That Awkward Moment When Someone Labels Me a “Food Critic”

It happens all too often, and most assuredly slips off the tongues of the most well meaning people. A common misconception, an innocent remark on the road to Hell paved with good intentions. In the awkward and embarrassing seconds that follow, the damage has already been done; the label already applied. It’s that first impression introduction where a good friend is excited to show me off, to brag a little about my success–and it’s almost always in front of someone whose slaved away in the food industry. It goes something like this:

The person introducing me to {Insert stranger}: “Hey, so-in-so! I want you to meet my friend Rebekah. She’s a food critic.”

Screeeeeechhhhhhh. First impression fail. Stop right there. Back that train up. Let’s rewind and reboot. No. No. No. Can anybody say awkward?

It’s happened upon meeting the restaurant owner on my first visit to a new eatery. It’s happened while shopping at my local farmers’ market on Saturday morning. It happens commonly at work functions and social events. And I get it. I really do.

People think it’s cool and different that I write about food. They love revealing the fun fact that my blog is one of Urbanspoon’s top Georgia food blogs and that I was a contestant on Season 2 of ABC’s “The Taste.” Some like to share about my writings as the former Statesboro Herald Food Columnist or that my Grilled Georgia Peach Recipe wound up on The Dr. Oz Show. While I sincerely appreciate the enthusiasm and support, there’s absolutely nothing worse than being labeled a “critic” of any kind, much less of something I dearly love and respect, and more importantly that utterly contradicts the very nature of my personality. Ask any one of my best friends and they would tell you that I would find the bright side of the situation even if my life mirrored The Book of Job (okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but you get the point).

I created Some Kinda GOOD, and I emphasize the GOOD, because my mission has always been to bring positive attention to the chefs and restaurant owners out there doing amazing things. Whether it be a mind blowing dish or a super passionate cook, I love sharing great food discoveries and cool places with others. In the more than three years that Some Kinda Good has been in existence, you won’t find a negative restaurant review on my blog because honestly, I have much better things to do with my time. Who am I to criticize the creation of someone else’s dish, when Lord knows I’ve butchered too many a meal to count. Furthermore, I can’t conceive of a more arrogant attitude than to think I would go out to eat with the intention of judging every morsel of a dining experience. I actually enjoy eating, and don’t get my kicks by broadcasting negative opinions about other folks who’re just trying to make an honest living. That’s simply Some Kinda Bad.

If you’ve seen the fantastic movie “Chef” starring Robert Downey Jr., and Scarlett Johansson, you’ll remember this scene where a famous and influential food critic visits a restaurant for the second time after writing a terrible review. The head chef confronts him face-to-face in the public dining area and completely loses it. This scene captures every single reason why I never want to be THIS GUY.

How SMUG!
How SMUG!

So, if we’re ever out in public together and you’d like to introduce me to someone, do me a huge favor and please consider this: “Hey so-in-so!! Meet my friend Rebekah. She’s a food enthusiast.

It’s way more accurate, lacks the negative connotation and doesn’t make me want to crawl under the table. Thanks for that.

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Shop Local for Wild Georgia Shrimp & Grits

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Wild Georgia Shrimp & Grits is a classic Lowcountry dish, and one of Rebekah’s favorites.

Shrimp and Grits: The Lowcountry staple has been around for more than 100 years and you can hardly visit a restaurant these days without seeing it on the menu. In 2011, Shrimp & Grits was the most popular dish served at weddings across the United States. Continue reading “Shop Local for Wild Georgia Shrimp & Grits”

Nibble & Nosh and Everything Posh: A Food and Style Event You Don’t Want to Miss!

With the dog days of summer comes trips to the beach, picnics, grilling out with friends and family, baby showers, weddings, you name it! Summertime is entertaining time and I couldn’t be more excited to announce “Nibble & Nosh and Everything Posh!” a food and style event I’m hosting with my longtime friend Chad Steed, in his sweet home of Alabama.

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Tailored for entertaining, the event boasts Southern recipes and innovative style ideas for hosting the perfect summer soirée . I’ll share dishes you can prepare with minimal effort that are big on flavor and presentation! Guests will sample bites of my bacon, lettuce and fried green tomato sliders with spicy pimento cheese among other refreshing grilled desserts, appetizers and warm-weather-friendly beverages. In addition to my live cooking demonstrations, Chad of “The Stylish Steed” lifestyle blog, focused on living well for less, will bring his creative taste to the table teaching guests how to personalize parties with custom cloth table linens, unique lighting elements, painting techniques and easy floral arranging.

You may remember Chad from our brief appearance on The Dr. Oz Show. We met on the mission field in the summer of 2002 during college and have been the best of pals ever since. We always have a good time together and this event will be no exception. I’d like to personally invite you to join us as we sing, laugh and demonstrate how to entertain with ease on Thursday, May 15 at 6 p.m. at the Gadsden State Cherokee Arena. Admission is $5 in advance or $8 at the door. Tickets may be purchased at the Gadsden State Cherokee Campus.

This special event is sponsored by the Continuing Education Department at Gadsden State Community College.
 

New Flavors with Nashville Friends: A Food Adventure at The 404 Kitchen

wpid-0329142036.jpgThe 404 Kitchen
Nashville, Tennessee 

The older I become, the more I realize that so much of life is about our experiences. When I auditioned for ABC’s cooking competition reality show “The Taste” last year, I couldn’t have predicted the friendships that would result and never would have imagined I’d be hanging out in the Music City with the co-owner of an award-winning food truck eating chicken liver pate and drinking cocktails with smoked bacon. I’m talking about my friend, Carlos Davis of Riffs Fine Street Food. You may have seen him on the Cooking Channel’s Eat Street or featured in the Nashville Scene. He’s the coolest Caribbean I know, with a local, inside perspective on good eats. On a chilly Saturday night in early spring, Carlos and I reunited for the first time since we’d both hopped on a plane Southbound from Burbank, California in September 2013. Carlos showed me around a Nashville neighborhood known as the Gulch, and introduced me to The 404 Kitchen, led by Chef Matt Bolus.

wpid-0329142033.jpgAs noted on The 404 Kitchen’s website, the restaurant is “Housed in a former shipping container…and offers a modern take on classic European cuisine with an emphasis on local, seasonal fare, including herbs grown on the rooftop garden.”

A semi-finalist in the Best New Restaurant category of the 2014 James Beard Awards, The 404 Kitchen features indoor and outdoor seating to accommodate 56 guests for dinner, Tuesday through Saturday.

We decided to forgo the entrees all together and jump right in with Starters and Cocktails. We took our seats at the bar where Carlos quickly pointed out The Nearest Green, a libation featuring Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Laird’s Rare Apple Brandy, Benton’s Smoky Mountain bacon and citrus infused Tennessee honey. It had every flavor going for it–fruity, smoky and sweet. Who wouldn’t love a cocktail including bacon? I was all in, and it didn’t disappoint. When I had finished sipping the cocktail, I shamelessly ate the bits of bacon in the bottom of my glass with a spoon to which Carlos commented, “You would be weird if you didn’t!”

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The next order of business came in the form of Crudo, an appetizer of Cobia, blood orange, fennel, bee pollen (that’s right, bee pollen), pistachio and vidal ice vinegar. Now, I grew up in Blythe, Georgia and Twiggs County farm country. My folks and I didn’t eat quite like this. I had no idea what the majority of these ingredients were, but I tasted them with gladness and what a refreshing combination! I learned that Cobia is a type of fish. I loved the crunch of the pistachios and fennel. The vinegar and citrus flavors gave every bite a noteworthy kick. As for the bee pollen, I was at a total loss.

wpid-0329141912.jpgStarter number 2 was delivered on a butcher block: Kennedy Farms Chicken Liver Pate, served with whole grain mustard, pickled radish and the Lowcountry’s popular benne wafers. A pate is a mixture of cooked ground meat and fat minced into a spreadable paste. Nothing about that sounds appealing to me, and by the looks of it, you’d think it came directly from a Spam can. Tasting chicken liver pate was another first for me, and the truth is, I really liked it. Reminiscent of humus in texture, its flavor was rich and herbaceous. When the dish came out, I looked directly at Carlos and said, “Alright chef. Teach me how to eat this.” He took a healthy portion of the pate and spread it on the wafer, then topped it with a bit of the spicy ground mustard. I asked, “What about the radish?” to which he informed me it was a palate cleanser. Makes sense! This home cook surely enjoys having chef friends.

wpid-0329141932a.jpgNext up came my pick for the evening, and my favorite of all: 14 Month Aged Benton’s Country Ham served with buttermilk biscuits, Tennessee whiskey jelly and red-eye gravy. In the moment the plate came, Carlos tweeted, “#CountryHamAndBiscuits @The404Kitchen. @SKGFoodBlog just squealed.” It was true. I had church with this appetizer. The biscuits were perfection, the country ham was salty and sliced to the perfect thinness, and the jam? I can’t. I could have turned the red-eye gravy ramekin up and drank it, but civility got the best of me.

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With each new dish, the bartender switched out our silverware and brought new small plates. Lastly, we tried the Burrata featuring celeriac, grapefruit, black truffle, pine nuts, leeks and calabrian peppers. Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. Smooth like butter, I’d never known a cheese could be elevated to such heights. Other Starters on the menu that night featured Lamb Sugo, Winter Squash Soup and a 3 Cheese Plate. Entrees included Rabbit, Cioppino, Swordfish, Pork Ragu and other mind-boggling dishes. Dining in a place like The 404 Kitchen reminds me of just how much I have to learn about the world of gastronomy.

We wound the evening down with dessert. The grand finale was brioche bread with bittersweet chocolate, and a banana nut loaf alongside cold ice cream. With a daily changing menu, this is a place I could return again and again.

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With clean plates and full hearts, we left The 404 Kitchen satisfied, anticipating the next great food adventure. From the service to the atmosphere, topped only by the food, The 404 Kitchen was Some Kinda Good, and the perfect spot to catch up with my culinary pal. After all, good food and good company is what it’s all about.

The 404 Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Watch Me Audition TONIGHT on ABC’s The Taste

TheTastePTonight is the big night! I’m counting down the hours until my national TV debut on ABC. I’m excited to announce that I’ll be competing for a spot on one of these four culinary giant’s teams—Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Marcus Samuelsson! Please tune in to cheer me on at 8|7c. Learn more about my audition experience, and be sure to visit SomeKindaGood.org after the premier to get the scoop on my post audition show thoughts!

thetasteinstagramWill I make the cut? Show your support for me on social media by following me on Facebook and Twitter. Join the conversation and live tweet with me tonight using #TeamRebekah and #TheTaste! Thank you for watching. I plan to make Georgia proud!

Check out the buzz on local media about my appearance:
WJCL Savannah and Fox 28: Statesboro Woman to Appear on ABC
Statesboro Herald: Local Cooking Enthusiast on Reality Show
Tune in tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 3 to Statesboro’s Eagle 102.9 at 4:37 p.m. and 7:37 p.m. for my post-premier interview!

Happy Blog-iversary to Me: Year Two!

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Some Kinda Good is two. Happy Blog-iversay to me! The year 2013 has been filled with amazing opportunities, complete with my local TV debut on Statesboro Cooks, lots of feature writing, live cooking demonstrations, volunteering and more. What a year!

To celebrate Some Kinda Good’s second birthday, my friends at Braswell Food Company have graciously donated a Gourmet Holiday Gift Set to one of YOU, my lucky readers! How awesome is that? Before we get to that, I’d like to take a look back at a few of my favorite moments from 2013, highlighting some pretty major accomplishments:

Urbanspoon Recognition

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Some Kinda Good has held the #2 ranked spot on Urbanspoon’s Leaderboard of Top Georgia Food Blogs since April 2013.

Freelance Work

I became a guest blogger for Visit Savannah, and my local work is also featured on the Visit Statesboro website. 

MomentsI got to write the November Cover Story for Moments Magazine, featuring Hunter Cattle Company’s Kristan Fretwell. 

Newspaper Food Columnist

May 19, 2013 - A proud day. My first published food column.
May 19, 2013 – A proud day. My first published food column.

I became a food columnist for the Statesboro Herald in May 2013.

TV Appearances

I had the opportunity to co-produce and host two episodes of Statesboro Cooks, a local, cable TV cooking program in June and November this year.

Live Cooking Demonstrations

I was invited to be the Celebrity Chef at the Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers' Market on August 17, 2013. What a blast!
I was invited to be the Celebrity Chef at the Statesboro Main Street Farmers’ Market on August 17, 2013. What a blast!

In August, I appeared as the Celebrity Chef at my local farmers’ market, where I performed a live cooking demonstration serving up Summer Bruschetta.

Future Happenings

wpid-IMG_20131122_152547.jpgPerhaps the most exciting adventure this year has been auditioning for The Taste on ABC in L.A., Calif. Premiering on Jan. 2, 2014 at 8 p.m., the cooking competition reality show is sure to be entertaining. I hope you’ll tune in to see how my Hollywood experience plays out!

Thank You
Since its inception in Nov. 2011, Some Kinda Good has reached nearly 37,000 hits. Though it’s a lot of hard work, blogging has proved to be a wonderful, creative outlet and platform for me. My success wouldn’t be possible without you, and my dishes wouldn’t be as delicious without Georgia Farmers! I sincerely thank you, my blog followers, for reading and sharing my little piece of the World Wide Web with your friends and family. Thanks for your encouraging comments, and all your “likes” and re-tweets. Not a single one has gone unnoticed. To my farmer friends, chefs and restaurant owners, thank you for making Southeast Georgia the finest place to exist.

I especially thank Julia Child who said, “Find something your passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” As it turns out, that philosophy has served me well.

Giveaway Information

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Braswell’s Gourmet Holiday Gift Set includes pumpkin, apple and sweet potato fruit butters, and Balsamic Sweet Onion Jam and Red Pepper Jelly. Some Kinda Good approved!

I couldn’t think of a better way to show my appreciation for your support than to share with you food products from one of Statesboro’s own gourmet businesses. Braswell’s has been making specialty preserves, condiments and sauces for almost 70 years. Valued at $35, the set includes an assortment of Braswell’s most popular fruit butters and hors d’oeuvre jellies, perfect for entertaining this time of year! For your chance to win, choose from the options below. You do not have to be local to participate, but must reside in the United States.

1) Comment on this blog post with your favorite and most memorable Some Kinda Good post, explaining why you chose it. If you’re new to Some Kinda Good, tell me how you came across my blog.

2)  Follow me on Twitter @SKGfoodBlog and tweet “Win a Braswell’s Gourmet Gift Set from @SKGFoodBlog! wp.me/s20PUE-4197 .”

3)  Like and share Some Kinda Good on Facebook (or just tell me you already do if that’s the case)!

Contest ends on Friday, Nov. 29 at 11 a.m. EST. I’ll email the winner and announce the recipient on the Some Kinda Good Facebook page. The gift set will be mailed directly to your home.

Disclosure: I received one Braswell’s Gourmet Holiday Gift Set valued at $35 to celebrate Some Kinda Good’s 2nd Birthday.

Update: 11/26/13: In addition to the Braswell’s Gourmet Gift set, the winner will also receive one fresh baked loaf of bread from Sugar Magnolia Bakery & Cafe!