be a brew master


Hi Friends!

Disclaimer right up front: I’m a complete CHOCOHOLIC, DOG LOVER and CRAFT BREWING FAN. That being said, let me share a few exciting career transition stories that include three of my favorite things:  chocolate, dogs and beer (not always in that order).

First, I want to share the very recent launch of a new chocolate-making business, The Art of Chocolate. Vocationer alums, Chris and Darcie Farrow, of Monument (between Denver and Colorado Springs), Colorado just opened their doors!  Chris had his VocationVacation career mentorship with our phenomenal mentor, Will Gustwiller, at Eclipse Chocolat in San Diego in May, 2010 and Darcie had her VocationVacation career mentorship with the venerable Jack & Iva Elmer at Jaciva’s in Portland, Oregon in July, 2010.  Well, Chris and Darcie haven’t wasted ANY time in making their dreams a reality and opened The Art of Chocolate just this month.  Congratulations to the Farrows!

Second, I want to share a couple of wonderful articles that recently appeared on AOL.com about two past clients of ours.

Toni Cory went from being a laid-off Motorola employee to a successful businesswoman.  She launched her business, Almost Home Dog Daycare, after her VocationVacation career mentorship under the tutelage of Dawn Walton at Dog Zone Dog Daycare in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Read more about Toni’s complete career change.

And…

Mark Peffers is a grocery store department manager who is in process of becoming a full-time brew master after having his career mentorship with our fantastic mentor, Darren Currier, at The Gilded Otter back in 2008.  Mark is now working part-time as a brew master and is off to the University of California-Davis this upcoming January to study the art and craft of brewing from one of the finest institutions in the United States (the other beer making institution we often recommend to people is the Siebel Institute in Chicago).  Read more about Mark’s career transition.

If Darcie, Chris, Toni and Mark can do it, so can you!

How do YOU plan to take your first step in trying out a new career?

I enjoy inviting people to guest blog from time to time.  It adds an extra bit of content “flavor” to things, I think.  I love to get their thoughts…their take on things related to career transition and reinvention….and I love to be challenged myself a bit.  And that’s just what Martha Wagner did:  She challenged me as you’ll read below.  She adds some real flavor to the blog — both in a literary sense and….a culinary sense!

Introducing Martha Wagner.

Cheers!
Brian

It’s hard for me to imagine Brian Kurth sitting in an office cubicle or even behind a big desk in his former corporate life in Chicago. In a recent chat at one of his favorite Portland coffee shops, he looked relaxed, like an entrepreneur affected by, but not crushed by, the current economic times.

I’d recently read Brian’s book, Test-Drive Your Dream Job: A Step-By-Step Guide To Finding And Creating The Work You Love, and found it to be an innovative “how-to” guide to creating your own career mentorship.  But when I went to the VocationVacations website, I thought there were some possible gaps in the list of career test-drive experiences, so I called him and we set up a time to meet. He was happy to listen, but before long he was twisting my arm into writing a guest blog about the gaps I detected in his list of career paths. He said that his blog readers might provide valuable feedback about whether I was onto something.

What expertise do I have? Well, I’ve been following local and national stories about food and farming for 30 years. I am resuming an earlier freelance writing career, now focusing on food and local farming. I devour foodie blogs and newsletters from local and national groups such as Slow Food, Friends of Family Farmers and the Organic Consumers Association. I go to meetings of my county’s Food Policy Council. I’ve been shopping at Portland’s many local farmers markets for years, and more recently have witnessed the sprouting of new home gardens and the arrival of backyard chickens all over the city.

Even though Brian has a number of food-related careers on his VocationVacations list—including baker, brew master, chef, chocolatier, cheese maker, farmer, ice cream maker, restaurateur, winemaker and wine retailer (he’s got a passion for that business)—there are other career paths in food and farming that I think people are eager to explore. Just one example: Camas Davis, a 30-something Portland-based food writer and chef I recently interviewed for a story, wanted to learn about what she calls “the dying art of the butcher shop” and through a friend of a cooking teacher she knows managed to set up a summer internship with a family of farmers and butchers in southwest France. The experience gave her the confidence to start the Portland Meat Collective, a venture in which she and other chefs are teaching a range of butchering skills to restaurant and home cooks.

When the First Family put in an organic kitchen garden at the White House it was one very visible indication of growing interest in farming and in organics. In the Northwest, the number of organic farms growing vegetables, specialty grains and beans, and garden starts is increasing. Farmers markets and natural food stores are selling meat from small farms that are practicing sustainable animal husbandry. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms are providing a way for eaters to connect with farmers and farmers to sell direct to the public. Farmers markets, grocery stores, even food banks and in Portland, the city Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, are sponsoring food-related classes these days focused on topics as diverse as eating economically, canning and preserving, raising backyard chickens and almost-vegetarian cooking.

So where am I heading with all of this and how does it relate to VocationVacations?  As I watch new food and farm related businesses open, I see a need for more VocationVacation mentorship choices across the country—for careers such as butcher, organic and/or CSA farmer, cooking instructor, personal chef and garden designer (vegetable gardens and mixed gardens). In the world of baking, organic, vegan and gluten-free baking are up-and-coming specialties. Food cart businesses—from waffles to tamales to barbecue—are one of the hottest new restaurant trends. I just met a first-time food cart owner in Portland, newly transplanted from Chicago and loving his new livelihood. VocationVacations, I suggest, should make it easier for people like him to test the waters of new careers related to food and farming.

So now I leave it to you, dear readers. Let Brian know if you think he should expand the VocationVacations list. Do you have some ideas of your own for him?

Best!

Martha Wagner

Martha Wagner arrived in Portland in the late 80s, following a circuitous path from the Midwest to Connecticut, England, New Zealand, Northern California and Eugene, Oregon. She has written about food and health, from tofu to walking shoes, for numerous magazines and newspapers. In her “day job” (www.marthawagner.com) she edits and proofreads countless words for colleges, nonprofits and businesses. She lives at a 3.7 acre urban co-housing community where her neighbors include 37 chickens.