7 Questions with Hagan Blount the Wandering Foodie
There are food better jobs than being a food writer. It’s one of the few jobs that even when it doesn’t pay much you don’t have to worry about starving. Few people know this better than blogger Hagan Blount.
Blount is the writer of one of the most food-centric blogs in history, the Wandering Foodie. At WF Hagan has made milking your blog for a great meal into an art form. Hagan doesn’t just go to restaurants and blog the meal, Hagan goes to the best restaurants to blog the meal. Never one to do things halfway, he has devised eating excursions that he calls “projects” but in reality they are full blown glutenous food marathons. You have to love him.
Take for instance the one he called Restaurant Madness. Blount go together with other notable Big Apple food bloggers Joe DiStefano (World’s Fare), Lawrence Weibman (NYC Food Guy), Gabrielle Langholtz (Edible Brooklyn) and Andy Freedman of Wined and Dined. They divided 64 NYC restaurants into a bracket and doled them out tournament style to determine the title of the crowd’s favorite.
Another one of the Wandering Foodie’s projects was called 93 Plates. Beginning last January and lasting thirty-one days straight he ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner at NYC’s best restaurants. He was joined by the city’s most influential food writers, blogging their every bite. That’s three meals a day at a famous NYC restaurant until he had consumed 93 plates. Other projects include 24 in 24: DC and 24 in 24: Boston tours of each cities’ food scene where he hit 24 eateries in 24 hours.
Hagan Blount was kind enough to take on my “project” called 7 Questions:
1. How old were you when you first started to write?
2. Most people’s “bucket list” involves going to foreign countries and seeing world wonders; yours includes deep dish pizza and roast duck. What’s that all about?
I’m all about new experiences. I’ve been to something like 24 countries and counting, and I love travel, but travel is expensive. My theory about food is that (aside from reading) it’s the least expensive way to have an interesting new experience every day. There’s nothing else like it. I respect where food comes from, how flavors come together, the history of certain dishes … Think of how many ingredients go into making a curry paste and it boggles the mind how much trial and error went into this creation, yet in 3,000 years of work, it’s been perfected.
3. I know you are a New Yorker but can you separate yourself from the Chicago/New York rivalry long enough to weigh in on who has the best pizza?
I’m a Red Sox fan so I have no problem separating myself from any NY centric rivalry. I just moved here in December, and I’m still getting acclimated. I didn’t get to go to Lou Malnati’s when I was in Chicago, so people say I didn’t get the full experience. I did go to Uno’s, Gino’s, and Pequod’s though, so I think I got the full experience. New York Pizza is better, hands down. The one thing I think NYC could learn from Chicago is to incorporate Jardiniere into more pizza. Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn offers something like it as a side, and it should not be missed.
4. Of your marathon eating adventures that you like to call “projects” which was your favorite?
93 Plates for sure. Wouldn’t you like to eat out every meal for a month at some of the best places to eat in the greatest foodie city in the world for free? Of course you would.
5. You’ve had eating projects in Washington DC, Boston and New York City; when are you coming to the South?
Right after I finish the Pacific Northwest. I’m eager to get out to San Fran and Portland sometime in the next few years. Where would I go in the south? It’s so spread out down there, I would need my old RV back!
6. On your “93 Plates” project you ate 93 meals at New York’s best restaurants in 31 days. A total of 51 other food bloggers (yes I counted – twice) joined you; was there one experience that stands out?
Spending the day with Baron Ambrosia in the Bronx. This guy is a trip. For breakfast, I had pig ears at 188 Bakery Cuchifrito, For lunch, we had Goat Marrow at Ali’s Roti Shop in the Bronx, and for dinner, we had a whole roast goat at Xochimilco. I mean, I’m talking Eyeballs, cheeks, stomach, brains. It was nuts. The Baron is not a character – it’s his way of life. He’s an incredibly generous and cool guy.
7. What’s your next project?
I am working on a pilot to pitch to a production company and trying to figure out to record TV to my MacBook, but I can’t tell you more than that right now. I was selected to judge a contest and I was flown out to Chicago for the Sears Chef Challenge; I won a dream kitchen suite from Kenmore with that, but I don’t have a kitchen! It kills me to have to sell all these beautiful appliances, but I’m going to get a professional video camera and some lighting (and take a photography class or two) so I can get better at my craft. I’m also going to be taking some improv classes to think better on my feet and be more comfortable in front of the camera.