12 Confessions of a News Guy turned Food Guy

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Because the readers and viewers ask:

**I hate oyster roasts with the white hot passion of a thousand suns. I see them as a knife fight huddled around a table. The payoff is a half ounce piece of food? Knife, scrape, shuck, cracker, hot sauce eat, repeat? Yeah, I’ll be over here with the beer and a hot dog.

**I worked for Chef Emeril Lagasse once upon a time. I learned quite a bit. One of my biggest takeaways? He told us when he tried a new restaurant he always ordered a soup. “You can tell how much love they put in their food by how much love they put in their soup.” I’ve never forgotten that and I use that quite a bit when I’m out.

**I generally avoided seafood until 5 years ago. Sure, I tried stuff here and there but never ordered it. The reason? Pretty simple. As a kid, we’d go out fishing on my dad’s boat. We’d get home, and my dad and uncles would make me and my cousins clean the fish. Then whatever the heck they made stunk up the house for days. Family would come from miles around to eat it, so I’m sure it was good. But it stunk. 30 or so years later, you can’t be a food guy without eating seafood so I disrupted my comfort zones. Now, I actually Eat and Like quite a bit. I’ve become a big fan of scallops and grouper.

**My favorite food remains steak. I actually had a tiny reputation around town for ordering steaks medium-well. Believe it or not, that is only here in the South. More-so than anywhere up north or in the Midwest, I find that if you ask for ‘medium’ in the South, you are likely to get something a little closer to medium-raw. The top steakhouses get it right. Most other places are a roll of the dice, so I just say medium well and hope for the best. Or better yet, don’t order steak.

**People think I am a food snob, regularly referring to “those foods you eat.” Even at a tailgate party. Not even close. I will pretty much eat anything anywhere. In an occasional pinch, the pizzas at Sam’s Club do me and my family just fine.

**I am a snob, however, about two things. Fresh-baked bread and the aforementioned steaks. Crappy bread can ruin the best sandwich. On the other side, great bread can make an average sandwich amazing.

**I’ve watched people preparing to open a restaurant knowing they’d likely be closed within a year. I’ve always wondered if I see it, why don’t they?

**The best food isn’t always the most popular. And vice versa. I look forward to a time in this city when those planes are more aligned.

**On the rare occasion I visit Starbucks? I have a House Blend or a Verona. You know, coffee?

**Since I ended my 23 year run in television news last year, I have watched the news twice. Maybe three times. I do, however, read more now than I ever have.

**Actually, I don’t watch much television at all. I haven’t watched a food show in over 5 years. Popular shows like Top Chef, Chopped and others? I’ve never seen even 10 seconds of them. I don’t have a lot of time for them first of all. But more importantly, I equate it to writing music. If I spent a week listening to nothing but Rolling Stones albums, then tried to write a song or three of my own, I would more likely than not be influenced by the Rolling Stones. I keep them separate. People who have never seen my show ask if it’s like this or like that. I honestly don’t know. I don’t watch anything.

**If I had a dollar for every time people ask me for a list of places to take their tourist friends or family that end up going to a chain on the Southside, I’d be a wealthy man today. Similarly, I’m asked twice a week or more for a list of “off the beaten path” spots in Savannah or Hilton Head or Charleston. Always. That’s fine, I’m glad to help. However,  we must come to terms with the fact that if everyone wants to go off the beaten path, you will soon have a new path.

See you on TV,

Jesse

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Eat It and Like It launched in Savannah, Georgia with television personality Jesse Blanco as the host. His passion for food and travel has made Eat It and Like It a two-time EMMY nominated program about contemporary and traditional Southern food.

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Eat It and Like It launched in Savannah, Georgia with television personality Jesse Blanco as the host. His passion for food and travel has made Eat It and Like It a two-time EMMY nominated program about contemporary and traditional Southern food.

2 Comments

  1. sharifazaw@gmail.com'

    Nicely done, sir! All questions answered in one column. I enjoy reading your newsletters and look forward to your reviews. Thanks again!

  2. reelanrock@msn.com'
    Alex Hidell on

    Jesse I know you don’t like oyster roasts, but I do and you may know of some. How about passing on some info to me, any roast between now and the end of April, the non-membership kind and the ones ranging from $20 to $35 fee, I don’t like paying more than that. Thanks!