing big dinner parties, and I always loved going to those because it felt like that was what family was. You get to sit around a big table, eat good food, and share stories, and I think that's what really drew me to wanting to cook and be in the kitchen. I learned so much from watching my aunt and grandma cook."

BonBon Appetit was created by Stephanie Bonner. She created the Instagram page to document her love for food and cooking. She leanred to cook in Califoria, fell in love with the restaurnat world in New York City, and now lives in the Mid-West here in Fort Wayne Indiana where she documents her jouney as she explores the city.

After high school, Stephanie was accepted into an acting school in New York City and made the big move across the country to pursue her dreams of becoming an actress. Once she arrived, she soon realized that being behind the camera was as exciting as being in front of it, so she started learning more about filmmaking. When talking about her time in New York, she said,

"I spent the majority of my time in New York as a filmmaker, artist, and actor, which also meant I waited tables. Acting is what brought me to New York, but this side hustle of working in restaurants turned into something I was so passionate about. Like service and hospitality and what that means, it's a wonderful thing to get to learn how to do that in a place like New York City. It's a thriving market where there's a new restaurant opening every week, there's always a new trendy thing going on. I worked within so many restaurants. It was so great for me, as someone who loves food, to watch professionals doing their jobs and doing it so well. This is where my love of food and entertaining comes from, being a part of that hospitality industry really shaped how I look at things today."

In 2020, when the world shut down due to COVID-19, Stephanie was forced to stay home, and her filmmaking and waitressing jobs were brought to a halt. Unsure of what to do with the extra time, she began combining her two passions, filmmaking and food, and started publishing her food content on her Instagram page, BonBon Appetit. Soon after transitioning her page into more food-centered content, she started gaining more followers. With this newfound traction on her page, she realized she had tapped into a market she never thought of before. Before 2020, Stephanie would have never considered herself a foodie or influencer; she said,

"Before that, I thought foodie was a bad word, but I've realized it's not. I think there are a  lot of negative connotations with the words foodie and influencer, and I think once I wrapped my head around the idea that it wasn't negative, I really started to embrace it. It's just sharing. It's just storytelling. All we do on the internet is share our story and hope someone relates to it. That's what drives people to follow you and your recipes and want to share your content. I love seeing people post something that they've made that was inspired by what I've made. I think that's so special; it's what builds community. Even though it sometimes feels so isolated because Instagram and social media are just a highlight reel of our achievements. This is why I try to post my kitchen failures. They happen, they totally happen. I am not a chef, I'm not trained, again I'm just a home cook. Sometimes I spill, sometimes I break things, sometimes I burn things, and I try to share that part too because that's real life. Sometimes, the recipe doesn't turn out to look as pretty as you thought it would, but that doesn't mean it's any less good. It doesn't have to look like a picture in a magazine, a lot of that food is sprayed with weird stuff to make it glisten and it's propped perfectly, and knowing that made me feel a lot better. Seeing these things can make you feel self-conscious, especially on Instagram, where everything looks like a picture-perfect world. It makes you think, 'I don't fit so therefore I can't do that.' I hate that because I think everyone can do it, especially in cooking. I think everyone has the ability."
Stephanie Bonner is a Fort Wayne Foodie. She makes simple recipes and shares them on her Instagram page for her followers to try. She goes to local Fort Wayne restaurants and documents her experiences within each restaurant she tries.

In January 2023 Stephanie and her husband moved to her husband's hometown, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Although Stephanie had been to Fort Wayne many times throughout their ten-year relationship, she had yet to have the opportunity to truly explore the restaurant scene. Once they were settled into their new space, Bonner turned to her Instagram page to help document her experiences as she tried new spots throughout the city. Since January, many people have contacted Stephanie requesting recommendations for her favorite spots around town. Throughout her journey of sharing her local restaurant experiences, she has gained a following with Fort Wayne, IN natives. With this new following, she has realized that an Instagram food influencer is genuinely a concept people enjoy. What makes Stephanie's page different from other foodies is that she makes it a point to highlight the restaurant's experience portion and not just her opinion about the food. She told us that she believes taste is subjective; just because she doesn't like how something tastes doesn't mean someone else wouldn't, so she tries to emphasize how the restaurant feels. She said,

"I think sometimes restaurants are not just about the food. Sure, people are going out to dinner, but they also want an experience. It's not just about what you're eating; it's also about the service and how you feel walking in. The ambiance of it all. So much thought is put into the dining experience, so I try to share that "thing" that makes it special."

We asked Stephanie if she has created ways to monetize BonBon Appetit, and she told us she has a little. She explained that she has a subscription option on her website, and she recently created a Thanksgiving booklet full of recipes for cocktails, appetizers, turkey preparations, side dishes, and desserts. Bonner has also formed relationships with other companies over the last few years and has agreed to create sponsored posts about their products. She said that whenever she does a sponsored ad for someone, she only accepts it if it is a product she loves and believes other people should try. She said,

"I'm a person that has to really like something before I want to share it. I don't want to share something because someone paid me to share it. I want people to trust that I'm giving you advice that's going to be helpful. I'll disclose it was a paid partnership, but I will let everyone know that I do truly really like it, and I think it's delicious. And if you're interested, you should also try it yourself. I'm only sharing it because I love it, not just to influence you to buy it."

Stephanie Bonner currently works at the Green Frog in Fort Wayne, Indiana but when she isn't serving guest at the restaurant she is influencing her instagram followers to try her simple recipes or checking out a new or old local spot for lunch or dinner. Stephanie is an Instagram Influencer and she is taking the Fort Wayne food scene by storm.

We followed up this question by asking Stephanie how she measures the success of her page, and she said it is by people engaging with her content and trying her recipes. She says,

"If I've inspired one person to try something they maybe wouldn't have done, I think that's successful. All I hope for with my page is to inspire people to have the confidence to do what they wish to do, especially in the kitchen. I also love when I feel like my Instagram page feels like a community, where everyone can chime in and share what they've made, and to me, that's what is so fun about this."

She continued by saying that the amount of likes she receives on a post doesn't mean much to her. She didn't get into this industry to have thousands of likes on her posts; she got into it because she loves storytelling, sharing dining experiences, creating recipes, and connecting with people.

Although most people commenting on Stephanie's posts are positive, there are always a few with something negative to say. Social media is notorious for people who enjoy posting on people's pages, nitpicking, or simply disagreeing with what someone is sharing. We asked Bonner how she pushes through the negativity, and she said,

"You know, they're bound to happen. I waited tables in New York City where people would say really mean things to my face, so I have pretty thick skin. I think the first time it happened, I was like, oh, okay, I am not going to please everyone. When it happens, I do try to reflect on why this person is upset. Is it something I did or said? Can I better myself in some way? But sometimes people are just being mean because they can be. For those people, you just have to let it go. If the majority of people are coming to you and saying they love what you're doing and they are inspired, then you're doing something right. The community I've built on my page means so much more to me than the few who say mean things about me. I take it with a grain of salt because most times, it's not really even about me; I'm just the current target."
Stephanie Bonner is the creator of BonBon Appetit, an Instagram food influncing page. Through her page you will find simple recipes that use fresh ingredients. You will see beautifully constructed cinimatic reels about her journey throughout the Fort Wayne area. You will also get a glimps into the restaurants around the area as she shares her experiences within each spot.  Stephanies ultimate dream would be to create a cookbook inspired by all her favorite dishes.

As for Stephanie's hopes for the future of BonBon Appetit, she said the ultimate dream would be to create a cookbook someday. She shared that she loves reading the stories food bloggers post before sharing their recipes. She believes it would be so fun to create a book inspired by her favorite dishes and have the opportunity to explain why they are so special to her. She also said if the opportunity came her way to do a cooking show or something longer formatted that allowed her to connect more with people through food, she would absolutely take up the offer.

Stephanie's culinary journey began in California, where her passion for cooking was ignited by watching her family members create delicious meals in their home kitchen. After moving to the bright lights and fast-paced environment of New York City, she not only honed her skills in the restaurant industry but also explored her love for acting and filmmaking. Now, as a proud resident of Fort Wayne, Stephanie is combining all her life experiences to bring us BonBon Appetit, a culinary adventure like no other. On BonBon Appetit, Stephanie shares her favorite simple and mouthwatering recipes that can be easily recreated in your own kitchen. She invites us to join her journey as she explores the vibrant food scene in Fort Wayne, IN. If you want to see everything Stephanie is doing with BonBon Appetit, follow her on Instagram @sbonbon or visit her website at

The Fort Wayne Business Journal had the pleasure of speaking with Stephanie Bonnier, creator of BonBon Appetit, a Fort Wayne Instagram food influencer page

We want to send a huge thank you to Stephanie Bonner for sharing her story with us. She is a prime example of an entrepreneur. She found an industry she loved and carved her way into it by creating a fun and engaging page for people to learn, connect, and be inspired by. Thank you to Nike with Creative Roots Media for capturing the photos you see throughout the article. If you enjoy reading these stories about the entrepreneurs helping shape Fort Wayne one business at a time, sign up for our newsletter so you're always in the loop about what's happening here at the Fort Wayne Business Journal.


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