BY SARAH FELDBERG

In some families, food is braided into the culture, woven so tight that it comes to represent love, togetherness, a distant home and a current one. That’s how Samiya Jakubowicz grew up in Coral Springs, Fla., to Indian parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Europe and who greeted guests and family gatherings with a parade of fusion dishes from the kitchen—slow-cooked barbecue chicken with Indian and Greek spices, chicken and potato bakes served with bread to soak up the sauce.

“My parents would roll out the red carpet,” Jakubowicz says. “They would just cook and cook and cook.”

In her childhood home and during summers in London visiting her grandmother, food was affection made edible. Jakubowicz learned to cook by her mother’s side, and during college, she translated her obsession with food into big dinners out, where she would take pictures of everything she ate. Eventually she started a blog, Closet Fat Girl, and an Instagram account to document her culinary adventures.

Jakubowicz wasn’t always such a confident photographer. When she first created @closetfatgirl, she remembers marveling over other people’s images, “How do they get their pictures to look so good?” Now, the platform serves as Jakubowicz’s creative outlet, a break from her solutions-based work as a licensed psychotherapist who reviews psychiatric hospitalizations and treatment strategies for a health plan. Her account now has close to 15,000 followers and a feed full of glistening pink donuts and loaded hot dogs. “I like images that pop with color,” she says. “I like a good flat lay with people’s hands in it.”

Though her photos have a good following of fans, Jakubowicz swears she has no intentions of transitioning her Instagram from side gig to full-time job. “I have no expectations,” she says. “It’s progressed somewhere I never thought it would go, and I think to make it work would be to make it less fun.”

Follow Sami @ClosetFatGirl on Instagram!

SOURCE: LasVegas Magazine By: SARAH FELDBERG

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Jeremy Whitt

@lifeisacomedy

ENTJ … Born in Seoul Korea, Jeremy was disoriented in 1976, America’s bi-centennial year. As a baby, he was adopted by German-Irish parents and grew up on a small farm in northern Missouri. Jeremy can recite the books of the old testament in under 10 seconds, has a disturbing infatuation with fibonacci numbers, and once talked on the phone with a girlfriend for 42 straight hours. Aside from being a life-long uber-geek, Jeremy is also mildly high-maintenance and an intolerable brand whore… Well, who are we kidding, he’s extremely high maintenance.

Fitness💪🏽 Thinker🤔 Entrepreneur💡 MathGeek🤓 Techie🤖 Foodie 🍗

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Paul Ryu

@ryusauce

Born in Seoul Korea and"shipped" to San Diego by himself at age 13, he eventually joined his 21 y/o sister to be his legal guardian. Not knowing ANY English when he first came to the states, Paul worked his butt off to become one of the favorable kids in school, be part of a local garage band, and attend business school at UCSB. After 25+ years of working in retail & travel when he moved to Las Vegas, Paul decided to take the leap of faith to start JMPforce with Mindi and Jeremy!

FUN FACT: Paul started off in the food world with an app called FoodSpotting and he was one of the top 50 FoodSpotters in the world 🍴

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Mindi Rogers

@mindi_rogers

Born and raised in Southern Indiana, the other half of the @RyuSauce dream team consists of Mindi’s skills with holding, poking, pulling, lifting, stirring, and smashing some food for the camera. All of her ever-changing nails are done by hers truly and constantly gets inspired by Instagram. Her favorite part about this food journey is that she’s made so many wonderful relationships from owners to chefs to fellow food lovers.

FUN FACT: When Paul and Mindi went to Reno to pick up their new puppy Mochi, she made a last minute decision to come home with Bubbles, too 🐩🐩

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Aliza

@cheekyeater

Born in the Philippines and raised in Hawaii/Las Vegas, Aliza started her love for food at an early age. Every weekend growing up, her family loved to bond by going out to try new restaurants in town. Her favorite foods of all time are ahi poke and Korean BBQ! Aliza’s highlight of starting her hobby is that it ultimately led to her becoming a full-time member of the JMPforce team.

FUN FACT: Aliza used to help construct costumes for the Nevada Ballet Theatre 👯‍♀️👯‍♂️

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Rosemary Fajardo

@rosemary.fajardo

Born in New Hampshire and moved to Nevada in 1999, Rosemary’s love for capturing moments started in high school. Although videography is her main role in the JMPforce team, she loves to dive into as many creative ways of expression she can such as photography, design, and music. Podcasting has been her newest form of expression and she hopes to start a JMPforce podcast in the next several months!

FUN FACT: Rosemary has 3 pairs of her circle glasses 👓

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Lindsay Stewart

@thelasvegasfoodie

Ever since she can remember, Lindsay has been in the food business as a server for a variety of casual to fine dining restaurants. She started taking food photos when she first moved to Vegas about 5 years ago to keep track of the amazing food she was eating. She never expected her page to start taking off, but when it did - she got hooked! Since then, Lindsay wanted to share food for others to see and it became even more fun.

FUN FACT: She can play the piano upside down 🙃️

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Daniel Kim

@dongkyuverymuch

Born in South Korea but raised in Southern California/Las Vegas, Daniel has always had a passion for food thanks to his parents. Since his parents were pretty much obsessed with food, there was no way but to have it become part of his life as he grew up! Being a Gold Yelp elite for 7 years and going on 8, his Instagram account initially started as a hobby but became inspired to grow into something more after hanging out with other foodies in Las Vegas.

FUN FACT: Daniel competed in the National Spelling Bee in the 6th grade 🐝

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Samiya Jakubowicz

@closetfatgirl

Initially started as a hobby and way to share her passion of food with friends and family, Closetfatgirl exceeded any expectations that she's had. As a mom of 2, she also touches a little bit of lifestyle and family within her brand. Her motto: Food is a ADVENTURE! - Sami is always on the hunt for something wild but appreciates a classic just as much.

FUN FACT: Peas are the only food she dislikes and she loves fantasy football 🏈

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JC Pavlovich

@jcaroundlife

Chef JC Pavlovich, with a career span of over 8+ years began in a family restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico, progressing to locations in New York, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas. Working as Chef De Cuisine at Mesa Grill (NY), Toloache (NY), MXDC (DC) JC has introduced his own creative approach to cuisines specializing inMexican/Latin/Southwest Fusion. Chef JC Pavlovich, with a career span of over 8+ years began in a family restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico, progressing to locations in New York,Washington D.C. and Las Vegas. Working as Chef De Cuisine at Mesa Grill (NY), Toloache (NY), MXDC (DC) JC has introduced his own creative approach to cuisines specializing in Mexican/Latin/Southwest Fusion.

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Beatriz Felix

@tastingvegas

Born and raised in Northern Mexico,"B" started"TastingVegas" to connect with others since she didn’t know anyone once she moved to Las Vegas. Her favorite cuisine is everything Mexican, but most of all she LOVES seafood. She loves to connect the Latino community in Vegas to help local Latino restaurants around the city. B also loves traveling and going on road trips! 🚗

FUN FACT: B doesn’t know how to cook, but she ironically met her chef husband at a cooking class and ended up marrying the teacher! 👰🏻👨🏻‍🍳

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Emily Romero

@eatmelasvegas

Emily grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Vegas in 2006. A graduate of UC Riverside, she has worked as a Marketing and Communications professional for most of her career. She has taken pictures of food for years, but only joined Instagram after a good friend of hers mentioned they had to hide her on Facebook for posting too many food pics. In her free time, Emily enjoys travel, spending time with friends and family, trying new restaurants and breweries, and playing board games. Emily’s favorite nostalgic comfort foods are her Grandma’s homemade tortillas, green chilé, and pozole with pig’s feet.

FUN FACT: Emily’s first word was"taco." 🌮

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Edward Thompson

@vegasfoodbaron

Born and raised in Detroit, Ed's love for food started when he was child. When he came to Vegas, he used new restaurants to keep date nights fresh after they got married. His love of photography comes from his grandfather, which is why he just HAD to put photography and food together!

FUN FACT: Ed is a life long Michigan Wolverine fan 🐺

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Ngan Ha

@eumoir

Ngan was born in Vietnam and moved to America in the early 2000s. She started to venture into fashion during college since she wanted to use Instagram to track her style over the years. Ngan absolutely LOVES dogs and has 2 chihuahuas of her own.

FUN FACT: She has 4 international pen pals.

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Johanna

@blondeandrestless

Jo was born in the Pacific Northwest and grew up in Seattle, WA. She got married in a hop field in 2014 and went to Las Vegas a few months later for Life is Beautiful. After falling in love with the city, her and her husband moved a year later and discovered that they worked really well together creatively. Because of this discovery, Blonde & Restless was born!

FUN FACT: Jo and her husband own 23 plants 🌿

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Tyler Rae Mills

@tylerraemills

Tyler lived in Hawaii until he was 5 y/o and was raised in Yakima, WA until his college years. He discovered his love for photography at the age of 14 and has also been playing music throughout his life. On top of taking photos of food, Tyler also enjoys cooking for his family regularly. P.S. He's crazy for the Vegas Knights!

FUN FACT: Tyler traveled the country with the Oregon Crusaders in 2012 for the Drum Core Open Class National Championship and won that year 🥁

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Amber Ramirez

@amberallurecupcakes

Born in the Philippines and moved to America when she was 13, Amber started off "Amber Allure Cupcakes" as a home-baked baking business. Once she discovered Instagram, she dived into exploring the world of beauty & lifestyle. Being in Las Vegas opened up so many amazing opportunities that led her to more of avenues of food. She hopefully plans to get into travel soon!

FUN FACT: Amber used to be a Starbucks addict since she was 13 and could drink up to 4 venti fraps a day 🥤