– Words by Toby Tannas Photography by Darren Hull
When Tori Wesszer greets me at the periwinkle-blue front door of her West Kelowna home, I feel like I already know her. As one of her 171,000 followers on Instagram, I’ve logged a lot of hours watching and learning from this dynamo. Tori has cooked up a huge audience by following her passion for food.
“There’s so much joy in feeding people,” she says with a smile. “Food is love. It brings such a huge amount of pride and satisfaction when we can feed someone.”
A dietitian by trade, Tori is emerging as one of Canada’s top lifestyle influencers. Her Fraiche Living blog and Instagram account inspire thousands of people daily. Fraiche Food, Full Hearts, Tori’s newly published cookbook (created with cousin Jillian Harris), is climbing the bestseller lists and she’s just about to launch a new meal-planning tool on her website.
“I want to help people get a healthy meal on the table. Feeding your family a good, balanced meal that you can all eat together around the table is achievable.”
Tori’s wizardry in the kitchen began at a young age.
“When I was a kid I just loved reading cookbooks. My parents would have friends over and I would cater their parties at 12 years old, just because it was fun.”
Tori is still having fun in the kitchen despite the fact her passion has become her full-time job.
“My mom jokes with me and asks me all the time how I can still like cooking dinner, but I do,” she laughs. “I’m very aware of keeping the passion alive. I never want it to feel like a job.”
When she’s not dreaming up new recipes or testing them in the kitchen, Tori and her team are busy writing, photographing and planning content for the blog.
“It’s more difficult than I thought it was going to be,” she admits. “When I started I thought, ‘How hard could it be to blog?’ Turns out there is a lot to it, which ultimately is part of the journey and the joy.”
As a mother of two young boys, Tori loves and appreciates the flexibility of working from home. She admits, however, that a healthy balance between work time and personal time is a new thing for her.
“The boundary thing has been a bit tricky for me. Up until very recently, I would put my kids to bed and then go back to the computer and work until I got tired. Sometimes that was at two or three in the morning.”
Hiring a small team, including a business manager, has helped put more structure into Tori’s work days. There’s another side to the business, though, that’s definitely not nine to five. A successful influencer must have a strong connection with their audience.
“Part of my work is sharing my personal life,” she explains. “People want to see a connection, something that inspires them.”
A big part of Tori’s appeal is her openness. Through Instagram stories, fans get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of her life at any hour of the day. They see into her home, her family life and her friendships, and sometimes it gets really personal.
“You have to show some of the realness, you have to be a bit vulnerable, you have to show what your life is about, otherwise I don’t think there would be too much for people to connect to.”
Tori’s ultimate goal is to inspire people. Her hope is that Fraiche Living fans feel inspired to simplify and beautify their lives. She’s very clear about one thing: she never wants to give the impression that her life is perfect.
“We are living in a really crazy society. We’re surrounded on social media with pictures of perfection, homes that look perfect, kids that never fight. It’s just not realistic.”
A scroll through the Fraiche Living website and Instagram feed is a feast for the eyes: dreamy, delicious — dare I say “perfect?” — photos of food, family, fashion and décor.
“We do our best to make the pictures look the best we can, there’s no doubt about that,” she concedes. “But what you see in the grid should be taken as something to inspire you. It’s not in any way an indication that that person’s life looks like that all the time.”
Tori offers to show me her basement as an example of “real life” with two boys. (For the record, it’s a bit messy!)
She appears on camera without make-up, she’s open about having rough days and she shares heart-wrenching “mommy” moments.
“A life well lived comes in so many shapes and forms. I feel passionate about that. I have down days where I nitpick myself. I know most women do. I’m so thankful to have a great support system.”
Tori always makes time to connect with her husband Charles. It’s not surprising they most often meet in the kitchen.
“Charles is a really great cook. It’s really nice to have someone in my life who understands what drives me and shares that passion. Our idea of a great night is cracking a bottle of wine, and then we put Frank Sinatra on and cook together.”
In the learn-as-you-go world of social influencers, Tori is becoming a star. She’s relatable, she cares, she’s got passion and drive. You definitely get the sense she’s just getting started.
“I have this massive gratitude to be honest and it makes me emotional. I love what I’m doing and there’s so much more I want to do.”