Welcome!

Welcome reader – I’m so happy to have you here! For those that don’t formally know me, my name is Sarah and I’m a 33-year-old currently living in NYC. I’m passionate about the intersection of food and travel and absolutely love exploring new places around the world. This blog is born out of a desire to share my experiences and recommendations with other like-minded, food-centric travelers. In order to really get to know me, I’d like to share two core memories from my adolescence that have shaped me into the person I am today.

 

I grew up in northern NJ as the oldest of 3 siblings. My mom stayed at home with us until I was 12 years old and then returned to the workforce as a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley. During this time we were cared for by a number of babysitters, none of which could cook very well, and thus my culinary adventures began. I was sick of eating typical “kid food” like dino-shaped chicken nuggets and Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese and decided to take matters into my own hands. I found one of my mom’s cookbooks and flipped through the pages until I landed on a recipe for seared filet mignon with a bourbon cream sauce. I had her take me to both the grocery and liquor stores to pick up all the necessary ingredients and got to work in the kitchen. Up until this point, I had absolutely no experience cooking apart from helping my grandma make lasagna during holidays and other special occasions. 

 

My family was pretty wary of what the final dish would taste like but from the moment I started following the recipe, including a step to flambé the bourbon to cook off the alcohol, something just clicked and I felt right at home. I remember how proud I felt when I served everyone a plate of juicy, medium rare steak topped with a silky cream sauce and served with fluffy mashed potatoes to soak up all the flavor. My parents were equal parts shocked and impressed at what I had created and I reveled in this newfound ability to bring joy and togetherness through food. I didn’t pursue a career in the culinary industry for nearly fifteen years (more on that below) as I couldn’t picture myself working in restaurants and didn’t yet realize there were other opportunities available to me in that space. Nevertheless, I stayed passionate and curious about food as I grew through adolescence into adulthood and absolutely loved experimenting with different recipes and eating out at restaurants as often as possible.

When I was in high school, my parents shared a brochure with me for ARCC, an immersive travel program for teens. I can’t recall what prompted them to do this but I imagine I was either asking to go somewhere abroad or they were trying to expose me to a positive summer experience as I was a notoriously difficult and rebellious teenager. Regardless, I perused the different program locations, both within the US and internationally, and decided on a 4-week trip to Fiji & Australia. Until then, the only time I had spent abroad was in Mexico and the Caribbean on family vacations so it was a very big and adventurous journey to embark on alone. I was only 16 at the time, heading into my junior year of high school, and would spend a month with a group of strangers (who later became close friends) in foreign countries. It was an absolutely incredible experience and, looking back, I now credit it as the catalyst that sparked my love of traveling. We spent 2 weeks in Fiji during which we backpacked through the jungle, lived in local villages, visited and played with children at a nearby school, built community infrastructure, participated in a traditional kava ceremony, camped on the beach, and much more. We then spent 2 weeks in Australia exploring downtown Sydney, swimming at Manly Beach, interacting with koalas and other marsupials, taking in a traditional didgeridoo performance, and living on a boat for 5 days where we became scuba certified on the Great Barrier Reef. This experience truly shaped me and gave me the confidence to continue exploring the world in my 20s and beyond. I have since completed my undergraduate degree in Washington, DC, studied abroad in Monaco (and did some solo traveling throughout Europe during this time), moved to Utah after college and lived there for 5 years, spent a summer working on a farm in Tuscany and backpacking throughout Italy, and most recently lived in Puerto Rico for nearly 6 months to work as the chef at a farm-to-table cafe in Rincon.

Upon graduating with my business degree from American University, I spent the first 5 years of my career in the financial industry as a Tax Operations Analyst for the investment bank Goldman Sachs and then as a Revenue Analyst for a media company called Clearlink. Although I learned a lot, I wasn’t passionate about the work and knew that I wanted to move into the culinary space but wasn’t sure how to do so without forfeiting the salary and stability that comes with a corporate job. I eventually decided to take the leap into a career transition and enrolled in the Culinary Arts program at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in downtown Manhattan. For 5 days a week over the course of 6 months, I attended school in the morning and worked part-time in the afternoon. It was such an exciting and rewarding time and I felt extremely aligned with my purpose. I still didn’t know what I would do post-graduation but, with the encouragement of my professors, decided to complete my culinary externship in the prep kitchen at Gramercy Tavern. Unfortunately, I had an accident with my very sharp chef’s knife during the last week of class which led to surgery to repair the tendon and nerve in my left pinky finger. My entire hand was immobilized in a splint (which I lovingly referred to as “the claw) and I had to postpone my externship start date by 2 months while I recovered and worked to regain my strength and motor skills. I eventually made it into the kitchen at GT and can easily say this was the hardest job of my entire life (Michelin-starred kitchens are no joke). I made it through the externship with a second-degree burn on my forearm and the realization that fine dining was not for me. Soon after, I secured a job as a Recipe Tester in the test kitchen at Blue Apron and worked my way up over the course of nearly 3 years to Culinary Manager. I also landed a freelance position as a private chef for a company called The Culinistas and would pick up gigs in both NYC and the Hamptons during my free time. I left Blue Apron in 2021 to move to Italy for the summer and when I returned to NYC in the fall, I landed a job with The Culinistas HQ as the new Chef Services Director. During this time, I also started freelancing with a travel agency called Fora to help friends and family plan and book unique trips and experiences. 

 

Both food and travel have been a huge part of my life since I was young and I am still inspired to learn about different cultures through their unique histories and cuisines. You can expect to see lots of content from me related to these topics as I share personal recommendations for the NYC area, specially curated itineraries for different global destinations, and recipes that I have developed (and keep cooking!) throughout the years. You can also book my service-based offerings as a private chef and/or travel advisor through the services page of the site. Thank you for following along and supporting my work in this space!

 

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