How I Became the Most Successful Food Personality in the World

My journey to becoming one of the most important voices in food.
November 1, 2017, 9:00pm

I made "Foodie/World Traveler" my Instagram bio because I feel like it accurately captures my uniqueness. I love food and I've been all over the world to eat: even to Toronto and Montreal.

Growing up, I wasn't like other kids. As a toddler, hunger would make me cranky. As a tween, I would always trade my school lunch. And as an adult, whenever I'd see pictures from poverty stricken countries, I'd be like, "yeah, no thank you. I could NOT do that."

I love food and I've been all over the world to eat: even to Toronto and Montreal.

But the idea of making food my career? That always seemed totally unattainable. I mean, here I am, some kid who graduated from a New England boarding school with the kids of senators, diplomats, and energy tycoons. How the heck can someone like me—the son of a corporate attorney and a surgeon—ever get his foot in the door in an industry like food?! The idea of food as a profession just never even crossed my mind.

But that doesn't mean I didn't take food seriously. In college, during pledge week, I convinced my brothers at Kappa Sig (shout out to Travis, Chad and the rest of the boys!) to get chickens in the backyard. That way we could use farm-fresh eggs to haze our new recruits. I opted not to build a coop so they could be free-range. But they were a little too free-range and every one of them ran away. To this day, I still have trust issues with chickens.

To this day, I still have trust issues with chickens.

After college, I took the same old typical route: I moved to New York, took a job in finance, made a ton of money, got addicted to cocaine, went to rehab, returned to work, helped cause a global financial meltdown. Blah blah blah. Same old, same old. The only thing that kept me sane during these mundane times was that I was living in a foodie paradise.

But even though I was living in a city with wonderful foodie experiences on every corner, there was one appetite I just could not satisfy: Life. Right after I got back from my second stint in rehab, I found my heart wasn't in my work and I really struggled. I think it was obvious and my coworkers began to notice. This was probably because on most weekdays, I would come in late after attending tapings of The Rachael Ray Show and The Chew. I know what you're thinking: Why would I risk my job for something I could just as easily watch on TV?! But there's just a different energy you can only get in the studio audience. I even tried sitting on my couch clapping for every single ingredient but it just wasn't the same. And besides, I was making so many new friends at the tapings! There was Barbara, a housewife and mother of three from Topeka and Carol, a homemaker and mother of two from Tulsa. And who can forget Sheryl, a stay-at-home mom of three from Springfield? I mean, how else could I have made such a diverse group of friends other than with food?! Food is such a great unifier.

And that's when I realized I didn't just want to do something in food: I needed to.

So I started a food blog. It began as kind of a personal food journal. I would post pictures of what I ate and write a couple thousand words about each thing. The blog evolved over time, and I began posting recipes and articles about the importance of food. I had this energy I've never felt before. Life was suddenly exciting!

One little hitch: To create all this amazing content, I was eating out more and more, which started to get a little expensive. So when the check came, I'd let the restaurant know I was a food writer who should actually be eating for free. They never seemed to care, though, which was actually for the best: I try to keep my food writing pure, and getting free stuff might have tainted it. I never set out to do this for me. It was always about the food.

After a while, though, things started to feel stagnant. I began surfing the web and realized there was still a huge void to fill in the food world. There are only a couple 24-hour television networks dedicated to food; plus a few shows on Bravo and then Travel Channel's only like half food. And beyond that, there was just The Chew, The Rachael Ray Show, Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, MasterChef, MasterChef Junior, The Great British Bake Off, and Mind of a Chef. And when I did a search for food on YouTube, there were barely 7 million results. That's when it hit me: I needed to produce and host my own food show!

I never set out to do this for me. It was always about the food.

I gave it a few hours worth of thought before putting in my two weeks. My girlfriend said I was out of my mind; that I'm barely qualified to be a busboy, let alone to to produce and host a food show. But it's like what I told her on November 8th, 2016: Sometimes it takes an outsider to get the job done. She broke up with me.

I posted an ad on Craigslist and found a camera operator and a sound engineer. I knew they were perfect and highly-qualified. Neal, the camera guy, complains nonstop about the current state of cinema and seems to hate everything. Someone that critical must be very talented. And Nick, the sound engineer, barely ever speaks to me, which shows he's a good listener. This is very important in sound.

READ MORE: Being a Chef Made Me Forget I Have a Micropenis

And just like that, we were off! It was very scary, but also very exciting. I don't know what lies ahead, but I have faith. Sometimes in life, you have to trust your gut. Especially in food. LOL! That's a little food joke. But in all seriousness, life is about taking chances and trusting your instincts.


WATCH: Eatin' It: Going Local with Table Farm