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They’re young, they’re hungry, and they live in one of the best cities in the world for dining out. Motivated by a passion for local cuisine and a compulsion to keep up with food trends, these ambitious connoisseurs — mostly born-and-bred NYC females — have an insatiable appetite not only for living it up in the big city, but for sharing their indulgent experiences with friends and strangers on social media.
They are “influencers” who have racked up tens of thousands of followers and are inundated with restaurant PR requests. They seldom pay for a meal. Some of them even have their own publicists. Meet the millennials behind some of New York City’s most popular Instagram food accounts:
All shy of twenty years old, Natalie Landsberg, Gillian Presto, and Emily Morse are power players on Instagram. The trio’s account, @New_Fork_City, has 543,000 followers. All of them grew up in the city and are currently living on the Upper East Side while they attend college. They post both original content and “regrams” from other accounts that sport their hashtag, #NewForkCity.
Presto tells the Voice that the abundance of culturally diverse restaurants in the city inspired their Instagram account. “Growing up in NYC, we were exposed to so many different cuisines. On a span of one block, you can find a Japanese, Italian, Greek, Turkish, and Chinese restaurant. We utilized this opportunity and soon began taking photos of the different things we ate from around the city.”
A photo posted by HUNGRYBETCHES (@hungrybetches) on
The Instagram profile picture for @hungrybetches is of a slender woman in a gold bikini lounging on the beach, about to devour a burger. It’s reminiscent of the racy Carl’s Jr. commercials that depict voluptuous women eating messy cheeseburgers in seductive rapture. But you won’t find any sex symbols in this account’s pics, unless you count oozing pastries.
The account, which has 290,000 followers, is run by 21-year-old Michele Mansoor, a Queens native now living downtown. She says that her aesthetic is “colorful in-your-face food porn.” Mansoor spreads the free food-love her Instagram brings her. “I feed tons of hungry people,” she reports. “My homeless neighbors, my roommates, my co-workers, my family. Everyone’s a hungry betch!”
A photo posted by #EatingNYC: NYC Food & Travel (@eatingnyc) on
Alexa Mehraban, 24, grew up in NYC, lives in Noho, and works in the hospitality business.
“I think what differentiates my account from others is that I have a strong balance between a very food-porn type of photo and an artsy photo. A lot of accounts tend to lean one way or the other,” Mehraban says.
@EatingNYC has 143,000 followers.
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There are four photo-snapping visionaries behind @NYCfoodgals, an account boasting of 138,000 followers. Ali, Jamie, Kim, and Lisa are all 26 and live in midtown or on the Upper East Side.
“We love food — the rest is history,” the women say. Their images of gooey cookies, crispy dumplings, and garden-fresh guacamole speak for themselves. “We live in a city with endless options, from hole-in-the-wall restaurants to outdoor farmers’ markets to celebrity chef spots.”
They enjoy documenting it all. They also have an online shop where they sell shirts emblazoned with food-obsessed quotes like “Eating Is My Cardio” and “Fries Before Guys.”
A photo posted by Dining With Skyler (@nycdining) on
Skyler Bouchard stands out from the pack because she often includes herself in her food photos, making a goofy face or offering a boozy “cheers” to the camera.
The 22-year-old from Delaware moved to New York to study broadcast journalism at NYU and has stayed here to pursue a career as a food media entrepreneur. Her account, @NYCdining, actually started out as a food blog in 2012 and has racked up 109,000 followers since launching in 2014.
Bouchard, who now lives in the Union Square area, says, “I worked all throughout college, figuring out everything I didn’t want to do, then I graduated in early December 2014 and decided to take on my own business, full time. I rebranded my blog and Instagram to fall under ‘Dining With Skyler,’ and after tons of research and testing, I found a way to make my own career out of food photography, recipe development, and dining out.”
A photo posted by @hungrygrls on
Olivia McCurdy-McGee, 26, and Jennie Snyder, 25, met at the University of Pittsburgh in 2010 and bonded over their obsession with food. Along with some other friends, they created the Twitter handle @Hungrygrlprobs to chat about their desperate love of eating and the woes associated with such a passion.
When they were creating their Instagram, McCurdy-McGee and Snyder, who live in the West Village and on the Lower East Side, respectively, decided to drop the “probs” and just go with @HungryGrls. The account has accrued 77,700 followers.
“You’ll see lots of avocado toast and grain bowls from El Rey Luncheonette & Bar, breakfast sandwiches from Black Seed bagels, and french fries from all over the place,” they say. “We know what we like, but we also stay on top of restaurant openings and new trends on a daily basis. More and more, we look on Instagram to actually see the food and the décor before we decide on what we feature.”
A photo posted by Brunch Boys-NYC Food Lifestyle (@brunchboys) on
For years, 28-year-old Jeremy Jacobowitz worked for food-focused TV channels such as the Food Network before turning his attention full time to the Brunch Boys. Raised in Westchester and now based in midtown, Jacobowitz says he thinks of food as “the great equalizer” — something that everyone loves:
“I chose brunch specifically because who doesn’t love brunch? I saw that no one was really focusing on brunch, so it was the perfect mix of something that I was passionate about and a place where I could stand out.”
@brunchboys has 53,000 followers.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 21, 2016