I am a serious food lover, have been for many years. I am lucky to have grown up in a household where we ate dinner together as a family every night and where my first memory of dining out was when I was 3 and learned to use chopsticks at a Chinese restaurant. And while I imposed Chucky Cheese on my family on many a birthday as a child (my family has a tradition where the person celebrating his or her birthday picks where we ate dinner as a family typically dining out) my parents also exposed me and my sister to a very wide range of cuisines and flavors as we grew up.
Before we moved to Chicago I remember teaching the parents and teachers at my 2nd grade school how to make Guacamole from scratch. I was a bit precocious but as I recall it also tasted quite good the way I made it (which I had learned from my mom).
In college I threw serious dinner parties every few weeks, typically where I cooked all the main dishes, friends baked dessert, and everyone helped clean or prep. Each week I would cook a different cuisine using a mix of recipes from cookbooks and the Internet (this was pre-web, so drawn from USENET or occasionally Gopher). But at almost every meal I would also improvise, adjusting a recipe to taste or often making up an entirely new dish from the flavors of a given cuisine and ingredients I bought. I had learned to cook from a combination of observing my Mom and my Dad as they cooked (and they both cooked as I grew up) and from a few “Home Economics” courses I took in the 7th grade.
Since college I have continued to be a very serious cook and dine out a great deal. In Chicago I was a highly active poster to Chowhound (in the days before CNET purchased them and upgraded the site’s software) and then on a website friends of mine set up after being frustrated by the forum software of Chowhound, LTHForum (the name stands for a Chinese restaurant we love in Chinatown, Little Three Happiness called that because there is a second and much inferior Three Happiness restaurant right across the street). The group of us and the forum grew quickly and we not only posted about food we also gathered together on a regular basis for meals and events all through out Chicagoland.
In Chicago and especially since I moved to San Francisco I have also become quite adept at the art of organizing large group dinners. Typically I pick the restaurant and very often arrange for all of the food, often ordering everything and arranging for a family style or at least a prix fix meal to maximize everyone’s enjoyment.
Why do I mention all these details about my past and present life?
Because, and this is where it gets tricky, even with all of that which I have claimed (assuming you have read this far) you still do not have any particular reason to trust me, my suggestions, my cooking or my reviews.
Yes, I claim to be good, even an expert but that claim, by itself, no matter how often I repeat it is just words, just an unverified assertion.
In contrast for the most part anyone who has eaten at one of my dinner parties begs me for invitations to future events. People who have taken my suggestions for dinner locations and/or been to a meal I have organized, generally let me help them again in the future. To a lesser degree people who have been following me on Twitter for a long time have noticed that amongst my random rants and discussions I also twitter about food a great deal. Mini-reviews, observations about places I find, and occasionally small rants and even some raves.
With every event I organize this list of people grows, people who both trust my recommendations and in many cases refer people to me for advice and assistance.
In the next post in this serious more discussion on how to best build (or rebuild) your personal brand, especially as you also shift your job functions.