91

Meet Dominic Brown

For many, the summer of 2022 included long-overdue vacations, flights, and trips. One person especially excited to travel again is Dominic Brown, award-winning food blogger, 91 alum, and founder of TallTravelEats. He's recently been published in . Voices of 91 caught up with Dom as he was cooling his jets in Richmond, and it’s a fun conversation you don’t want to miss!

Listen to the podcast, Voices of 91, here, or read the transcript below.



91: Welcome to Voices of 91, I’m Marianne McGhee and 91 alumni are special for many reasons, we know that. One is that we typically make our home in Richmond. The vast majority of 91 students will live and work in the area. That doesn't mean that they don't see and explore the world. With me today is Dominic Brown, founder of TallTravelEats brand and marketing. Dominic, welcome thank you so much for being here.

Dominic: Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

91: You are tall! You ended up with an actual award-winning social media feed so let's first talk a little bit about what TallTravelEats is about.

Dominic: TallTravelEats is a brand I created to inspire people to travel. That's what it was based on because I’m from the inner city of Richmond, so I really wanted to showcase my travel and showcase everything that's out in the world for people to see. I created a brand, TallTravelEats.

91: It's a fascinating story because your collegiate career began when you were picked up to play basketball. You got a scholarship to play basketball. Is that right?

Dominic: Yes, junior college basketball in Sonora, California.

91: So, you left Richmond and headed out to California? How did you end up getting back here and getting bitten by the travel bug?

Dominic: Well, after two years of junior college basketball I end up breaking my ankle. When I broke my ankle I thought, “What am I going to do next?” I hadn't completed my degree. So one thing I wanted to do was make sure I finished my associate’s degree. So, coming to 91, living in Richmond, it just made sense to me. So, I came here and transferred my credits over and it all worked out.

I had an amazing experience. The sense of community. The teachers were very hands on, and the staff. Whenever I needed to talk or anything. If I had any questions about a four-year university, they let me know. That was very important in my progress of going on to a four-year school and building my brand. That was very important.

I think my first big trip was going to California and going to school. Sonora, California is one of the closest cities to Yosemite National Park. And that's so beautiful. I was just amazed at how beautiful this scenery was. And I was like, “Man what else is out there in the world?” That's the first big trip that really inspired me to start TallTravelEats and see what else is out there.

91: So let's talk about where the “Eats” comes in. Because we know where the “Tall” and “Travel” come from. Tell us about how the TallTravelEats evolved.

Dominic: The Eats came into play because I was looking for new foods to try when I travel. When the pandemic happened, I couldn't travel anymore. I did have to cancel all my international travel and all my domestic travel. I was sitting at home one day and I said, “I need to rebrand it because I'm not going to be traveling with the pandemic.” I was looking at the news one day and they said a lot of their restaurants were closing due to COVID. So, I asked myself, how could I help? How could I use my brand to help with the restaurant closings?

What I did was going out and highlighting the best dishes out there. I was filming me doing takeout -– because a lot of people didn't know what restaurants were open and how the process worked. So, I did that, and it ended up becoming real popular with the food crowd. The media kept picking it up. That's how “Food” came into play with the brand.

91: Everyone, you need to visit Dom’s Instagram page! You know the thing Dom, is whether you have an image of something in a Styrofoam container or on a fabulous plate. It just looks delicious!

Dominic: Thank you!

91: I mean do you do anything to make the food just look even better? How does everything look so good in the feed?

Dominic: There are some tricks I’ve learned over time with angles and different things. I can't give all of my secrets out though. But yeah, it’s got a TallTravelEats-spin on it for sure.

91: You were honored by Richmond magazine for your Instagram. Are people beginning to know who you are? I would imagine if you were like a food critic, it would be hard for you to be anonymous after a while because you're such a tall guy. Are people starting to know? “I think that's Dom Brown.”

Dominic: Yes, it’s surprising because every time I go to a restaurant, I go get a smoothie. People are double-checking me. Like, “I think that's TallTravelEats.” So, they all look. Then before I know it, they’re coming up to me, “that's TallTravelEats!”

But a story that made me start TallTravelEats was based off a trip to New York where my brother played in a basketball tournament. This is before I even started TallTravelEats. I was in New York, looking at a basketball game and a lot of people were staring at me. I was thinking, “Why are these people staring at me?” At halftime they made their way over to me and they said, “Are you Dom Brown?” andI said, “Yeah that's me.” They said, “We follow all your food reviews, it's nice to meet you. We love everything you do.” That just caught me by storm. That happened in 2015, so that's when I started this brainstorming to get the brand going which was started in 2017.

91: That's incredible! So, you had no idea that you were starting to pick up this kind of steam?

Dominic: I had no idea. I was just writing reviews of food I liked, places I liked, cities I went to, and different things of that nature.

91: You've been to quite a number of places, if I'm understanding this correctly. 37 states, Aruba, England, the Netherlands, Canada. What has it been like having to cool your jets Dom? The pandemic has really interrupted the way people travel and think about traveling. How are you getting by, having to be so local all the time?

Dominic: It was tough because right before the pandemic hit, I was on my way to Paris. The pandemic hit two weeks before my trip, so I had to cancel. I was going to Rome, Italy a couple months after. I had to cancel a lot of things. But I looked at it as a blessing because I was able to concentrate on the food things with TallTravelEats and help the community. Helping restaurants stay open, help market their food. So it was a gift and a curse – it was good and bad that came out of it.

You're absolutely right! We have so many fantastic local establishments – some of them are our own fabulous culinary arts grads from The Kitchens at 91. In our program. And we certainly want to support them!

91: I love looking at your feed and there is one Instagram post.… You're just standing on the beach. It’s the Caribbean and the rest of us are freezing here in Richmond. At the time you were doing that, did the flamingo just casually stroll by you? Do you have a lot of moments like this when something unexpected or funny happens when you’re traveling?

Dominic: Before I go to a city, I look at what I want to do and bookmark everything. That was one thing in Aruba that I really wanted to do. But I was surprised that the flamingo came up so close! I had to capture that moment. One thing I plan on doing with TallTravelEats this year is focus my travel on seeing things like flamingos, certain restaurants, and put them on my website so people can see them. When they go to Aruba on certain trips, they can experience these things I'm experiencing. I want to inspire.

91: You have inspired me, Dom. I must ask you some advice. We have some students who are juggling a lot. Trying to figure out money, family responsibilities, schoolwork. They're juggling a lot. Some folks may not have been on a plane before. How do you get started if you didn't grow up traveling all the time? How do you get started? What are the first steps to make your first big trip?

Dominic: I think you had this thought all small, like take little minor trips like, well, something like to Chicago. Or go to New York. Somewhere requiring a short one or two-hour plane ride. Get a short flight under your belt before you go somewhere like London — seven hours or Australia — 15 hours. In my opinion, start small and then build your way up. Also, do your research. It can become pricey, so just do your research before you start to build up to the big trips.

91: Dom, I’m laughing because he said, “Oh take a small trip, you know like, to Chicago.” I mean I thought you were going to say, “Go to Fredericksburg for the day. You know, have lunch on a patio.” But Dom says, go to Chicago. Hang out for a week.”

Dom, you have inspired people with your food stories. But how about your personal stories? Are people connecting with you just because of who you are and your story of coming from the inner city of Richmond and branching out and living like this?

Dominic: I think my story is relatable because I was just a regular guy growing up with humble beginnings and able to start this brand. So, when they see where I am now, they are inspired. Some people do things you may feel are unattainable. But I feel that with TallTravelEats, it is such a relatable brand because I built it from nothing. No money behind me. I put my own money up. I think when people see that and are just inspired. They want to do things like travel, or other dreams. You have to just take advantage of that.

91: I tell you who else has noticed — VCU! Because you, like a lot of our 91 students, made kind of a 91-to-Ram transition. VCU selected you for quite an honor. What was it like to be selected for VCU 10 under 10?

Dominic: It was a humbling experience. When I got the phone call, I was so shocked and amazed. It’s such a humbling experience because only 10 alumni win that award each year. So, to have my name, coming from humble beginnings, to get that award, just meant a lot to me. Once again, I just hope people see my story and are inspired by it — that you can do whatever you put your mind to.

91: 91 is so proud of you and just delighted that we could meet you. You certainly have inspired us. We have terrific alumni doing all kinds of exciting things, but it has been especially fun to follow the antics and the food adventures of TallTravelEats.

Dom, thank you so much for being here for the Voices of 91. You are such an inspirational story! If you want a delicious scroll, a visual feast, make sure you check out Dom! Follow Dom on all platforms including his website,

We want to thank you for joining us for this Voices of 91 as we celebrate our 50th anniversary. We'll catch you next time!