You're scrolling your Instagram feed, and there it is. You wish by some type of magic there was some way to dig into the delicious eats you're seeing on your phone's screen. Who took that incredible picture, you wonder? In the Raleigh food scene, odds are a lot of the pictures you've been double tapping are brought to you by @raleighfoodpics. We recently caught up with Ashley to chat about how the account got started, their favorite Raleigh eats, and more!
Have A Night (HAN): How did you get started with the account?
Ashley Freeman (AF): When my boyfriend Andrew and I met 4 years ago, we created the account as an outlet to post pictures of our food instead of flooding our personal Instagram accounts with food pics. In the beginning, we didn't tell anyone about it, even our friends! We often repost some of our favorite pictures, and people started to ask us if we had heard of @raleighfoodpics because they had just gotten reposted. We then let them know little by little that we were behind the account. Over the past 2 years, the account has grown really quickly!
HAN: Is there 1 post that really exploded?
AF: The picture that really took off and got a ton of reposts (including the likes of
@foodintheair), was of this amazing ice cream sandwich with both vanilla and chocolate ice cream between 2 cookies with chocolate chips and sprinkles.
HAN: What is your favorite food?
Ashley: Avocado Toast & Sushi
Andrew: Sushi & really anything from Bida Manda
HAN: What do you shoot your pictures with?
AF: We shoot all of our pictures on our phones. No cameras, strictly iPhone 7 Plus.
HAN: What's the coolest part of being out in the community in Raleigh?
AF: Definitely the friendships we've made. We recently hit 40K followers, and knew we wanted to reach out to DeMo's, who has been with us from the start. They let us into the kitchen while they made us this awesome pizza with "40K" in pepperoni. We get to learn from these places while at the same time helping them. We're definitely not that snooty account. Instead, we're always trying to give back to the community!
HAN: Favorite meal of the day?
AF: Dinner, because I can really take it in any direction I'd like.
HAN: If you could only eat 1 food for a week straight, what would it be? What about for the rest of your life?
Life: Probably Pizza (my favorite topping is banana peppers)
HAN: Favorite food spots in Raleigh?
Breakfast: Irregardless Cafe
Lunch: Raleigh Raw
Dinner: Bida Manda
HAN: Favorite bar? Drink?
AF: Right now our favorite bars are Watts & Ward and Fox Liquor Bar.
Andrew: Extra Dirty Grey Goose Martini
Ashley: Moscow Mule or Champagne
HAN: Which account has had the biggest influence on you?
AF: We really love @foodintheair, which was started by 4 sisters from Durham, North Carolina. Their mom owns a restaurant in Durham, and we've done multiple awesome giveaways with them.
HAN: What's the best thing that you can cook?
AF: Our signature dish that we can't mess up and is always really delicious is our Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas. Andrew loves to cook, so we'll only go out once during the week and then maybe once or twice on the weekend.
HAN: What's your favorite food city outside of Raleigh?
AF: We just got back from an awesome trip to Chicago, which is our favorite food city outside of Raleigh. Pictured above is the famous deep dish pizza from Giordano's. We also really love our trips to Maine, where Andrew's family has a cabin. The lobster up there is tough to beat!
HAN: What would be your ideal Food Pyramid?
Cheat Day: I'm a huge fan of doughnuts. Fro-yo, sweets, sushi (specifically tuna sashimi), craft pizza, and pasta would also have to be on there!
HAN: Do you have a favorite celebrity chef?
AF: I really don't have one, interestingly enough. Andrew's dad is a chef, and he makes the best risotto. He also made some pretty incredible enchiladas recently. Definitely not tied, but a close 2nd to ours for sure!
HAN: What's been the best experience/opportunity you've gotten because of your handle?
AF: It would have to be the confidence we've gained in realizing the power of the account. We've been able to do some awesome campaigns and partnerships with Delta and American Express. Just seeing that they recognize the influence we have has been pretty cool.
HAN: What is the weirdest/most exotic thing that you've ever eaten?
AF: I ate the lining of a cow's stomach at Bida Manda once. I used to be a super picky eater, but since starting the account, I will never say no to trying something new and crazy. It came with friend's dish and she was like "Hell no, I'm not eating that!"
HAN: What is your best/favorite source for restaurant recommendations?
AF: For us, it's really word of mouth. We follow all of the local restaurant accounts, so between that and recommendations from friends, that's usually how we make our decisions on where to go.
Salt or Pepper?
Ketchup or Mustard?
Cheez It or Goldfish?
Cookies or Cake?
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Burgers or hot dogs?
Butter or cream cheese?
Iced coffee or hot coffee?
Nesquik or Yoo-hoo?
HAN: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming food accounts?
AF: Consistency is key. It's really just like having another job. We have to do a lot of research to figure out what's trending and what people want to see, which is always changing.
HAN: Anything else you'd like to touch on?
AF: We also run
@raleighdrinkpics, which will soon be featured in Midtown Magazine's holiday drink pictures round-up, so be sure to check us out there as well for the best and craziest drinks in Raleigh!
Written by John Connell
John likes to think he is very gifted. His talents include napping, eating sunflower seeds, growing a neckbeard, Ja Rule karaoke, and napping. Recovering from a knee injury, John is currently limited to bar games like shuffleboard, pool, and darts, and accepts all challengers. An avid sports fan, the only thing he enjoys more than attending a game, is the beach. Don't let the knee injury fool you though, he can still get down on the dance floor!