Growing up in one of the most up-and-coming “foodie destinations” certainly came with its perks. My weekends were spent in Pittsburgh’s trendy neighborhoods and consisted of trips to the newest “Cali-Mex” fusion restaurant, Japanese pubs known as “izakaya” and Belgian waffle bars. I had access to Manhattan-quality restaurants with Pittsburgh-level wait times and availability. Having cuisine like this available from such a young age, it is certainly no surprise that I became obsessed with trying and reviewing the hottest new restaurants.
It began as a few nights of Google searching and a couple pictures of whatever food we had ventured out for, but my foodie habits have since grown into a full facet of my personality. I’ve become the go-to restaurant selector for my family and friends, a skillful food photographer and a professional Yelp and TripAdvisor navigator. I plan out weekend reservations days, weeks and sometimes even months in advance. When it comes to vacations, the highlights are primarily the thoroughly researched restaurant picks I make.
I created the Instagram handle @yinzereatz a few years ago. For those unfamiliar with this colloquial language, “yinzer” is defined as a person from Pittsburgh. The account began as a way for me to find new restaurants to try out, using it only to look at other “foodie” accounts. However, the start of my first year at the University brought a whole new restaurant scene into my repertoire, which inevitably piqued a sudden interest into what my foodie account could become.
And so, @yinzereatz was born. Or rather, reborn.
Drawing inspiration and guidance from the other “foodstagrams” I have followed for years, I began to populate the account with various kinds of foodie content. I use this account as an excuse to venture beyond the dining hall food and visit restaurants in the greater Charlottesville area as well as for my research writing food columns for The Cavalier Daily.
I love how the account has provided me with the opportunity to discover how Charlottesville, much like Pittsburgh, has so much to offer in terms of the food scene. Some of my favorite spots that I have discovered include Luce Pasta, Ivy Provisions and Tavola.
The account also allows me to pinpoint restaurants and other spots that will be easier to access next year when I have a car. I already have plans with a friend I am living with next year for weekly visits to some of the more casual Charlottesville restaurants like Cava and — our all time favorite — Chopt.
Posts also include pictures of my favorite spots back home in Pittsburgh, vacation eats and, most recently, my own cooking. Inspired by my New Year’s resolution to start cooking more and eating healthier, I have begun to try out a few new recipes each week, spanning from crispy quinoa burgers to creamy tahini noodles.
Over the course the few short months since @yinzereatz’s “comeback,” I was able to accumulate a small following of about 250 people — a number that far exceeded my expectations for the account that I thought only friends and family would be interested in. I have also learned the importance of various tools such as hashtags, locations, tagging users and feed layout as they all pertain to account publicity.
I now realize how much potential this account has. Several of the Pittsburgh and Charlottesville “foodies” I follow have brand and advertising deals with local restaurants and businesses. If the growth of @yinzereatz stays apace, I believe a large window of similar opportunities can be opened to me. Since I hope to pursue a career in consulting or marketing, I feel as though this account can act as a good resume-builder and a perfect intersection of my personal and professional aspirations.
However, the true motivation behind @yinzereatz is my passion for food and going out to eat. I see what this account can grow to be, business- and brand-wise, but I ultimately find that the best part of running this account is the joy it brings me.
As for those who share my interest in food, or perhaps are intrigued by the professional opportunities a foodie account provides, I encourage you to start with what I did — nothing. Accounts like @yinzereatz have the benefit of being able to be formulated into whatever style of account one may want — whether that be one for a viewership of close friends and family or one with a national following. With the right amount of spirit, dedication and research, the possibilities are truly endless. You might be surprised at just how fast these accounts can grow, as I was with @yinzereatz.
In terms of the future of the account, I plan to continue to casually update it, just as I am doing now. But visions of what this account can lead to in terms of future careers and hobbies loom in the back of my mind with every post.