Professional SpotlightSpotlight

As food lovers, we try to consume as many food articles and books we can get our hands on. We are big fans of Anne McBride’s writing, and we were very excited for the opportunity to talk with her about her career in the food industry and as a writer. Having grown up with grandparents who were farmers and gourmet home-cooks, Anne has been exposed to the pleasures of cooking and how food brings people together. Being surrounded by food throughout her childhood made Anne comfortable when it came time for her to cook.

We love that Anne is a constant learner and serious about her work. Not only is she working toward a PhD in Food Studies from New York University, but she is also an adjunct professor there. Additionally, Anne is the Director of Experimental Cuisine Collective and is the Culinary Program and Editorial Director for the Strategic Initiatives Group at The Culinary Institute of America. In her spare time, she writes articles and books about food. To say we are impressed would be an understatement! Read on to learn more about Anne’s career, what each job entails, and the skills she believes you need as a food writer.

Name: Anne E. McBride
Education: B.A. from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Follow: annemcbride.net / @annemcbride

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth?”

Anne E. McBride: Making the most of all the open doors you face when you are young and at the beginning your career. Not being afraid to take risks. Not over planning the next 10 to 15 years (regardless of which age you are!).

CJ: What did you major in at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette? How did you determine what to study?

AM: I majored in print journalism, with a minor in history. As soon as I decided to go to college (only a small percentage of the population goes, in Switzerland) I never considered another major. I wanted to write.

CJ: What did your post-college journey look like?

AM: I got a job as an editorial assistant at a book publishing company working on cookbooks and travel books (I had blind-emailed them my resume and they called me a couple of weeks later) and stayed there three and a half years. It was a small company and I worked really hard so I was quickly promoted and by the end was running the editorial side, but still had a huge amount to learn. I did a quick stint in restaurant PR, then in communications at the Institute of Culinary Education for two years full time, followed by another five years as a freelancer for them. About three and a half years ago I started working for the Culinary Institute of America.

CJ: What sparked your passion for food and cooking?

AM: I grew up in a very food-focused environment but was not aware of it until time came to look for a job. My maternal grandfather in Switzerland was a farmer and we spent nearly every weekend on the farm (my very first job was picking grapes in his vineyards); he also loved restaurants and took us along whenever we were there. My paternal grandmother in France is a gourmet home-cook who plied us in foie gras, calf livers, heads-on shrimp, homemade mayonnaise, and the likes whenever we’d visit. My mother is a very adventurous cook, and my father loves great food. All this stressed, in a subconscious manner, the importance that food has in creating bounds among people, in this case my family and whoever shared our table, and how much both pleasure and culture can be communicated through food. And always seeing so much cooking around me made me comfortable cooking myself when time came.

AM 4

CJ: You are currently working toward your PhD in Food Studies at New York University. What drew you to this program?

AM: I had been looking at a variety of PhD programs, mostly in sociology, for a couple of years, but then I started working more and more around food and meeting people who told me to check out NYU. I sat in on a few classes and there was no question that I had found a home. I wanted to put rigor around my study of (and work around) food, get credentialed for my academic study of it, and commit to food as my career. 

CJ: You are also an adjunct professor at New York University, where you teach classes that include Food in the Arts: Experimental Cuisine, Food Issues in Contemporary Society, and Food Studies and Nutrition Communication Workshop. What have you enjoyed most about teaching, and though others are learning from you in your classes, what have you learned from your teaching experiences?

AM: I love being around the students the most and learn so much from them. It’s so rewarding and inspirational to see former students attaining high-level positions in the food world and achieving great things, whether in their careers or in their personal lives. It keeps me motivated and forces me to constantly see the food world from their fresh perspective, and from a scholarly perspective ensures that I am always up to date on the latest material. I like my classes to be a place of exchange—of course it’s not an entirely equal one since I grade them, but nonetheless I think that the experience is richer for everyone if they feel that they can express their opinions and ask any question they’d like.

CJ: You are the Director of Experimental Cuisine Collective, an interdisciplinary group of more than 2,500 scientists, chefs, media, scholars, and food enthusiasts that examines the connections between food and science. This sounds very interesting! What does your role as Director entail?

AM: This is a volunteer-based organization (our meetings have always been free, since we launched in 2007, since we want to make knowledge as accessible as possible) and it’s really just three of us, so it entails doing nearly everything from finding presenters and working with them on the content and format of their presentations to updating the website and communicating to our members to running errands and picking up whatever we need for meetings. We have presentations on a nearly monthly basis, with the goal of using food to better understand science and science to better understand food. Our speakers and our audience are equally diverse and the content is thorough and serious, so I always encourage presenters to speak at a fairly high level but take questions as they go to clarify what’s needed, which makes for very thought-provoking and engaging discussions.

CJ: You are the Culinary Program and Editorial Director for the Strategic Initiatives Group at The Culinary Institute of America where you work on program development for industry leadership conferences. How do you go about organizing and developing these professional forums, which have included Worlds of Flavor and reThink Food.

AM: The process starts by identifying the theme or areas of focus for each program for that year, brainstorming what this means in terms of potential conference sessions, how it relates to the current concerns and interests of the food industry (all the programs I work on are for industry only), and who would be great presenters for it. Then over several months all of that gets developed further. I reach out to potential presenters, work on the specifics of their contents once they are confirmed, craft the overall program and tweak it as needed. I look for fresh perspectives, whether it’s getting experienced presenters to talk about their expertise in new contexts or finding new angles to cover a well-known subject. I spend a lot of time attending other conferences to add to my understanding of issues and cuisines and to meet new potential talent, and also a lot of time at my desk emailing people. And do a lot of research by reading books and articles on the topics of the programs I work on. It’s a combination of macro, more intellectual elements and micro details and logistics. It’s a very demanding job and because my whole life informs what I do in that role, I don’t get to clock out very often, but I wouldn’t trade any of it and a huge reward is that I get to work with amazing people from all over the world.

CJ: You regularly write on topics related to professional and experimental cooking, and have contributed to Food Arts, Gastronomica, the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, and Food Cultures of the World. You write for your blog, Pots and Plumes, and you were the editor and writer of the Institute of Culinary Education’s tri-annual publication, The Main Course, for seven years, and the director of the school’s Center for Food Media between 2008 and 2011. Additionally, you have co-authored many books including Payard Cookies, Chocolate Epiphany: Exceptional Cookies, Cakes and Confections for Everyone, Bite Size: Elegant Recipes for Entertaining, Les Petits Macarons: Colorful French Confections to Make at Home, and Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food. What is your writing process when it comes to articles and co-authoring cookbooks and books?

AM: For articles in particular, it’s all about wanting to share a great story. I don’t have much time to pitch so don’t write articles nearly as regularly as I’d like to, but the good thing is that I get to only focus on the stories I really want to tell. So it often starts with something in a conversation that strikes me or something I observe when traveling for example. Then I do tons of interviews and research, ending up with way too many notes, and I struggle through it all until an article I’m happy with emerges, which is often the second version of a piece rather than the very first one I write.

For books, it starts by developing a concept with the chef I’m working with or thinking of working with, shopping a proposal, and then once the book is under contract work with them on translating “chef knowledge” into home-cook knowledge. My job is to ask all of the questions that someone at home with no experience would have when looking at their raw recipes and write them up in a way that makes complete sense when you are alone in front of an open cookbook. For that I spend time in the kitchen with chefs but mostly a lot of time alone at my computer. Michael Ruhlman, the food writer, once said that your body has to be capable of being a writer, so being able to sit for countless hours, and that has always stuck with me. I can definitely sit at a computer for 18 to 20 hours a day, which is a very useful skill to have while on deadline for a book!

CJ: What top three skills do you need as a food writer?

AM: Curiosity is huge, it what keeps you asking the right questions—both the fun and the serious type of questions. It’s the base of good researching and reporting, and what ensures hopefully that you keep digging into a story and into a subject. Curiosity also is the opposite of jadedness, which is important to me. Connected to curiosity is food knowledge, or perhaps better stated as a proper understanding of the world you cover. I don’t mean that you necessarily have to have cooked in a professional kitchen, but you need to understand the world that you cover, including its business structure, whether you are covering chefs, artisans, farmers, or corporations. You need to know ingredients, cooking techniques, flavors, etc. You don’t need to be a policy or labor expert but you need to understand the current issues of the food system and know where to go look for answers.

It’s a question of respecting your subjects and also of treating food like a proper beat. And last, you need good writing skills. It sounds idiotic to even mention, but the downside of food being such a familiar, and a popular, topic is that many people feel very comfortable writing about it, and perhaps not everyone should.

CJ: Your book, Culinary Careers, is an incredibly useful read. In it you provide exclusive interviews with people in the food world. What advice would you personally give to a young person hoping to set themselves up for success in the culinary world?

AM: Always remember that it’s a small world, so work hard, don’t burn bridges, and you’ll create a solid network for yourself. You could do lots of things that will make you richer than working in the culinary world. But not many will make you happier or will let you work with better people.

CJ: With everything you have going on, how do you stay organized and manage your time?

AM: My life is run by Google Calendar and my notepad, which has a good old-fashioned to-do list I can cross off as I go. I’m also, for better or for worse, a workaholic, so I just work all the time, which is probably not the healthiest time management or organizational principle but it works for me!

CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

AM: I’m trying to carve a little more time for relaxation and time away from my desk. There’s always another email to write (and no matter how hard I try I can’t keep up with the insane volume of my inbox), or more recipes to edit, or more work to do on my dissertation. So going kayaking for a few hours on a Saturday is actually good for my mental health and my productivity, not lost work hours.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

AM: Don’t stress about things out of your control. Take all the risks you can while you can.

Images by Carpe Juvenis

Health

It’s sick season, and lots of my friends have had strep. I was part of the strep crew, and it hit me hard. I felt awful – major headache, chills, fever, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, the whole nine. I was bound and determined to get rid of it and still avoid antibiotics.

One solution is Thieves oil; it’s antibacterial and antiviral, and cleans stuff pretty darn well. I’ve never used it for strep or illness, but I’ve heard others attest to its incredible healing powers. Sadly, I didn’t have any Thieves, and I’m on a budget here. So I did the next best thing and found the perfect herbal remedy that contained only three simple, everyday ingredients that I already had!

I made it using the recipe below, and ate the whole mixture twice in one day. The next day my throat had made a massive improvement and I had actual energy, so I made the mixture again the next day, eating half in the morning and half in the evening. I also made green tea mixed with apple cider vinegar, a tsp cayenne pepper, lemon juice and a tsp honey, and drank a large mug of it.

By the morning of the third day, my sore throat was completely gone and I felt normal. I drank another of the green tea mixtures just to be on the safe side, and that was the last of the remedies I made. I was cured!

Here’s the magical recipe, which happens to be way cheaper than a doctor visit and a prescription, simple to prepare, way faster than medicine, totally safe and natural. Whether you have strep or just a slightly sore throat, this is a really fantastic method to try.

1 tbsp raw honey
¼ tsp cayenne
3-4 cloves garlic (chopped as finely as you can)

Mix the ingredients and eat it. Don’t wash out the throat; you want the ingredients to coat it.

I made it twice on the first day, but I’ve read that it’s still incredibly effective if just taking it once. Try the green tea mixture, too.

Now go get better!

Let us know in the comments below if this works for you, or if you’ve got other remedies you like to use.

Image: Anna Gutermuth

Health

Before I decided to cut meat out of my life, I loved a good chicken salad. Sometimes I see a rotisserie chicken salad at the supermarket and feel a tiny pang of sadness and regret (not really, but I do get a craving every now and then). So, imagine my utter joy when I came across this mashed chickpea salad recipe from The Simple Veganista.

The ingredient list is short and sweet, just like the preparation. It requires no cooking, just a little chopping ,a little mashing, a little mixing, and a lot of face-stuffing.

And oh my, it is so, so delicious – very reminiscent of a good ole’ chicken salad. But don’t take it from me – try it yourself! I put a slight spin on her original recipe, but kept it pretty close to the original.

You’ll Need:

1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup shredded carrots (you could also dice carrots)
½ cup green onions, sliced
¼ cup Simply Mayo (if you want a vegan mayo that tastes like mayo, TRY SIMPLY MAYO. Amazing.)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
Dash of garlic powder (ok, I used more than a dash… I like a lot of it)
Juice of ½ lemon (optional, but adds refreshing flavor)

The prep:

Drain and rinse your chickpeas, then mash them in a bowl with a potato masher or the back of a fork, until your desired texture is reached.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir until mixed.

You’re done! All you need to do now is serve it on a sandwich, with crackers, on a bed of greens or straight up out of the bowl. My favorite way to eat it is in a pita pocket with spinach.

It is an amazingly delicious lunch, dinner and snack, full of protein and fiber. Let us know what you think!

What smart snacks are you enjoying?

Image: Emma

Health

This is one of my favorite quick and easy snacks to prepare. Portabellas are often called the meat of the vegetable world, so these little guys are super filling, and can double as an appetizer, wrap filler or salad topper.

Here’s what you’ll need to make about 30 garlicky portabella bites:

  • 5 large portabella mushrooms
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 cups garlic and herb breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Remove the gills from the portabellas and rinse them.
  2. Slice them into strips. You can cut the strips in half if you want to make the bites smaller.
  3. Beat the three eggs together, mixing in the garlic powder and as much salt and pepper as you prefer.
  4. Dip the portabella strips in the egg mixture.
  5. Dip them into the bread crumbs, coating all sides of the portabella.
  6. Place a tbsp. olive oil in a pan and swirl to coat the pan.
  7. Place the pan over medium heat and place the portabella strips on the pan, cooking for around 3 minutes on each side. Depending on the size of your strips, you may need to cook for longer. When the crust is golden brown, flip them.
  8. Tip: to save for later, coat the mushrooms in the batter and put in the fridge for later – you can cook all of them up later in under 15 minutes!

These taste great with ranch dressing or aioli!

What smart snacks are you enjoying? Share below!

Image: Big Bear’s Wife

EducationSkills

I recently came across the question, “What is something you learned even though it did not benefit you?” I think all knowledge is beneficial, but it was an interesting question to reflect on. 

In college, I almost always took courses that were required. I had to commute and consequently did not want to “waste time.” However, in my senior year I took a bowling class. It was something I always wanted to do and I finally had the time. Bowling class was my favorite part of the day.

Another thing that became part of my free time was cooking. I never cooked when I was younger. Now, every recipe I learn fills me with pride. Plus, cooking gives you instant gratification with a delicious meal. If you make a mistake with the recipe, you can learn and improve. I find cooking relaxing, and it also brings independence as you do not need to depend on others for food. 

Since graduating, I have thought about learning how to sew. Sewing is just something I have always found interesting. Maybe it will become useful if I ever need to repair clothes, but for now it is just a new mountain to climb. I love that I don’t need to be assigned this hobby in order to pursue it – I can do it on my own.

The world is full of new things to see and do. Is there something you ever wanted to learn not because it was your major or because it was required? Go out and do it. You won’t know how much you like it until you try.

Image: Roger Nelson, Flickr

Health

I wash my face with oil. I get some funny looks when I tell people this, but I personally think it makes more sense than telling people I wash my face with chemicals. Not only that, but my skin glows. It’s super clear, feels like a baby face and smells like a coconut! Does it get any better than that?! I’ve tossed all my store-bought face washes because I no longer feel the need to scrub my face with chemicals, alcohols, and other industrial cleaning products of unknown origins.

I became interested in using oil cleansing face wash when I was at the grocery store, reading labels on cosmetics marketed as “organic” and “natural.” I’m sorry, but can someone explain to me what is natural about Disodium Laureth-3 Sulfosuccinate and Cocamidopropyl betaine?

After some research, I found that many(probably the majority of) commercial face wash products contain chemicals like those found in antifreeze (propylene glycol – a skin irritant that can lead to liver and kidney damage) and crude oil (mineral oil – inaccurately named and classified by the World Health Organization in the most harmful group of carcinogens). Trust me – that’s only the very beginning.

These chemicals are so harsh on our pretty little faces that they can cause reactions, including dry skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Their short-term benefits are derived from industrial cleaning agents. Imagine washing your face with Clorox wipes.

That research was enough to make my skin crawl. Being a slight mother nature weirdo, this discovery was all the motivation I needed to switch cleansing methods, pronto.Weirdo or not, though, the benefits that come with natural oil washes and the health/beauty dangers that come with commercial ones make the option seem like a no-brainer.

I started my switch by simply Googling “natural face wash.” What I found was unbelievable. I realized that most stripped-down face washes I could buy still contain at least some kind of long-named chemical, but that I could make my own using only a few ingredients, namely, essential oils.

What?

It seemed so counterintuitive to clean my face by rubbing oil on it, but, like most people my age, I decided to blindly trust the Internet. I settled on a simple recipe that wouldn’t require me to purchase too many oils (being real here, I have almost no disposable income). I also didn’t want anything too complicated for my first try.

The Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need, if you want to try the recipe I use:

Coconut oil (1 tablespoon) – very cheap, grocery or health foods store
Tea tree oil (3 drops) – average, health foods store
Lavender oil (2 drops) – somewhat pricey, health foods store
[optional]: squeeze of lemon juice for oily skin
[optional]: a couple drops of honey
A bottle or jar with a lid (I used a mason jar to make it cute)

Mix as many “servings” of the recipe as you please into your container. This next step is optional, but you can stick it in the fridge, and it will take on a more lotion-y consistency.

The Method

When using it in either form, simply put some on your fingers and massage it into your face until you feel you’ve covered your whole face, jawline included.

Then, take a washcloth and put it under water that’s as hot as you can stand having on your face. Wring it out and put it over your face for about a minute – this is to “steam” your face and open your pores more so the oil can get in there and do its job.

Next, use a clean washcloth and warm water to wipe the remaining oil from your face. And voila! You’re done!

Other Options

There are endless variations on the recipe, because so many essential oils possess cleansing and antibacterial properties. I read about one girl who uses literally only coconut oil. I read another article listing possible oils to mix, including castor oil, which apparently is a fantastic gentle cleansing oil. I think I’m going to try it in my next recipe.

If you want to get creative with different scents and oils, do a Google (or Bing, I don’t know your life) search on essential oils, determine which ones have cleansing and/or moisturizing properties, and try those in a face wash blend! It’s all about finding the one that works wonders for you.

Results

The results are actually unbelievable. Like I said at the beginning, my skin is clear, soft, and glowing. My pores look smaller, too. I even put on some makeup to test it out, and the oil peeled all of it right off.

Whether you have extremely dry, extremely oily, normal, or acne prone skin, there’s a natural oil face wash out there for you. Best of luck in making the switch! Your skin will thank you.

cat in tub

Any other natural face wash ideas? Share them in the comments section below!

Images: Sharon_K, Flickr; Veganbaking.net, Flickr