“Food waste (well, curbing it) is near and dear to my heart. As a food writer and influencer, I am surrounded by obscene amounts of food everyday (#blessed). But at one point in my life, I was living off a fixed income and only spent $28 a week on groceries. Now, I’m served more food than I could ever possibly eat (again, not complaining). Americans waste 150,000 tons of food each day — equal to a pound per person. Imagine how many people we could feed if we found a way to utilize this good food. An eventual goal of mine is to be able to start or contribute to a non-profit that works with restaurants and grocery stores to reduce food waste and connect them with shelters and the needy in a safe and efficient manner.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Marisel Salazar. Marisel is a New York City-based food and travel writer, for PureWow, Tasting Table, Eater, NYCGO, VinePair and many more. She was featured as one of Refinery29’s Top NYC Food Instagrams to follow this year, was included as a Zagat Top 100 Instagram to Follow, in addition to features from Taste Talks and The New Potato. She also produces culinary events and neighborhood dining guides with James Beard award-winning, Michelin-starred, and up-and-coming chefs across the US like Jessi Singh of Babu Ji, Erik Bruner-Yang of Maketto, and Carrie and Rupert Blease of Lord Stanley. She consults for many brands and specializing in trends and trend forecasting. @BreadButterNYC is her personal food Instagram account, with over 21k+ followers which documents her culinary and editorial related projects.
Losing my job in 2014 couldn’t have been a bigger blessing.
I was a bored web analyst for a health insurance treatment advisory firm in Washington, D.C. (yawn). I went to school for communication and nutrition, but food was my first love. I took cooking courses, wine tasting classes, and held dinner parties on the weekends. I studied in Madrid for the food. A shopping spree to me was a trip to the grocery store. A restaurant visit was what I looked forward to on the weekends. While working as a web analyst in Washington, D.C., I began freelance writing for small publications and blogs. I moved to New York City while still working as a web analyst and began @BreadButterNYC. I’d sneak off at lunch to interview chefs for stories and take photos. During the evenings and weekends, I worked as a chef’s assistant. My writing and social media began drumming up an interest- and followers. Growing up in a single parent household (single mother, never knew my father), with both my mother and my sister having safe and secure government jobs, I was too timid to fully pursue food writing. It seemed too risky, too unpredictable to intentionally pursue after my whole childhood was shaped to go to an Ivy League school and find a job that would pay into a 401k, mortgage, and benefits. THAT was the dream. Not mine though. Losing my job was exactly the push I needed to pursue a life of food. “Failure is not an option,” I told (tell) myself. Now, I am honored to write for various top-tier publications, consult for brands I respect, and share my life with 21k+ followers and counting.
Try anything once right? I ate fish sperm without knowing. I was dining out at a high-end yakitori restaurant with a prominent Japanese chef. There was a bit of a language barrier. After munching on gizzards and chicken hearts, I decided to boldly pop a creamy looking sphere in my mouth without questioning it. The chef’s eye popped open in surprise. “Do you know what you just ate?” he asked me. I shrugged as the creamy sphere exploded hot in my mouth. He whipped out his phone and tapped out a few words in Japanese characters. Google translate deciphered it as “male fish milk.”
Food waste (well, curbing it) is near and dear to my heart. As a food writer and influencer, I am surrounded by obscene amounts of food everyday (#blessed). But at one point in my life, I was living off a fixed income and only spent $28 a week on groceries. Now, I’m served more food than I could ever possibly eat (again, not complaining). Americans waste 150,000 tons of food each day — equal to a pound per person. Imagine how many people we could feed if we found a way to utilize this good food. An eventual goal of mine is to be able to start or contribute to a non-profit that works with restaurants and grocery stores to reduce food waste and connect them with shelters and the needy in a safe and efficient manner.
I called the CFO of Coca Cola on my first day of my first job out of college. I worked as a measly business development associate (read: sub sales rep, bottom-of-the-totem-pole type person), cold-calling C-level executives at Fortune 500 companies securing meetings for more revered sales executives who got all the glory. After a bumbling phone call, I got the meeting. I was great at my job. And I hated my job. I was great at it because: I targeted a wide territory, always followed up, and never stopped pitching. I was also paid bonuses if I went over quota. I’d lose my job if I went under. So, I was very “inspired” to hustle.
Like a door-to-door salesman, never stop promoting yourself and pitching yourself as far and wide as possible. For as much as I disliked sales, the lessons were the same when I became self-employed and began reaching out to editors at publications I wanted to write for. Know your product, aka YOU before you sell it. You are a product or service. Recognize what you have (and don’t have) to offer a brand, company, person or publication you want to work with. I didn’t start out writing for top-tier publications. I began with very small outlets and blogs and worked my up, while simultaneously working on @breadbutternyc, and growing my consulting portfolio. I’ve never put my eggs all in one basket.
I also recognized that the particular nature of my work was very different from my friends and family who worked 9–5 structured jobs with steady pay and benefits. I worked (and still do) odd hours and around the clock. I don’t adhere to a box. This type of lifestyle might not work for some people, but I’m okay (happy!) spending a Saturday afternoon writing a story while others are out recovering from drunk brunch. Drunk brunch doesn’t bring my joy — but writing, interviewing, eating, and traveling do. I am content with living my life all days of the week, not just evenings and weekends. I don’t like my time being held hostage.
Todd Kliman, food editor for the Washingtonian.
When I was a senior at Cornell University, agonizing over the type of life and career I wanted (as a food writer, but having no idea how to go about it and make a living), I decided to throw spaghetti against the wall and reach out to one of my favorite food writers, Todd Kliman. I hunted for his contact information, sent him a note asking if he would please share some advice, and figured I would never hear from him.
Within the evening, his secretary reached out with Todd’s number and said he was expecting my call. I couldn’t believe it. I jumped on the phone with Todd and he said something I will never forget. He said “What do you do when what you love doesn’t love you back?” Pause. “Do it anyways.”
In essence, what he was telling me was that being a food writer was going be a very unconventional path with lots of hardships and ‘no’s.’ But if I truly wanted to work in food, I’d have to supersede all the no’s anyways and press on. I like to think I did and am still doing that.
In addition to begin writing for Michelin and INSIDER, I am starting my track as an on-camera host and personality. I have a few pilots and series in the works that I hope to share soon!
A few wonderful leading women actually that make such wonderful original content and programming we love on television come to life. I’d love to share with them the series idea I am working on right now with them. We’d obviously go to a Persian restaurant hidden inside a pizza shop that I love for their saucy chicken and rice.
Allison Page and Courtney White of HGTV and Food Network.
Lynn Sadofsky at Food Network, Travel Channel and Cooking Channel
Cindy Holland at Netflix
Originally published at medium.com