DOWNTOWN KNOXVILLE - A Knoxville couple has become a social media phenomenon through their posts and reviews of local restaurants, food trucks and farms.
"This year in particular, the Knoxville food scene has really blown up," Eric McNew said.
Eric and Mandee McNew enjoy being part of that scene. Together, they are Knox Foodie.
"I started a wedding blog, an engagement blog, before I proposed to Mandee. Then it turned into a wedding blog. After the wedding we had nothing to plan anymore," he said.
"We transitioned our wedding blog into a food blog," Mandee McNew said. "One thing I got really excited when somebody posted a photo on Instagram of a recipe that we had posted on our blog and they had actually tried it, so that was pretty fun to see."
"We probably cook at home four nights a week and the other times we are either out or at breweries or eating off local food trucks," Eric McNew said.
Profiling local places to eat was a fun diversion. A turning point came about a year ago.
"An owner of a restaurant came and said 'I don't know if you guys know it or no, but we were able to stay open because you guys came in and posted for our restaurant.' That was a hair-raising moment that we've really got to focus and help these chefs and restaurant owners that we really like," Eric said.
Mandee listed a few of their favorite spots: "J.C. Holdway that just opened, we went there last weekend and it was incredible so that's a new favorite. Kaizen where we are now is one of our very favorite places. I think we've almost covered the entire menu, but it's such a unique spot. And OliBea in the Old City, we love going there for breakfast."
They periodically host something they call date night, which is food and more.
"Been able to provide different experiences that people can't normally do on their own to create a fun night for couples," Mandee said.
Knox Foodie is going out on the town Sept. 29 for the last date night this year. The details are secret.
"We can't tell anyone what it is going to involve but we provide all the food, entertainment and transportation for the evening. It doesn't have to be a romantic couple, it can be two friends, we get asked that a lot," Eric said.
They are also often asked how to get the most out of local dining.
"Don't be afraid to try something different," Eric said.
And don't be afraid to talk to the chef.
"Our biggest compliment is when someone goes to a restaurant that we have talked about and has an enjoyable time," Mandee said.
(© 2016 WBIR)