culinary


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.

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I have to share a great story about a wonderful dinner I had this week.  Here’s the scene:

A former career consulting client of mine, his wife and kids are on vacation in Oregon this week. My partner, Wade, and I had dinner with them and some other friends on Tuesday PM.  In between beers, pizza and mac & cheese (for the kids), we got to talking about how we react when things just don’t go our way.  I’m not sure how we got on the topic…but we did.

We can all “lose it” at times.  On the job.  At home.  Heck, it can even be on vacation.  You know what I mean.

Well, my former client’s wife suddenly said that she is “soup” and that her husband is a “TV Dinner”.  UH!?   WHAT!?

She went on.  She said that when something doesn’t go right for her, EVERYTHING gets mixed together and now EVERYTHING has gone wrong in her mind.  She mixes work, family, vacation…whatever….all together into one concoction once one thing goes wrong.  She is soup when things don’t go her way (no offense to the soup lovers out there).  In her mind, everything in her life is falling apart at that very moment.

Meanwhile, she went on, her husband is able to separate whatever is going wrong in life.  He isolates it.  Almost like the parts of a  TV dinner.  Things are compartmentalized and separated by aluminum foil.  His tasty (is that possible?) turkey dinner isn’t going to be impacted by the fact his “peas” went awry and burned beyond belief.  He enjoys his turkey dinner and the dessert surprise.  He is a TV dinner.

After Wade and I stopped laughing, we began to assess ourselves.  Are we soup or TV dinners? As much as I’d love to say I’m a TV dinner, I’m soup.  But I’m proud to say that I’m soup for only a short period of time before morphing into a TV dinner.

For example, last Saturday, Wade and I went to see Julie & Julia starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams (NOTE:  Great movie by the way.  Yes, out of disclosure, I’m biased as we are doing a wonderful VocationVacations promotion with them in conjunction with the movie’s release — sign-up to win a free career mentorship before August 17!). There’s a great scene where things are not going well for Julie in the kitchen and she has a meltdown.  She was soup.  Her husband, Eric, was a TV dinner and tried to support her in saying not all was lost on what she was making.

Well the next night, I was making dinner.  I had gone to the farmer’s market on Saturday AM with my friend Roey and was very proud of what I had brought home.  I was prepared to make cilantro pesto chicken, tomoto/cucumber salad and fingerling, multi-colored potatoes.  All was going well until I used the Cuisinart to make the salad dressing.  It exploded all over me.

Yes, the F-bomb was said (shouted?) several times.

With that, I became soup for about 10 minutes.  The world was coming to an end.  Why did we have such a small kitchen?  Why did I bother going to the farmer’s market anyway?  Why can’t Democrats and Republicans agree on a healthcare initiative?  You get my point.  I ran the gamut for 10 minutes.

Wade, on the other hand, became an instant TV Dinner and compartmentalized it and reminded me that, yes, oil & vinegar salad dressing may be difficult to get out of my shorts and t-shirt but they’re only a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.  “Right, Stan Sunshine”, I thought to myself. I was still in soup mode.

After 10 minutes, I then decided that it wasn’t all that bad….and I finished cooking dinner.   In my underwear…after taking off my vinegar and oil soiled t-shirt and shorts.  That “vision in the kitchen” was Wade’s dessert in his TV dinner.  And it was my way of turning my soup into a TV dinner.  With laughter.

So.  Are you SOUP or a TV DINNER?

Cheers!
Brian

Need mentorship-based career consultation?  Check out my proven 8-Steps To A Successful Career Change!  I’d love to help you through the process.

Hi Folks,

Well, do I have some exciting news, or what?

I am thrilled to announce the opportunity to win any currently available VocationVacation career mentorship experience of your choice!

We have partnered up with Sony Pictures for the release of the movie, Julie & Julia.  The movie is a wonderful depiction of a woman caught up in change (Amy Adams) who decides to create a blog about her recreations of Julia Child’s (Meryl Streep) recipes.  But in doing so, her life takes on more than Julia’s culinary recipes.   It becomes a recipe for change.  Julie & Julia is a wonderful movie about career and life reinvention.  

Hence, the connection to VocationVacations since we are ALL about life and career reinvention and transition.  We are happy to provide a VocationVacation to a lucky winner and it’s an honor to partner with the fine folks at SONY, Gather.com and Hilton HHonors on this sweepstakes.  Spread the word about the movie….the sweepstakes…and about VocationVacations.

Sign up to win here!

Cheers,
Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com