Welcome to Eat Sleep Instagram , our weekly series of conversations with photographers behind the most drool-worthy Instagram accounts about how they’re navigating the digital age, deliciously.
Move over, Kendall and Kylie: Austin natives Linsday and Morgan Vandygriff , 26 and 21, have the coolest sister act going on the internet, as far as we’re concerned. They’re the women behind the bright, sunny, feel-good food photos and sassy, pun-filled captions of @EatingATX —and judging by their feed, they’re full of intensely delicious food regularly. Our photographer Mackenzie Anne Smith caught up with these hometown food heroes over buns and spring rolls at Austin’s Elizabeth Street Cafe to find out how they parlayed their eating habits into a following of drooling fans.
Photo by Mackenzie Anne Smith
Taste Talks: When did you start the @eatingatx account? Why?
Morgan Vandygriff: We started EatingATX in January of 2015. For as long as we can remember, we had a long list of restaurants, food trucks, bakeries, and ice cream shops that we discovered wanted to go to and try out. Eventually, Lindsay pushed me to start this account and it ended up becoming a team effort and fun sister bonding activity for us to do. We didn’t even tell our friends and family about it at first.
TT: Tell me about your “day jobs.”
Morgan Vandygriff: I am a full-time college student, hoping to graduate with a degree in Finance next spring.
Linsay Vandygriff: By day (and sometimes by night), I’m a financial auditor for a firm in downtown Austin. I know, I’m super cool. (shameless plug, hit me up if you need an audit). It keeps me busy and it pays the bills. So after dealing with stock compensation expense calculations and cash flow statements all day, I luckily get to go to food tastings at night where there’s a large glass of wine waiting for me.
TT: How much time do you spend on social media?
MV – It is sporadic throughout the day, but I spend the majority of my time on social media when I get home from the day and chilling. I definitely find myself on it more now that we have this platform and my personal account has been put on the backburner and we have focused more on EatingATX.
LV – Way too much. We like to stay up on what the hottest places are and see where everyone else is eating too. We read every single comment that people post on our pictures. We don’t claim to be experts, so we love hearing everyone’s opinions too. We love it when people tag us in their food pictures, because then we go and stalk their account to see what food places they like. So if you follow us, then there’s a good chance we have stalked your page before too. Sorry, not sorry.
TT: Do you have personal Instagram accounts?
MV: Yes, but I am not on it as much anymore. The majority of the pictures on my phone is of food. We have to actively remember to get pictures of ourselves sometimes!
LV: Yes, but I keep mine private and rarely ever post on it. Mostly because my entire camera roll on my phone now is basically all of food or pictures of me trying to face-swap with my dog.
TT: What does your family think about your Instagram account?
MV: They didn’t really understand the point of posting pictures of our food at first but they were supportive through building our account! Our parents and grandparents have signed up for Instagram just for the purpose of following us and they are always texting us to remind us how many followers that we are at haha. It’s pretty cool.
LV: They love it and they are very supportive (after we got past the “so you just take pictures of food and put it on Instagram? and people care about that?”) Our parents and even our grandparents created an account just so they could follow our pictures and they’re always telling other people about it too. It’s certainly always a topic of conversation now. And it’s cool that they
TT: Do you have any guidelines or boundaries for promoting brands through your Instagram platform?
LV: We are approached often to promote products and restaurants through our account and we do turn down a lot of offers and requests. We both agreed to only feature things on our account that we actually believe in and can vouch for. We want to keep it real with our followers. We also try to keep it local. This is our city, we grew up here. And when a national chain restaurant wants us to promote them, we don’t feel like that’s in line with our “brand.” (whispers to Morgan “do we even have brand?”) Austin has a lot to offer, and that’s what we’re happy promoting.
TT: What has been the most rewarding part about creating an Instagram account with a large following?
MV: The most rewarding thing that has come from creating this account has been the support that we have been shown from our friends and family. It is so fun when they are interested in talking about our fun/crazy hobby. Also growing our knowledge of the food scene in Austin and meeting the foodie community in Austin has been amazing. Everyone is so supportive of each other and it is always great to find people that share your same interests!
Sisters being sisters. Photo by Mackenzie Anne Smith
LV: We honestly never got into this expecting to gain many followers nor was that ever important to us. But now having gained a small following, some really cool things have come out of it. We’ve gotten to attend some really cool events because somehow we have convinced people that we are “media.” We have also gotten to meet some awesome people. The Austin “foodie” community is pretty tight. We don’t “compete” like people might think. We really have all become great friends and hang out with each other every week. We’ve developed some really great relationships and that would have never happened if it weren’t for this silly Instagram account. It has also brought Morgan and me closer together (insert sentimental sister stuff here). We get to share this fun hobby together and enjoy all the cool things about it with each other. Also, one time, someone commented on a picture of ours saying “y’all are seriously my #squadgoals.” Morgan and I turned to each other and yelled “We’re someone’s squad goals!! Hashtag goals.”
TT: What are the best hashtags to use to connect with the Austin food scene?
MV: #eatingatx #keepaustineatin #austinfoodstagram #atxeats We have a set of hashtags saved that are always handy to use for posts.
LV: We won’t pretend to be experts on this at all, but #atxfoodie is a classic.
TT: Do you use other forms of social media for EatingATX?
MV: We are on Snapchat (EatingATX) and Twitter (@eating_atx) along with Instagram. Instagram is our main platform but we have considered further expanding to others in the future; right now we are just enjoying the platforms that we are on now. Also, we don’t have time to keep up with multiple platforms.
LV: Our other main form of social is Snapchat. We eat out often and we are lucky enough to get to attend a lot of events and menu tastings. So we use Snapchat to highlight those moments to share with our followers. I think it’s also a different way to show our personality a little bit and that we actually are people IRL (that means, “in real life,” mom). We do keep our platforms pretty anonymous though. We don’t show our faces in any of our Instagram pictures or our Snapchats. Hopefully, this means people imagine us as being way cooler people than we actually are hahaha.
TT: As Austin natives, how do you feel about the growth and development that is taking place in your hometown?
MV: Growing up in Austin, it has been fun to see the growth and change that it has undergone. I love the growth of the food scene for sure, there is honestly so many incredible options throughout our city and so many exciting events and activities always happening. You can never be bored here! The growth of the city can come with positives and negatives, but I love that everyone is now realizing the beauty in Austin that Austinites have known of for a long time!
LV: We honestly don’t mind it too much. Yes, there’s more traffic. And yes we’re used to the transplants mispronouncing the street names (BURN-it Road people, not bur-NETTE and MAN-shack — okay well, we don’t understand that one either). And yes, people laugh when you tell them that we weren’t allowed to go to the East Side growing up. But the heart of the city remains unchanged. People are still friendly and there’s never any judgment (#keepaustinweird). Plus, we’re all striving toward the same goal anyway: to become best friends with the person who writes the El Arroyo sign.
Craving more Southern food? Us too. Good thing tickets to Taste Talks Brooklyn Festival curated by Chef Sean Brock are available now. Grab yours here so you don’t miss a minute of South-meets-North deliciousness.