#31: Alex Young – Owner of Eat Style Dallas
Alex Young Podcast Transcript
Neil Dudley: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Pederson’s Farms podcast. We are so excited you’re here. We appreciate you joining us. And we look forward to sharing these conversations with thought leaders from our industry. They’re going to paint a picture from every perspective – consumer, customer, vendor, employee, and peer – that I think is going to be super valuable, and we’re really excited to share. So, thanks for tuning in. Remember don’t tune out, and grab life by the bacon.
Everybody that’s joining the Pederson’s Farms Podcast, you’ve got a really good guy to listen to or hear about today. I’m excited to talk to him, and he’s doing me kind of a big favor. The truth is I just put an Instagram post out saying I need a consumer of Pederson’s products to be a part of the podcast, and Alex raised his hand. So, in about three hours’ time, we’re now together to talk about Alex’s story and how Pederson’s fits into his life as well as just what’s important right now. I mean, I think there’s just going to be a lot of good conversation had. Alex, welcome to the show. Thank you so much. Let’s talk so the listeners to the podcast get some insight into your story and how Pederson’s plays a role.
Alex Young: Let’s do it. I’m happy to be here and funny the way the universe works out like that.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, it really does. And sometimes that’s the best way to do it. Like I think maybe even into the future I’m going to try to leave a few spots blank to do just this exact thing. It could be a cool way of putting it together. So, for those that don’t know, you are the man behind Eat Style Dallas, the blog, the Instagram page, the greatness that it is. So, tell everybody a little bit about that, how you got into it. We’ll definitely get along to talking about bacon, sausage, and ham and those things, but I think people should check it out. So, tell us about where it came from.
Alex Young: So Eat Style Dallas was- it’s going on 10 years now, which is wild to think about. 10 years ago, we were all kind of thinking what are bloggers, what are influencers, what does all that mean in relation to marketing, and just how the world was going. It started 10 years ago, and it was really a labor of love and a love letter to the city that I grew up in, born and raised here in Dallas. I wanted to be able to share things that I was passionate about from food to nightlife to fashion, all-encompassing from a cultural perspective. And I thought, hey, if I just get to writing and I start putting some things on the internet and start writing on my blog, maybe there’ll be some folks who would be interested in following along, learning if they were coming to the area for the first time or just looking for things to do or experience, I could shed a little bit of light on that. So started putting things up on the blog and it started to pick up steam, and folks started to follow along and they would chat back to me and give me tips on what to do as well. It became a really wonderful community. And I think that’s what’s so important about where it’s evolved to even 10 years later now is that I really put a focus on making it a collaboration between the things that I’m passionate about sharing and the folks who follow along and their take on my everyday life as well. So, it is a little scary sometimes because you have to be very vulnerable and very forward with the things that you’re doing and hoping that folks can relate in some way, and especially [inaudible 3:35], it’s so important to kind of tie things back to a commonality or something that we all are passionate about. But I love what I do and I love being able to share my story with my community. It’s really wonderful.
Neil Dudley: Yeah. Now, we get to share it with the Pederson’s community. And since you are already that vulnerable and open, you talk about that, just what you do every day, makes it kind of tough for me or at least scares me, I’m like, uh-oh, how am I going to get Alex to tell us about something he doesn’t already tell everybody about, it’s not maybe about that. Maybe it’s just about introducing you to a new group of people that might say, wow, that’s my community, let me go plug into that. Because we all have that opportunity to plug into a million different communities with just the technology that’s out there, social media, podcasts, television, all those different things. So, we’ve got a million ways we can plug into different communities. So, this happens to be a place where a couple of communities overlap, Eat Style Dallas and Pederson’s Farms. So now maybe there’ll be some cool things that come from giving everybody a chance to meet you and know you.
Alex Young: Yeah. And I learned so much, I’m so grateful to be here and to have that kind of crossover. I learned so much from folks who follow along every single day about what might be going on in their own lives, things that they want to share with me. So as much as I’m constantly putting myself out there, I value, like I said, that constant feedback and that real time that social media and digital media provides us. It’s that instantaneous you put something up and you share something and just like today with this, it’s an opportunity for folks to connect in real time. There are some moments where it gets a little bit scary to put yourself out there and you’re trying something new, whether it was doing my first Whole30 or talking about my sobriety. It’s a chance for me to connect with like-minded folks to have a passion for just having that open conversation. And to be honest, one of my biggest things is progress not perfection because I spent so much of my life trying to focus on making everything look picture perfect and great, but I realized that the more I tried to be perfect, the farther away I got from the real authentic me. And so now it’s more about progress. And I think that that fits into all aspects of my life.
Neil Dudley: And this is part of what Pederson’s has to be about. Okay, look, it’s so easy on social media for brands, companies, personal brands, you want to just put out this fake thing that looks so perfect. Well, that’s just the fact – it’s fake. Nobody’s perfect. No brand’s perfect. No product’s perfect. It’s one reason when I was kind of saying in this Instagram live, which I took down since then since I found the guest I needed, because probably I was sensitive to the idea that now it’s in our feed and it’s going to make our Instagram feed look janky. Why did I do that? But that’s just the truth. In that call for help, I said if you hate Pederson’s, come on, because there’s truth in that. There’re people that have had a bad experience with Pederson’s. I’m sad that that is true, but it is. I need to own it. Our company has to own it. So just the idea that you’ve got to put out some of the ugliness or people know you’re lying. I mean, and that’s not- nobody’s going to be a trusted brand in that way.
Alex Young: Yeah, it’s sometimes- it’s too true that sometimes everything, folks think everything needs a filter or a spin. But I think authenticity is so much more attractive from a consumer perspective, from a brand perspective. So, I really value that. And I think that’s one of the things that attracted me to Pederson’s in the first place is that you all put the real back in your marketing and what you put out there in terms of [inaudible 7:46]. And going through my first Whole30 a couple of years ago, I was thinking what’s out there, what are the real products that I can gravitate towards that feel so close to the food that I’m already used to making, the comfort foods, those items that are quick, on the go, very active, on the go lifestyle that I lead. And Pederson’s really fit into that puzzle for me. And until this day, it’s all about feeding my body with the things that are real and are made in a very simple way with folks who at the back end of the product are very passionate about continuing to create great products that they’re not willing to sacrifice anything on the back end to create that great product.
Neil Dudley: Man, I appreciate that. We certainly try to live that truth. We drop the ball occasionally. Matter of fact, our hotdogs have a couple of ingredients that I need to go see how we can get out of, and I just now became aware of it. Potato starch, tapioca starch. Little shout out to Maria Emmerich. She’s a gal that is a big part of our community. She’s like when did you put these ingredients in here? I don’t like them. And I’m like, well, I don’t know. So anyways, it’s kind of just a truth that we got to work out. We got to get better. We’re not doing it as good as it can ever be done right now today, but we are trying to learn and figure that greatness out, and we’ll probably never find perfection. We just kind of go towards it. Okay, so you’re talking about active lifestyle and food. Have you always been concerned about those things? Has like the food you eat always kind of been on your radar? Tell us about that a little bit.
Alex Young: Growing up, it was one of those things where I was in a household where we were having great meals. My mom is still a huge inspiration to me in terms of her ability to create some really creative and out of the box meals on the go and just really flavorful, but it wasn’t always the cleanest. And I think that that was just not necessarily knowing what we were putting into our bodies or not knowing that there was a better option out there. So, I think later on in life, as I reached a point where my overall health, I was trying to learn more about what I was taking in, ways that I could feel better to be able to keep up a healthy and active lifestyle. And for me, it’s never about being the spitting image of health, it’s just what can I do for my body that treats it better so that it can keep working for me in the ways that it needs to. And so, as I got older, I started to think about creating meals that were cleaner, that were simpler, but still extremely flavorful. And I’ve had the opportunity to share some of those recipes with folks who grew up eating the same kinds of comfort food that I did and grew up eating some of the same recipes I did, but I took them back to the basics and found some ways to weave in products like Pederson’s that would add that extra flavor in there but still keep it nice and clean. So, I would say that it’s been ever since I started my first Whole30 a couple of years ago, and I’ve got a really great pal, Alex Snodgrass, here in the DFW area, and she created some really wonderful meals that reminded me of the things that I would eat growing up and in just a cleaner, simpler way. So I would say it’s the last couple of years that I’ve tried to start really infusing just healthier and cleaner items into my daily intake. I’m really active as well. I’ve done a couple of half marathons in my past and try to work out a couple of times a week, not always possible with crazy kind of life, the things that get thrown at us during our daily basis, but I try and work out a couple of times a week. And so, I know that I have to feed my body the nutrients and the things that it needs to be able to work for me and advance. I have to say, if there’s those cheat days sometimes, there’s just times where we’ve just got to treat ourselves. But on the whole, I love to be able to create different things in the kitchen that are just full of flavor and simple.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, somebody said- I say somebody, I wish I could name them, but it’s just a thought in my head from I consume a lot of content these days. I’m trying to make sure our content is better, my conversation is always kind of relevant. But somebody just said, it’s like what if we could all just take this deep breath and forgive ourselves for whatever it was that the world tells you you messed up. Because I battle that. It could be over a parenting thing I screwed up or a thing in business I screwed up or whatever, I’m a sinner. Yes. Okay, cool, I am. I don’t want- I’m not just free to do all- I guess, make all bad decisions all the time, but I also have got to, okay, cool, today’s a new day, let’s go. Don’t dwell on the past.
Alex Young: There’s nothing that a strong cup of coffee and a little bit of self-reflection in the morning that can’t heal what might’ve happened the day before.
Neil Dudley: Sure. And don’t compare yourself to somebody else because you’re so much better than everybody else in a million ways, and you’re so much worse than everybody else in a million ways. It is like, so just the idea of comparing it, and for whatever reason, it seems like, or at least in my reality, comparison always feels negative. Like I don’t think, oh, look at how much I am better than everybody. I only kind of focus on I’m not as good as Joe Rogan at podcasting. Well, okay, cool, maybe I’m not. Maybe I’m way better than him, I just don’t have the recognition. Why would you- and if I’m doing this for recognition, I need to stop because it’s not authentic, it’s not going to be valuable to anybody. Anyways, that’s a whole other topic. I’m curious, have you ever been a vegetarian? What do you think about the idea of cutting out animal proteins? Do you have a perspective on that?
Alex Young: Neil, I have tried everything in between. I have tried a raw diet. I’ve tried a vegetarian diet. I find that my body, at the end of the day, it’s not- while I could create some really delicious recipes and I think that there’s some value in using those types of options in your everyday life from time to time if you just need a quick meal. I think that I’ve tried it, it hasn’t been as successful for me in the past. And I can’t pinpoint a reason why, I just, yeah-
Neil Dudley: Maybe you end up- I don’t know. I’ve never even tried. Like it never occurred to me in my brain to think animal protein was bad. It’s just my opinion comes from my experience, which has been raised on a ranch, eating animal protein. So, it just never occurred to me to think it was bad. It doesn’t mean that that’s right, wrong or what, it is just honesty. Although I do think about it more now just because we’re part of an industry where it’s become more prevalent, at least vegetarian products are more of a competition to what we do. I think we have to pay attention to that. Anyways, that’s a whole other rabbit hole. We’ve got to keep talking about you because it’s your story. Now let’s talk about something besides food. Like okay, if we’re not- like what made you a blogger? Like did you just teach yourself to write, and have you always liked to write? I don’t like to write. I like to talk.
Alex Young: I have a passion for storytelling and for creative writing. I think it’s just something that has followed me since I was very young. So, sitting down and putting a story behind something and creating something that’s going to live on a blog site or up on social media is something that I take a lot of pride in. Whenever I’m creating a new recipe or whenever I’m putting up a blog about whether it’s travel or just something that’s happening in my life, I really want to make sure that I’m bringing folks into the story. And I think nowadays, now that we live in a world where marketing is very much visual and how fast can we scroll down a screen and kind of getting lost in that, the art of creating- creative writing has been a lost art a little bit. And I still find it extremely, I know you said you don’t like it, but I find it extremely relaxing to kind of conceptualize and think through the ways that I can bring folks into what I’m sharing. And I think that that has to stem from writing about things that you’re passionate about because anytime that we sit down and we’re not necessarily enthused or don’t really feel invigorated where we tend to just want to get through that project as soon as possible. But the fact that I’m in a position now and lucky enough to be able to write about things that bring me great joy and that I’m passionate about, I think opens up a space for me to want to write more and share more. But it’s definitely interesting sometimes when you’ve got to think about your Instagram captions or think about the stories that you’re putting up and how do you continue to bring folks in without overloading them with content? And I think that there are so many different instances out there where we talk about authenticity and kind of keeping things true to who you are, I think a lot of the times, the more that folks get to know about you or get to know about the brand through those Instagram captions or through those blogs, the more they actually feel a part of what you’re creating. And again, it could be what you all are doing at Pederson’s, which is incredible, with the storytelling aspect, or it could be just me writing about something that’s going on in my life that I’ve put on the blog and hope that others will share in that story.
Neil Dudley: What does blog mean? I mean, what does blog mean? I’m sitting here thinking I don’t even know what it means. Does it stand for something?
Alex Young: Yeah, I can think back to like the earliest memory that I have of putting thoughts on the internet, and it ranged from Myspace to some journaling that there were popularized journaling sites in high school, at least for me. So that, when it moved on to the blog sites and the WordPress sites and all the different ways that folks can put stuff online, I think that blogging really became just an online journal, and it definitely transformed into something that there’s even- one of my closest friends here in Dallas, she was the first one to really ever put her outfits online and folks just went crazy for it. And it turned into this whole industry of following the outfits that she puts online. For me personally, it’s about finding your community through folks who are writing about something that you’re passionate about. So, for me, blogging is about taking up a space, a corner of the internet to be able to share the things that bring me joy that I love to be able to share and hoping that folks will find it. Because that’s what it is all about. You can have the smallest audience or a bajillion followers, but if the authenticity is not really there, it all kind of gets lost in the wash. But yeah, blogging for me, it’s just an online journal. Maybe, now I’m lucky enough to be able to work with some wonderful folks and brands and be able to share that. But I always bring it back to how it relates to that. That’s so key because you will start to kind of lose that authentic factor if you’re not able to bring it back about how that applies to your everyday life.
Neil Dudley: Okay. So, tell me about that. Like you make a living doing this. So, to me, that that is a thin line you have to be aware of and walk all the time with your audience and with the brands or the people you work with. So, talk about that a little bit. How do you navigate that? Like how do you make a living? Somebody else might be struggling similarly and thinking, okay cool, this is my wheelhouse, how do I monetize it?
Alex Young: Yeah. Well, it wasn’t always easy. And I would say of the 10 years that I’ve been doing this, the first 5 were really made up of building and learning opportunities for me, testing out what kind of content, what kinds of relationships I was seeking to build. But I kept coming back to, Alex, you’re having conversations and trying to be able to build your notoriety but don’t be so caught up in the growth and how quickly you’re growing and how many if it’s followers or if it’s readers or subscribers, getting caught up in that really puts it into a you versus everyone else whenever, at the end of the day and I love it. I think I was at a fitness class recently and the instructor said at the end of the day, it’s you versus you. So just make sure that you’re happy and you’re thinking about what will keep you passionate about whatever you’re doing without getting lost in the comparison game. So, whenever I was building up Eat Style Dallas, it was how do I define what my brand is and how do I build a future and keep folks tied into that story so that there’s not ever a case of, wow, this is starting to feel like more work than it should be.
Neil Dudley: And then you have to layer in that. How do you make it valuable to the people that are going to pay you? I look at Melissa Hartwig. I think she’s like somebody should do a case study of her influence. I mean, for us as a brand, she is kind of the gold standard. Like when she- and her whole deal started with a fitness blog. I mean, and then it bloomed into this Whole30. She had a community so loyal and engaged, she could pretty much say buy this, and I think 99% of them went straight there and bought it. So that’s very valuable to me as a brand to have someone with that influence. Now, I think she protected that very hard to make sure her community never felt or understood they were being leveraged for her finances, but I think even a real community won’t care. They will be like good, you provide me value, I don’t mind you catching some money on the other side.
Alex Young: Yeah. There’s definitely a sense of knowing what you’re getting, not only you, but your community whenever you’re partnering with brands because you are, I mean, as you mentioned with Melissa, you are kind of at the epicenter and you have built up a certain trust and relationship with your community and with your audience where if you post something or if you put something up and you’re saying that you really love the product or you really have loved using it, then there needs to be some backing there. And folks now more than ever, I think, are able to see through whatever, it’s just a matter of collecting a paycheck or collecting a brand partnership that doesn’t necessarily feel authentic. I think that it’s very easy to tell just based off of historical, what that person has said or posted in the past or just their overall feelings towards utilizing that product or being a part of something. I think what Melissa has done has been really incredible for the Whole30 community, balancing that awareness with the promotion of Whole30 as it is. But even when they were thinking about creating products, I really think that she took her community, just like you all do, into consideration whenever you’re launching a new product or thinking about how to make your products better, you want to make sure that you are happy with it because your community is already so invested in the story and so invested in the brand that there’ll be the end consumers, like we are, to make sure that that is something that we can continue to see on our shelves, that we can utilize in our recipes. And I think that it comes full circle when you think about your community and the leverage that you have with them.
Neil Dudley: And I am a customer, consumer in this economy. And I get bombarded by a million people trying to sell me a million different things, and they’re hoping that’s what I’m looking for that day. I just want to be sensitive to that. I mean, the facts are we’ve never paid Alex $1 for anything, but it doesn’t mean we won’t. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. I mean, I think we should partner up on some things, but sometimes it’s just how does this all work out? I mean, that’s one risk of doing stuff like that. Somebody is like, oh, well, they paid him, that’s what he does for a living. No. And the best relationships, the best, I guess, partnerships come when Alex already ate Pederson’s just because. Like you can see it in other brands with other- Like ButcherBox is a decent example. Chris Kresser who is a guy that’s worth listening to, worth paying attention to, if you haven’t, if you’re listening now and you don’t have any clue who he is, Google him, he’s a medical doctor. And he used ButcherBox services and was just telling people because it was valuable to him, so he wanted to tell them, had no affiliation with ButcherBox. Well guess what, that was such a big deal, ButcherBox then was like, hey, if you say our name a little more often, we might send you some money. I think it’s just this is one of those great insights for people who are experiencing this from your community, from our community, all of this can feel contrived and we dang sure don’t want it to, and it’s not. That’s why I just want to talk about it. I was just thinking about this a minute ago, which is another truth. Like it is terrible as a host because I want to be totally engaged in what you’re saying, but I’m also sitting here thinking, oh, I want to go back to that thing. I want to touch on this thing because I think you’ve got a great insight. So, for those people who are traveling to Dallas or live in Dallas and don’t know about Eat Style Dallas, what is the one little secret nugget cool thing-? I don’t know, one is kind of a tough, bad question. What are a couple of, some of those things you’d be like, you got to check this out, if you don’t know about this, learn about it?
Alex Young: Yeah, I will say, because I’m a huge foodie, there are two areas of Dallas that I feel have really come a long way in terms of small business owners and restaurant owners that are really making an impact and really making a change. One, the Dallas Farmer’s Market. You will find me there on a Saturday or Sunday morning browsing the aisles, looking for some wonderful folks that are bringing in some fresh produce or some small- there’s a baking company that has some really wonderful items, and I still feel that folks aren’t as plugged into that kind of like local produce grower, that type of game. And then there’s an area called Bishop Arts that has a really cool cultural background and actually was where a lot of old Dallas got its start before it migrated to different parts of the city. So, you’ll head into that area and it just feels like a melting pot of really cool individuals, great small businesses, again, to be able to walk around. And it’s just getting out and getting to know your city through the small businesses. I have a huge passion for visiting with folks who have obviously had a very difficult time the past couple of years, even getting their small businesses to stay afloat. And we’re lucky to have so many of those in Dallas to be able to explore. So, I encourage folks to find those small business owners in your neighborhood. And I know this goes for many communities across the country, but find the small business owners and that’s why I really love going to Bishop Arts and the farmer’s market to interact and get to know folks and see how I might be able to support them in the future.
Neil Dudley: Awesome. Do you know the name of that baking company off the top of your head?
Alex Young: It is Oak Cliff Bakery.
Neil Dudley: Oak Cliff Bakery. Y’all go check them out. I mean, seriously. I love whatever platform this is, hey, let’s call them out. Let’s tell them, Oak Cliff Bakery, man, give them some love. I’d love for them to look up and be like, holy crap, where’d all this business come from? Well, I don’t know, you got mentioned on the podcast. Alex, I’m serious, man, it is so good talking to you. Thanks for coming on and sharing your story with the Pederson’s faithful. How would somebody- I think the Instagram is Eat Style Dallas. What if somebody wants to partner with you, how do they reach out to you that way?
Alex Young: Yeah. So my Instagram is Eat Style Dallas and my email is really similar, [email protected] and then my website is eatstyledallas.me. So those are the three easiest ways to get in contact with me. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to post some wonderful recipes that have included some Pederson products in the past. And I will be making one of those this weekend. We have a family member, her name is Nanny, and we love making her breakfast bakes. So, we will definitely be getting around to making one of those breakfast bakes this weekend. The weather’s just too nice not to.
Neil Dudley: Man, this time of year in Texas is really awesome. I mean, it’s kind of a little cold in the morning. It’s kind of a little hot. But there’s huge portions of the day that are just great if it’s not too windy. But this is the time of year where you can find some really great days to go get out, do things. Everybody to go check out that farmer’s market. Johnny, put all this stuff in the show notes, so everybody can find it really easily. And y’all follow Mr. Young and keep up with him. And man, if there’s anything I can ever do for you spur of the moment, you let me know. I’m in.
Alex Young: Thank you all for having me. It’s been fun.
Neil Dudley: That’s right. See you later. Have a good one.
Hey, everybody. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Pederson’s Farms Podcast. It’s been a blast bringing this to you, and I sure hope you enjoyed it and found value. If you did, tell a friend, share it out on social media, hit that subscribe button, or go check us out at pedersonsfarms.com. We sure hope you do. And thanks for being here.
What is a Blog? It’s a regularly updated website or web page, typically run by an individual or small group, written in an informal or conversational style. I just had to clear this up for anyone like me who thinks the word blog is an acronym standing for something!
Alex Young runs the blog Eat Style Dallas. It was born of his passion for his hometown and the food and style uniquely represented there. We talk about the importance of food, the hidden gems in Dallas, and how Pederson’s plays a role in Alex’s life.
Fun fact: Alex recommends the Dallas Farmers Market as a must-see!
Visit us online at
(3:10) – Alex’s background and work with Eat. Style. Dallas.
(7:39) – Learning to be authentic on social media & in business
(10:54) – How did you become so deliberate with the food you eat and being active?
(13:33) – Battling self-doubt
(15:28) – Thoughts on vegetarianism
(16:59) – How did you get into blogging and make it into a business?
(28:09) – Where should people traveling to Dallas check out?
(30:53) – How can people find you?
The Pederson’s Farms Podcast is produced by Johnny Podcasts & Root and Roam.