Foodie Alert: Official Food Group

 

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Are you following @officialfoodgroup on Instagram??? If not, you’d better start! Let us introduce you to Jerry Cionci, one of the 7 masterminds that run this account that’s sure to make you triple your foodie bucket list for local and national restaurants, including us! Hear about Jerry’s favorites and follow him on Insta here: @jercionci6.

Tell us what do you do and what are 3 words you’d use to describe yourself.

I am a professional marketer for Champs Sports and run the company’s social media for North America. But on the side, my 7 friends, including my brother @mcionci, run Official Food Group!

Three words: fun, knowledgable, energetic.

What made you start Official Food Group? Have you made a lot of foodie friends?

After my roommates from college and I graduated, we kept in touch through a group text. Most of the pics happened to be food. Over a year, we added my brother and couple other close friends to the group text, who also liked to take food pics. The rest is history. Our goal was to inspire our followers to eat elite when traveling. Since we have 8 people spread all over the country, we could diversity our food content and scale the page. We each have a market and are responsible for building that market by eating all over the city, building relationships and tagging restaurants.  All pics are our own, and we pride ourselves on that.

Some of our favorite groups we made friends with are: @gothamburgersocialclub @boozeandburgers @cy_eats @tampabayeatsout @phillyfoodgirl

What’s the best food you’ve discovered from Official Food Group?

Tough. But my personal favorite was when I was in Lockhart, TX and went to Kreuz Market (100 + year old BBQ joint in the capital of Texax BBQ). I got a private tour and was eating brisket and prime rib fed to me by the pit master off his knife. The meat is so juicy and succulent, that they don’t allow BBQ sauce! That experience was one I would never forget.

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How about the best cocktail?

In Austin, TX I had an frozen avocado margarita at this Tex-Mex joint called Curra’s Grill. So smooth, so refreshing.

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What’s your favorite food on the Datz menu? 

The Eggs Barbacoa was the best thing I’ve had at Datz!

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What’s your favorite food and why is it your favorite?

Mexican. Spicy food has the key to my heart.

Share a food with us that you’ve seen on the internet and would love to try.

Well, my buddy in our food group @jaymell7, got to eat at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, TX. This place has a 4 hour wait daily and even The President goes there. It’s suppose to be the best BBQ in the world… THE item to try is the brisket!

What do you think about Tampa Bay’s food scene?

It’s on the come up. People from all over the country are moving here and bringing new ideas to the scene. Now it’s our job to try all these new spots and promote Tampa Bay on our page!

What’s another city’s food scene would you like to try?

Chicago. With traditional items like deep dish pizza and hot dogs [becoming more popular] to the new spots opening up, I would be in a food coma for days.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever eaten?

Sautéed Grasshopper tacos at @thelurestpete! Awesome by the way… And nutritious too.

Photo by Visit St. Pete / Clearwater,
Photo by Visit St. Pete / Clearwater

What’s your best advice on how to adult?

Eat, drink and laugh.

 

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Foodie Alert: Geno Ate Tampa

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Geno Knight (Right) with Eddie Money.

Hey, foodies! Meet Geno Knight of WQYK and Geno Ate Tampa. He’s got some great local recommendations, including Italian and Mexican. Let us know if you try any of Geno’s favorites with the hashtags #GenoAteTampa and #datz4foodies and have a great weekend.

What are 3 words you’d use to describe yourself.

Hungry, fed, full.

What made you start Geno Ate Tampa?

I liked the name because it conveys how much I eat. I’m a big boy… 6’4 and about 270. So Geno Ate Tampa seemed both funny and on point. It was just a hashtag I started using a few months back because my food pics seemed to get the most reaction out of my listeners. Instead of free concert tickets or song requests, my cell phone shots of my food finds were what people reacted to the most. So I bought GenoAteTampa.com, started a secondary Twitter account @GenoAteTampa and started using the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to isolate my foodie posts from the radio stuff. Geno Ate Tampa just seemed to perfectly convey the size of my appetite.

What’s the best food you’ve discovered from Geno Ate Tampa?

After complaining about the lack of good Mexican food in Tampa Bay, listeners pointed me to Miguel’s on Kennedy. It’s been my go to ever since.  The Alambres is all I ever order. After working for a radio station in California for 6 years, I was spoiled. But Miguel’s has made Tampa my new home.

How about the best cocktail?

I’m more of a beer guy. Before a Rays game last week, I dropped in to try out Brooklyn South. $3 microbrews? You won’t find that in The Trop. The Orange Wheat by St. Pete Brewing was fantastic. It’s a great beer for Florida summer, which is 9 months long. On the Tampa side, I love the dive bars in Ybor.

Best dessert?

Unfortunately my favorite dessert is only available for about 10 days every year.  It’s the funnel bacon on a stick at the Florida Strawberry Festival. I’ve been ranting and raving about it on QYK ever since it was created for the 2015 festival. The vendor that made it, “The Best Around Inc,” usually does a new item every year for Plant City. But I raised such a fuss about it, they brought it back for a second year this year. “Mama Jane” takes a stick of bacon, dips it in funnel cake batter, fries it for about a minute or two, sprinkles powdered sugar over it and finishes it off with a maple butter glaze drizzle.  It’s life changing. It just kills me it’s something you can only get one week a year. But if I had it available to me all the time, that would probably kill me too.

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What’s your favorite food on the Datz menu? 

The doughnut case is my favorite 4 square feet in all of Tampa Bay. The Butterfinger is probably the favorite. Although I think your burgers are often overlooked and underrated too.

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What’s your favorite food and why is it your favorite?

Find me a good spot for chicken parmesan and you’re a friend for life. My family has a big Italian foods business back in Maine. So I grew up with those smells… oregano, olives, cheese, wine.  Bernini’s in Ybor is good, but my favorite is a hole in the wall in a strip mall in St Pete called Italia Mia. The old Italian woman who always waits on my table is my favorite person in Tampa Bay.

chicken parm sub at italia mia

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Share a food with us that you’ve seen on the internet and would love to try.

You accommodated that request. When the doughnut ice cream cone went viral a few months ago, Datz was my first thought. You’re the doughnut king. I tweeted you guys the challenge. You made it happen.

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What do you think about Tampa’s food scene?

This is my 5th year here and I’m still discovering it. Before moving here, I’d heard all about Bern’s. But I love to find the atypical spots… places that cater to transplants like me. I love Cappy’s deep dish Chicago pizza, a bottle of a hard to find German soda called Mezzo Mix in Brandon at Euro Cafe, or if I want a real local experience, the grouper sandwich at I.C. Sharks always works.

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Opening day at Portillo’s in Brandon.

What’s another city’s food scene would you like to try?

Chicago. I’ve been on connecting flights a million times but have never had a chance to explore the city. Flights from Tampa are super cheap. But I’ll wait ’til the cold is gone. I moved to Florida for a reason.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever eaten?

I’m a wimp when it comes to exotic food.

What’s your best advice on how to adult?

Never lose the mindset you had as a kid when anything was possible and you didn’t care about carbs.

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