I recently found myself in a tropical paradise on a media trip to cover an international food festival. Destination: Camana Bay on Grand Cayman. Everything was bluer, clearer, and tasted better! The headliners of the food festival were 2 award winning, well-known, amazing chefs from the United States. Our hosts had 5 days of food adventures planned for us, all of which were spectacular! On the first evening of our trip, we were taken on a food tour of several restaurants and tried an array of dishes; such a fun tasting journey. Everything was great, but one dish really stuck out to me; it was from a restaurant called Abacus. They served local tamarind glazed pork tenderloin with local turnip puree, baby carrots, slow roasted tomatoes and okra. DAMN! It was out of this world. I knew we had another dinner planned later in our trip to revisit and have a full dinner there, and I couldn’t wait!
As chance would have it, I actually met the chef a few days later while on a farm tour (it happened to be the farm that he sources a large amount of their produce from). We got the opportunity to chat and I shared how much I loved his dish and how excited I was to be dining there again. I also had a request of him; I shared that my followers and readers really enjoy the “behind-the-scenes action shots and stories” that I get when I go into the kitchen and have real conversations with the chefs. I asked if I could join him and his team in the kitchen the night our group would be dining at his restaurant. He graciously agreed and the rest is kitchen history! The night that we revisited Abacus, I excused myself after we ordered our meal and slipped into the kitchen. That’s when the magic happens for me; that’s when I have fun! Chef Will O’Hara shared his personal story with me about his culinary upbringing and his unwavering love of food. He showed me his prized iPhone photos of amazing fishing trips, catches and food. He took me into the cooler and gave me a sneak peek of a 45 pound tuna that had just been brought in and was being used the following night for the food festival. As I stood inside the cooler in heels and a cocktail dress, I absolutely loved getting this up-close to what’s going on in the kitchen. I met his team, watched them work, stayed out of the way and observed the magic of food creation happen. SO COOL!
A few days after returning from my trip, someone asked me about the kitchen photos. They wanted to know how I got access to the kitchen and the chef. I replied, “I just asked.” People have asked me on several occasions, “why do you think your blog is so popular,” or “what makes what you do different things than the many other food bloggers in Charleston?” I always respond honestly; I don’t do anything particularly special, I just post pictures of food on my Instagram account and occasionally write blog articles. My angle is telling the story of the farmer, the chef and showcasing what’s really happening. Part of how I get the behind-the-scenes scope is not being afraid of being told no; not allowing my fear of rejection overtake the moment of possibility, escaping my own fears, insecurities and breaking free of them, not letting them control me.
When I started my blog a little over a year ago, never in a million years would I have guessed that my culinary adventures would lead to me meeting so many interesting, creative and amazing people or take me to a tropical paradise… But it did. And I’ve loved every moment of it! I can’t wait to see what new adventures await me next…