10.09.2012

Foodportunity: Combining Food and Opportunity




Keren Brown with Chef Kathy Casey
Foodportunity, you've heard me mention it before. It's a totally made up word, but when you really think about it, it is a word that needed to be made.  It combines two words that I absolutely love: food and opportunity.  The word-phrase can be applied in a variety of ways, including the provision of food and opportunity, the setting in which food and opportunity occur, or in the taking advantage of food and opportunity.

To me, Foodportunity is the event to which I credit many of the connections I've made in Seattle.  

Being new to a community is both exciting and lonely.  I work quickly to get to know whatever community I'm in, and my desire to get to know Seattle was strong. First, it was the the city into which Josh and I would be putting down roots. Second, it has a thriving food community that doesn't get the same recognition as Portland, though I don't really know why. Finally, it is large enough that I knew I would never really get to master the the community, no matter how much effort I put into networking, dining, and driving. 
Julien Perry, after she schooled me at Twister...while wearing jeans.

That was a refreshing thought, because the past five years had been spent living in small enough cities that I usually got to know most of the businesses and streets within a few months.  Now, three years later, I can drive a mere mile outside downtown, and I'm lost again.  I love it.

Anyway, I moved to Seattle for a fresh start.  I was going to study in culinary school, and I was entering a different community - the food community. I wanted to get started on the right foot. First, I chose a culinary school that was well respected in the city.  I wanted to use the connections the school had to open doors and be given opportunities based on its reputations. I also wanted to get involved in the food consuming and food writing community. So, I looked at who the leaders of Seattle's food community were, and a significant member of the community was Keren Brown through her work as the Frantic Foodie and her events, including Foodportunity. Kevin Finch, the founder of Big Table, forwarded an email to me about a Foodportunity event and described Keren as a professional who planned outstanding events and was well-connected in Seattle. He recommended that I reach out to her. 
Keren Brown's Food Lover's Guide to Seattle

I emailed her to introduce myself. I remember vaguely wondering if she received so many emails that she'd never respond. I recall the foggy insecurity that I've allowed to prevent me from taking other chances. But this time, I figured, well, maybe she'll email me. Boy did she email me.  We chatted about a Kukuruza Fall Flavors Release Party, which I helped plan, and then we talked about her book, The Food Lover's Guide to Seattle. THEN, I hinted that I was looking for a mentor, and she responded warmly with the opportunity to work as an intern for her. Wow. 

Yale and Mikaela, two other foodportunists
I interned for Keren at Foodportunity at the beginning of culinary school. She taught me about event marketing, event planning, and about social media. Sure, I've Facebooked, but she taught me about maintaining a media presence that was beneficial. The basic lessons of "never post something negative" and "remember your business" have stuck with me, though I've sometimes goofed it up.  She also actively pushed me to learn, to grow, to risk and explore.



Keren supported me when I wanted to meet and work for Chef Robin Leventhal. Chef Robin has an incredible palate and is a driven, energetic chef.  You probably recognize her from all sorts of events and organizations, including Top Chef, Slow Food Seattle, Farestart, and restaurants Crave, Stopsky's Delicatessen, and now, Local 360. (I'm really excited about Local 360 because I've enjoyed the food, and I love to see her as an exec again) I wanted to meet strong, successful (women) chefs who could share a stage in their careers with me.  Chef Robin was my first chef, and I felt that we complemented each other well. Obviously, I am young in my career and green in my skills, so the cooking and tasting strengths went to her, but I felt I contributed some things. Our personalities went along well with each other, and I have had the honor of backing her up in a few events. I would never have had a chance in the wind to work for her, had Keren not encouraged me to reach out. I think she also probably gave me a good recommendation :)  

Keren, Chris, Me at the last Foodportunity book writer event
Foodportunity has brought together a variety of people, and I've met all sorts of talented, outspoken, and driven individuals through events.  I am thinking of Chef Eric Rivera, who has moved to Chicago to take over the world. Julien Perry, whose writings keep my faith in modern journalism. Ronald Holden, Cornichon and writer for Crosscut. Chris Nishiwaki, writer.  Tom Douglas, chef. Linda Miller Nicholson, Salty Seattle, from whom I snagged ideas for Josh's Mad Men themed birthday party. The list really goes on and on.


I enjoy Foodportunity events for the ability to network but also for the ability to get to meet the staff of restaurants big and small.  I enjoy Foodportunity because it gathers people around food, and it shows us how large - but also how close - our food community is in Seattle.

Join me at the next Foodportunity event.



Networking Party
Oct 22
6pm-9pm
Palace Ballroom
$25







2 comments:

  1. So amazing to see how much you were able to accomplish in such a short period of time. You are one of a kind.

    ReplyDelete

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