Alexa Mehraban created @EatingNYC in January 2014 while working as a food writer for Guest of a Guest. When I first met her, it was only a couple weeks after starting the account, and she had already managed to gain a few hundred followers. It’s a year and a half later and she’s about to hit 100,000 followers—that’s almost double the amount of people that could fit into Yankee stadium! In honor of her upcoming milestone, we asked her a few questions about her life as an insta-celebrity…

You’re obviously a huge foodie. Did you do any food-related work before you started @EatingNYC?

When I was at Guest of a Guest, I was doing a lot of food writing — that was my main focus. I started @EatingNYC while I was there and then I decided I wanted to go into food more seriously. I now work at Bullfrog + Baum, which is a restaurant marketing and consulting agency, as the Social Media Manager.

What inspired you to start a food Instagram account, and how did you come up with the name for your handle?

I wanted something that was pretty straightforward and catchy. When I started it, there weren’t that many food Instagram accounts out there. I was definitely one of the first around. A lot of people ask me, “How did you get that name? How was it available?”

What did you do to build your followers? How did you gain so many so quickly!

Being one of the first food Instagramers definitely helped. The account grew organically; it took me around 6 months to get to 10,000 followers, and then 5 months after that I got to 50,000. Engaging with your followers is really important when growing your account, too.

How do you decide what to photograph?

Before I go to a restaurant, I usually have an idea of what I’m going to order. Research is important! What I order is generally a  combination of  what I read about online, the restaurant’s Instagram- famous dishes and what sounds good on the menu. Needless to say, I like to try as many things as I can when I go to a restaurant, so having good dining partners is vital.

 

Do you always eat everything you post on Instagram?

Yes.

Have you ever Instagramed something you didn’t like?

If I have a bad experience at a restaurant, I usually say so in the caption, though that doesn’t happen very often. This being said, I don’t consider myself a food critic, so I don’t think it’s my place to put down a restaurant. I try to be fair and if I feel strongly about a place, I’ll say whatever I think.

What makes a good food photo?

Lighting is the most important aspect when it comes to food photography. And of course, natural lighting is ideal. I use a few photo editing apps but try not to over do it –it’s really easy to get carried away.

What do you do if a restaurant has bad lighting?

I’ll use the flashlight on someone else’s phone to create an element of natural lighting. If it’s dark or the flash seems like it’s too bright, I’ll put a napkin over the flashlight to try to make it look more natural. It’s hard since most of the meals I go to are at night, but I try to make it work!

Did you know anything about photography before this?

No, I’ve always been a little bit artsy but was never a photographer.

So you definitely take all the pictures on your iPhone?

Yes.

Have you ever gotten in trouble at a restaurant for taking a photo?

No, I’ve definitely been in stuffy restaurants where it’s uncomfortable to take a photo. But I do it anyway.

Do you ever forget to photograph your food?

Before going to eat a meal, I usually know if I’m going to photograph it or not. If I’m having a late night snack or if I’m at a restaurant and I don’t think the food is going to be photo-worthy, I don’t plan on taking pictures beforehand. I don’t think I’ve ever just eaten and forgotten.

By now it’s probably habit, right?

Yeah, exactly.

Are your friends and family sick of you taking pictures every time you eat or do they like to help?

My friends and family are pretty excited about @EatingNYC in general. They always want to know how they can help with the picture and with lighting.  Sometimes they get annoyed because it takes me so long to take a picture when they just want to eat, but they’re pretty much used it. They’ve been really supportive.

Are you friends with any other food Instagrammers?

Yeah! So I’ve met a lot Instagrammers since starting @EatingNYC and have made a bunch of new friends. It’s great to meet people with the same interest as me.

That’s so fun!

It is! I really love what I do.

Do your fans recognize you in public?

I don’t really post pictures of myself on @EatingNYC. It’s happened before, but not   very often. Most of my fans reach out via email to ask about where to eat or for advice on growing their Instagram account. @EatingNYC

Do you know if any celebrities follow you?

Of course, I don’t know everyone that follows me. Friends have pointed out that one of The Real Housewives of New Jersey follows me along with a few Giants players. For me, the most exciting part is when people talk about the page without knowing that I’m behind it.  I’ll be somewhere and someone will say “Oh, @EatingNYC just went there,” or “@EatingNYC just posted about it.” It’s great to know that that I have a loyal fan base that takes my dining recommendations seriously. Knowing that I’m a part of so many food conversations and have an impact on where people eat is a great feeling.

What does the future look like for @EatingNYC?

I started @EatingNYC as a hobby, so I want to keep going with it and see where it takes me. The industry is rapidly evolving, restaurants and companies are starting to realize the value in food blogging more and more, so we’ll see what happens.  Maybe one day I’ll  do it as a full time job. For now, I’m going with the flow and enjoying the adventure!   Here is the first @EatingNYC post from January 2014  

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About The Author

Profile photo of Taylor

Texas native, NYU grad, and lover of sprinkles. Trying to expand my palette to be more than bagels and desserts.