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Getting A ‘Taste’ Of Pittsburgh: Penn State Alum Finds Success As Food Influencer

Penn State grad Alex Goodstein is anything but a picky eater. In fact, he loves food so much that he shares a taste of Pittsburgh on his blog and Instagram page called “Alex Eats Too Much”.

His passion for blogging Pittsburgh’s most delicious eats began nearly five years ago. Despite his love for food, he was originally against the idea of posting pictures of his meals on social media until friends and coworkers encouraged it because of his knack for knowing the best restaurants in Pittsburgh.

“It wasn’t until a lot of friends and a lot of my coworkers were coming to me and asking for recommendations, or I would be telling them about some meal that I had…and they suggested I started getting more into the idea of posting photos and writing about it and giving suggestions,” he said.

Goodstein graduated in 2009 from Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology. He credits his major to helping him understand technology, and how people interacted with technology while his minor helped him fine-tune his communication skills, especially when it comes to writing captions for each post.

While food bloggers in bigger cities like Philly, New York City, and Los Angeles are a dime a dozen, Goodstein has found Pittsburgh to be unique because it’s a smaller city and has seen “a great restaurant resurgence” in the last couple of years.

“Now, I think we’re seeing a lot of really adventurous restaurants opening up a lot of really cool concepts coming to Pittsburgh,” Goodstein said. “Pittsburgh gives a lot of chefs the ability, either, if they are from the area to bring something new back to Pittsburgh and let people experience it here. Or, you see a lot of people coming to Pittsburgh from other places to bring a concept here because there’s a lot of opportunities and a lot of people really interested.”

Additionally, what also makes “Alex Eats Too Much” unique compared to other food bloggers is that he uses his Instagram page for providing a snippet of his delicious eats, while his blog provides more context about his overall experience at a restaurant.

“You can only do so much of an explanation and a photo post with a small caption or a reel where you get more time to talk and explain but you’re still not really diving into it,” he said. “The blog helps, especially if I had a dish somewhere that was really exciting, I can talk about it a little bit more…about my experience or a dish that I really like.”

Although it took about a year for Goodstein to really notice that he had a following, it hadn’t really sunk in for him until he went to an event that same year where someone recognized him. Additionally, Goodstein said there have been recent moments where he still gets that same feeling of realizing how well known he’s become.

“It’s kind of cool but, I think it’s over time as things build up, and I speak to people more and get to talk to more restaurants [and] more chefs, that’s where these steps of [where I’m] like, ‘Oh, wow. This [blog] is really much bigger than it was.'”

While Goodstein has built a decent following, his main job is working as a digital experience project manager lead at PNC. He encourages people to recognize how important it is to not put all of their eggs in one basket when pursuing food blogging as a career initially.

“I tell people that mostly because I don’t want people thinking that, like, they’re suddenly going to be making a full-time salary if they go into it right away,” Goodstein said. “If, you know, you’ve got an idea that’s definitely, like, going to take off, go for it. Follow that plan of featuring it on Instagram or featuring it as a blog. But, I think a big part of it is people don’t realize that it takes time to build up that following and takes time to build up a list of places where you can build up your content and kind of go from there.”

Some of his favorite Pittsburgh restaurants include classics like Pamela’s Diner and newer places like Gaucho Parrilla Argentina, an Argentinian steak house, and Gi-jin, a modernized sushi restaurant. While Goodstein naturally has his favorite restaurants, he tries to feature a variety of different cuisine on his blog and on his Instagram.

“There are certain restaurants I may go to every month or every couple of months and keep featuring them over and over again. Sometimes, it’s [because] a restaurant may reach out to me, and I will work with them towards creating posts or featuring something for them,” Goodstein said. “Other times, it’s a mutual relationship where if I’m there often enough, we may work together on something to come up with an idea.”

Goodstein has plenty of goals he wants to accomplish with “Alex Eats Too Much” this year, most of which include establishing good connections with local Pittsburgh restaurants and spreading the word about his blog. Although he wants to keep his blog focused on Pittsburgh, Goodstein isn’t opposed to the potential of working with national brands and companies.

Aside from not pigeonholing yourself, Goodstein encourages anyone who wants to get into food blogging not to compare yourself to someone else’s success or give up if you’re not getting the instant gratification of a huge following.

“I’ve seen so many people who have given up on it because they weren’t seeing that instant gratification type of success that they weren’t expecting,” he said. “Or, the other thing is they just stopped enjoying it and because they stopped enjoying it, they stopped their blog or their Instagram, but that’s the type of thing you’ve got to pay attention to.

“Don’t be disappointed if you see somebody else that is having better success or you’re not growing at the pace that you want,” Goodstein said. “If you’re still enjoying it, keep doing it.”

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Sadly, Mackenzie graduated from Penn State in 2022. She majored in English and served as one of Onward State's associate editors. You can keep up with her life and send compliments to @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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