Today is my 30th birthday, and I am not really one to talk about my history, or show the person behind the camera (or phone). Everything you see here on The Grazette and on Instagram: my love for food, cooking, farms, agritourism, and travel… that IS who I am. But as I continue to put so much time and effort into The Grazette, I’ve had a few people ask me how and why I got into this. So I thought it might be nice to give you a little background on how it all came to be.
I grew up in central New Jersey and when I was little, my favorite place to visit was Terhune Orchards to pick apples and visit the animals. And to inhale cider doughnuts, of course. Living in the suburbs, it’s just what you did as a kid. I did not grow up on a farm, nor did I grow up in a family where ‘local’ was highly prioritized. Good food and fresh ingredients were important, but we never questioned where it was coming from. Sure, we always picked up corn and tomatoes from the farm stand in the summer, but that was the extent of our farm-to-table dining.
But after going to school in a city for four years, it felt so good to return to my rural roots after college. And to an area where chefs and restaurants were starting to source more from local farms, and making a visit to the farm market every weekend felt like the grown-up way to continue my favorite childhood traditions. Except there are definitely less doughnuts these days (yes, your metabolism absolutely slows down once you hit 30!)
It wasn’t until recently that I realized how different my upbringing was around food. That not everyone grew up enjoying home-cooked Osso Bucco and Risotto Milanese for birthday dinners, or that not every 4-year-old learned how to crank out homemade pasta. Sure, there were plenty of frozen chicken nuggets when mom was in charge of dinner (sorry, mom) but it was the real Italian home-cooked meals every weekend that made food so much more than sustenance.
So after starting my own hospitality marketing agency, I had the opportunity to work with some truly talented chefs and farms that opened my eyes to what the farm-to-table movement is really like. And how it affects our communities, our planet, and our health. I count myself lucky every day that I’ve had such strong, knowledgeable influences in my life that I can learn from.
At this point, it’s pretty clear that I have chosen a life filled with flavor as I continue to dedicate my time to learning all that I can about food, particularly from other cultures outside of my own. My travels are always based around culinary destinations (did you read my blog-tinerary of France?) eager to pick up new cooking techniques, discover new flavors, and learning from cooks and farmers about their unique experiences. I know I am not alone in this, and that there are plenty of people out there that are living with the same gusto. Maybe you’re one of them!
The Grazette started as a means for keeping the local community up to date on the seasonal activity in the central New Jersey region. I wanted it to be a resource where chefs and farmers could have a voice and give us an inside look into a world that many consumers don’t understand. But these people are very hardworking and busy, so this weekly journal continues to evolve into something more personal, with stories and interviews from interesting people peppered in. And as I continue to fulfill my food travels and lifelong goal of seeing the world, I promise to bring back whatever cultural anecdotes and travel recommendations that I can.
But when I am not traveling, I’m just hanging around with my husband and mini Australian Shepherd, exploring the Garden State one farm and restaurant at a time. Tonight for my birthday I’ll be celebrating at Ninety Acres in Peapack, NJ, one of my favorite farm-to-table restaurants in New Jersey (you can read my review here). So now that you know a little more about me, if you see me out at the farmers market or around town, don’t be a stranger! I love meeting fellow foodies.