In the Spoon series Buttered Up, we interview content creators in the food space about what their job is like. This month, we chatted with Chelsy Gray of @savourbychelsy on why Dallas is a food city and how she savors her meals out.

TikTok is filled with tons of good restaurant reviewers and food content creators, giving advice to consumers about where to eat, what to cook, and how to do it. But up-and-coming creator Chelsy Gray — also known as @savourbychelsy on TikTok and Instagram — is doing it all, advising users on how to savor their time in and spend quality time cooking, where to go for a fun night out, and unique dining experiences. Gray is based in Dallas, a city rich in food and restaurant culture, and authentic Southern cuisine, so there is no shortage of possibilities for her future content.

Gray is originally from Atlanta, then went to college in Virginia. After she graduated in 2015, she moved to Dallas and started as a senior assistant buyer at JCPenney. Today, she is still in retail and works at Fossil as a buyer and found food to be an outlet for her busy work life.

“I grew up in a family that always cooked a lot, and my grandmother cooked with love,” she said. “Leaning into cooking helped me break out from my perfectionism, because even if you have the best ingredients or the best recipe, there’s always something that you can do to make it turn out better, or worse, and you just have to keep trying and getting better.”

We interviewed Gray on the ins and outs of being a food content creator, and she kept things real about what it’s like balancing her love of food with her professional career. 

Spoon University: What do you want people to get out of your content?

Chelsy Gray: I want people to enjoy the moment, go out, have fun, try different foods, and then also take some time and prepare something fancy or comforting for yourself. I feature more restaurants right now because that’s what helped me grow, but I am trying to post more of my own recipes that will focus on Southern cooking, which takes a lot of time and love to put into. I want to try to post those on Sundays because when I was growing up my grandma was in the kitchen from sun up to sun down making this really special meal. I’m not trying to say you have to spend that much time, but food is nourishment for your body and your mind, and giving back to yourself takes time.

SU: It’s a Friday night and you just don’t feel like cooking. What’s your go-to spot?

CG: I love a good sushi place. There’s this restaurant called Uchiba in Dallas, and I love it. It has the best sashimi, really good cocktails, and it’s kind of swanky but still affordable. So if it’s a Friday night and I know I don’t want to cook and I would want to get out and enjoy the night, I would try to catch the happy hour. But I love sushi — if I don’t know what to eat, ramen or sushi is my go-to.

SU: You’ve reviewed restaurants in Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Charlotte, and Alexandria. What city has the best food, and why?

CG: I’d have to say Dallas. One thing I like about the Dallas restaurant and food scene is that we always have new restaurants popping up all the time, a little bit more than Houston and Atlanta. I also like the different experiences in Dallas. I feel like you can go to a little upscale place that’s right around the corner or a mom-and-pop place where the food is really good. Dallas has so many different hubs, like Carrollton, that’s more Asian, or Indian, and you can really get different cultures.

SU: For you, what makes a true dining out experience?

CG: What makes a really good dining out experience for me is of course the food, but I’m a music and ambiance person. One of my favorite restaurants that I’ve ever been to was in San Diego called Morning Glory. I love this restaurant because the music was so good. They were playing B-sides of albums, and I was like, “Oh my god, I didn’t even know people knew this, I love this song!” It was a very diverse playlist, and I like when I come in and the music is setting the scene. Also along with the music, the food was delicious, and the ambiance was really nice. I like cocktails, of course, but as long as you have some good food and the music is good, I’ll even take decent service.

SU: What are the perks of being a food/restaurant reviewer?

CG: The perk is that you expand what you can talk to other people about, and you can connect with people through food. As I go out to different restaurants, I’ll meet other people and sometimes I’m able to say, “Oh, you should try this place that has a really good happy hour,” and it allows me to connect with other people because then they’ll go and say to me, “I didn’t know that, I really appreciate that!” So it’s really helping people go out and enjoy themselves, and I really like that piece.

SU: You bring your Grandma along to some restaurants and she’s featured in your videos. Can you tell me about your relationship with her?

CG: We’re actually going out to a restaurant today! But to be completely honest, me and my grandma don’t have the best relationship, but I feel like we bond over food and going out for little experiences. The times where we really share good moments with each other is over food or over a cocktail, and that’s what I like to do with her. Maybe I can’t come over to her house and spend an hour with her, just watching TV, but I found something that could be our thing. I like that quality time with the people that I love.