Pursuing the Art of Taste

SHANAI IMG_6195

City: College Park, MD
Occupation: Student & Tutor

Tell us a little about yourself!

I’m Shanaí, a senior Biochemistry student at University of Maryland. Go Terps! Aside from being a student, I also enjoy traveling, spending time with family and friends, listening to music, and cooking of course! I’m a very positive, free-spirited, and energetic person.

When and how did you learn to cook?

image5As a home-trained chef, I learned to cook from many sources. I come from a large Caribbean family with a long line up of chefs and I have always been surrounded by lots of food. Family has really been my first teacher. I also draw inspiration from cooking shows like Chopped, Hell’s Kitchen, and also from other foodies and food blogs.

What inspires you about food?

Food is one of those amazing connections that anyone can enjoy regardless of social constructs and barriers. I’ve always loved creative arts and cooking is one of the most enjoyable ones. It’s amazing to create something that evokes memories or feelings through taste.

What/where is your favorite place to eat?

Aaah. It’s hard to narrow down just one place or food!  Seafood is one of my favorites, mainly shrimp, crab, and image3sushi. I also recently tried ceviche, which is a South American raw spiced citrus fish dish, and loved it. Some of my favorite places to eat are Sardis, Hibachis, Blue Dolphin, and, Olive Garden.

How and why has food become such a large part of your life?

After struggling with losing and maintaining my weight almost my whole life, I’ve finally accepted that eating healthy and nourishing your body is much more important than counting calories or stressing over weight or size. I started my Instagram food page, @TheArtofTaste, last year as a way to cook and eat more nutritious and less processed foods.

What would your last meal be?

Definitely some type of Alfredo pasta with lots of shrimp and crab.

Where do you get your recipes?

The best recipes I’ve gotten have come from family. I also use online recipes from use Food Network, Recipes.com, Food.com, and Bon Appétit. I also get recipe from my favorite Instagram food blogs like @myhealthydish, @thekitchenista, and @ecsince80.

image6Why do you think there is such a lack of women in the culinary field?

It’s almost ironic that there is a lack of women in a field that is sometimes expected as a profession or skill for women. I’m not entirely sure why this is.

Any words of advice for aspiring chefs?

Stay creative and new with whatever you do and don’t be afraid to take risks. Expressing your creativity and putting your own spin on things is what sets you apart!

Follow Shanai’s food page on Instagram! @theartoftaste

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Eating Fabulously <3

Christopher Stewart 10405438_10155105945925321_7120286574400212755_n

Current City: New York City
Occupation: Social Media / Digital Community Manager for 2 restaurants in Harlem and owner of Eating Fabulously, a food and lifestyle blog. 

Tell us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in the Bronx with a very supportive family and large sets of friends. And yes my real name is actually Christopher and I love it. After watching cooking shows everyday on TV and having a grandfather as a chef, I told my parents that I was going to the Culinary Institute of America for college and no where else. And that’s what I did. After college at the Culinary Institute of America, I knew I didn’t like big restaurants so I worked in numerous small restaurants, even for some celebrity chefs. One day I landed at this small place and after a couple of months I became executive chef of the restaurant at 24 and the next week I IMG_0445turned 25. All of a sudden I had a staff and payroll was due on Monday and I had to make menu’s and cost out recipes and lead a team. Most exciting and also the scariest time in my life.
After many hours of sitting and reading a variety of different food blogs, I noticed there were little to zero food blogs written by young black women…who also have the upper hand of working in the restaurant industry. That’s where I decided to come in at. I created Eating Fabulously to give you a first hand look into my life revolving around food, but my way.
After achieving my dream of becoming executive chef, I decided to leave the kitchen, and go another route. I knew I wanted to stay in the restaurant industry but not in the kitchen. I started interning and food blogging and ended up writing on Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s website and I also ended up co-authoring a cookbook with a friend.
EF Logo
When and how did you learn to cook?
My grandfather was a chef and he always allowed me to join him in the kitchen when he was at home and even at work. He always included me and asked me questions about food, ingredients and  flavor. I cant even remember how young I was when he allowed me to put my hands in things. Like every little girl,  tea parties happened but at my tea parties I was serving imaginary food. As I got older, he would let me cook with him and then I started practicing how to plate my food. Then I progressed to cooking dinner. By the time i was 14, I knew I wanted to do this all the time, and that’s when I knew i would go to culinary school.

What inspires you about food? 

Is it bad to say that I really really really love to eat? I truly believe if you cant stop thinking about IMG_8773something everyday, that’s your true passion and honestly food and restaurants are always on my mind. Food brings people together, at the table each and every time. Food brings out the best in people and that’s what inspires me. Being able to sit at a table with people I enjoy over and over and over again.

What/where is your favorite place to eat?

Some of my favorite places are very low key and  have great food, but its the dynamics and the consistency of the restaurants that make them my favorite. Currently I’m in love with this small Peruvian place on 94th and Amsterdam Ave called Pio Pio. Its always packed to the brim and every time I go, my meal gets better and better. This maybe the only restaurant that I have NEVER had a issue in and the food is always amazing. Another one of my favorites is this seafood buffet called Ichi Umi here in NYC’s Korean town. I know IMG_5738“seafood buffet” sounds weird but this is a multi-level restaurant serving some of the freshest seafood and food Ive ever had. Sushi, sashimi, raw bar, kobe beef, pork belly etc. They open at 6p for dinner and I’m amazed at the level of ingredients, consistent and care this restaurant shows. Its packed by 7:30

How and why has food become such a large part of your life? 

I like to say that food runs through my veins like mascara and glitter. I think about food all day every day mostly because its been a true blessing to be able to enjoy food and restaurants in the magnitude that I have. I give all the credit o my late grandfather exposing me to everything.
What would your last meal be?
Because I love to eat everything, anything that is perfectly cooked to perfection makes the best meal for IMG_8145me. Cooking simply is actually very very hard. I love a perfectly cooked roast chicken; perfectly seared steak, perfectly cooked seasonal vegetables, perfectly boiled egg. So I guess my last meal would be anything that is perfectly cooked. (and seasonal!)

Where do you get your recipes?

Because I’m always thinking of food or dealing with food in some way, shape or form, I come up with all of my own recipes. If I’m not sure of a flavor or technique I will look it up. When dining out, if a meal really moves me, my mind will start racing as to how I can make it at home or add something to it.  Its funny because I very rarely cook at home and when I do cook at home I’m always shocked. Then I ask my mom is this blog worthy?!?!? LoL 

IMG_8470Why do you think there is such a lack of women in the culinary field? 

For one I don’t think we have a tangible visible female chef to look up to. Male chefs have visible, relatable chefs like  Chef Tyler Florence, Chef Michael Symon and Chef Marcus Samuelsson to aspire to grown into (all chefs that I personally like!) There are female chefs out here but we have to go searching for them, they are not in our faces everyday on books, TV shows, on Eater.com. I believe female chefs just don’t get as much exposure in the media. Maybe a Food & Wine cover here and there every couple of years but besides that, that’s it. And it sucks because there are some really talented female chefs in the world. When I was IMG_1116Executive chef no one knew I was running the place. Every time I stepped in the dining room, people thought I was a line cook. I didn’t have the backing from the restaurant owner or a PR company to put me out there.

Any words of advice for aspiring chefs? 
Ughhhh I have so many things to say to aspiring chefs! LoL  My first thing would be to find out if you love to cook or do you just like to eat. There is a major difference in that sentence. People get so caught up in loving to eat that they think that they love to cook. I say start off small, take some classes at your local specialty food store like at Whole Foods, Sur IMG_0868La Table, or Williams and Sonoma. If you love it, then comes culinary school and finally getting into the industry. Passion is a must. Learn what a Chef really is and does. I feel like people have glamorized being a chef so much that its has blinded people of the years of very hard work it takes to achieve such a name. Study the classical techniques of cooking, they always come back to you no matter what niche you get into. And finally, work hard and do it because you actually love it.

 
Want to get in touch with Christopher? Check her out on these other social media sites:
Instagram: chrissystew29  #EatingFab
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February is for Food Lovers <3

February is considered the month of love. Everywhere you turn are commercials and articles giving relationship

advice, compatibility quizzes and coupons for edible arrangements. But I’ve decided to take at a look at a different type of passion for this month. FYM Project will showcase Food Lovers for February. Foodies, connoisseurs, chefs, etc. This month celebrates those who have an unwavering and unashamed love for food shows, recipes, restaurants, snacks and everything else in between. For those who get more excited about ordering dinner than who they’re eating with. Who plan their day around their meals. Who wake up in the morning visualizing what they’re going to make for dinner instead of what you’re wearing for work. This month is for you 🙂 I’m excited to showcase two women in the next week who have made food a lifestyle in the most creative ways, stay tuned!