bucket list

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?

Hagan Blount on WannabeTVchef.comI was published by my local paper in third grade. It was a limerick contest. I don’t remember the poem exactly, but it was pretty weak. The rest of the applicants must have been pretty damn terrible.

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.

Review: Unique Eats

I finally got a little quality time with the Cooking Channel so I am attempting to review several of the shows I have not seen.  This time I’m watching Unique Eats.

Unique Eats on WannabeTVchef.comI really, really like this show.  The formula is quite similar to the Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate, but it takes that idea to another level.  Best Thing was already one of my favorite shows but I think it just dropped a notch after checking out Unique Eats.

Where Best Thing is a series of interviews with culinary movers and shakers discussing one item from one restaurant that they love, Unique Eats features a gaggle of foodies discussing the same eatery and what they find intriguing about it.  Each episode is themed, Small Plates, Meats, Comfort Food, etc. with each cheflebrity pontificating about what they respect about the chosen purveyor.  These gastronomic round tables are made up of foodies, food writers, chefs and TV personalities.

Here’s how the network web site describes the show:

Unique Eats spotlights America’s most exciting and revolutionary restaurants. It’s the first look and the last word in everything extreme in food today. The locations range from high-end dining rooms to casual neighborhood treasures, and even roving eateries with no permanent addresses. We seek out the most amazing examples of modern dining across America.

The editing, the sound quality, the cinematography and especially the venues featured are the very essence of what food television should be.  If you prefer your food oriented programming to be about food rather than drama then you really need to watch Unique Eats.  As an added bonus, there is a place on the Cooking Channel web site that will help you plan a Unique Eats road trip.  Put that on your bucket list.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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