Chris Franzoni ’99 is an attorney by day, a PR consultant by night and, in-between, the creator of EatMoreBaltimore, the Instagram site for delicious dining in the Baltimore-metropolitan area. With more than 50,000 followers, the self-described Eater-in-Chief gets plenty of questions about where and what to eat. In this Q&A, he discusses how hometown pride, creativity, and a passion for service guide him in his work.
Our original interview with Chris took place before the COVID-19 pandemic forced many restaurants to close or offer delivery/carry-out only. We followed up with Chris this week to hear about his efforts to support these businesses during this difficult time.
You started @eatmorebaltimore in 2015 with a singular post featuring a giant pile of steamed crabs from Costas: Why did you choose that image and what did you want it to convey?
I chose Costas for a lot of reasons. For one, I have been going there with my family since I was a teenager – for birthdays, after Ravens’ games, and sometimes just because we are in the mood for crabs. As for the photo – what is more Baltimore than eating steamed crabs with family and friends? If Baltimore were a meal, it would definitely be a few dozen colossal crabs from Costas.
Your Instagram bio says: “I’m not a foodie. I just eat a lot.” What is your definition of a foodie and why do you consider yourself not a foodie?”
I feel like the term “foodie” has a certain connotation – that one is more qualified at knowing what food is good, and what is not. But taste is subjective, right? Everyone loves food. That said, I may love something that others think is gross, and vice versa (and believe me, people let me know that all the time). I just happen to eat more than the most – and my page is just a huge collection of food that I think is delicious.
You are one of (if not THE!) biggest restaurant influencer in Baltimore: How does that make you feel?
When I actually think about that, it’s pretty cool. It’s been a really fun journey, but it takes a lot of time (and comes with a certain social responsibility). One of the goals I had when I started Eatmore was to shed a positive light on a city that was constantly getting beat up in the news, so I’ve tried to highlight all of the amazing dining experiences you can have here – and to encourage people to visit downtown Baltimore.
Let’s talk about your work as an assistant attorney general: How did you become interested in this type of work and what aspects of the job do you most enjoy?
I started my career in labor law as an intern at the International Association of Fire Fighters the summer after my first year in law school, where I worked for seven years after graduating. My current position at the Maryland Attorney General’s office was a natural transition, since it also involves advising clients on labor law related issues.
At the end of the day, the parts of my job that I enjoy the most are that I’m serving the public, and helping to facilitate the working relationship between the State of Maryland and its employees.
How do you balance that with your work as an attorney and a PR consultant with Collins & Co.?
It’s not always easy…but if you really want to do something, you figure out how to make it happen. Neither job really feels like “work” – and I’m very fortunate to have two of my passions as professions.
You were inspired to begin Instagramming about local restaurants from a friend who posts similar content in Nashville. Can you share that and any other sources and influencers you follow for inspiration?
@NashvilleFoodFan is my inspiration. She convinced me to launch Eatmore (and even helped with the name). When I started, there weren’t many people foodstagramming in Baltimore, and she taught me what I needed to know to kick everything off.
I find a lot of inspiration in accounts like @michelinguide, @beautifulcuisines, @eater and @thrillist. But it’s really the local restaurateurs and small businesses that inspire me to keep posting.
Favorite meal – breakfast, lunch or dinner?
Brunch! (Then dinner.)
What are your top 5 B’more restaurants right now?
I have always shied away from this question – because my tastes may be different than yours (but, really, because I don’t want to play favorites – lol). So, when I’m asked this question, I usually turn it around to figure out exactly what you’re looking for –What type of food do you want? Where have you eaten recently that you really enjoyed? What price point are you looking for? What kind of atmosphere do you enjoy? – and we go from there.
You arrived at Friends in 9th grade. How did the School help shape the person you are today?
Friends provided a very diverse, welcoming and accepting culture - and it really prepared me for college. You could be involved in sports, musical theater, or both - and everyone was supportive. I remember a time when I was manager of the lacrosse team (because sports were not my talent), and the team racing from a championship game to the high school musical that was happening on the same night because students were heavily involved in both.
I credit so many of my teachers at Friends for life skills that I now have and use: Ms. Imhoff and Mr. Buck for writing (which I do all day in both careers); Mr. Wright for his appreciation of the Earth and biology; Mr. Schlenger for making me learn how to do basic math in my head (without relying on my TI-82); and Mr. McVey for his passion for music, to name a few.
COVID-19 has effected restaurants and small businesses across America, what can you tell us from working with these folks every day to promote them on social media?
Sadly, the restaurant industry is going through a devastating experience. It's going to take time to recover - and it's going to take A LOT of community support. It's always been important to eat local, and once businesses start to reopen, that will be more essential than ever. I'll be working harder to make sure Eatmore has their backs. But in the meantime, support them now (if you can) by ordering takeout and delivery, or by just reaching out to show your support.
Follow @EatmoreBaltimore on Instagram for delicious food pics, dining ideas, and resources to help local restaurants.