Urban Explorer 4.0: Alex Valle and Grayson West of GNATV

Sitting at Taconazo one day, USF students and friends Alex Valle and Grayson West had an epiphany. Why do so many people eat at chain restaurants when there are killer local joints like the Taco Bus? They made it their personal mission to encourage fellow students — and Tampa natives — to venture away from big-box food and into neighborhood haunts. And what better way than by showing people how much fun it is to do just that?

GNATV's first video restaurant review aired a year and a half ago, just two guys downing Korean food, filmed with meager production values. Fourteen videos later, the two young guys have added a couple of partners (Chris Deloucas and John Eskenazi) and amped their production values, and plan to be filming future reviews with HD cameras. They learned over time that actually planning the shoot and outlining what they'd be talking about was a good idea, and started adding elaborate skits to the beginning of the videos.

Maybe those illustrate an important theme of the restaurant or cuisine. Maybe they're just fun to shoot. The duo obviously haven't lost their casual and entertaining style.

They also haven't changed their core reviewing philosophy. They only review locally owned restaurants, try to keep the price points affordable, stick relatively close to USF, and only hit restaurants they know they already like. No negativity for these restaurant reviewers.

Since being added to CL's food site, GNAYV has expanded into multimedia domination. Their new site has blogs for each of the members of the team, and they've been getting out of the restaurants to film spots on location at local food producers like Bearss Groves. Cooking demos are in the pipeline as well, the first a simple recipe for bacon-wrapped scallops by Louis Thornton (see the list of Top Food Sites).

And if you have any trouble following all the new content, or have a meager attention span, the guys have a new video podcast that covers snippets of all their recent videos and blog entries.

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