“People work hard. They just want to go out, eat, and have a drink like everyone else”
My conversation with the influencer behind the popular @everybodygotta_eat Instagram handle keeps landing on the same conclusion and punchline: everybody gotta eat.
Why do you hustle so hard?
“Everybody gotta eat.”
I see you have a lot of friends from your old neighborhood who work with you …
“Everybody gotta eat.”
What’s your inspiration for planning a major food fest at the Reggie Lewis Center on June 18th and for helping organize Arts in the Park in your native Cambridge the following weekend?
“Like I said, Everybody. Gotta. Eat.”
Even when I ask what name he wants to go by in his first media interview, we end up in the same place.
“Everybody gotta eat.”
Are you sure that’s what you want me to write? As your name? These things tend to stick.
“Everybody. Gotta. Eat.”
Fine with me. EGE it is.
There are countless social media accounts for foodies and by foodies, incorporating every imaginable tangent of sip and bite culture. Among the millions, Everybody Gotta Eat’s IG feed is truly unique, serving up a free-form mix of food porn, restaurant recommendations, and boosts for Black businesses around Greater Boston. One day they’re plugging lobster popups that they had a role in planning, the next week they are guiding viewers to joints outside of downtown, often in places where chefs don’t get too much press attention. Spots like Southern Comfort in West Bridgewater, whose fried chicken recently made an appearance. And Highland Creole Cuisine in Somerville, where he recommends the red snapper and fried goat with rice.
“I’m trying to give people a chance who don’t normally get a chance,” EGE says. It’s worth noting that his efforts hardly amount to an ego trip; though you may occasionally see his hand or chain swing through the frame, EGE is basically an off-camera presence. It’s all about the chefs and restaurants, he says, giving the example of Krayla Brice, the owner of Gourmet Fish in Hyde Park and a frequent vendor at Everybody Gotta Eat events, as someone who built up their business from a home-based operation to a storefront via worth-of-mouth promotion and hard work.
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Looking back, EGE says he’s been on a long, somewhat roundabout path to his current role as a food influencer and small-enterprise supporter.
“I’ve just been building relationships since I was young,” he says. In addition to his Insta grind, EGE helps run the clothing brand Nckls & Dimes and its flagship boutique on Centre Street in JP. He continues, “If I can help somebody, I’m gonna make it happen. If one of my boys is locked up, I’m going to get him. My mom always gave back. This is in my blood. I really live by it, everybody gotta eat. If you got a business, I’m posting about it.”
On the food side, EGE says he has simply always been a fan, with passions going back to grabbing meatball subs at the long-gone deli and variety store across from the projects he grew up in near MIT. “That place was legendary,” he recalls fondly.
Even during hard times—especially through those tribulations—EGE says he had food on the brain.
“When I was doing time, that’s how you [mentally] get yourself out of prison for a second—you think about these great meals,” he says.
EGE’s path away from the mess hall and toward better meals started in 2015, when a probation officer steered him into a 16-week program at New England Culinary Arts Training. Along with other jobs to get back on his feet, he went to work at Morell’s BBQ in Stoughton, though the food business itself wasn’t the right fit. The restaurant world seemed like the ideal realm, but the question was where he belonged within that vast universe. Social media offered an answer.
“I’m trying to make people want this food,” he says. “If I like it, I want them to say, Damn. I just like food, man. And if I don’t like it, I try not to post it.”
Maneuvering his iPhone 13 around a plate of grilled octopus at Eva in Back Bay during our interview, his passion is on full display. As someone who tends to find posting tedious and burdensome, I ask how he operates with such pro-level nonchalance, barely letting filming or tagging interrupt his meal.
“I’ve always been chill,” EGE explains, “but I’ve been through hell, man. Sometimes you just need to deal with shit. I’m trying to enjoy myself.”
His strategy is rooted in the idea that other people basically want the same thing. Again, the motto: everybody gotta eat.
“People work hard,” he says. “At the end of the day, people want to eat good. They just want to go out, eat, and have a drink like everyone else.”
Through pic-snapping, catering—“I have a network of chefs,” EGE says—and larger-scale events like Saturday’s showcase in Boston, which will take place alongside the Boston Sneaker Convention at the Reggie Lewis Center, he’s showing that there’s strength in numbers, and that collaboration can move groups of people closer to those simple common goals.
“I tell people to pull up, invite all their friends, and network,” he says. “It’s all about promoting these brands.
“If you want to hate and do that, it’s not gonna work. Together, we’re stronger. You can’t want support but not give support—I hope that catches on out here.”
Tickets at eventbrite.com
Everybody Gotta Eat on Instagram
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.