The king of puns, Chad Montano is well on his way to becoming a culinary legend. While his witty Instagram handle (Briewilly? Hilarious.) and captions show off his humorous side, it’s his stunningly vivid food portraits that truly hook in his followers. But how did this down-to-earth dude get so heavily involved in the foodie world? He attributes it to his upbringing.
“My life has always revolved around food even from a young age. I have a large family on both sides so we were always gathering together for meals,” Chad says. “One of my favorite memories was hanging in the kitchen watching my grandmother make her delicious Swedish recipes. I immediately fell in love with cooking and began doing it on my own.
So what did he do? He took his passion and ran with it! “I am fortunate to make a living by cooking and photographing recipes for brands. It’s a dream come true.
Chad lives in San Diego with his wife (they’re high school sweethearts!) and adorable daughter Ava Rae who, according to Chad, has stolen his heart for life. “My whole world changed when she was born and I’m incredibly grateful and blessed,” he says.
Together, the family enjoys hitting up California’s white-sand beaches for long walks and sunshine. We caught up with Chad for a quick Q&A to learn more about his lifestyle, mouthwatering recipes, inspiration and family life!
1. Your Instagram page is a work of art. What goal do you hope to achieve by using social media?
I started my account, @Briewilly, only a few years ago and it’s incredible to see the growth over a short period of time. My food photography has created so many opportunities to work with likeminded brands to create content. My goal is to continue to grow my account and help others along the way who have the same interests as I do with cooking and photography.
2. Do you do anything else for work beyond the world of Instagram?
I currently have two jobs. I do social media and marketing for a nutrition company called MRM, which was started by my uncle back in 1996. I have worked here 12 years and absolutely love it. I also am a freelance food photographer. I work from my house 1-2 times a week shooting for different clients. My dream job would be to start my own photography production company where I have a small team of people creating both stunning still images and creative videography.
3. Major *dream job* alert! Do your day jobs allow time for working out?
My exercise routine used to be five days at the gym and one day of exercise outdoors. This routine has changed drastically over the past year due to having my first baby and balancing two jobs. My goal is to find personal time for myself with my busy schedule to start my workouts again. There’s no better feeling than smashing a great workout!
4. You’re an inspiration to us (and so many others) – but who or what inspires you?
I have always been an active person and sports are a huge passion of mine. Physical exercise is a passion of mine instead of a chore. There’s no better feeling than accomplishing a challenging workout both mentally and physically. My healthy lifestyle has been inspired by athletes, friends and like-minded “gym rats.”
For me and my line of work, I love following chefs, pit masters, photographers and YouTubers. Many of us go through creative slumps, and when I’m in one, I look to these people for motivation. Also, now that I have a daughter, she makes me work twice as hard to provide for her and my wife.
5. Is there any one person you look up to?
My grandfather was my biggest role model and hero growing up. He had five kids and provided for his family like nobody I’ve ever met before. Since his passing, I find myself not really having a current-day role model but I definitely look to like-minded people for motivation and support.
I don’t have any food allergies or specific diets that I follow, so I chose to live my life in moderation when it comes to food. Give me a big juicy cheeseburger with fries or a fresh wood-fired pizza with beer! Life is too short to eat healthy all the time. It’s all about balance!
For the most part, I try to have three balanced meals a day with a protein shake or some sort of snack in the afternoon. I have to admit the “dad bod” cravings have been real lately – so I do take part in occasional evening desserts.
7. We like your style. But we’re curious – what can we find in Chad’s #VitacostHaul?
My top three products that I MUST have from Vitacost are:
- Ghee: I cook with this ALL the time and it creates so much flavor.
- Protein powder: I love incorporating this into my meals or after a gym session to stay in shape.
- Tortilla chips: Preferably the Siete brand. I feel like we always need a good snack in the house and these chips go great with dips and salsa.
I have only been a Vitacost customer for a few years BUT, after working with their team, I have really become in love with this brand. They carry such a wide variety of products which makes it a one-stop shop.
8. Sounds like a pretty healthy haul! What’s your take on the concept of healthy living?
Healthy living can’t be a temporary or short-term thing. You have to understand that it has to become your lifestyle. I choose to live my life by being active and consuming whole and healthy foods. I’m not perfect with my diet, and do enjoy the finer things in life, but like everything it all has to have moderation and balance.
9. Sounds about right! What advice would you give someone who is just getting started on the path to healthier living?
If you aren’t used to living a healthy lifestyle, take it slow. Take the time to learn about nutrition, healthy cooking, exercise and self-care. Start incorporating these things into your life little by little and you will begin to see a stronger mind and body.