Food. It’s an amazing thing. I am constantly in awe of today’s food culture. A friend recently pointed out to me that my Twitter and Instagram feed (@GR8BigWorld), contained a lot of food posts lately, which followed by the question ‘Are you becoming some kind of food critic’ ?
The logical answer to this question was no of course. I did however admit that much of my posts on social media lately have been food related and I could not figure out why. I started thinking a lot about how I use both Twitter and Instagram and thought how much enjoyment I do get out of posting some of my food adventures with my followers. I’ll even go as far as admitting having these two outlets makes some of these adventures even more fun! What did the budding traveler and foodie do years ago without them!?
I am not a food critic, overly talented in any aspect of art or trade, or rise above the title of a ‘mediocre writer’. I do however enjoy cooking, traveling and photography. These things I love usually involve each other in some fashion or another. Lately everything ‘culinary’ has been holding much of my short lived attention span tightly, pushing me towards new restaurants and locations trying new dishes and enjoying the experiences.
Into the Food world I stepped…
My first job was at age 15 at a very small grocery store. We had a deli, milk & eggs, cigarettes, and the morning paper. I worked there for two years eventually becoming a store manager. It was a good job for a teenager and provided enough spending cash while I was in high school. The store eventually went under, being sucked up by large chain establishments that quickly moved in on the land and opened a bigger and better store. I was 17 and in need of another gig. I found myself working at a local sub shop. I consider this job my first real ‘food’ job. I found myself making Italian subs, washing dishes in large vats of sanitized blue water, chopping cheese steaks on a full hot grill on the weekend nights, and on some occasions slicing lunch meat – of which after a nasty cut occurred – I tried to stay away from. (I still have the scar on my finger).
My time slinging hash and making subs was fun. I always smelled like onions but somehow I didn’t seem to mind. I worked with friends and didn’t take life so seriously. It was a good time in my life.
I had now graduated high school and like many, was more lost than ever. I had dabbled in college out of state for a few semesters but eventually found myself back in Delaware at community college and in need of a job. I hadn’t worked anywhere but food joints up until this point and I knew I was too young to sit behind a desk all day. I interviewed for a job at a seasonal restaurant where I’d be busing tables, cleaning up floors, running food items to line cooks, etc. I managed to get the job and enjoyed it immediately. The job was at a local prestigious country club which I ended up working at for almost 4 years.
After the summer gig ended and the hoards of members eventually resigned to the formal dining restaurant in the main clubhouse, I found myself now in a tux busing tables. I bused tables for a few months eventually getting a server position which I enjoyed more than any other gig, mostly in part because I was making way more money than I had before. I spent that winter waiting tables and picking up as many shifts as possible, still dredging my way through college courses I was not even sure why I was in to begin with.
Spring had come around and the seasonal restaurant was slated to open up again at the end of May. This time around the club needed a manager. Someone to run the restaurant in it’s entirety, as well as manage a small staff. I interviewed and got the gig, mostly in part because I think I was the only one left over from the previous season and I had shown I was reliable and a good employee up until this point. That summer I found myself running the restaurant, minus the food prep which always came down from the chefs in the main kitchen. It was a good experience, one of which I learned quite a bit about running a small eatery. Once the summer ended I knew I wasn’t up for the gig for another season. I was still floundering about in college and decided to just stop going until I figured out what my path was going to be.
I began waiting tables again in the main clubhouse for another year or so. Large scale kitchens are a funny thing, and amaze me to this day. I met some incredibly interesting people, laughed more than I’d ever had before simply at the conversations going on, and was part of a team that Bourdain so rightly describes in Kitchen Confidential as the subculture that is the wait and kitchen staff.
I loved it.
This all was a long time ago. 10+ years ago.
I eventually left my server position and got a ‘real’ job at a bank, enrolled back in school, eventually finished college, and headed down a more ‘professional’ path with my new $40k bachelors degree in business (of which by the way I am still paying for). I would go back and change all these ‘grown up’ choices I made back then if I could.
I consider myself very lucky. I have found myself eating pasta in the heart of Rome, drinking beer and hot wine in a small village restaurant outside Munich, devoured pork buns in San Francisco’s Chinatown, feasted on pastrami sandwiches in NYC (Go to Katz’s), and a number of other adventures that all involved food in some way.
I read a lot about the things I love. Food being one of them. I am hooked on ‘Mind of a Chef’ and what David Chang has accomplished and believer that Bourdain is one of the best writers of our time. I read articles about obsessive foodie’s on various culinary adventures, watch past episodes of Hell’s Kitchen, binge on soup dumplings… the list goes on.
Food is a big part of us and how we see the world.
My time in the food industry was limited at best. But it showed me first hand how much work and effort goes into preparing food for someone else to eat. I always think back on these experiences now when I eat some place new or try something I have not had before.
So when my friend asks me if I am becoming a food critic … I said no. To critique something usually means to point out the negative. I try to point out the positives in things. I will continue to post and tweet about my adventures as I make my way slowly around this globe exploring everything there is to explore.
I know a good meal will not be hard to find most places I go.