Cullen Snow, excuse us, we mean Lil Foodie, is making his name known in the local restaurant world.

It doesn't matter that the 3-year-old can't even read what's on the menu. Lil Foodie has racked up more than 800 followers on Instagram at instagram.com/lilfoodiezla.

In the more than 400 posts, you'll find him staring down pizza slices at Reginelli's, barbecue at Bumsteers or, his all-time favorite, tater tots at Curbside. He's been to City Pork, Sammy's Grill, Zippy's, Southfin Southern Poke and so many more.

People have been known to stand in a socially distanced line to meet him. 

Of course, Lil Foodie gets a little help managing his social media.

Dad John Snow started chronicling his family's adventures two years ago, and it has evolved into a way of supporting local restaurants. Dad takes the photos and comes up with the punny captions, some of which garner some famous attention along the way.

"Generally, the pun will take a play on a song, and I'll substitute food words into it," said Snow, a partner in the management consultant firm Emergent Method. "If there's an artist behind that song, we'll tag them. When we were at Dearman's on Saturday, I took a picture of Cullen eating a burger, and I wrote the tagline, 'You might as well be walking on the bun.' It was a play on the Smash Mouth song, 'You Might as Well Be Walking on the Sun.'"

The band liked it.

"They said something like, 'That's a whole lot of mustard on that burger,'" Snow said.

Though the Lil Foodie project is all about fun, it took a more serious turn because of the coronavirus and its impact on restaurants. That led to lots of pandemic conversations with Cullen about why the family couldn't eat out for a while, about how the virus was affecting the place he lives.

"He was able to appreciate the gravity of what was happening in the world around him, even though he was 3, when it was impacting one of the things that he enjoys doing, which is going to a restaurant," Snow said.

These days the family — which includes mom Reagan, a teacher at St. Thomas More Catholic School, and baby brother Brooks — mostly visits area eateries on the weekend. Their Lil Foodie adventures have taken them to restaurants nearby as well as the outskirts of town.

"We try and move around and go to as many places as we can," said Snow, adding a recent outing to BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo took them to Callihan's in Baker.

"I'd seen something on social media about them, and they had really good looking fried food, Buffalo wings and things like that," Snow said. "The dining room wasn't open, so we ate the food at Greenwood Park, and it was just a fun adventure."

Cullen's palate has really grown over time, Snow said, noting that until his Dearman's experience, he didn't really like hamburgers.

"He gobbled up his hamburger and proceeded to tell me for the next hour how much he loved hamburgers," Snow said. "It's fun watching his taste develop. I don't have any delusions that he's going to grow up and like everything, but the fact that it's an opportunity for him to see different foods that are out there, and develop new tastes. He can use that as an informed decision for what he does and doesn't like."

One memorable adventure came closer to the family's Garden District home.

"We went to Jolie Pearl one time, and he asked for blue Powerade, which most restaurants usually don't have," Snow said. "The manager saw the look of disappointment on Cullen's face when didn't have it, so he actually went walked out and bought blue Powerade at the convenience store down the street, came back and gave it to Cullen."

Snow was touched.

"It's just the most amazing thing," he said. "The restaurants treat him and us so well, and they don't have to, but they go out of their way to make sure that he always has a great experience. And it further reaffirms that while all this is sort of a fun project for us as a family, it's also important in the COVID landscape for us to support our favorite restaurants directly and also shine a light on the amazing food and experiences they're continuing to turn out even in the time they're working under."

When things return to normal, Cullen will have to make room at the table for 9-month-old brother Brooks, who Snow has tagged, "Lil Foodie 2," while Cullen will take on the new tag of "Lil Foodie 1."


Email Robin Miller at romiller@theadvocate.com