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
Subscribe to my new monthly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bcobmr
Advertisements

Connecting Face to Face rather than on Facebook

When we were young, most of the time, making friends seemed like a breeze…all it took was a shy smile, quick hello or just asking to join in.  And next thing we knew, we had a new running buddy at the playground. Our social circles consisted of our parents, siblings, class mates and play mates that our parents set up. Everything was simple. But as you got older, especially when those awkward middle school years hit, finding and keeping friends became a bit more complicated.  While navigating the personal and life changes that accompany growing up, we also have to learn to navigate between the different cliques, norms and groups that become established and break down during these years, which can be an overwhelming adjustment. And with our generation being so integrated in technology, connecting face to face occurs a lot less often than on a screen.

My first semester in college, was one of the most uncomfortable experiences in my life to date. Coming from a small, intimate high school, where I had known most of my classmates since the 3rd grade then arriving at a huge, public university with 40,000 people was really hard for me. I’m naturally shy and introverted, so the idea of creating a whole new social group seemed impossible to me. I had made a great group of friends in high school that had taken years to cultivate and I had no idea how to find people that could represent those friends in my college life.  But honestly, that was my first mistake.

Coming to college, or when entering any new situation, you have to come open and unassuming. No one owes you anything. To make friends and meet new people you have to 1. put in the effort, 2. let people show you who they are and 3. be consistent. I (unrealistically) was expecting people to come to  me: for someone, anyone to miraculously see me, want to be friends with me and make the first move. My shyness and stubbornness in meeting new people prevented me from taking advantage of all of the new freshman who were living on my floor or in my classes.  Besides my roommates, a few floor mates that I had met through them and a handful of girls that I had done a 3-week pre-college program with, I hadn’t met that many people nor had I tried to. Yet, I still moaned and complained about feeling alone and missing my high school friends. Sadly, it took me until junior year to fully realize that the reason I was missing out, was because I wasn’t pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I hadn’t committed to any clubs, I hadn’t really tried to talk to anyone in my classes aside from group projects…I simply hadn’t put in the effort. But in my last two years, after I pushed myself to do new things and be more friendly, not only did I keep and better my relationship with the small group I had befriended freshman year, but I also met and bonded with a lot of great new people as well. And my senior year, was more fulfilling and exciting than the previous 3 years of college combined.

So the hard lesson learned was that making friends is not that complicated. When entering a new situation, what worked on the playground generally works when you’re older. A genuine smile, friendly hello and asking to join in is the only introduction you really need. And if someone doesn’t reciprocate a friendly hello?…you probably don’t want to be friends with them anyway. Their loss. So when we get stuck in the routine of life, and start to feel like our days are getting mundane, think about trying something new and commit to it. Go to dinner at a new spot, take an art or fitness class, attend an open mic night, try to go places that you haven’t been and reach out to someone while you’re there. Take an old friend and make new friends together. Even if you don’t meet anyone that night, it will feel good to experience something different and go back the next week and see if you find a familiar face.