Tuesday, January 7, 2014
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Fourth Blogiversary
The past year was marked by a couple of events I completely did not see coming. First, the bad news: I was laid off from the law office I’d worked at for five years. Putting blogging on the back burner, I spent an unsettled five months job hunting and grappling with that itchy question: “What do I want to be when I grow up?” I had already changed careers once, from publishing to the legal profession. Did I dare try to reinvent myself again?
The editorial bug that bit me at my first NYC publishing job and followed me to Cincinnati, Columbus, and back has never really left. When I needed a new hobby in 2010, I started this blog. Given a chance to edit a book by a friend or relative during my 14 law office years, I always welcomed the opportunity to reconnect to my blue-pencil roots. As I sent out resume after resume last summer and fall, I couldn’t get my last editorial project out of my head, my nephew Mike’s book, Hot Dogs, A Little Marketing, and a Lot of Fun, which he followed with How Can I KETCHUP and Find My Hot Dog Stand?
Practical, punny, and reminiscent of Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Mike’s books include real-life lessons he learned putting himself through The Ohio State University by running a campus hot dog cart, one of his favorite parts of attending OSU. He’s gone on to a successful ad sales career for a sports radio station in Columbus, launched a website called Marketing Fun With Mike, and is always tackling new challenges, like blogging, podcasting, and public speaking focused on inspiring others to merge their passion, profession, and community involvement. His genuineness and giant smile are infectious. As I slogged through the legal want ads and completed endless online job applications, I kept holding out a wee bit of hope I would find my own “hot dog stand” too.
One fall afternoon I received a message from my friends at Tom+Chee inviting me to stop by for a video shoot. Glad I didn’t have to beg off due to a 9-to-5 job, I happily headed down to their Court St. shop. Since the first week Tom+Chee opened in a food tent on Fountain Square in 2009, just steps outside my former law office, I’ve been rooting for these guys. I’ve gotten to know founders Corey Ward, Trew Quackenbush, their wives, and families by being a loyal customer and eventually blogging about them. I had the good luck to be present when Adam Richman came to town to film Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food Nation,” T+C’s first national TV appearance. And I’ve been following their explosive success on the franchising front since they appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” last May.
The shoot that fateful October afternoon wasn’t another national TV gig. Their new staff videographer was filming a quirky T+C promo to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
I met a couple more new staffers of what is now called Tom+Chee Worldwide, LLC, and wistfully mentioned to founding wives Jenn Quackenbush and Jenny Rachford that I was on the job market and hoped they would keep me in mind the next time the corporate office was hiring. Fast forward: I started writing press releases for Tom+Chee two days later and now am on staff in their marketing department.
Wow. I get paid to write. About food. And small business. And entrepreneurs. The things I've blogged about here for the last four years.
Funny, making money has never been my goal for this blog. But it has prompted me to get more involved in my local food community and led to friendships and experiences that are priceless.
Speaking of food and community, I will take this opportunity to mention two upcoming events I'm particularly excited about.
Next Monday (1/13/14) Maribelle's is hosting another "Food Fight." Inspired by the TV show "Knife Fight," it's part competition, part potluck, and a great opportunity to mix and mingle with local chefs and food lovers in a casual setting. The first one, in November, drew a great crowd, so get there early. Cost is $10, or *$15 if you'd like to compete/judge (open to both professionals and home cooks). Bring a dish to share if you're so inclined, but it is not required. You can purchase cocktails, wine and beer. MadTree Brewery is bringing some new beers you can try, and a growing list of local farmers and purveyors – including Carriage House Farm, Napoleon Ridge Farm, Brooks Meats, and Butcher Bettie's – are contributing ingredients for the mystery baskets competitors will have to cook with. In addition, Chris Weist of Cincy Sharp will be on hand to sharpen your knives (just $1 per inch). Fourteen names from the $15 pot will be drawn and those folks will be randomly assigned to either cook or judge. There are two initial battle rounds of three cooks each, followed by a head-to-head match between the winners, and Chef Josh Campbell, who won the whole she-bang in November, gets to defend his title. For more details, check the facebook event page. *ETA: Cost has been changed to $10 for all.
The following Saturday (1/18/14) Slow Food Cincinnati is hosting a potluck of a different ilk, a brunch and brainstorming session from 10:30 to 1:00 at the Deeper Roots Coffee roastery in Mt. Healthy, where we had a great turnout for our tour last year. I've loved being on the Slow Food Cincinnati board during the past year and am looking forward to even more exciting events for our chapter in the future. If you care about local, sustainably raised, and delicious food, please join us and share your suggestions about what you'd like to see us do in 2014. More details here.
I hope to get back to blogging on a more regular basis this year. But you can always find me sharing info, events, and food adventures on my facebook page. It's an exciting time for food in Cincinnati, and I'm thrilled to be part of it in my own little way!
From the bottom of my aubergine heart, I thank all the friends – old and new, near and far – who I've met thanks to this blogging thing. Your inspiration and appreciation mean more than you know, especially after a year like I had in 2013. But I have a feeling awesome things are in store. After all, it seems I've finally found my hot dog stand.