Turning the big 3 - 0 is no big deal for foodie Jane Ko

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UT alumnus Jane Ko, left, celebrates the launch of her new book Koko’s Guide To Austin on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019.

Photo Credit: Eddie Gaspar

As her 30th birthday approached, Jane Ko decided she could no longer stall writing her book. 

 “I was having a bit of a midlife crisis,” Ko said. “I was like, ‘I have to do the book. I have to do it now. If it’s not now then it’s never.’”

Jane Ko (B.S. ‘12) started her food blog, “A Taste of Koko,” in 2010 while pursuing a degree in nutrition at UT. Ko has since become one of Austin’s top food bloggers, with nearly 70,000 followers on Instagram and more than 100,000 monthly visits on her blog. But Ko said she had a feeling that people needed something more.

After nine years of creating content, Ko has blog posts about hundreds of restaurants in Austin and receives constant questions about where to eat in the city. After being named Austin’s top food blogger in 2018 by the Austin Chronicle, her role as a foodie influencer was cemented. 

“I don’t know how many inquiries I get every single day,” Ko said. “‘Where should we go to brunch? Where’s a good dinner spot?’ (I’ve gotten) questions every single day for the last couple of years.”

 All of those questions led Ko, or “Koko,” to write her new book, “Koko’s Guide to Austin.” 

 Ko said she wanted to write the book three years ago, but as a full time blogger she could never find the time. This summer, her birthday gave her a reason to make it happen.

 “It was June 30,” Ko said. “I looked at my clock, and I was like, holy shit. I’m 30 days away from turning 30. What am I gonna do? So it was a sprint to get this done.”

 The pocket size guide book, which Ko completed in five weeks, features over 330 local businesses, along with multiple lists of things to do in Austin. The books can be purchased online and at several locations throughout Austin, including the Caffe Medici on Guadalupe. 

Graphic designer Dani Parsons designed the book and said that Ko spent hours contacting local businesses, reediting the book and retaking photos for the project.

 “It wasn’t easy at all,” Parsons said. “Jane and I were up late until 2 a.m. at coffee shops, and I have a full time job.”

Before starting, Ko said she knew nothing about that process, so she taught herself.

 “I even picked up InDesign,” Ko said. “So while Dani was at work, I could loosely define the stuff that I could design.”

 Ko said she designed the book not just for Austinites but also for tourists visiting the city.

 Rebecca Jones, who recently moved to Austin from London, attended Ko’s book launch Thursday and said that Ko’s Instagram has helped her find places to eat in Austin.

 “I think the book is great for people who are new to Austin,” Jones said. “She has really thought everything out, from where people can go to eat, their budget and cool places to take pictures.”

 Despite the stress that came with the project, Ko said she gets a sense of joy from seeing how her work makes other people happy.

 “There’s just something about that,” Ko said. “It makes me happy when I can help others.”