If you've spent even a small portion of your life in Baltimore, chances are you tend to run into people you know in the most random places. Everywhere from the local crab houses to walking your dog in the park. This usually prompts someone saying, "it is Smalltimore after all" (is it Smalltimore or Smaltimore?). The same can be said for the food social media community. It's pretty small and you run into the same people all the time (though the community seems to be growing much faster these days).
If we were in New York City or even Washington DC, I'd probably have some difficulty writing a post like this, but in Baltimore, it's easy enough to write, even off the top of your head. A post like what? Oh. I guess this is my post on a guide to who's who in food social media in Charm City, another name for Baltimore and also very important to know since it's a moniker used by many of the Mobtown (yet another name for Baltimore) social media cognescenti. The one caveat is that these are the people/accounts that I tend to see/follow in and around town. It's certainly not a complete list and I apologize beforehand if I've left anyone out. Also, I'll be referring to all of these people via their Instagram account since that's my choice of social media and if you really want to know more about them, you can start there (it's also awkward & funny at the same time when you meet someone who you only know by an IG handle...).
I know it's hard to believe that there were food enthusiasts before social media. I mean, if you didn't take a picture, did it really happen? But, there are a number of food writers, marketers and PR who have been in the game for decades in Baltimore. If you pause enough from taking pictures of food and listen to their stories and advice, it sure helps shortcut the pitfalls of the restaurant industry in Baltimore. The history of this town's food are in these voices which is important since this town tends to listen to only to the voices from within.
Before you read the list below, you'll see some repeats in the different sections since there will always be overlap in these kinds of lists. Also, the names aren't listed in any particular order. Just in the order that comes to mind. AND I reserve the right to add names in case I forget some so keep checking these lists! They'll be constantly updated.
the big dogs
These folks are the big accounts. The people who look up and say things like "holy shit that's a lot of followers". Here's where you should place your best bets for the chances of the biggest exposure for your restaurant. Do they move the needle? I don't know but I wouldn't bet against them. Of course, they are more than just the size of their followers and each of them have a story to be told outside of social media. But, their feeds are curated, content is published frequently and each is pretty well known among the locals in the food industry.
The Jedi are the folks that aren't necessarily in the front and center of the social media universe. These are the insiders who keep the pulse of the food industry in Baltimore. They're more akin to PR or marketing folks that are behind the scenes who steer influencers to go and influence the public about certain restaurants, products or events. They whisper in our ears and maybe even have a few mind tricks up their sleeves.
The social media game isn't just for idiots like me. It's also full of knowledgeable, witty and thoughtful food industry folks who sling good food and have a good social media account. They drop precious bits of information about their profession without revealing anything they shouldn't be talking about. But, if you read between the lines enough, you'll soon see the heartbeat of the industry in these accounts. Some of these are official restaurant accounts that are on top of their game and some are just individuals in the industry who feel a need to express themselves.
The title of this group may seem derogatory and in most cases it does have a negative connotation but I proudly call this group my home. In a town that is 70% black and rife with other minorities and immigrants, you rarely see people of color in most social media events. Of course there are some, I've been fortunate to attend my fair share but if you go to enough of these, you would think that food social media is mostly a white affair. You would be mostly wrong as there are plenty of great POC accounts across Charm City. Some are fairly new so they are still trying to find their voice. But, there are others who definitely have something to say. You can form your own opinion whether or not you agree but don't underestimate the importance of these voices.
There are also honest to god, real life food photographers and stylists in the city. Not just amateurs like me. These are the people who really make food look beautiful or at least some of them
These aren't necessarily Baltimore accounts but these are the accounts I follow when I want a serious case of food envy. They eat and take pics of beautiful food in some of the best restaurants across the world. Don't believe me? Just go straight to the list.
I'm also part of this group. This is the middling group that doesn't quite have the volume of followers but have a following nonetheless. I'm glad to see this community growing every day which I think either portends the apocalypse or means that the food scene in Baltimore is starting to gain more interest. Yes, I can understand that people taking pictures of food is annoying but it's also a fact of life these days.
Well, there it is. I am certain that I've forgotten a ton of people (because every time I look at the list, I keep adding names) and I'll apologize again here. There are some people who've just popped up recently (here's looking at you @nomtasticfoods) and some who I haven't even met. There are accounts I didn't mention but I also like very much that don't strictly focus on food (@discovercharmcity, @thebmorecreatives, @stylishlytaylored to name a few).
Why was this interesting and important for me to write? I recently read a Baltimore Beat article from Richard Gorelick and one quote resonated with me: "I promise you that not a living soul outside of Baltimore has an opinion about the dining scene in Baltimore. I think that’s a good thing." I don't know if it's necessarily a good thing but he's probably right that there a very few people outside of Baltimore that think about the dining scene in Baltimore. However, there are plenty of people in Baltimore that have opinions and these are just some of them.
Is social media really the source of where you should get your opinions about food in Baltimore? I mean, it's not perfect and lots of these accounts don't claim any expertise but if you take the time to follow them, watch where they're eating and read what they write in their captions, you should get a good perspective on food in Baltimore. It will never be the whole picture and I'll leave the interpretation of where or what the Baltimore food scene is, to other people who are smarter than me. But, to me, in a city without a vibrant food media, this is perhaps the best picture.
P.S. I was going to add links to each of the accounts. It was a major pain in the ass. Apologies for any inconvenience and a lack of links.