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Jun 5, 2007 08:16 PM

What do Chowhounds do for a living (besides eat of course)? [old]

So this has interested me for a while. What do chowhounds do for a living and do the hounds in general have a higher median income than the average working individual across the country? Or do we just really like to eat and would rather not buy other gadgets (such as a new car, nicer digs, better entertainment center, etc) and just spend our not necessarily disposable income on restaurants, cafes, bars, farmer's markets goods, etc?

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  1. Great topic!
    Since I am a newbie here, I will jump right in. I train elite rescue teams (SWAT, SRT,etc) all around the country and other parts of the world. All my travels have made me the CH that I am today! LOL

    13 Replies
    1. re: Lala0310

      I first discovered the whole chowhound thing from an article about Jim Leff that appeared in the New Yorker a few years back. After reading it, I thought to myself, "Yes! Yes, by God, he nailed it! This is my life they're talking about." My life-time condition was fully identified and even given a name. It was as if I just discovered I was Jewish, or something. In fact, I may start listing "Chowhound" as my religious affiliation.

      1. re: flavrmeistr

        This is so funny. With the number of hours that I've been on Chowhound lately, I would have to agree. :-)

        1. re: flavrmeistr

          Might work...LOL...I am a church goer and religious and you wouldn't beleive how many excuses we find for Pot luck supppers or Dinner on the ground...I never ate like this before I got saved. I think it accounts for so many chubby church goers...we are Chowhounds.

          1. re: eveh

            Well, I actually work in a church - I am an administrator for a Unitarian Universalist Church. CH has been a part of my life longer than the church, so I hope I never have to chose between them.

            1. re: catzen

              Intriguing. I work in a church too--I'm the pastor.

              I grew up around lots of food because my dad ran a restaurant, and my grandpa owned a grocery store. Before my time my great-grandma on my dad's side also ran a restaurant. I have a cousin now who's a chef. My sister would like to get back in the food business (she's an accountant), but the closest I intend to get back to that is serving Communion on Sundays.

          2. re: flavrmeistr

            Um ok. So Chowhounding is a religion? Is it non-profit? Can I deduct everything we spend eating out from my taxes... ;)

            1. re: flavrmeistr

              I read that article too - it was by Calvin Trillin. I just loved the distinction between "foodie" and "chowhound" and recognized myself immediately in the latter.

              1. re: cinnamon girl

                do you have a link to that article?


                1. re: kevin

                  According to the New Yorker website, you need a subscription to access past issues (this article was from Sept. 3, 2001).


              2. re: flavrmeistr

                Chowhounding as religion. Hmmm.. I LIKES it! It is about the only thing I do religiously every day outside of natural bodily functions and brushing my teeth.

                TMI? Tough crackers!

                I am retired. I had a restaurant 20-32 then spent 9 years going around telling other people what they were doing wrong - and they paid me for it! Now I raise chickens, fruit and veggies. Chickens think they can do no wrong - so I do not even try, but they will be coaxed... usually. I also fish. You still have to put chow on the table - I guess it IS my religion!

              3. re: Lala0310

                I'm an editor for a newspaper covering movies and TV. I've done that for years, but my love of food led to me taking a class in food writing (maybe it was momentum after all the posting on Chowhound). With a busy day job, I don't have much time to pitch freelance articles, so I started a food blog. It doesn't bring in any money, but that led to a tiny neighborhood paper asking me to review for them, so once a month they pay for me to go to a restaurant of my choice, whoo-hoo!. The rest of the time, we tend to eat in the many cheap ethnic restaurants L.A. is luckily full of.
                Not sure why I like to eat so much -- my midwest-born mom was adventurous and used to schlep me to eat dim sum and to Greek festivals and such back in the 1970s. Then I backpacked around Europe and Southeast Asia a bit, and worked briefly for a French magazine, and somehow it all coalesced into near-obsession.

                1. re: Lala0310

                  Well I teach sixth grade in St Paul. I have a special "cooking class" during my prep. time once a week-the kids have to have good behavior and there's a drawing-it's one of their favorite things all week. Sometimes we just make English Muffin Pizza or Root Beer Floats, but it's good for them to start young enjoying the process of eating and cooking (they still eat Hot Cheetos and Mountain Dew for breakfast, but it's a start!)

                2. O.K, I'll bite. My husb and I are both medical docs. However, I've gotta admit that I started being a CH when I was poor and in medical school, barely making the rent

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: YumTum

                    Interesting. FYI, when we did user surveying back in the 90's, we found that the site was rife with lawyers (also, curiously, just about every rock critic in America), but there was not one single doctor. So good to have you along!

                    1. re: Jim Leff

                      if i'm right jim you're into music and so are a lot of the other critics for weekly and some daily papers.

                      What is the relationship between being involved with good food and music?

                      i gues it'll be for another thread (or maybe beyond the scope for now).

                      1. re: kevin

                        that would be an interesting topic to explore. I'm also a musician.

                        1. re: kevin

                          Musician here too. Pianist, voice coach, director of music & choirs for my church and a local private school.

                          1. re: kevin

                            Maybe someone knows what happened to Dining Music or where it went?
                            I am so besides myself, when all I hear is some inaucible rock or worse with words not of this world.
                            There just isn't any relaxing music to be found in most restuarants now a days!
                            And then you have to talk above it to be heard!
                            Whave you ever been in a bar or club, where the bar tender could not hear you say what you wanted?

                            1. re: kevin

                              I am always late to the party!

                              I work in the music industry and I really think that there is some kind of connection between good music and good food. I know so many colleagues who are good cooks and/or chowhounds.

                              1. re: Boudleaux

                                You have a point there, Boudleaux. My boyfriend is a recent gourmand, mostly under my tutelage, but his career in the music industry has grown at the same rate as his love of food. It's almost as if, in embracing the art and soul of dining, he has re-connected with the art and soul of music.

                            2. re: Jim Leff

                              Been following chowhound for a while and also a doctor. In the 90s, I was still studying to be a doctor and probably called myself a student.

                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                Ok, I fess up--I'm one of those lawyers. . . . And a dyed-in-the-wool Chowhound addict. I learned about Chowhound from one of Calvin Trillin's books, BTW.

                                1. re: laurie

                                  Former musician, and now a lawyer! I work on behalf of disenfranchised poor folks.

                                  1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                    Still a musician, still a trade unionist, now an administrator of a national pre-apprenticeship program for disenfranchised youth. Always a chowhound.

                            3. I'm on a budget and cannot afford to spend $100 or more on a meal out right now. I'm self-employed, so it comes and goes in waves. However, I am almost always hesitant to spend big bucks on one meal and will instead go out for more reasonably priced meals ($12-20 entrees) more often.

                              15 Replies
                              1. re: mojoeater

                                Since everyone else is giving more details: I'm a marketing analyst. Spent 12 years in the restaurant world and catered off and on for years after that. Have been everything from high-heeled cocktail waitress to line cook to restaurant manager (casual to fine dining). Have many, many friends in the biz and make new ones wherever I go. I believe everyone should wait tables for at least a year of their lives in order to truly appreciate what goes into their dining experiences.

                                1. re: mojoeater

                                  I'm a cook, and don't make big bucks. I'd like to get out of cooking in restaurants (tired of the schedule, and it's hard on the body at my age) and just do it at home), but I have no idea what else to do. I love anything creative: writing, painting, cartooning, playing music, teaching, playing...

                                  1. re: watercress

                                    Maybe you can teach cooking? Pass on all those years of wisdom.

                                    1. re: watercress

                                      What about catering from home, on a small scale? Flyers in your district will make you well known. Did you try offices in your area? I know of a lady who makes muffins and such from home. Not only she enjoys it but she makes money.

                                      1. re: chouchou

                                        um, except that catering out of a home kitchen w/o proper licensing, equipment, and liability insurance is in many cases illegal. the muffin lady may be working illegally, or she may have a "farmer's market" type license to use her home kitchen-- these licenses are usually only permitted for non-potentially hazardous baked goods and "home canned" goods only.

                                      2. re: watercress

                                        I'm also a cook. I quit cooking full time about 8 months ago and now I work at a shelter. I've never loved cooking more than I do now !(or life for that matter) I still do it part time on the weekends and it's so much more fun this way

                                    2. re: mojoeater

                                      I'm on a budget too, but I'll admit that a percentage of my paycheck goes to cheese :) I graduated from college in 2006 and now I work for a small non-profit which helps underserved populations get access to health care. In 2008, I'll be chowing in Africa while I'm in the Peace Corps. What a great topic!

                                      1. re: thunderbug84

                                        Ahh cheese. It should be its own food group. Sadly I had to work during the Seattle cheese festival. Yes an entire weekend dedicated to our favorite food, over 200 cheeses for only a dollar- total. Sigh, and I missed it.
                                        I am a Registered Nurse, I work 12 hour shifts at the hospital 3 days a week and go to school for my Masters 2 days a week. So I'm on a budget (who isn't?), I dedicate a little more $ than nonchows for food, but we only truly splurge once a month ($200 dinner for 2- with wine). As much as we enjoy going out, we are great cooks and do a lot of home cooking with fresh ingredients too.
                                        I have a '06 car, a closet full of clothes, and a flat screen tv- so we balance everything. My husband is in the same field as I am, and I'm slowly making him more of a hound! My parents were not very adventurous- but loved seafood. I was 15 the first time I tried a green pepper, lol.

                                        1. re: jme1beachbum

                                          Seattle has a cheese festival???????!!!!!????? is this every year???
                                          omg, I am so HAPPY we are moving to Seattle. I could live on cheese.

                                          okay, my first recollection of food was kindergarten when my best friend and I spent weeks made "soup" using her mom's old pots and pans. The soup phase returned ---this time using an actual hot plate--in 3d grade but then all went dormant until law school. In law school it was cook or die from bad cafeteria food and cook I did. I soon realized that cooking was a steller stress release for me and started cooking for friends. By the time i graduated, I had close to 100 cookbooks many of which, sadly enough, perished on my move to the west coast. Not to fear, the collection is quite recovered though my cooking this year has been diminimus due to way too many demands from my work.

                                          i like cooking alot and would cook more than eat out were it not for the demands of my work. Contrast my mother who was never fond of cooking and survived for ten years in her house with nothing more than a microwave and a single working burner on her stove.....shudder. the one thing she really likes is sushi and I loved japanese food from an early age. contrast that with the "treat" of going to mcd's for breakfast or lunch or dinner. rumor has it that my father cooked but having not really met the man, i can't say.
                                          my husband is a stay home dad from small town america. he always had a degree of adventurous in his eating but just needed a bit of guidance. When we were dating, i took him to a pupuseria and to La Super Rica in Santa Barbara CA. It was there that he first tasted spicy food that didn't just taste like hot and he was hooked. His moto is "if someone somewhere can eat it, so can i," and i think by now he probably supasses me in adventurousness.
                                          we are raising two pups and waiting on a 3d. both far supass the average american child in their dining/eatting habits. the elder pup has a permanent jones for escargot and goat cheese, the younger pup loves meat on bones and spicy stuff.
                                          although our income is higher than average, we are still a one income house. I am reticient to spend a lot on a single meal, particularly since I can cook pretty well and like it very much. Plus we like to travel and would rather spend the spare cash on airline tickets to foreign abodes and eat there or, when we can rent an apartment like this January, cook there. my preference is meals with family and its hard to take the under 10 set to those $100 a plate meals. Result, we favor the "hole in the wall" or ethnic joints when dining out or break out the cookbooks and hit the farmer's market when dining in.
                                          and there we are.

                                          1. re: jme1beachbum

                                            my dream job: cheese maker, and raising goats!

                                            1. re: hungryungry

                                              Do not know where you are located, but we were fairly recently impressed at Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN. They have a goat herd and also do several artisinal cheeses from these. Very good and highly sustainable. Might wish to look into something like that.


                                              Blackberry Farm
                                              1471 W Millers Cove Rd, Walland, TN

                                          2. re: thunderbug84

                                            I would love to be a better budgeter but when it come to food and travel there goes the budget!

                                            1. re: Candy

                                              That's when chowhound friends come handy! We recently spent a week-end in NYC and thanks to chowhound we had a list of restaurants and eateries close to where we were staying. Looking at the menus on the web helped us make up our mind and we kept (reasonably) within budget limits.

                                            2. re: thunderbug84

                                              Please, tell us more about it. Sounds great.

                                            3. re: mojoeater

                                              Money does not have much to do with a good meal. It all depends on the type of food and atmosphere you like. Good service, helpful and a smiley staff contribute a lot to the experience. You can have a wonderful Pho for $C 10 or something not as good or flavourful in a downtown fancy restaurant for $$$.

                                            4. I've wondered about this also.
                                              I'm retired military. My military life exposed me to a lot of different cultures and foods.
                                              Owned a small rest (Korean) for 13 years after my mil retirement, and am now retired again.

                                              1. This will be interesting. Will it be allowed?

                                                Agricultural and ecological anthropologist in international ag research center working on from climate change, the Amazon Basin, and environmental policy; to the impacts of "fair trade", "organic", "specialty" trade on coffee producers. As many may have guessed, was a rice scientist in Asia for many years previously.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                  Climate change from the Amazon Basin? That must be absolutely fascinating. I know it's only undergrad, but my emphasis in political science is policy making and am taking a class on environmental law this summer. Published anything the public might have access to?

                                                  (Pleeeeaaaase don't delete this CT)

                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                    Wow! I always wondered what you did Sam, and how you ended up where you are! I'm a housewife...proud mother of two. Getting ready to go back to work in an accounting office. Yawwnnnn.