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

  • k

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.

                                                  2. I'm a nurse manager for a General Surgeon.

                                                    I would spend my last $10 on an exotic ingredient that I never heard of and have no idea how to prepare, just because I could...

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: purple goddess

                                                      I'm a kindergarten teacher, who used to be in advertising many years ago. I have fun introducing my students to new (to them) healthy foods (like asparagus, artichokes, etc.) as part of my curriculum. I am proud that my 4 year old son is becoming a chowhound himself (e.g. he likes lamb saag, sea eel, soft shell crab).

                                                      1. re: LANative

                                                        I am really interested to know how you include an introduction to healthy eating in a Kindergarten curriculum. Do you insert asparagus and artichokes into a lesson of its own, such as healthy eating , or is it part of a subject such as reading? I asume you have actual food involved. Do you somehow include a multi-sensory learning experiance with food?

                                                        1. re: JeetJet

                                                          You feed them whatever you're eating and let them eat bread and butter if they're still hungry. Adults too often give off a message that what they're eating isn't going to taste good to them -- and are way too eager to make alternative meals.

                                                        2. re: LANative

                                                          Interesting kids in food and having them trying new dishes is quite something... Tell me... My daughter recently tried Seinfeld's wife recipes: no way. Her kids are so smart they discover what is hidden in the dish!

                                                        3. re: purple goddess

                                                          Following Mojo's lead:

                                                          My father was a company exec, and as a child I traveled all over the world. We lived in Thailand in 1975 and I had a Thai nanny that used to feed me rice porridge/congee with chillis for breakfast. I ate sushi in Japan in 1973 (my very white Australian parents HATED it!!), scampi in Rome in 1976. My mother cannot cook to save her life (she orders "in" from Daddy's club) and I took over the family cooking at age 12. My 13th birthday present from my father was a spice rack from Germany, complete with German names. I had NO idea what I was working with and still have a deep fascination for unusual ingredients.

                                                          I would rather cook than eat out, and my one goal in life is to get Mr Goddess to try a whole baby octopus. He's come a long way since we met (He's a logistics analyst to the food industry), but balks at the legs with the suckers.

                                                        4. Cool subject! So far everyone has very interesting jobs. I didn't have one 'till today so, very budget as I have been living on student loans for the last couple of years. SO and I have been really struggling and now w/ this great new opp, I'm hoping to be able to join in on some of these food adventures. LOVE good food and L.A. sure has it's good food places. Would always spend my extra coins buying something edible rather than clothes, shoes or a toy. New work:Therapeutic Recreation for Alzheimers patients. YEAH! Finally.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Kitchen Queen

                                                            I am an electrical engineer, I work as a research and development engineer for motor manufacturers or people who make custom motion control system solutions. I got my itch for exotic foods when I was getting my doctorate in Atlanta, since I had no money I looked for cheap but good places to eat, and ethnic restaurants are always a great deal. In fact I got to be nodding acquaintances with the food critic at the Creative Loafing in Atlanta and we used to tell each other the latest places we had tried.

                                                            After I started making more money, my food budget increased but I still like the cheap ethnic places with great food. My heritage is Chinese, ao I have a preference for Asian foods, and since I had spent a number of years in central America, I love Latin American foods too, and those are the two I always search for. I lived in Austin for a year, so good mexican and vegetarian foods are also an interest. My latest faves are Indian foods and scottish/irish/welsh pub fares.

                                                            I basically never turn down food.

                                                          2. I'm Director of Software Development at a local SF firm. Have worked in software since the mid 80's.

                                                            Basically, I want it *all* ! Great food, great beer, great coffee, five days a week hitting the weights at the gym, riding my bicycle up the hills of San Francisco, backpacking, eye candy of all sorts (from Crater Lake to the Tetons to artwork to *women*), etc., etc.

                                                            1. Fun topic! I'm a college professor of physics and astronomy.

                                                              1. Lawyer, husband in law school. Started posting on chowhound back when I was a poor starving law student (but living in the middle of the glories of Greenwich Village).

                                                                1. I'm a housewife/artist/cook who has been taking care of my husband(medical field) for the last two years multiple surgeries. I love food, eat or cook, since I was a little kid, my mom always cooked and baked. I strayed from her food to experiment on everything else. My hubby and I love to eat, and will try almost anything, from dives to the nicest restaurants. When we travel we prefer wandering neighborhoods to check out the food and see what's out there.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: paprkutr

                                                                    My wife and I own a catering business in Los Angeles area...have for almost 30 years...the exposure to guests of diverse culture and their requests and desire for their own cuisines have driven this middle class guy from Pittsburgh to expand his horizions and delve into things I could not have imagined when we got into this business

                                                                  2. I'm in medical ethics (research right now, in the past teaching) and my wife is pursuing her doctorate in nursing research. Oh yeah, I'm also "doing" my doctorate in education (doing implied, well, doing rather than just focusing on my job at the moment).

                                                                    We're exploring SF which is new to us...we're equally impressed and dissapointed in the food out here. Though we've had a good run of late, so we may be leaning more toward impressed.

                                                                    1. I was an asset manager for well-to-do families for 20 years, then a project manager for the U.S. Department of State in Mexico, then City Manager of a small western city. I eat everything except lima beans and calves liver.

                                                                      1. In his heyday, my father was the executive chef at the Sheraton Hartford (now a Hilton, I believe) in Connecticut during the late 70s and early 80s. He really had fun with it -- prepared meals for Ford and Reagan when they were in town; won gold at the Pan Am Culinary games in New Orleans; appeared on TV for local CT morning-show cooking segments. He even was the chef pictured holding a platter of lobster on those bookmarks you'd find (and use and take home) in your room at Sheratons across the world.

                                                                        Yet I knew from the beginning that my living would be dominated not necessarily by mother sauces, but by newsprint. My folks said when I was 3 I was already folding up papers and scribbling gibberish headlines and stories and drawing stick-figure pictures in newspaper form. I majored in journalism in college and have been an editor going on 15 years.

                                                                        Starting when I was 13, I made my summer cash in the kitchen, first by scrubbing pots. By the time I was 21 I was working the line in a busy kitchen at a prominent hotel in Central Jersey -- with no formal training. Obviously, I had picked up quite a bit from Dad. Food and prep, as you would guess, have always made me feel comfortable. Theraputic is the term I use.

                                                                        When I began dating the girl who'd become my wife, she hadn't experienced artichokes or asparagus or sushi or most of the wonderful things we Hounds wax poetic about daily on this site. She wanted to hide the first time her folks plopped down a canned DAK ham in front of me on their Easter table. (As you'd expect, canned ham will always own a special place in my heart. Not that I'd ever eat it again, of course ...) We were 22 when we took our first vacation to Cape Cod, and it was on MV when I ordered her first lobster roll. She never looked back. Within a year she was in charge of the public relations side of NYC's Waldorf=Astoria, getting acquainted with that circle's culinary talents and delights. 15 years later, she can carry a knife and fork out there with any "foodie" I've ever met.

                                                                        I'd say we have an above-average combined median income. We've dined at some of the best restaurants in the country. We also indulge in our share of horribly guilty pleasures. (I'd like to give a shout-out to my peeps at Red Lobster ...) And like many parents, we often are simply too tired to cook. We have twin preschoolers -- one will try anything: pate, crablegs, sushi; the other says he wants to be a chef, or "a cooker," yet he is one of the pickiest eaters I've ever met.

                                                                        I was introduced to Chowhound.com about 6 or 7 years ago by a coworker at a newspaper, who like me, is someone who enjoys a good meal and is often inspired to talk or write about it. And I've never looked back.

                                                                        1. I edit trivia questions in a suburban office park. It is a food wasteland out there with zero opportunity for travel, so luckily I am home with the toddler a few days a week, too (playgroup captain!). My disposable income is teeny tiny, so I go for cheap eats or cook at home.

                                                                          1. I'm an attorney who moonlights training amateur ultimate fighters

                                                                            1. Well so far it looks like Chowhounds then to be well educated and highly intelligent. I remember when I first looked up CH and was amazed and happy about all the literate responses about food. Plus no one was posting in IM speak, uggh!

                                                                              Me: dentist in Oceanside, CA. Hubby is dentist in Las Vegas, no kids yet so we commute back and forth between our 2 houses. I grew up in Los Gatos and was spoiled by having great markets near by. I went to college in the Napa Valley and Sacramento. So it was a huge shock was when I was in dental school at Loma Linda University ( which is located in the arm pit of So Cal) and went to the local market for some Brie and all they had was YELLOW and WHITE cheese. I was really sad until I found the trader joes in redlands which saved me for 4 years.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: septocaine_queen

                                                                                What a great name- septocaine queen! Maybe I should change to mepivicaine mark?Likewise, I am a general dentist. When not cooking, drinking wine, taking lots of cooking classes, I am also involved in organized dentistry on the District, State and ADA level.

                                                                                1. re: markabauman

                                                                                  lol, only dental dorks like me would think that would be too cool. I love food too, in fact I am always thinking about it.

                                                                                  1. re: markabauman

                                                                                    whenever I go in for my cleanings, I always talk about food, wine and restaurants with my dentist! I even make him toffee candy at the holiday.

                                                                                2. I'm in the business, as they say. I've been working for various restaurants since 1994, mostly as a server, but also as a bartender. I have never worked "fine dining", but my ethics are the same. Currently, I am at a lovely, cute, adorable cafe with fantastic food, in a tiny town in Western Mass. i couldn't imagine a better life. The only downside is that I don't get to eat out very often, but I do cook up a storm on my days off. I definitely pay more money on food than anything else in my budget.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: hilltowner

                                                                                    I am retired from making Quickie wheelchairs. I am on a tight budget but will spend
                                                                                    the bucks if the interest is great enough. My motto is that I eat to live so I can live
                                                                                    to eat. everybody is a big eater in our family.. I love the family reunions anf the big
                                                                                    birthday dinners of one of the older members of our clan. I am third in line now.
                                                                                    and I am only 65. I have a older sister who is 78 and a uncle who 84. but I always
                                                                                    remember my dad saying that most of the enjoyments in life come from the dinner
                                                                                    table. One other reason I want to be a chowhound is all the people on here giving
                                                                                    and recieveing all this information.

                                                                                    1. re: hilltowner

                                                                                      May I ask the town and name of the cafe? I grew up around there and we're always looking for someplace good to go!

                                                                                    2. I am currently in school!! Studying Business Finance and Hospitality!! Aspirations to be Event Planner. I also work in the restaurant industry. I started in restaurants about 6 years ago and have moved up from casual chains to night clubs, to fine dining, I now work at a restaurant which is frequently discussed on CH and LOVE IT!! I don't have a big budget to go out but would rather save and go out once a month to something GREAT!!! I love to cook and experiment with new ideas/techniques.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: chrystaldawn

                                                                                        good for you chrystal.....love all the stories here on this post....myself, im a restauranteur in manhattan who spends 60% of my extra $$ on food experiences.....so many in the city....its 50% research, 50% love for the culinary arts....

                                                                                      2. I'm a college history professor (Latin American history) in the Pacific Northwest. Happiest when I find cheap, yet delicious surprises, but will occasionally indulge in the high end, out of this world feast - although, to be honest, the best food I have ever eaten has been off street and market stands in Mexico, and a hole in the wall bistro in Paris.

                                                                                        I do consider myself better at baking than cooking - but have promised myself that this summer I will spend more time on the latter (especially Mexican cuisine - I have a three week "working" vacation in Mexico City scheduled in July, so I hope that will jump start me). Fun thread!

                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Sharon BG

                                                                                          Sharon, where do you teach? Reed College alum here (history major there no less). Now I'm a sociology professor- google me and you'll see I'm at the U of Calgary. I've just written a book prospectus to study the "third wave" coffee subculture.

                                                                                          1. re: John Manzo

                                                                                            I teach at Linfield College in McMinnville. My PhD is in Latin American history, but my teaching and research interests are focused on Mexico. I am finishing up a book on society and culture in Mexico City during the 18th century (hence the trip to the DF in July).

                                                                                          2. re: Sharon BG

                                                                                            I did my fud at U of O, fieldwork in Bolivia, live in Colombia.

                                                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                              I did my BS at U of O. When were you there?

                                                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                  Ah! Okay, that's a bit before my time. I bet Eugene was crazy in the 70s.

                                                                                          3. I teach English as a Second Language. I love food and think about it way to much. I'm already thinking about what I'm going to eat tomorrow. :)

                                                                                            1. I've often wondered this about some of my fellow CH's...

                                                                                              I'm a graduating senior at UC Davis, just finishing up a pre-law, political science and sociology double major and am admin at a small real estate firm. I will be applying to law school in the fall.

                                                                                              I've said this before but if it wasn't for my friends working in a lot of the restaurants mentioned on this site and Costco's 10 hearts of romaine in a bag for $2.99, my weekend eating-out habits would have sent me into debt long ago.

                                                                                              1. My S/O designs optics for planetary space craft, I'm a freelance technical writer/editor (for income) and also do grant/proposal writing for non-profits (volunteer). I'm also active in small mammal rescue, rehab, and release (native wildlife) or fostering (adoptable non-native companion animals).

                                                                                                We both love to eat, and could afford to eat "fancy" but for the animals - caring for them is expensive (so far this month I'm out over $1000 in vet bills - but they're worth it, for the latest arrivals will survive and will be released to lead full, productive lives in the wild). I find myself feeling guilty if we go out for a pricey meal - I'm always thinking "with what we just spent for dinner, a shelter animal could have been spayed/neutered" or "maybe we should have put that money into the emergency funds account for the next crisis."

                                                                                                But my S/O points out that sometimes a nice meal out is rejuvenating and gives us some pleasure and joy that helps us keep mentally and emotionally balanced.

                                                                                                In general we eat at home five days/nights a week, go out one night, and get take-out another night (during orphaned baby season, though, it's a lot more take-out) - thankfully we live in a place with many delicious (and not pricey!) dining options, as well as excellent ethnic groceries and farmer's markets.

                                                                                                We're living a very good life.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: ElsieDee

                                                                                                  ElsieDee....can I say I love your post?
                                                                                                  This sentiment "I find myself feeling guilty if we go out for a pricey meal - I'm always thinking "with what we just spent for dinner, a shelter animal could have been spayed/neutered" " is a common utterance for me. Although I tend to sub out "Purse,shoes,dress, jewelry etc....that someone ELSE is wearing" Since I cannot fathom someone spending such obscene amounts of money for objects rather than on helping people or mammals in dire need.

                                                                                                2. I am an educator now working as a registered Maine guide( a full day kayak paddle tomorrow around 1/2 of Mount Desert Island and do a weekly world music show on a local radio station. My wife works in special ed.. I grew up with a strong Russian food cultural heritage, went to college in the Pennsylvania Dutch area of Pa. Sstudied in the former Soviet Union. Fell into teaching in New Mexico(got my master's on 100 lb of pinto beans and 4 bushels of chiles). Worked at schools in Norway, Finland and Bolivia. In our marriage, I do all the cooking and cook for clients on 3 day kayak trips on the Maine Island Trail. With one son out of college and teaching in S. Korea and 4 more in college next autumn, not a lot of dining out. We do, however, still manage to visit some of our favorite local restaurants. On the 500 mi. drive to visit my mom and on visits to our kids in college(5 different states of course), we turn the drives into CH adventures. One son is a chef in Las Vegas and will soon move to Costa Rica. Another is in Austin,Tx.(Yum!) and one about to start in Northhampton, Mass. So we have lots of opportunities for food exploration. Gracias a la vida.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                    Wow..you all are WAY more interesting than I am...I have been in radio for 26 years...and, am quite humbled by your stories...

                                                                                                    1. re: jennyfur

                                                                                                      I agree completely Jenny! I feel pretty boring :)

                                                                                                      Im an IT Consultant who (now) works independently for companies big and small. I have always spent my disposable income on food and travel, instead of material possessions (cars, house, fancy tvs, kitchen stuff (sigh), retirement savings, etc), and will save and pay any amount for a transcendent meal. I figure you can't take it with you!

                                                                                                      My love of food came from my mom, who encouraged us to eat and travel to get a better understanding of other cultures, their people, and the world we live in!

                                                                                                  2. Sales Account Exec for an ice cream company, ben in the retail(grocery) food business in one way or another since 1966. One of those who while eating lunch is planning where to eat dinner. Love to cook, and love to experiment, and love to travel

                                                                                                    1. I am the compliance manager for a mid-sized Islamic finance mortgage organization, though I am not muslim as one can figure out from my absolute undying love of cochon du lait.

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: jpschust

                                                                                                        i am an art teacher in a charter school in Camden, NJ
                                                                                                        come from a family that has never had alot of money but has always loved good food
                                                                                                        my husband and i gladly spend money on cooking ingredients or going out, we just buy everything else at thirft stores
                                                                                                        i am a little intimidated by everyone's resumes

                                                                                                        1. re: gsider

                                                                                                          Ditto on the resume intimidation. :-)

                                                                                                          I'm an Administrative Manager for a small software & services company...which essentially means I manage HR, payroll, A/P, A/R, am the supply manager, party planner and do anything else administrative that needs to be done that no one else will do.

                                                                                                          Father was a freelance film producer/director and traveled the world on business (and was born and raised until about 18yo in Shanghai, China of American parents stationed there for their own work - after a brief interment in Japanese concentration camps during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the family was eventually released and they came to the U.S. - my father and uncle entering the U.S. for the first time in their lives). His upbringing and various travels would have him coming home saying "I tried this great new food in XX" and he'd try and find it where we lived in NJ (close enough to NYC so he was sometimes able to find it for us to try). If not, he'd cobble together a reasonable facsimile of the meal, which got us trying different types of food at an early age.

                                                                                                          Mom wasn't overly adventurous in her cooking, but Dad would "play" with his food, trying new things. That's probably where I got my enjoyment of cooking. I'm by no means anywhere near as adventurous as many 'hounds with the foods that have been tried and enjoyed, but I do enjoy - no, I LOVE food - and enjoy the experience of trying new tastes.

                                                                                                          :::Edited to add:::: Although Mom did encourage my love of baking - I was the family pie baker from the time I was 14yo.

                                                                                                          The family (and many friends!) know I'm the go-to person for them to call and ask me "OK, I've got X, Y and Z - what can I do with it?" :-) If I can't yank anything out of my head right off the bat, I can find something pretty quickly that works for them. Although I'm way more likely to have the (sometimes odd to others) ingredients called for in recipes I suggest to them then they are.

                                                                                                          As for the budget on food - I'm not rolling in the moolah, but I'm comfortable, and good food is important to me. So while I won't spend $300 on a dinner for two more than *maybe* once a year (I leave that to my more well-off friends who have more disposable income than I do) I think I do eat well when I go out. And I try and buy the best ingredients I can to have on hand for cooking at home, often spending an exhorbitant amount of money (according to my sister) on something I just "had" to have. Doesn't matter if she thinks it is exhorbitantly expensive - if I want it and can afford it, I'll buy it for myself.

                                                                                                        2. re: jpschust

                                                                                                          I'm a director of product management for a canadian outfit that delivers financial content via the web and to wireless devices.



                                                                                                          1. re: jpschust

                                                                                                            Small world-- I'm a Compliance Officer at an Investment Bank in London. And also not a Muslim, but I've done a bit of work on the compliance advisory side for Islamic structuring when I lived and worked in Dubai.

                                                                                                          2. I manage an HVAC company. My Dh is a CPA specializing in business valuation and his income is the reason for our lifestyle (which we are very blessed with at this season of life). My measily $$$$ are basically fun money for me.

                                                                                                            1. Programmer! Love it. Only a baby chowhound... since I'm sadly a not-very-well-paid programmer.

                                                                                                              1. I'm a patent agent and lucky enough to travel often to the San Francisco Bay Area and eat in the wonderful restaurants there at my employer's expense. Fifty dollars is the understood limit, so once or twice per business trip I'll put $48.50 or so on the corporate card and pay the balance in my own cash.

                                                                                                                At home, and dining out around our home (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill NC), we tell ourselves and our sons "We eat better than most people." However, several families we know spend much more on American prepared/processsed foods or Whole Foods, yet we still eat much better than they do. Our 16 year old understands nutrition, obtaining fresh quality ingredients and preparing them with love and care, and moaning with joy as we eat. The 12 year old is happy with Crunchy Sugar Bombs cereal and Hamburger Helper, but we're working with him.

                                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: AreBe

                                                                                                                  "Fifty dollars is the understood limit, so once or twice per business trip I'll put $48.50 or so on the corporate card and pay the balance in my own cash."

                                                                                                                  I loved this...it's absolutely the chowhoundish approach to expense account limits.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                    Hey Jim,

                                                                                                                    How about doing something with all this autobiography and put it in some kind of a separate thread so that people could come on, introduce themselves, and find out who else is on here. Kind of a "Who we are" section.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                      We'd have that if more people contributed the info on their profile

                                                                                                                      1. re: Candy

                                                                                                                        Yeh, but some of those profile questions are pretty lame.

                                                                                                                          1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                            from these postings alone, it does a lot more interesting than any profile so far.

                                                                                                                            but yeah, profiles would be nice if people are willing.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                        I like that the site is super level, where cab drivers and college professors swap tips, not knowing and not caring about each other's backgrounds, just totally brothers/sisters in chow.

                                                                                                                        So, yup, the profile questions are suckage incarnate, and this thread (which I enjoyed, too) will soon be buried under the weight of other threads to come, but that's ok 'cuz the chow tips continue and that's the reason - the ONLY reason - we're all here!

                                                                                                                        1. re: Jim Leff

                                                                                                                          Well Said!
                                                                                                                          Who cares that I'm only 28. I'm still a tried and true Chowhound!

                                                                                                                        2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                          Hey, I agree. A friend and I have wanted to organize a meet-and-greet of Chowhounders in the Tampa area, but there really isn't a way to do so on the boards.

                                                                                                                          1. re: laurie

                                                                                                                            Laurie, actually you can, as I did it for the Dallas area.
                                                                                                                            Create a post about how many people would be interested in a Tampa get-together, and add your email address.
                                                                                                                            Post the post, then use the "report" button on it. In the comments box for the report, ask the mods to make it a sticky post. That should keep it at the top of the Florida board until you request it get taken down. They'll also lock the topic, so all replies will have to go to your email (why it's so important to include it)
                                                                                                                            We've gotten a nice group together here, and I'm sure you could do the same in Tampa!
                                                                                                                            Good luck!

                                                                                                                    2. Hmmm, how far back to go... I have a grad degree in math, have been a financial/business analyst, budget analyst, marketing product manager, taught math at a little college and am now a group fitness instructor and personal trainer. I do a lot of volunteer fundraising and other projects that I could be paid for but prefer the flexibility of not. I'm sure I'll hit a few more careers before I retire (on my list is to go to bartending school and pastry school). What do I do for a living? I get to play.;-)

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                        I am a retired mortgage banker. Now live in a small town with limited shopping-so the challenge to cook with limited access to special items. Western Md-where it takes an hr to get to grocery stores other than Walmart and a local store. Love hearing about those who live in such area with food opportunities. And hope to learn more on ethnic foods from you'all. (Am new to site-but thanks to all!)

                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                          I should also add I'm a calligrapher. More playing.

                                                                                                                        2. Executive Chef for a large university. All things food has been my singular passion since birth. Most all of our travels revolve around what and where to eat.

                                                                                                                          1. I'm an acupuncturist/herbalist and nutrition counselor. My husband does the finances for a private equity firm. It's a start-up company which means no salary for him. But he gets to do a lot of fine dining for business (lucky him).

                                                                                                                            We don't own a car. We don't have the latest in electronics, but it suits us just fine. My husband has kept his ancient 19" TV from grad school, although we're getting a plasma pretty soon. Our bed is a futon he's had from grad school as well. We don't have kids (yet). I'm sure kids can be a moneysucker.

                                                                                                                            We are not rolling in money, but don't believe in skimping on food (especially for organic, wild fish, etc. -- guess that's coming more from my end). In a lot of countries in the world, people spend up to 1/2 their income on food (not including eating out). I cook most of the time as it's healthier. Yet I believe in moderation and eat things such as foie gras out at times because that makes me happy. Life is too short to be a slave to health.

                                                                                                                            1. I'm an office manager for a home care agency. Our families think my husband and I are completely nuts because we drive beat-up cars, don't have cell phones, no computer at home, no plans to save up for a gigantic house but we spend as much $$ as possible on food. I say I'd get all those things.....if they were edible...and delicious.

                                                                                                                              1. Love reading all these!
                                                                                                                                I'm an Events & Conference manager and that puts me in the lucky position of eating in great places without always having to pick up the tab myself!

                                                                                                                                My husband is a lawyer and we do love going out for dinner and tasting different cuisines; we try it all, the cheaper local Vietnamese on the corner and also enjoy making the odd splurge on some "Gordon Ramsay" dining.

                                                                                                                                We love to travel and have tasted some great food on our travels.

                                                                                                                                Also a bit of a home chef, come from a single parent home ands so mom was too busy working and wasn't around to cook (she's rubbish at it anyway), so me and my sister started experimenting and truying things from my moms old cookbooks. We both have become foodies and fabulous cake bakers!

                                                                                                                                1. I'm an attorney - solo practioner - and my husband sells rice - right now mostly to Iraq. I used to work in emerging markets asset management before switching careers about seven years ago. We do spend a lot of money eating out, buying high quality ingredients, wine, etc. - our car is about 14 years old now, we don't spend much on clothes, electronics etc. Our latest non-food splurge was our dog - and the accompanying expenses! I've loved to cook since I was a child - my first creation was coined "Mellie's Meat Pie", which as I recall was a ground beef concoction with a bisquick topping. Really got into it when I moved to NYC, lived in the Village, met my now husband who loves food and had more exposure to different foods/cuisines than I had until then, though I grew up living first in Thailand, and then in several countries in Europe. Our weekends seem to center around where we are going to eat and what I am going to cook!

                                                                                                                                  My husband travels a great deal for work and I "make" him go to local markets to buy spices, etc. for me. He also often has to entertain clients - or is entertained by them - so we get to go to a lot of great restaurants in Manhattan.

                                                                                                                                  1. Stay at home Mom with budding chowhound on my hip (he asks at age two for specific types of cheese and pasta - favorites are rigatoni and kashkaval). I used to work in politics. On one income we no longer eat out much but we try to make up for it with good home cooking!

                                                                                                                                    1. Right now I am a Traffic Manager, but have a background in purchasing, and warehouse distribution. No college degree, but I have worked hard, and attended the school of hard knocks to get where I am.

                                                                                                                                      I also have a background in cooking, I worked in the restaurant industry for 10 years as a catering cook, line cook, and restaurant manager.

                                                                                                                                      I make a decent living, have a wife that works full time, and we have a 7 month old baby girl. We have a new house, and a new truck, but also enjoy eating out, and cooking as our hobbies. We count ourselves as being blessed with good jobs, and a family, we are also lucky to live outside of Chicago, (besides than the 9 months of crappy weather) one of the best dining cities in the country.

                                                                                                                                      1. My family's motto is "Are you eating enough? You're not eating enough," so good food has always been in my blood.

                                                                                                                                        I work for an archaeology non-profit and am working on a degree in archives management. I stumbled across CH one day a few months after I got out of college, and I haven't looked back since. So, add those all together, and there's not much money there... but I make sure exciting food is always on the table.

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                                                                                                                                        1. re: pamalamb

                                                                                                                                          Writer. Just finished my 27th book. Whew. Time for a snack.

                                                                                                                                        2. Career changing. I used to be a ski patroller and museum interpreter. Now I'm looking for an actuarial position. Don't they all go together?

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                                                                                                                                          1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                                            I did the reverse--math oriented first and now in fitness. I've been asked to be a ski instructor and would love to do it but the resort is too far away.

                                                                                                                                            It's hard being stuck behind a desk, and I can't imagine going back to it, having made a break. Plus, those exams...but the money is better!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                              I did it when my knees would take all the pounding. I moved out west from VT when I realized that I was taking ibuprofin every morning like a vitamin. And I have missed math. I didn't realize quite how much until I started prepping for my exam (I've only taken one) and I had so much fun.

                                                                                                                                              Besides, I figured that I'd budget in being poor when I was younger, and now that I have educated my palate more, I'd like to be able to afford feeding it.

                                                                                                                                          2. I'm an art cataloger at a museum, so little disposable income. But I'm lucky enough to live in New Orleans so what I do have goes to great restaurant meals and nice fresh seafood for cooking at home.

                                                                                                                                            1. I'm the office manager for our (Mr CF and I) financial planning practice. Previously my husband was a VP in a large insurance company and when he decided he'd had enough of that - we bought our own practice. Our time is our own now - wooo hooo! I went to art school and recently started painting again.

                                                                                                                                              I've come a very long way in what I'll eat. When we married I didn't know how to cook, didn't know that fried chicken was a golden brown crispy wonder and that gravy wasn't thick, dark and greasy... my mother wasn't into cooking and we didn't go out. A treat for me was 4 saltine crackers with 4 squares of Kraft cheese. When we had children I realised I was going to have to feed them (surprise!) and I wasn't going to feed them the way I had eaten as a child. So I went on a mission and learned how to cook, and my boys have enjoyed the fruits of that labor! I've enjoyed it so much.

                                                                                                                                              Since we do travel for business, I always research the area and look for great places to eat. Chowhound has been a revelation, there is so much information not just on restaurants but also on what to do with that crazy thing I picked up at the Farmers Market on Saturday, or what wine goes with it. I like that everyone will write about everyplace, not just the "fine" dining but about the cheap local taco truck. I love it!

                                                                                                                                              What a fun post this is!

                                                                                                                                              1. Thanks for asking this interesting questions, kevin! I am a Mom, first and foremost, and I also have a Ph.D. and I teach full time as a member of a University faculty. As an Armenian, food has always been a huge focus of my life (other "hye" hounds out there will know what I mean...). My husband is in medicine. We work hard taking care of our child and in our jobs. We spend much time thinking about and planning what we will eat next, and going to the grocery, prepping, and cooking. We listen to great muisic a lot (my husband has a great stereo system and an enormous collection of vinyl records) while we cook and eat. We have friends over to eat with us. Our young child loves good food, too, well beyond mac and cheese and pbj (smoked salmon, ikura, muscles, and lots of other great stuff). We love great food and fine restaurants, but HATE food snobbery--there IS line between having a good food aesthetic and using it to alienate others, which happens too much, I think. But because we like food so much we like fine dining, and fine dining is expensive and when people spend lots of $$ there is great risk of snobbery. When we do dine at expensive places, we go for the substance versus the form (Fore Street Restaurant here in Portland, ME embodies this for me). My husband, for instance, hates going to restaurants that serve extremely small portions on large plates for big bucks consisting of foods/flavors that don't really belong together but are paired because they are novel, and embellished with ornamental fanfare to cover the fact that it is just not enough food. We are not poor but we are not at all in the position to spend $$ without thought (we still pay mighty large student loans and have accrued other major debts due to our work-in-progress home). Frankly,if I were in the position of not having to think about what I spend, it wouldn't make my eating any better than it is now, and I would use the $$ to help others who need it before spending $3,000 on a meal in Paris (noted above by someone referring to something they read elsewhere--how self-indulgently disgusting is THAT). I think food should bring people together and not create hierarchies between those who have and those who don't.

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: liveforfood

                                                                                                                                                  I'm Armenian too, as seen by my family motto above ;)

                                                                                                                                                2. Typical Corporate Senior Staff Weenie. High enough on the ladder to be paid well and have $100 meals as frequently as I like, low enough on the ladder to still have the time to do it.

                                                                                                                                                  I grew up lucky to have parents that always made us eat off the beaten path. If there's a sign with "food this way" spray-painted on a piece of plywood with an arrow pointed down a dirt road, I've been taught to follow it!

                                                                                                                                                  1. This is a great fun post even though it is a bit unnerving to be in such lofty company.
                                                                                                                                                    I was a single mother of four and for some 20+ years worked for wholesale food companies during the day and fine dining restaurants in the evening to put 4 kids thru college. whew. Lucky for me to live in Los Angeles where any kind of food was available and most of it great. But what fun I had and such adventures in food. I worked for a Japanese grocer who had a great respect for heritage foods and also designer veggies and exotic fruits. He was amazed that I tried EVERYTHING and actually loved most of it. In the restaurant industry I worked for Swiss/Germans and was that a revelation! I've done a fair bit of traveling and was thankful I could read menus in most of the foreign countries. I lived in New Mexico as a youngster and developed a lifelong craving for NM chile and passed it on to my children. My parents lived in coastal Mexico for 20 years and the visits there added to our enjoyment, especially fresh seafood and more chiles! I'm a fair cook when the mood strikes me and I've been told never to cook when I'm NOT in the mood! I love fine dining, street food, organic food, pub food, and eating at the homes of my friends. I don't live to eat but appreciate all the great things I've been able to enjoy. And I'm loving reading this thread.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Solution Director for an IT Consulting firm.... it involves a bit of biz dev, sales & pre-sales consulting....the funny thing is that I make a lot more money than my previous job (Director of Finance & Accounting at a juice company)... but I now generally hate spending a lot of money on meals, ingredients & wine etc.... and am refocused on value. I don't care to find the best bottle of wine I could possibly afford.... I prefer the challenge of finding the best < $10 bottle of wine that will match a certain meal etc.,

                                                                                                                                                      Growing up poor.... fine dining & being a connoiseur of wines, cognac's etc., had a great appeal to me.... then one day I realized the absurdity of it all.... its just another leg in the rat race for the ever increasing price tab of things... in the meantime people around the world starve.

                                                                                                                                                      Another thing is now that I have a generous expense account.... I eat at more "fine" restaurants than I can count and I can be very analtyical about each meal because its not my money on the line.... I don't have to like it. So I am finding that big name chefs & restaurants really don't mean much most of the time... and there is so much uniformity and not much true creativity.

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                        I love this topic! So much fun to read what everyone does besides eat.
                                                                                                                                                        I'm a French wine buyer for a retail wine shop. I've been there 11 years. My first true passion was wine so the shift into food was a natural. My "job" has taken me to France and Spain twice and I'm going on another importer trip to France in early 2008. My work has exposed me to food and wines that I would never be able to afford on my retail budget. It is almost silly how lucky I am. My husband and son are both crazy into food and we think nothing of spending a weekend driving all over So Cal exposing our palates to all the glorious tastes available to us. (Many of which I might add we have found right here on CH)

                                                                                                                                                      2. What a gread thread..

                                                                                                                                                        In the past three years I have been a restaurant manager, attorney and jewelry designer (I am just an attorney and jewelry designer now). I'm not the kind of attorney with the generous expense account and lavish lunches, although I do love to frequently take advantage of NYC restaurants and street carts on my own. I've chosen to forego an apartment in Manhattan, (for more affordable and equally chowworthy Queens), most tech gadgets and toys, and taxis just so I can afford my occasional splurges. Thank god I love to cook, otherwise I'd truly be broke!

                                                                                                                                                        1. Let's see, I have a BS in Biology. I work for a paint company in their QC/R&D department and I'm on my way to being a Chemist. A biologist who is a chemist...ah, whatever.
                                                                                                                                                          I used to work in Production/QC of DNA/RNA products, sticking my hands daily into some nasty things, but a similar job was hard to find when I moved to Texas, so paint it was.
                                                                                                                                                          Mr. B is a piano player at the local brothel. ;-)
                                                                                                                                                          We have cats, no children and no plans for them. Mr. B has a son from a previous marriage, who is in college and is a great kid.
                                                                                                                                                          I've worked in some sort of science or production field for most of my career, but I have also been a waitress at an upscale cafe, which I really enjoyed. My aunt and uncle own a restaurant (pizza, breakfast, sandwiches, Middle Eastern foods) back in the Philly suburbs.
                                                                                                                                                          My love of food came from both of my parents and pretty much all of my extended family. Mom and dad both love to cook and eat. Mom taught me how to cook from a small child, and now says that I surpass her in talent. I'm not so sure about that, but I hold my own.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Being fortunate enough to be born Italian in Brooklyn, NY, to a Dad who was a Master Butcher and a Mom whose favorite expression was "sit, Ill fix you something to eat", I became a foodie at an early age...*S*...tried to continue into Dads business until I cut my fingers too many times, so finished college and became a Sales Exec.in the IT World. Trived on business lunches and dinners..what a life *S*, so took food etiquette and wine courses to sell better at meals.

                                                                                                                                                            but all we did at home was talk about food, ...now I enjoy reading and posting about my favorite subject...FOOD...

                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                              This is a great topic...I work as a police dispatcher for a very large city ...very stressful but pays pretty well so I have been able to do lots of traveling and enjoying the food of the places I visit. I eventually want to get into the food business in some fashion...several years ago I took time off from working for the 1st time in my entire adult life and went to pastry schol..it was fantastic! But the pay was so low for positions I was interested in I went back to my former job ...but still hope to do something in the field someday. Love reading and talking about food and most of all love baking!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                I'll second that joy of an Italian childhood. I still can't leave my parents house without being handed something in tupperware.
                                                                                                                                                                I'm an account manager for an industrial power equipment wholesaler. I have to eat on a budget too, but I love trying new recipies at home, and finding new great restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                              2. Great topic! I'm a university professor (Business) and my SO is a policy analyst for a lobbying firm. We divide our time between DC and Ohio. I grew up in New Orleans with a mom who is a FABULOUS cook (still is, though sadly, she doesn't have the energy for it much anymore) and who could stretch a food dollar in amazing ways. So we always had great eats, and we always were taught to appreciate cheap eats as well as the (then) occasional splurge. I think DC is a compelling restaurant city, with such a ariety of price-points and cuisine that anyone could be happy eating there. I urge anyone who has not visited New Orleans since Katrina to GO! The people there want and need your business, and the food is as lovely as always. Go to Mandina's on Canal. Wait in line. You won't be sorry.

                                                                                                                                                                1. I totally feel for those on a budget - for almost 30 years, I would frequently have to roll pennies just to make sure I had milk in the house. During that time, I worked lots of jobs including catering, wineries, and as a freelance food & wine writer as well as a restaurant reviewer (how best to be able to eat well?)

                                                                                                                                                                  18 months ago I and a new partner started an ISP business. I act as CFO and for the first time in my life, I have not had to work within the constraints of a budget. I have been able now to travel extensively and eat extremely well around the globe and within my own city of San Francisco.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. I'm newish to CH but that won't stop me from diving in and talking! I live in the central valley of California, in the raisin capital of the world. I retired from PC desktop support (seven years of telling people which end of a floppy disk to insert into the drive burned me out) and am now a freelance writer--my dream job. Between paid gigs I write spec screenplays, essays, am working on a novel, I write a bit of poetry on the side (no dribbly free verse, thankseverso), and my wife works in special ed administration so we have a steady paycheck. (There, now don't you want to be a writer, too? Rejection and crisis as a way of life!) I cook both to satisfy an inner itch and to express my love for people in a physical manner. If I care about you, I'll cook for you.

                                                                                                                                                                    My mom was a home ec teacher and a great cook, Queen of Cookbooks and Recipe Cards. She taught me the importance of Julia Child, flavor balance, taste, color, nutrition, altho I didn't start cooking for myself beyond survival mode until I was out of college. All my sibs are good cooks; my sister has published a cookbook, my brother was caterer, the other two are proficient home cooks. I worked as a private cook for a year (traded cooking for rent) and have inherited my mom's addiction to cookbooks and recipe collecting. I'm continually tempted to open a restaurant until I remember I'm crap at business and repetition bores me, thus I am excused from successful restaurateurship.

                                                                                                                                                                    I love cooking because it's not only technical, but also artistic and multi-layered--so many things going on at one time. I love trying new recipes, and now I am on a low sodium diet, cooking and eating out have become more challenging, which is a good thing.

                                                                                                                                                                    I'll eat most anything except okra (yes, I've had it prepared every way and IMO it's boogers from the nose of the Evil One) and anything with tentacles still attached. (I *still* remember that ferocious giant squid in the original "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" movie.)

                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KenWritez

                                                                                                                                                                      If you eat fried okra -- fresh -- in the South, it's delicious. I once read that someone said they were never going to eat okra because they didn't want to eat anything that looked like it needed a shave and kleenex.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                        A South Carolina native, I learned to make fried okra by just dredging it in seasoned flour or cornmeal (no milk or egg). The "snot" becomes the binder. Funny.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                          Wow!! My husband does not eat okra, and being from the South, I never understood why. I guess I never thought of the veg that way. All I can say is more for me ;)!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                            >>>""""they didn't want to eat anything that looked like it needed a shave and kleenex."""<<<<

                                                                                                                                                                            now THAT is funny!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                              Oh my goodness, that's hilarious! I love it!

                                                                                                                                                                          2. I'm a media planner/buyer for a publishing house. i love when I get to work on cookbooks (which isn't often enough). i love working in manhattan and i love trying new places here. as far as i'm concerned- nyc is where it's at. both my husband and I are foodies. we love love love to go out to eat. and we love to cook. we really only splurge when we go on vacation. I couldn't imagine spending that kind of money on a daily dinner (by splurge I mean $200+ on dinner for the two of us). But oh it's so much fun!!!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. I'm a human rights advocate/activist. I had to settle for doing it on a volunteer basis as it's difficult to find a job outside a large, coastal city. We've moved from Los Angeles to Leavenworth, Kansas (for the past 10 months) and are now moving to up, up, upstate New York. I really miss the access I had to all different kinds of great food in Los Angeles.

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: UDHRfan

                                                                                                                                                                                I don't know what qualifies as up up up state NY. But if you are moving to northern NY you will have Ottowa and Montreal within reach and some very good eating.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. My husband and I are both in the IT field - he's a tester, I'm a tech writer (with a degree in archaeology - figure that out!)
                                                                                                                                                                                Neither of us grew up in "chow" type families, but have experimented together and travelled some, and we've expanded our tastes considerably! Because we're on Weight Watchers we've had to rein in our eating out/take out habit, but we are having fun experimenting with new low-points recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                Great topic!

                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                                                  My turn. I'm a research librarian for a Los Angeles area newspaper. I don't earn much money doing what I do, and since I live with my sister (who has been unemployed for several months), we hardly ever go out nowadays, but we love to cook - I think it came from my father, who did most of the cooking when he was married to Mom. He would also be the first one to order things like Mahi Mahi and escargot in the 60's, when everyone else was saying, "What the hell is that?" . After they got divorced, my sister and I started to experiment at a young age in the kitchen. Mom handed us the ladle, and never looked back!!! LOL (She never enjoyed cooking.)
                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm looking forward with great joy to more eating out once our financial situation improves. : )

                                                                                                                                                                                2. Great topic! I grew up in a higher-than-average-income household, which is what initially exposed me to great and varied food, and for a short time I had an actual job and was able to go out and explore food scenes myself... but now I am a medical student, so I'm about 100,000 in debt. But the amazing thing about being in medical school in America these days is that you can get the government and private lenders to loan you basically however much money you can spend (ok, it's as much as I can spend, I'm sure there's someone out there who doesn't think it's enough).

                                                                                                                                                                                  As far as Kevin's follow-up question -- I definitely spend any extra time and money I find on food and travel -- I drive an Elantra (I guess it could be worse), own an old-school 13" TV with a (gasp) built-in VCR, I share a house with *7* other students, that came fully-furnished and we've settled for keeping the furniture that's older than us, and I don't own any gadgets (no ipod!) other than what is required for med students (ok, I do have a ridiculously fancy PDA, but it's so that I can look up drug and diagnosis information for my patients on the wards). My kitchen looks like it belongs in another apartment -- I own two espresso machines, an ice cream maker, a waffle press, we have multiple blenders and food processors and a wok and a pantry full of curries and peppers and salts and pastes and wine that we've had to travel to find. So in my case, I would say my spending is shifted distinctly towards food.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                                                                                                                    I am an architect...4 years out of school. I don't have a TV or Internet at home, and only buy what I need. The $$ I save goes straight to good food.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I'm a television producer in Los Angeles. For the majority of the country I guess you could say I have a higher income. But expenses in LA mean I'm solidly middle class. I splurge (or am splurged for) on good meals often. But good meals could mean a $100 dinner at a top spot or a $15 dim sum brunch in Monterey Park. Or even a shopping spree at Surfas.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I'm an attorney and used to be a registered nurse. My love of food comes from my mother's side of the family from rural Maine- all great cooks, and my father's side of the family from Poland, who were wonderful cooks. Greek food became my favorite when I was dating my husband and spent all my waking hours experimenting with greek food so that i could find my way into his heart through his stomach. It worked!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I'm a fundraiser for a Canadian University - which means my salary is low (although like many others have mentioned, I do have a cheese budget!)

                                                                                                                                                                                        The one advantage of fundraising is that you have to meet with very, very wealthy people who often end up taking you to very, very nice restaurants to negotiate their gifts... and then they pick up the tab for the food!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. College Football Coach. Started taking an interest in food/cooking when my wife (before she was my wife) was dating a chef. I thought it was cool he could whip up meals for her and her friend. So I stole his skills (somewhat) and his girl. haha

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I own an automotive battery distribution company. I do business here in the states and also internationally (how did I get here???). No degree, blew a baseball scholorship at Cal Poly Pomona. I'm not the brightest light on the family tree, I leave that to my brothers; one in the movie business and one a published author and food critic in the PNW.

                                                                                                                                                                                            On my third business at the ripe old age of 38 and looking at the possibility of early retirement.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Socal has been good to me but want out after I retire.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Food is now a passion, after growing up poor on Gov't cheese and powdered milk I often wonder how I came to enjoy it so much. I both eat out and cook well at home. I study cuisines until perfect a dish, then move on to the next one.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I guess you might say I'm slightly type A. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: holy chow

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm a self-employed custom picture framer and artist. My wife is a director of ops at a software company. Not having kids and a decent income allows us to occasionally really splurge on a meal out, although we typically go out to a restaurant at least once a week. We're in CT, but really love going into Manhattan, a 2 hr drive for us, just to hit one of our favorite restaurants, usually Babbo or Campagnola. Sometimes on a Saturday we'll hit the Greenmarket. I'm Irish and Italian, but heavily favor my mom's Italian side - she's 100%. Growing up with my gram's homemade ravioli then her linguini with blue crab sauce on Christmas Eve with baccala etc., which I try to replicate every Christmas Eve myself, really provided the backbone for my love of everything Italian. I came across this site a couple of years ago and was amazed, still am at all of the foodie knowledge the Hounds have. We love reading new resto reviews then going out to try them for ourselves, which usually means more trips to NYC (Sfoglia, Del Posto etc.) I first got turned on to cooking in my late twenties, after having a sudden urge to make pizza. It turned out pretty well, and have been addicted to cooking ever since. I attended Toscana-Saporita cooking school in Tuscany this past November and had the time of my life, would like to do it again.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. This is SOOO cool! I think we need to have a CH festival and instead of our real names we can wear little tacky nametags with out handles on them. Food and libation would be the focus and then we can all socialize.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'd party with you all any day.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                Actually, that's what we've done in the Bay Area every October since 2001. It's called the Chowing with the Hounds Picnic - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/417546

                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh, and I'm an archivist.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. This is fascinating! and intimidating - but what wonderful dinner party conversation this group would have! I don't post much, but, just for the grand catalogue of professions sake - I am an opera singer. (sounds far more glamourous than it is ! no $3000 meals here...)

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I'm a PhD research scientist who took out a loan in graduate school in order to be able to eat, drink, and be merry. Just now paying it off, but being able to get out and enjoy good food and be in the the company of sane, non-sciencey people? Priceless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chao

                                                                                                                                                                                                    What field of science? There don't seem to be many scientists on here!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Christ, what haven't I done for a living? Dishwasher, cook, pipe layer, fisherman, musician, industrial painter, cab/truck driver, cowboy, apprenticeship instructor, city councilman...a few other things I probably shouldn't mention. Occupations that demand a lot of street travel contribute to chow awareness (road musician, cab/truck driver in particular). The more you're out there, the more chow you're able to check out.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chowhounding, in my opinion, need not require an extravagance of cash. In fact, the simpler, more wholesome foods are usually the most satisfying to me. That's why I mainly seek out good immigrant food and local specialties. I now make a fairly comfortable living and don't mind laying out a few bucks for an excellent meal (especially wines), but I just hate spending a lot of money on food that isn't worth it. I just want what's good and will devote an unreasonable amount of time, research and resources to that end. Food is always on my radar and my radar is always on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I just left the IT Audit field at a financial services provider for a job at a large CT bank, working in the Financial Investigations Unit. I have an MS and a CFE under my belt, and if I had the chance, I'd stay in school forever!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm in my mid 20's, living with a roommate and definitely on a budget - I'm a big fan of farmers markets, local produce shops and Trader Joe's...but I absolutely despise Whole Foods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nice dinners out with my SO are a rare treat, basically because I'm not really into fancy expensive places. It's nice once in awhile, and that's really all my budget can handle! In all honesty, I'd rather scrounge for change and hit up the local spots for some good ethnic chow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm definitely the "foodie" of all my friends. They're mostly junk eaters, but they never turn down an invite when I'm cooking :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I'm a full-time glutton who works for a film studio.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Purchasing Mgr for a manufacturing co my family owns, although I'm thinking of changing my title to Director of Strategic Sourcing. ; ) (Sounds soooo much more impressive). My mom was a mostly mediocre cook who didn't really enjoy herself in the kitchen. Lots of tuna noodle casserole, kraft mac & cheese and Spanish ?! rice.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Started cooking in my late twenties and haven't look back since. Got hooked on cookbooks (500 & counting...) and trying out as many new things as time and $ allow. My SO and I travel quite a bit and love to find out of the way places with great food. A hole-in-the-wall bar-b-que joint in residential Houston? Perrrfect!
                                                                                                                                                                                                          CH is a fantastic resource and I always do my research here prior to hitting the highway. We don't have children and refuse to upgrade to that shiny, showy house in the burbs (with the equally shiny and showy mortgage), so we have a decent amount of disposable income. We probably eat at home 3-4 nights a week and eat out the rest. Life is pretty good here in NE Ohio.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I work as a technical writer for an IT firm and my fiance owns an indoor baseball training complex. I majored in East Asian Studies and did a fourteen-city tour of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan when I was an undergrad...I come from a working class Southern family so it was quite an experience! Since then I've been categorized by my family as "the one who likes strange foreign food" (which is basically anything other than meatloaf and mashed potatoes ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            My fiance and I have adventurous palates and simply love to eat. We live comfortably and go to restaurants very frequently - the Tampa Bay area has some decent chowish options but I'd love to be closer to a larger city with more ethnic offerings. I love the IDEA of cooking and will make something random and labor intensive once every couple of months, hence my kitchen being full of interesting ingredients that are rarely used but lovely to look at! I feel the same way about all of my beautiful cookbooks :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Graphic Designer for a small design firm outside of DC. I've been in the field for 5 years now. My focus is on print design but I enjoy having input on web design...just don't like the technical execution process of it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Let's see...I do ok with income...probably closer to the lower end of the average pay for designers my age...but I love the small firm I'm at...love the people and clients!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              My appreciation for good food comes from living so close to some great restaurants! I was a very picky eater as a youngster...I didn't start eating pasta, salad, eggs, fish and lots of vegetables until after I graduated from high school. All of a sudden I started craving food that used to make me gag! With the expansion of my food palate...also came a discerning palate! Woo hoo!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              So now I'm always looking for great food finds...I'm over the "hip" new restaurants...looking for truly enjoyable food no matter the atmosphere! And I'm lucky to have my bestest friends living in NYC...so I get to experience the great food up there a few times a year!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: AlliantK

                                                                                                                                                                                                                AlliantK, I was wondering when a graphic designer was going to show up. Me too. I freelance for wineries these days, which has pushed me into experiencing good wine that I would have considered too expensive before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've always cooked, my mother and grandmother cooked, but when i had kids it was hard to go out so I really had to cook something well if I wanted to eat well. We still don't go out much, don't spend money on clothes, house, electronics (except for work) but I'm always at the farmers' market paying lots of money for vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. This is a great idea - what a diverse bunch of people we are!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm a photo researcher and I do some consulting for auto racing teams. In college I cooked for a catering company and then on the weekends I would be a server at the catered affairs. Now I do what I call "rescue catering" for my friends - when they need last minute meal ideas or preparation, I come to the rescue.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                $100 on a meal? not me, I can't even justify $10 on spaghetti and meatballs! I analyze the cost of a meal way too much when I go out to eat. I look at the ingredients and think "now how much would this cost if I made it at home". Personally I'd rather spend that money on kitchen gadgets, cookbooks or scour flea markets for great mismatched dishes - boy how people change - 10 years ago my money went into high heels and business suits!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Wow. dcandohio and I are kindred spirits. I grew up in Ohio, and live near DC. After my parent's divorce, my Dad married a New Orleans native who taught me how to make a proper roux among other things!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My love of food probably came from my mom. She grew up in Ohio but lived overseas for a few years. I was always her kitchen helper and assistant planner for dinner parties.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As for me, my degree is in Secondary English Education. I waitressed in college to pay the bills. I spent ten years teaching middle school English. I learned to get creative on a tight budget.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  These days, I am a data network engineer. English teacher....network engineer...go figure. My budget is no longer tight, but I still look for good bargains.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I feel DC is often overlooked as a restaurant town. I LOVE the variety here from food to prices. I can get a good bowl of pho or saltenas for under 10 bucks or splurge at a place like Citronelle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  BTW, if DakotaGuy is lurking, I would LOVE to know what he does for a living. Money never seems to be an object or he has a bottomless expense account. Just curious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: rHairing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi rHairing. Nice to virtually meet you. Nothing beats the ability to make roux. People are scared to even try, and because I watched my Mom make roux ever since I was old enough to climb up on the stool next to the stove, I never found it very intimidating. Gumbo = love.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dcandohio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It took me a while. I was always worried about burning it. I actully do well with all of the recipes given to me by my stepmom. I just wish there was a decent, lowerscale than Acadiana(oh that duck...) place where I can get a decent fully dressed po'boy(not some variation) here in NoVA/DC. Okra's in Manassas was disappointing as was Old Hickory Grill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rHairing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Now you've got me dreaming of a real, dressed, roast beef po-boy (how much I enjoy seeing people's faces who don't know what "dressed" means). Shame on you! I'll be hungry for it all day! Here in Ohio, there's just no such thing....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dcandohio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What does 'fully dressed mean? "My Food Lover's Companion" defines it as "to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          prepare game, fowl, fish...by plucking, scaling, eviscerating...". Is this correct
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          for the context in which you were referring?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: basildip

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A "dressed" po' boy has lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayonaise on it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: rHairing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yum....Citronelle. The yogurt I just ate seems so un-fullfilling now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I am in satellite radio.....I do a live, daily show that is broadcast through Asia and Africa. Fun stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. i am a natural foods chef, formerly a bartender. while bartending (10 years) i always lived modestly and drove $500 cars in order to save 1/2 of my cash tips in order to travel 1 month of the year, see the world, eat whatever i wanted & live it up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      dh and i, having been in the biz our whole adult lives, hit 30, got married, and started our company with a small govt. loan for people living below the poverty level to start small businesses. we've done a lot of things differently than big corporate. our company is in its 3rd year and we've done some wonderful things. the 1st year of business we got 5 days off, now we get sundays off every week and can sometimes swing a second day somewhere. we are dead broke but happy-- we do spend far more $$ on food than our circumstances would otherwise permit, but we couldn't stay current otherwise! my degree is in fine arts. we'd like to have 1 child but can't afford to right now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. For seven years I was a Call Center Trainer/Customer Service Rep for a catalog company that specializes in supply for museums/galleries/photographers such as mat board, framing, archiving etc. Being very stressed everyday turned me into a chowhound. All I wanted to do after 10 hours a day of hearing customers tell me they want to kill me because their frame wasn't in stock made me want to come home to something good to eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. im a computer geek by day - i design and build e-mail networks. for fun i do some freelance writing -mostly arts and culture stuff. i'm a member of slow food phoenix, and love every minute of it. yes, you can grow produce in the summer in the desert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          my parents were both pastors growing up, and we didn't have alot of money. the best memories of childhood were when the missionaries would come home for the summer, and they'd make us food from they were stationed. we tried everything, and to this day my favorite cuisine on earth is from senegal - amazing flavors!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i also echo the sentiment that the best memories come from the dinner table, and i'm finally old enough that my southern grandma trusts me with the family recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          biscuits and lemonade anyone? :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: winedubar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ah, another computer geek. I do IT work, some helpdesk and computer server work. I, too, could talk for quite a while about postfix, not that anyone would want to listen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My Mom can't really cook--for her, ice in the diet soda = fancy cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            (paternal) Grandma is a great cook, solidly middle American, slight German taste to her food, very yummy, and mountains of Christmas cookies. Day Care lady was French and could really really cook. I love to try new dishes in restaurants, can say "yes, I *really will* eat that" in four different languages, get stares when I am able to intelligently discuss underrepresented cuisines with someone native to that country, am a sucker for exotic and mysterious ingredients which I then have to figure out how to prepare, and love to eat with groups of good friends who appreciate good company and good food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: winedubar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i've had some good senegalese dishes in harlem! but would love to explore more!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I sell restaurant equipment. I started this job six months ago, after spending the last 10 years working in various kitchens. I worked in a hotel's banquet department, and the corporate cafeterias of a film company and a major clothing retailer. I've also done, and continue to do, a ton of catering.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Ohhh...everyone has such interesting & colourful jobs!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Me, I wallow in mediocrity, working as a gopher for a non-profit; solidly middle-class OC.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                What allowed me to become a chowhound before I knew what that was, was having parents that lived overseas and friends who lived across the country. That required travelling/dining solo nationally & internationally @ 17, renting cars to travel across states @ 18 (before the age changed to 25), and hitchhiking once. And THAT allowed me to meet & dine w/all sorts of interesting characters @ both high end & hole-in-the-wall spots.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now that I'm middle-aged, matronly & betrothed, I travel less on a whim but Mr OCAnn cooks to relax.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                How do I spend my disposable income? My life choices have been simple: I drive a petite English jalopy (for my 10-minute, 3 mi commute) and live in a hovel. I disdain trends and shopping; so much of my spending goes to necessities (FOOD!, albeit non-extravagant).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Wow, great idea for a thread! I'm an underemployed theoretical linguist (I spend a lot of time grovelling for research funds and teaching gigs). A couple of years ago I got fed up with the rat race, went to cooking school, and got a job as a pastry cook at a 5-star resort. After a year of 60-hour workweeks in a workplace that was like an evil cross between "Dilbert" and "Beavis and Butt-Head", I realized I'd much rather spend my days grading problem sets and dealing with plagiarism issues.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But I still love to cook, and of course, to eat. *Nothing* will ever take that away from me!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Hue

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Well, someone's gottta do it! ;<)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Chow Police will probably shut me down if I try explain exactly what it is that I do (which will take forever)--but I will say that while linguists don't get paid a lot, there are always opportunities for travel—and thus, opportunities to eat new things in strange environments. (A fieldwork project that I was involved in a few years back actually forced me to overcome my lifelong aversion to eating insects! Now I can take them or leave them...)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Piglet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I was in linguistics before law - where did you study?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. I'm a Workplace Wellness Consultant full-time in Toronto, and I teach fitness and coach sports (running, spinning, skiing, paddling) part-time. My degree is in Nursing. I've always been a Chow, although I turned my nose up at some things as a child. I can find a way to eat most things, except beef liver. Food and cooking is a pleasure and mostly stress relieving (unless someone else is in my kitcnen!!!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My dad hunted and my mom was creative and thrifty (one income family), so I was exposed to game meats and things like spinach pasta, pesto, etc. as a young child. In University I ate fresh fish, creative salads and pastas, homemade fajitas and pizzas and a lot of food that my roommates couldn't imagine cooking. I eventually got most of them away from packaged foods, although some of them to this day (11 years later) are still horrible processed food junkies.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My salary is decent but my lifestyle sucks up a lot of my money. I'm single, own a house, car and a dog. I've managed to travel the world, living cheaply in hostels but eating well. I try and get out of town at least once a month, either a few hours by car or by plane, always checking for good places and local markets. Both my parents were born in Toronto and my grandparents are from England/Ireland - not the strongest chow roots .... . !

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: thenurse

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am and have been in outside medical sales for the the past 20 years...from the Northeast to the Southwest. I currently reside in the Southwest but I am a road warrior. I am off to VA for a week and then to Vegas for another week....I can't sit still... I get bored easily. I like variety in my life and in my dining experiences. I mostly dine alone....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I love the adventure....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I grew up in the Maritime Provinces of Canada....spent my college years in the Boston Area and now I am a desert dweller. I have travelled through Europe and the Middle East and look forward to to traveling to Asia and S. America.......
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I can't wait for my next dining adventure!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Education consultant. I live in a temple of chow: Paris. Grew up in a temple of chow: Chicago. Lived in other temples of chow: New York. Montreal. Starting with both grandmothers, the women in my family are all great cooks. The grannies both grew/cooked/canned/put up their own food. My mother never fed us a burger...but she would spend hours experimenting with swedish meatballs and keftedes instead. My sisters and I are all dedicated CHs. Now I am raising the next generation of chowhound. By the time she was about 6 my daughter had developed a taste for foie gras, oysters and chevre. She knows the difference between chateaubriand and an entrecote. Hates MacDo. And she can put away more sushi than me. I don't make big bux but I have always done what it takes to be able to afford good, clean, mostly organic food. And our splurges go to the occasional meal at a real restaurant rather than a visit to a mall. (Well, OK, there are very few malls in Paris.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I'm a creative director/copywriter for an ad agency.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Hi - I'm a Customer Service Supervisor/Pricing Analyst for a top 100 Fortune company. I'm thinking of quitting and open a Latin Bistro someday. I don't have the means to start anything right now, but I'm working on my business plan. I love cooking, and eating out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I was a Realtor until recently. Now I am a volunteer with a number of organizations and mom to my 3 St. poodles. I grew up in an Air Force family and lived just about everywhere and ate everywhere, my family's home style cooking was basically southern ans southwestern. I am an Az. native with southern ancsetry. Dad was a pilot mother a school teacher and both avid foodies. We ate and tried everything. I was just discussing this with Pikawicca this afternoon who had a similar upbringing just lived in some of the same places at different times and are the same age. Growing up in the 50's and 60's we were so fortunate to be exposed to so many foods and cuisines. As a kid I always wanted to cook. Home Ec. Ed. major, never taught. Worked in store for a large chain as a consumer consultant to help people with diet, nutiriton, how to cook something, consumer requests. Worked as a buyer in china, crystal, silver and gifts for a long time, did my HS stints as waitress in restaurants and a hotel in Lake Placid, NY. We came to Bloomington, IN in '81 so DH could do just one more degree in IST, never used it IU hired him (we were only supposed to be here 18 mos.) and have about 4 more years to go. He never used the degree and now is a manager here and in Indy at the IUPUI campus of computing clusters and hard ware. We are devoted to a group of people of various occupations and ages in a Gourmet Club whoh are all devoted to food and cooking. Home remodeler to owner of a veneer company, Opera, law Faculty, Electronics consulting etc. etc. After leaving the dept. store i worked in a kitchen shop and taught some cooking classes before the RE gig. Did that for 15 years and enough is enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Work as a personal assistant to a CEO. Get to live vicariously through him - he can eat all the fabulous meals I can't afford! But, I am able to turn out a lot of excellent dishes, baked goods and candies at home, so that is very satisfying, more satisfying than paying an arm and a leg for a meal out. I am also an artist (painter of abstracts, some of which have food references in them, natch!) I do spend whatever income that doesn't go to mortgage/bills on food and wine. I don't drive at all, my stereo is a boombox, my TV is fat not flat, I own no cell phone, no Ipod, and now no computer at home since it was stolen recently. I'm working on getting a higher-paying job so I can travel again and be able to go out to eat once more--it will be so sweet when that happens! I have always considered myself a chowhound, as that is what my Mom called me all the time, what with my nosing around the kitchen and always being first to the table!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I represent a tree top lodge in the Amazon Rainforest called Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel, (www.AriauAmazonTowers.com) and I am a Brazil Travel Specialist. I arrange custom designed itineraries all over Brazil and South America. (www.SouthAmericanEscapes.com.) I lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for six years managing an inbound travel program -- and fell in love with the local cuisine. My favorite restaurant in Rio is Antiquarius - great for late night dinners featuring Bacalhao and Chilean wine.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jill Brazil

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    im thinking my next trip (first two weeks in july) might be to brazil. sao paolo, rio and maybe bahia. i might hit you up for some chow info and recs for cheap diggs!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I teach at a Chicago public high school, so I have less than no money much of the time. I don't own a TV, so I don't have cable, and I share wireless internet with my upstairs neighbor. My money gets spent on books, music and food, usually in that order, but only because my best friend has a really really good job and subsidizes my chow-ish habits by picking up the tab when we go nice places. Actually, she picks up the tab at not-so-nice places too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am in the process of looking for a job teaching at an international school, so my food habits could drastically change in the near future.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've been in office equipment sales since 1992. It's like the mob...once you get in you can't get out!!! I did have a break for a year and a half. My husband and I opened up a cafe' that made it 8 months before we ran out of money. I love to write (mostly to myself... journals) and I live for food. Mainly I cook for us at home, restaurants are so disappointing for the most part to me...too heavy, too salty, too mediocre and too expensive. If I can cook it at home we usually don't eat it out. I grow herbs, bake a lot and love to try new recipes. I found Chowhound about 3 weeks ago. It's a whole community that I didn't know existed. It's like a home away from home for me. Thanks for sharing...it's good to know a little about you all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        lulu -- I liked your comment about the treating friend. I remember in college, I interned at a newspaper and a chowish friend, a reporter there about five years older than me, always ALWAYS treated when we went out, smiling, and saying it was her pleasure. We're still good friends now! I've always tried to pass it on, sharing the gift of chow in the ways that I can. You know, it seems to be much more common in other cultures to treat without the accompanying awkwardness that seems so prevalent in the US... I feel like in Latin America I always hear "Yo te invito" tossed around -- "my treat."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        BTW I've also worked as a public h.s. teacher and I've taught abroad! Good luck with the search for a supportive school in a cool place. Have you decided where you're heading???

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Great post. I have a very ecclectic background and am about to begin career #3 as a NYC Teaching Fellow. Took a food writing course at FCI and discovered I did NOT want to be a food writer (except on this site).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Too funny, financialdistrictresident! I did the same, was your class with Alan Richman? He was hilarious and i definitely did learn a lot, but also learned that i like to write about food on my own time...not a deadline.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I run a small non-profit sending recent college grads to Latin America to work for NGOs, which run the gamut from human and civic rights, to malnutrition alleviation, to micro-enterprise and natural resource conservation. My girlfriends and I are obsessed with food, we have a dinner club in which we pick a different theme and meet to cook every three weeks or so. I'm the go-to person among my friends for resto picks from top end NYC eats to random strip mall Jersey ethnic spots. One of our favorite activities is what we call food-safari and we're planning one to the Red Hook Ballfields in July. Can't wait!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Public health. My primary responsibility is regulating clinical laboratories (I'm from the government, and I'm here to inspect you!!!), with a minor in preparedness training and planning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. good question...I've been cooking professionally since I was 16 (now 55)...went to UC Berkeley and being a stubborn hippie kid I paid my own way by working in restaurants...worked in the EastBay, Berkeley, Napa Valley (early 80's). Smell A, Boston, Cape Cod, Neuva York, Hawaii, and Lake Tahoe...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            have escaped to Costa Rica and now I consult, insult, cater, write and bring up Chowhound about five times a day...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I used to be a high school teacher but now I am a self-employed artist and writer. All of my best times ever have been somehow connected with food, either at home or out somewhere fun, and I would rather go out than anything. I would pass up a bunch of things, like new CDs, a tank of gas, or a fancy hair cut in order to go to a new restaurant and even had the good fortune to write restaurant reviews once upon a time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Intresting stuff. I personally fall on the low end of the finacial spectrum: I work as a houseperson at a Drury Inn. For now anyway. Once I can afford school, I'm finally going to have to choose, carrer-wise, between my twin passions of music and cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Unless...unless I find a good way to combine the two!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: willrun4food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  willrun--- How about anthropology??? ;) Of course, I'm biased b/c I majored in that, and my parents still wonder about those hefty tuition checks they signed, from time to time asking what I'll be when I grow up, nearly a decade after graduating. Seriously, though, as an anthropologist you can travel the world and explore culture which would include music AND cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ff, as a long-working agricultural and ecological anthropologist, I can't agree more in terms of travelling the world and really exploring food everywhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Retired newspaper writer and editor in the S.F. Bay Area (Sonoma County now). First realized the possibilities of food when my dad located his photo studio on the edge of Chinatown and the family tried a Chinese restaurant for the first time. I became a seafood and sourdough bread freak at the same time (my dad told me he used to pick up three Dungeness crabs for a buck, sob).Chinese cuisine is my favorite, but I rarely try it at home because cookbook recipes bear no relation to food served even lat local strip mall places, What they put in those amazing sauces I have no idea. I've also taught wine appreciation courses with a college extension.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Such an obvious question, but one which I haven't seen addressed here in my brief career as a chowhound. Well done, Kevin!!! I want to spend more time contemplating the postings, but... I've been in academia, in institutional finance, and a freelance writer, so my income has ranged wildly over the years. Food has certainly been central to my life, and I have foregone many things, like better digs, car, etc., to pursue my interest in food and wine. Many think I'm nuts, but it's a real joy in my life, and it reconnects me to the earth. I think that to be dedicated to good food doesn't require a huge income. More so, it requires a descerning eye (and tongue). And, often, simplicity is route to quality. No meal, as someone posted above, is worth $3000. Impossible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Studied chemistry in Germany, England and Switzerland and was always interested in food but after my postdoc in the US I decided to stay a little bit longer. Now working in research in the biotech/pharmaceutical industry which is very interesting but also gives me the financial possibilities to explore everything I want foodwise (and much more beyond food).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I'm in law school, I clerk with a bankruptcy law firm, and I wait tables. During school I was working 2 to 3 nights a week and now I am down to one, summer hours at the firm are much more demanding than the student schedule!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My chowhound ways are the fault of my ex-boyfriend who wanted to go to culinary school. I was the subject of many of his cooking experiments, most of them good at least! I have in turn made my current husband into a chowhound - he wouldn't eat raw fish when we first met. Now he will eat sushi with the best of them!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We don't have that much disposable income due to my student status, so we cook a lot. I spend a lot of time experimenting in the kitchen, and trying to figure out how to force my imperfect kitchen to turn out good food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Wow!!! Great post...and Chowhounders are a wonderfully diverse and interesting crowd.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Me, I'm a psychotherapist/social worker and artist (painter). I'm not exactly rolling in dough*, but I always manage to find good food to eat and cook, and great folks to chow down with...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          *unintentional pun

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Wow, such interesting replies!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I work in the fashion business in Los Angeles. It didn't take me long to realize that food and fashion don't mix! Luckily for me I work in design and marketing very very far from any runway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm a first generation Brit, born to a Brazilian mother and Middle-Eastern father. My father is a diplomat who gets posted to different countries every couple of years, so growing up I lived in many countries all over the world. My parents always employed chefs in our home, so when we weren't dining out we got to sample professionally cooked local foods at home. Experiencing the culture and food in so many places really helped nurture my chowish nature.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I adore cooking at home, and my SO and I eat out a lot too. I make a point to try as many different reastaurants and foods as possible, ranging from ultra-cheap to ultra-spendy. I'm equally thrilled with $3 burritos as I am with $300 tasting menus, I love it all!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Molecular anthropologist. I was a dancer, got into food in order to maximize health while minimizing calories, went to grad school and (I still remember the moment, while looking at a walnut torte recipe in the NY Times) realized I could use my cooking powers for good (pure enjoyment for myself and others) instead of evil (trying to stay thin).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I used to be a mutual fund analyst, and now I'm a chocolatier. Much sweeter career :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I'm an actor which means my income varies considerably. My SO teaches at UC, Santa Barbara, so his income is steady but not sky high. Luckily, while we love to eat, we're happier at hole-in-the-wall finds than super fancy places. I don't care so much about the latest trends as I do about fresh, well-prepared food. I love places that do what they do well. Though I will say that you've all piqued my interest in tasting menus and unusual ingredients! Maybe when I have a little more money and I'm a little older I'll broaden my horizons in that arena...as it is now, I sometimes still feel like a clumsy teenager who doesn't belong when I walk into white tablecloth places. : )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My parents are both from North Dakota, so they didn't experience most ethnic foods (even pizza!) until they were adults, but they moved to the D.C. area (where I was raised) and jumped right into the ethnic food culture. My mom had her first trip to Europe at the same time as I did, but now she's travelled all over the world with my dad. So, I guess their adventurous spirit has rubbed off on me. I particularly like to seek out area specialties when we're travelling. My parents also taught me, as others have mentioned here, to go to local places with full parking lots to find the best food on the road. I know some people are so afraid to step out of their comfort zone that when travelling, they like to go to chains because they're familiar and I'm so glad to have had parents that were more daring!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As for cooking, I watch the Food Network constantly and love poring over cookbooks and recipe sites but I only occasionally make the leap into actually cooking something! I grew up doing a lot of baking and that's still what I'm comfortable with and love to do now, but at some point I think all the cooking knowledge I've acquired will be put to good use.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a great thread--so interesting to read all of your stories. Thanks, Kevin!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sarahvagaca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm a veterinarian. I love to cook & I love to eat. I don't consider myself an accomplished cook & I don't consider myself a foodie, I just enjoy the experience.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I recently have become aware, from work, that my sense of smell is greatly diminished. I would say that serves me well, at work, most of the time. Makes me worried about what I'm tasting (or not tasting!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sarahvagaca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      From busser to waitress to bartender...and prep/grill/saute chef in between!! I am currently going for my MBA in marketing and advertising. It has been interesting to see what all us "hounders" do...such an amazing group!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I'm an optometrist. My husband (who is a chowhound at heart even though I doubt that he's ever actually visited the website -- he lets me post for both of us!) has a satellite television business. We both love to travel a lot (and eat while we're doing so!). I've managed to wrangle my way onto the boards of directors of several organizations that give me the opportunity to visit various American cities and get some reimbursement for my habit....and of course, hubbie drives all over the place looking for remote places that just need that dish!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We decided early on in our marriage that we would spend our disposable income on travel...so we live a comfortable but certainly not an opulent lifestyle. We do like to eat out, but we tend to like ethnic cooking...and so that happens to mean that we usually don't go to the most expensive restaurants. We cook at home too, but usually don't spend a lot on food....hubbie's favorite meal is something like we had tonight: a vegetable sak (what you would call a curry) and parotha. Inexpensive but tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My husband was born and raised in Gujurat, in Western India, and fortunately learned a little of their cooking from his mother while she was still alive. I lived in Mexico when I was a teenager for a year or so, and learned to be adventurous food-wise there. My mother was no cook, but she did like travel too (as my father still does) so I guess it just comes naturally. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and still go there to eat (and visit) frequently. The Reno area is getting better restaurant-wise, and at least we are only 12 miles from the California border and therefore get much of the excellent variety of produce and other ingredients available in that state.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. What a fun topic! I have a degree in Economics. I help run a small family business, part time, and I take care of our six year old. I also have my paralegal certification and worked in Enivronmental Law for a few years before we had our son. (I'm also a certified GIA Gemologist/Jeweler.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We don't have a great deal of disposable income at the moment (NJ is a pretty expensive place to live...) but most of our entertainment dollars are spent on dining out. Part of the entertainment is the thrill of the hunt, always searching for the next small, inexpensive place that serves delicious and interesting food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I also have an insatiable book habit and have a HUGE collection of cooking and baking books. I will pass up buying new clothes, shoes, bags, make-up etc, so that I can buy "just one more" interesting book about food.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Great question...Right now I am Presdient of a Community Service organziation in Northern New Jersey but I used to own a restaurant. I grew up in a home where everything was either broiled or fried...plain, plain, plain.. I raised my children to search out great food and to learn to cook at an early age. My daughter worked for Danny Meyer, Wine Spectator and in restaurant PR in NYC.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I am the sous chef in the executive dining room of a very large media corporation. I love food and traveling to eat in other countries. The company I work for is awesome. They pay to send me on culinary trips! I studied art history in college and grad school and sold american antiques and art for 10 years before I decided to go to culinary school. It was the best decision I ever made. Being in the industry is fantastic. You get to meet interesting people and share creative ideas and make people happy by feeding them great food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. One of the great things about food is that it can cross so many so-called barriers. I love the diversity I am seeing in these posts. Food can create an immediate gut-felt bond between 2 people who might otherwise never talk, and that is one of the many reasons i love food. Many of my closest friends are those who love to eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm a retina doctor (eyes). I used to spend crazy days and nights skipping meals and would only eat whenever i got home, and so quality is key. I am currently on a short leave of absence, and so our bugdet has dropped, and now we are doing more cooking and planning a garden to try to grow food! When we had a more generous budget, we loved to eat at high-end places, and still do. But I have always loved the local pho places, papusa places, bakeries, etc, all great places where a very satisfying meal can be had for $10 or less. We did have a rule about the really crazy expensive places, which is that for any meal over $100, we had to donate an equal amount to a local charity like a food bank or a homeless shelter. Not a huge thing, but it made us feel a little less guilty for our extravagance. We are going to eat, no question! But at least others can too.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: moh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              wow...$100 donated for every $100 meal you enjoy. I respect that alot. Good karma on ya'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: moh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I love that rule about donating an equal amount to a worthy charity. I hope you don't mind if I adopt it!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think it is obscene that in this society of mega-millionaires, people (adults and children) go to bed hungry or homeless.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You just made my day!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bxgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree completely. Dh and I eat out an average of 4X/week just for dinner and I think this is something we need to do as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bxgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Please feel free to adopt the idea and pass it along! I just love to eat so much, that it breaks my heart to think there are those who go hungry. It just takes a little to do a lot! Good eating....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: moh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm going to bring this idea up to my DH. If I could, I would help all sorts of organizations, but the thing I always come up against is that we don't have enough money... yet, we have enough money to eat out all the time if we wanted to. I had been thinking of sponsoring a child, such as through World Vision, but again, the money factor... can't afford $30/month? But yet, one dinner for the three of us is much more than $30... one that we can normally cook for $10. Good idea!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Mgmt consultant. Travel pretty extensively internationally. Have for years--hence, CH!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I'm a financial manager for a major magazine publishing company in Manhattan and my husband is a technology/computer consultant. I would have to say that we both definitely have higher than average incomes compared to most of the country (particularly my husband), but living in New York City ain't cheap, especially with 2 children (ages 2 1/2 and 8 months). In fact, in 2 weeks we are moving to a house in Westchester County (gasp, the suburbs!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Before we had children, we did a lot of traveling and a major part of that was centered around our next meal. We rarely go to the fanciest, most expensive places. In fact, we much prefer the Chowhoundish places/finds. Having 2 kids has slowed us down somewhat when it comes to the traveling and even the general going out to restaurants, but we still try to go to local places when we can.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I love to cook and I'm always searching for that next great dish to make for my family. And the good news is that my daugther (2 1/2) eats everything! I love to entertain too, so that always gives me an excuse to try something new.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have to say, I always loved food and restaurants, but I never realized how into food I was until I found Chowhound about 8 years ago. Food/restaurants/cooking became my hobby (well more of my obsession). My husband loves electronics and I love food. We are lucky since we always have the latest gadgets and we always have good food!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. By day I am a Medical Coding Specialist at a large hospital/medical school. By night I am a musician. I went to college but did not finish. This, however, did not limit my education; it just limited the space on my office wall that has to be dedicated to certificates. (My resume isnt about to intimidate ANYBODY!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The most I have ever spent on a meal was around $300 for 4, and I cant imagine ever having a better meal by spending more. I tend to delight more in finding incredible inexpensive meals, and I have had meals that I have enjoyed more having spent $50 for 4. As much as I love fois gras, great corned beef hash is more important to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I would guess that my income is pretty close to the nation's median. While I have occasionally put off the purchase of a new TV or a new bass until after the next paycheck, I have never felt that any restaurant that I was at all interested in eating at was out of reach. Perhaps it can be said that since I dont smoke, I have 15 or 20 dollars more a week to spend on that bottle of Patron anejo (which will last a LOT longer that a carton of cigatettes would) or that leg of lamb I have a taste for. (Remodeling the kitchen is another story, but I think that is the case for people with much greater incomes than mine.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Spent the better part of my college years working in bars and restaurants in Montreal.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I am an interior designer by profession and an avid cook. Just love food!!!!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was so deliriously happy to discover CH. I finally belonged!!!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I'm an ER nurse and a mom of a 9-year old daughter. My husband is in sales.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm half Greek, so no explanation for my love of food is needed (all you Greeks out there know what I'm talking about!) and half Swedish. My maternal grandmother was a Swedish immigrant and she was a cook for a lot of the wealthy families that lived in Chicago in the 30's-40's, sadly she passed away before I was born but she passed along her cooking skills to my mom. Growing up both my Yiayia (grandma) and my mom were fantastic cooks and bakers. Growing up in Chicago didn't hurt either. My family and I would go anywhere in this city for good food. The old Maxwell street, Greek Town (of course), Taylor Street, Pilsen, Chinatown. . .anywhere! I love Chicago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I love to eat, love to cook, love to read cookbooks and magazines about cooking and food. I can spend hours (not necessarily $$$$) browsing through Fox & Obel and Whole Foods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Great thread!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I find it fascinating that so many people are ready to give a piece of personal history to the folks on this board. That's what helps make a community. So, here's my contribution:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Both DH and I are artists with FA degrees. He: oils, me: fiber. We see the world through rose colored glasses. Additionally, we are retired public school art teachers. Steady pay check, you know, which allowed us to travel and vacation in Vermont, our favorite place to be.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Having grown up in a thoroughly Italian family I was exposed to all the wonders of fresh, home grown vegetables, home made macaroni and other culinary delights.....Oh, the savory pies at Holidays! We had our own fruit trees and berry garden, and a resident gardner from whom I learned much about growing food for the table. Although the parents had professional jobs they were very conscious of the benefits of a healthy diet and every night prepared meals with herbs and veggies from our garden or farmers markets. All the aunts and uncles were fabulous cooks so Sunday dinners with a variety of relatives was the highlight of the week. I was destined to be a CH from birth. It's been a very tasty journey from there to here.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I love to cook, and after I married I started all the vegetables in our garden from organic seed, nurtured them indoors for months then watched as they grew outside. Alotta work, time and money but oh so satisfying. We had heirloom tomatoes before anyone knew what to call them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One pleasure is having a meal at a restaurant where everything falls into place: service, flavors, decor, conversation....whether it's high end or cheap eats, it's the experience that makes the memory.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Great topic and fascinating answers! I'm a new Chowhound - I found out about it through a mention on a Tripadvisor forum. I am, for now, a stay at home mom to a 10 month old baby boy, having left a position as a senior/mid-level corporate associate at a large NY law firm. Before law school, I received an MS in linguistics but abandoned professorial hopes and my doctoral program after a look at the almost nonexistent job market. My husband & I met in law school and he's a senior corporate associate at a large NY law firm.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My love of food stems from an Italian-American upbringing, where food was the centerpiece of all occasions (and my family would make occasions for the sake of eating at them!). I love to travel, and try local cuisine everywhere I go. As an undergraduate, I studied in Spain and a friend and I lived with an elderly woman who would cook all day for us. She taught me an appreciation of Spanish food and also luckily for me, how to cook some of it! My husband is from Eastern Europe and his mother is a wonderful cook, as is he, so I'm learning what I can from them as well. I am also fortunate to have friends whose families come from all over the world and I owe them all my gratitude for opening my eyes to many of the wonderful cuisines of the world I have come to adore!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. We are blissfully retired to central Mexico. I have 3 degrees and my DH was 4. I was an accountant and he an attorney. Before we went into business together, I was CFO for a large real estate development company, a small regional airline and a now-defunct restaurant chain. About 20 years ago, a marketing rep for a major title company enlisted my husband as a title agent/closing attorney as an adjunct to his law practice. A few years later, burnt out from corporate politics, I joined him and we built up the company to the point where no longer practiced law for a living.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  After a major health scare for me, DH said, "Let's retire. Find a place where we can do it now." Internet research to the rescue and here we are in central Mexico living on about 1/10th of what we needed in the states and loving it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We have been fortunate enough to travel and chow all over the world and to send our children on the same quest.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Love this topic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Pampatz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I can't tell from your posts where in central Mexico you are. My mexican FM2 is current, and I was drawn and quartered for my indelicate choice of words in a Colorado thread earlier this week, trying to help a doctor from SF, and I'm wondering if you could hide me out for a while:) Just kidding. But I will never utter the words "gold digger" again. I hope you are around Queretaro or Michoacan or Puebla and eating well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm a speech-language pathologist and my husband is a graduate student pursuing a PhD. Our income is fairly limited but we cut other things out, such as not having cable and buying second hand where we can, so we can eat out and buy good food in the grocery store. To us, it's worth the sacrifices since we both feel passionate about food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: upstate girl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wow, upstate girl... I am also an SLP and my husband is pursuing hsi PhD! Are you from upstate NY? I grew up in Plattsburgh, but now live in Burlington, Vermont.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We been in Patzcuaro, Michoacan for the past 2 years. Still have a house in Denver too. Come on down. The eating is usually good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I'm the manager and main fitness instructior of a local women's gym.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Helps me stay in shape and still be a Chowhound!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Diana

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That's why your a yogurt hound :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Fascinating thread! I expect 500+ resonses by the end of the week!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Raised in a well off suburb by folks who couldn't cook, in turn children of parents who couldn't cook- Mom, Dad, and all of my grandparents took me out to restaurants in Chicago, NYC, Southern Florida, and Central California while growing up. I went to School for thatreical design, and worked here in Chicago for a while in Theatre- mostly production, but a handful of designs, until I tired of the freelance lifestyle, went to culinary school and started over.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I did the restaurant cook thing for a brief while, but found catering much more my style- I worked with a great firm for a while that polished my craft to a level I never expected. It was however, a brutally physical job, and after throwing out my back, breaking both feet and getting a few foot infections, I had to take it easy. I took a year off to sell gourmet foods, then went back to catering, this time as a private chef and freelance caterer.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This week I accepted a position to be a specialty foods buyer (cheese) for a national chain of specialty foods grocery stores. I planon keeping up the private chef gig as time allows.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You 'Hounds are just cool people! I feel like a youngin' though- is anyone else out there under 30?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lunchbox

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          26. Been hounding since 22.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (Did you drop something heavy on your feet? And do you know which bones you broke? I think of feet as being pretty hard to break...)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Phew- not alone!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for your concern, Adrienne- I broke a metatarsil in my right foot in a spiral stress fracture from too many hours running up and down concrete stairs. The left was more of an accident- I got another minor fracture in a pinky-toe metetarsil from hitting the edge of a work table. However, limping with a walking cast while trying not to slip on greasy kitchen floors for 12-16 hour days, 6 days a week for 9 months while wearing a back brace for about half of that (I really, REALLY wish I was exaggerating) exacerbated both fractures in my feet. I took the deskjob and most of the injuries healed in a few months. That is why I always encourage young cooks to take care of themselves, leave bad work environments (even with good companies) and to get a full education so if you have to hang up your knives, you have other marketable skills. Once I went into freelance catering, the conditions became more varied and the schedule became much more flexible- I'm looking forward to a regular schedule in the new job.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yeah, I found the 'Hound about 5 years ago and my activity waxes and wanes deending on how much free time i have to spend in front of the computer!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: lunchbox

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm 27. I get the feeling there are more of us than you think. Every Chowhound has to start somewhere. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: lunchbox

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm 23. I understand the feeling young thing, especially because I've noticed that there are a few Hounds that equate age with maturity of palate and world (food) exposure. Ce la vie!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lunchbox

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Only 26- no kiddies make it easier to be a hound :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lunchbox

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm in my 20s...been food-obsessed since childhood - I come from a long line of chowhounds!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lunchbox

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yup, early 20's, and a poor grad student. But I took 5 months away from college to learn to cook in Italy, and ever since I haven't been able to tolerate the crap that most people will eat. Luckily, I'm not paying rent right now so I can actually go out to eat (sometimes) and cook myself (sometimes).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: danikm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Also in my early 20's. I am a corporate law slave and I cook dinner and pack lunch all week at the office so I can splurge on the weekends :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: taryn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And so you can eat better at the office and at dinner time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: danikm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm 22 and discovered my foodie streak upon moving into my first apartment at age 18. Being all alone in an empty kitchen, you have to sink or swim. Down one road was spaghetti alla carbonara and down the other was easy mac...I went down the former and never looked back :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: lunchbox

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        28, and very happy to be on the young end of things!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm getting a Ph.D. in English, or will if I manage to write the dissertation between Chowhound visits. Very little money to spend on fancy meals, which is fine; my favorites are cheap ethnic finds, which is wonderful since I'm in SF. (Yesterday a guy in the Mission was selling hot fresh sweet corn slathered in butter, dipped in parmesan, and powdered with red chili powder. $2. Mmm...)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: smartstart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ditto on everything except I'm a couple of years older and I live in dc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: smartstart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My guess is that was cotija cheese! Looks and tastes a lot like parm, but is from Mexico instead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: smartstart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              28 here too! Hopefully starting my sommelier training in the fall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: lunchbox

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              23, but a happy browser of chowhound for the last four years or so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I did my AB (international relations, focus on languages) in the States, but have come home to Cape Town, South Africa (why, oh why is the Africa chowhound board always so empty???). Currently fulfilling a dream: a pastry and culinary arts diploma.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. I am an artist, a painter, who has been somewhat obsessed with food for a long time and still remember with bliss one of my first great chow experiences, when my Mom allowed me to order Crab Imperial out at a restaurant when I was about eight years old. Before finding chowhound (through the NYer, like some of the other posters), I first discovered a kindred food spirit in Nicolai Gogol, through a quirky little book on him called "Foodnotes on Gogol" that I found in a used bookstore...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In art school I was awarded a scholarship to study the art of Europe and so spent two months travelling, looking at great art and eating deliciously even on a budget. After school, I was awarded a fellowship that allowed me to study Classical and Archaic sculpture in Greece, and ate my way through some of that country for 5 weeks. Both these experiences were shared with my future husband and fellow food lover, whose parents are from Prague, where, among other things, hubby-to-be enjoyed eating great Czech food in his country of origin for the first time. (I enjoyed it, too. Mmmmm, Svickova.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              To support myself as a painter, through school and afterwards, I worked as a waitress in a Thai restaurant and had many incredible eating experiences there sharing meals with the chef and kitchen staff, eating the meals they cooked for themselves. They were delighted that a non-asian would enjoy what they did, but no part of coaxing on my part could convince them to put some of those great dishes on the restaurant menu, alas. I still dream of Nam Prik Gapee, Kai Palow, and my all-time favorite, Kao Kruk Gapee!(Please excuse my poor transliteration.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hubby is also an artist and art teacher. We hardly make any money, valuing time over money so we can pursue our art, but we still manage to eat well. We mostly cook at home, drawing on our culinary experiences, and when we do eat out, it's at inexpensive ethnic places, which we love the most anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am really enjoying this topic and could see the responses gathered into a little chowish chap-book...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: L pie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I love love love Thai food. What is Nam Prik Gapee; what is Kai Palow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I'm a year out of college, and don't know exactly what to do with myself. In the time being, I'm a miserable legal assistant in a huge firm in New York City. Thought I would go into journalism, but as that field's changing and ... shrinking.... I'm kinda stuck. Nice to know not all of you are bigwigs in some financial area. I don't make anywhere near enough money to eat out as much as I want, but I'm not strapped for cash either. I DO spend money on clothes, etc, but I save elsewhere (bringing in my own lunch, etc).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As for me, I grew up in a household of good cooking and in a neighborhood of culinary diversity - the East Village. It's still my favorite place in the city though I now live in Chelsea (luckily my folks still live there and I go home for dinner most nights). My dad is an adventurous eater, and I dont really know why, but I always read the Dining Section and wanted to be a food writer when I was 12. But going out with my family to try all the different ethnic restaurants we can definitely helped chowishness. Too bad I'm not a good cook - I still go home for dinner and I'm 22 for christs sake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: janethepain

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Some of us financial big wigs spent more than our share of time in a van down by the river eating ramen noodles and determining that we prefered a filet. ;>)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: janethepain

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was a pretty good coook at 22 but becoming a good cook takes time and practice. Just keep at it and ask questions. Even after I married at 26 we still went to my parents house at least once a week for dinner, holidays, etc. Sometimes they did all of the cooking and sometimes we divided it up depending on the occasion. They came to our house too and for some reason Thursday night was definitely family cooking night. Like the old joke about the guy who stops a musician on the street and asks how to get to Carnegie Hall and was told "practice man, practice" same hold true to cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: janethepain

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yep, I was a miserable legal assistant too. As God is my witness, I will never work as a paralegal again. Life is too short to be that miserable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: janethepain

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A year out of college my (then) husband and I had a $10/week food budget. And we were hounds (he was an original employee at The Inn at Little Washington). Now, I am nearly 22 years out of college and budgeting is no longer an issue, but it wasn't always that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: janethepain

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          paralegaling does bite the big one but it gives you a background for something else-good luck-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I'm a tour manager, travelling around the world with people who are interested in archaeology and the classical world. I get to eat all sorts of cuisines and haven't come across anything I don't like yet. Next tour, Morocco.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: coombe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm in media relations for a large coporation in the NY metro area. I love to cook and I love to go out for a great meal. I consider both of those activities to be my main interest outside of work and something of a hobby. I started cooking and experimenting with food at a young age. I think it was a reaction to my mom's healthy, well-intentioned, but horribly bland cooking. I was raised in Manhattan, so eating out was a part of my life since birth. What led me to to this amazing community was not budget exactly, but rather the idea that if I was going to go out, and spend time and money at a restaurant, or food store, etc., then I wanted that experience to be the best it could be. My first low-tech experince with this concept was Patricia Wells' "Food Lovers Guide to Paris" which I followed religiously while there. I didn't want to waste even a snack in that city without quality control assurance. To me, CH is the online equivalent of that book, except it never gets outdated, it covers the globe, and you have so many wonderful opinions at your fingertips, rather than just one!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: SarahSparkles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Let's see, presently, I'm a legal assistant/paralegal in a Silicon Valley firm with a diverse practice group. When I was younger, I went to boarding school outside of Paris, and managed to wangle my way into the kitchen and frankly, never left. When I returned to the states, I suddenly had four siblings. Mom was never much of a cook (think canned corn beef hash with kinda sort of poached eggs, hamburger and rice casserole), so I started cooking out of self defense. Fast forward 40 years, and I cook to relax, cook for an excuse to invite friends over, etc. My son has turned out to be a gret cook, and I like to think it was having him as my sous chef in the ktichen all those years helped (he just graduated from college this past January-yea!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. By day I'm a grant specialist and contract strategist for state funded programs, by night I design and install custom stained glass panels for restaurants. Dh is a pilot and if you live in NJ you've seen him perform at state air shows. We both enjoy fresh whole food, home cook often and love exploring new ingredients. 50% cooking at home; 50% dining out. A few years back we joined a dining club and it expanded our culinary adventures (which had grown stale). We love wine and laughter! Dh and I met in an international food market in 1983 grabbing for the same olive oil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Since discovering CH and catching at least an hour of threads every few days, I'm not at all surprised by the wildly interesting people meeting here. I learn something new every time I log on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Like many others who have replied, I am a college professor. Political Science. Also, and more importantly, mom of 2 young boys (4 and 6). At one point during grad school I had a case of burnout, took a leave of absence, and enrolled in cooking school. Eventually returned to my studies and finished the Ph.D... with great respect for those who work in kitchens professionally. The sensory stimulation and instant gratification that comes with the process of enjoying and making good food provides an excellent balance to the focus on long term and often abstract projects (with little immediate feedback) that is typical in an academic research environment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I work for a large trust company doing estate settlement, so I work for a bank but I do legal work...yeah, I guess that's how it goes. I don't suppose that it's very gratifying but it can be interesting; every estate is different and they all have a beginning and an end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Family background in food is nightmarish *except for maternal grandmother* because mother was an alcoholic and father had serious food dysfunctions (he thought that enjoying food was horrible and had an aversion to anyone overweight, died of colorectal cancer, possibly genetic, possibly behavioral--I really believe it was from a poor diet) which led to my older sister becoming anorexic at the age of 11 and almost died from it. Dinner was most often from a can, left on the stove, so there WAS food and my mother did use a pressure cooker from time to time, so I'm not afraid of them one bit at all! And I do have a few nice food memories of Thanksgivings, when my grandmother would come for the day and supervise the roasting of the turkey and I did learn to make excellent pan gravy from watching and eventually helping to do it. I vowed that when I had a family, they would ALWAYS have a hot, nutritious meal on the table with fresh fruits/veggies offered throughout the day and I did always push our 3 sons to try everything. I just love to cook and try new things, especially ethnic dishes! Plus, the chowhound board has totally expanded my horizons on good food (though after reading the posts on this thread, I feel completely out of my league!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I too have always wondered whether most chowhounds were educated, seemed like it from the posts. I'm getting a PhD in biochemistry, I have always been a chowhound, though. The web site might draw more peopel that are educated relative to the % of chowhounds in the general population. My cousins are all chowhounds but are not college graduates - they are all younger than me and it is always pleasant to here one of them talk about what they make on a daily basis, what they cook for their girlfriends, etc. living near the ocean, they tend to cook a lot of fish, and pair this with green vegetables. each and everyone a chowhound, but i doubt any of them post here. i think it's the culture of the website that draws more educated poeple.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Awesome topic! I'm a middle school Spanish teacher and I do cooking demos and restaurant reviews in Spanish with my kids. (Makes Spanish come alive for them and fosters 'Houndness, I hope!) - if I wasn't teaching, I know my backup career would be behind a stove!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I'm a Food and Travel writer, so I'm in 24/7 Chowhound mode.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I'm a research scientist. I put myself through school waiting tables and working in laboratories, natch. I am not on a budget, eat out once a day usually, and would rather have a chowhound/travelhound lifestyle than, say, a car or a house or a television set. (I don't have any of those things, thankfully.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tokyorosa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What kind of research and research scientist?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sorry, I missed your question when you asked, SF. The short answer: HPV & biochemist.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tokyorosa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Nice! I used to work with HPV myself. More on the manufacturing side than the research side, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: QueenB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                HPV as in Human Papilloma Virus?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: thenurse

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Would assume so: a) tr is a biochemist, b) is there another HPV?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Such a cool thread! Eldest of seven - grew up cooking dinner for entire family (literally - by age 14, did grocery shopping from 16 on). Now a freelance writer based in AZ...currently writing mostly business features, hospitality, architecture/design/home development, but also...food, wine, personality features. (Yes - saving thread for possible sources!) Love to cook...love to eat out!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I'm a NYC high school teacher (librarian, actually--I take very good care of our cookbook collection), so I'm certainly not rolling in dough. SO is a retired compliance officer working in the nuclear industry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My mother's attitude about food is that it doesn't matter what you eat, what's important is who you eat it with. So, I taught myself to cook in my teens as a matter of self-defense. We ate out every week, usually the neighborhood Chinese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Nowadays, we cook at home most of the time, all kinds and ethnicities of foods (living near Flushing helps a lot with the ingredient list.) I usually use a recipe as a guideline and personalize it. SO follows a recipe like it's the Revealed Word. Our diverse styles lead to interesting discussions. I taught my sons to cook simple things when they were quite young, and they are great cooks today. Also exposed them to all kinds of tastes--I'll never forget sitting in the window of a restaurant in Chinatown when they were about 5 and 7 years old, and people stopping to look in at the little guai lo kids using chopsticks perfectly--this was maybe 25 years ago, when such things were not so common.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              When we do eat out, it's generally for the kind of ethnic foods that I can't quite nail at home. We won't go out for "regular" food, or even Italian, becuase I usually cook it better (to my tastes) at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We travel quite a lot, and love to try all the great restaurants recommended here on Chowhound and from other places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Missyme

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "I'll never forget sitting in the window of a restaurant in Chinatown when they were about 5 and 7 years old, and people stopping to look in at the little guai lo kids using chopsticks perfectly--this was maybe 25 years ago, when such things were not so common."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                LOL! BTDT as well - with my father having been born in Shanghai, we were practically raised knowing how to use chopsticks (only when eating Chinese). I still remember having Jewish grandmothers pinch our cheeks (sister and me) and exclaim over how smart we were to know how to use chopsticks at 5 and 8yo. My sister and I just looked at each like "Huh? What's the big deal?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, on the flip side, my daughter with two Chinese parents, probably learned how around six years old. <sigh> We hardly use chopsticks at home when we eat Chinese food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: boltnut55

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Well, forks and spoons are just much easier to use and more efficient to shovel food into our mouths. I am not a sociologist but I think that forks and spoons were used in China for years but we went to chopsticks because it was considered more elegant and civilized. We do however, slurp out soups and put the bowls up to our mouths which is a definite no-no in the west.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Missyme

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  when i was a 7 year old 25 years ago i was the only one in my class who was proficient with chopsticks, too. military family and my mother and father were both stationed in Japan, before they were married-- actually all the kids i knew from the base could use chopsticks and all the kids at school were very dismissive--they were like little food & culture bigots. i didn't get it and thought they were all stupid. i still do! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Missyme

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Missyme, I'm a new NYC Teaching Fellow taking a break from the assignments due tomorrow to check out what the hounds are saying. I wonder how many teachers are on this site?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I was a Los Angeles Teaching Fellow a few years ago and am now a Special Ed teacher at an elementary school. I'm also working on my clear credential and my Masters at CSUN. Prior to becoming a teacher, I was a talent agent. I spent 15 years in the agency business, but what I miss most about it is the business lunches and dinners! Being a chowhound on a teacher's salary is difficult, especially since I love fine dining and I don't cook much. I think of traveling and eating as necessities in life, so I save elsewhere. For instance, instead of going to high-end salons and Nordstroms, I get my hair cut at Supercuts and buy clothes at Target.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Financialdistrictresident, I wish you the best of luck with the Fellows program.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: brandygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My second job is at Nordstrom, LOL. So working 2 jobs helps me tame my houndish cravings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. College dropout here LOL, Administrative assistant/bookkeeper to a small architectural firm in NYC for nearly 20 years at the same job. Was just asked last week if I "minded" reducing my time to only 2 days per week for the summer because we're having some temporary $ problems and there isn't much for me to do at the moment. Initial reaction? AWESOME. Frankly, I'm tired. I've been working for 28 years straight without a break - and since my husband has a good job which pays more than enough (education specialist for major software company) and we have no kids (yep, we're DINKS) - we can afford to let me become a quasi-housewife for the first time in my life for a short while.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've been on Chowhound I think pretty much since it's inception, or close to it. Been cooking since I'm a youngster thanks to both parents. Mom was the basic cook, but my father was known to collect recipes each week from the NY Times and try them out on use. He's who I really got my love of cooking from - but basic techniques were from mom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've been poor as dirt in my life and still would rather spend what little extra money I had on good food than a movie for instance. When I was living in NYC on my own, broke, I still would shop at all the gourmet markets and going to the greenmarket was a weekly excursion. It took my mind off having no money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Luckily, since meeting my husband, things have changed dramatically and I've been able to completely indulge myself tho, not to excess since my nature is not to go completely overboard. We're pretty conservative at home at far as the type of foods we eat. But I'm the kind of person that if I'm in the supermarket and see something I've never seen before, I'm compelled to buy it (the other week, it was Za'atar - which I promptly used on grilled chicken that night).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We reserve the splurges for vacations mostly - or special nights out to dinner like anniversary or birthday dinners. Then, we don't watch our wallet much at all. And much as I love to cook - the older I get, the more I enjoy eating out :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. “So’a, Whadaya do? How much you worth?” Usually one must dine at a bowling alley coffee shop to be asked such questions from a stranger. Is that what you are asking kevin? Since you did not answer for yourself I was just thinking that maybe you were asking hounds to guess what the average hound does with their time. Not sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JeetJet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You're right I didn't answer, I gues my line of work is more boring than others. Realtor/real estate investor is what I do, but continue to moonlight in writing scripts. Studies were film and economics. Used to work G/E on sets for a short while and some videography.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Anyways, it just interested me what is the makeup of people that post on the site, obviously in some way, shape, or form, we're all very very very passionate about food. But for a while it was an issue picking at my brain.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Anyways, I didn't expect the onslaught of posts. (I apologize for that, but it is very interesting to get a sense of people's backgrounds and where they place the value of food as opposed to others who'll just eat any old thing).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          oh, and i still don't have much of a disposable income, but like a bunch of hounds i'd rather spend it on food than other items.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JeetJet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But Mr Jet, I liked Kevin's questions and have realy enjoyed the responses. He didn't ask for income or net worth--but what we do, how are we doing in a relative sense, and what our spending priorities are, especially relative to chow. And he didn't ask strangers: I've felt a strong sense of community with CH in general and personal interest in some the individuals. This thread has allowed me to deepen that sense of community and to feel even morer connected with some of the individuals. Its about who we are; and its nice to know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But, yes, it is fair to ask: So, whaddaboutyou, Kevin?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sam, you summed it up pretty much. I'm not saying "Hey, all Chowhounds are rich" or something like that. Just was always interested in what makes up the 'hound that one is. And if you don't feel like responding that's fine, after all, this is not really posts on where to get deliciousness around town.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i'll be quiet now, and let other speak up if they wish, it's been a long interesting thread. Thanks y'all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I'm a writer, the author of a gardening book and a bunch of short stories. My parents were Berkeley hippies far too high-minded to think about food. More than that, they had the Anglo-Saxon idea that enjoying anything too much must be immoral. Add to that the fact that we have no ethnic traditions and...well.. the food when I was growing up was sad. I became interested in cooking after I bought my house and started gardening. For a few years I also ran an organic farm. My SO is a writer too, so our income is tight. We don't eat out nearly as much as we'd like to. Living in Berkeley, surrounded by amazing restaurants, is hard but we're putting our son through private school so that's our focus right now

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I am a pastry chef. Chefs work hard and play hard. Since we have so little time off we have to squeeze in a great deal of "research" in on our days off. So I love Chowhound to see what is going on around the country and help me decide where my next culinary pilgramages will be. I have really enjoyed my trips even more with all of the CH recomendations.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have been into CH maybe just less than a year and I check in about four times a week. My other new favorite site is Flickr since I can check out photos of new bakeries and restaurants that I haven't been to yet.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks everyone, great thread!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Got Cake

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm a Freudian Psychoanalyst - so many of my patients work in restaurants that I now have to be careful where I book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. These days I am an Environmental Planner, plus I run a policy reseach company. My better half is a geography professor. I think our collective chowishness stems from the fact that we both grew up in very multicultural Toronto where going over to a friends house for dinner probably meant eating something you have never even seen before. We also do a ton of cooking together. It really started when my husband was a PhD student in a town many people think is just lovely but that I loathed in a way that I can never adequately explain. Him coming home every night to cook dinner with me was pretty much the only way I stayed sane (and from just moving away). Trying out all kinds of new things to cook was a great way to not focus on our continual lack of funds. Now that we have more funds we still drive the same crappy car, watch the same TV I had in undergrad, share a single cell phone, but can cook with nicer ingredients (esp. the common love of chows, cheese) and do it in a nicer kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Newbie here... I practice law...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Longtime lurker. I'm a rare wine broker and personal wine consultant in Santa Rosa. I have three degrees, all in American Studies (AA, BA, MA), but my real love is wine. I live in Sonoma in West County, and being here, well, how could you not live to eat, drink and be merry? :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I am currently a Wine Rep for a small import company. Basically I get to eat drink and party for a living :)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      However I have a degree in Physics and Astonomy. I have also been a chef, secretary, worked in a library and managed several wine stores.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I made up my first recipe when I was 11, while i was making it I made my 6 yr old sister write it down so I wouldn't forget it. It's soooo funny to look at the first page in my recipe notebook and see my sisters 6 yr old writing, she wrote down EVERYTHING
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      " Season chicken, lightly brown in pan, put on plate, set aside"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And I still make it!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My mum was a competent cook at best, but we were all pretty adventurous eaters as a family. My sibs and I always shocked servers by never ordering off the kids menu!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      At 11 I peeled and seeded the tomoatoes for this dish. My mum thought I was weird, but she was happy cause i took over the kitchen from then on. My dad always got a kick out of my requests for groceries. One time when I was about 13 I sent him out for Fish Sauce and he had to search high and low to find it, but he did! (Asian ingredients were not nearly as common in reg stores then).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. It's amazing how many 'Hounds have their parents/grandparents to thank for their chowish natures. I, on the other hand, have restaurant work to thank. My mom specialized in boiled meat and potatoes, and I never had fresh veggies other than iceburg and carrots until a bit later in life. On a whim my mom planted a garden, and I was lost to cucumbers and tomatoes forever. But dad and sis wouldn't eat them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I started working in restaurants when I was 15, desperate for money. I spent 12 years in the biz, learning to appreciate all types of cuisine. Now I'll eat anything. My sister, however, still thinks Italian is 'ethnic' and follows recipes like they are an exact science, only using basic dried spices. I don't know what she'd do with fresh basil. Probably throw it out. My dad lives off microwave meals. Luckily, mom is more adventurous in her old age, in spite of the gastronomic ramifications.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Great question. I had been wondering the same thing since I became an official chowhound less than 24 hours ago. I came across Chowhound because I had visited Hows market today for the first time (new in N. Hollywood) and googled for more info about it. Since then I've been hooked and obsessed with this site! I've literally been online here for about 10 hours straight! I need to go to bed. I'm just so excited about this site and the passionate foodies represented here! I used to live in Japan and have backpacked through Asia so that and my ethnic background has given me a hankering for Asian food and noodles in particular!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My day job--I wait tables at a fairly nice restaurant. Everybody's right when they say waiting tables really gives you a deeper appreciation for everything that goes on in the dining experience. I suppose the money that could be spent on clothes or gadgets I spend on good food!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I'm a freelance fashion stylist in nyc and I also design jewelry in my spare time and am trying to get it into stores. I just graduated from school so I don't have a large income and I definitely spend a lot of money on clothes and even worse, dry cleaning, but all the rest goes toward food and fabulous cocktails.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I rarely cook since I have a tiny kitchen and it seems more expensive to make food for one person than it does to go and pick up $1 dumplings or a $3 bahn mi. Delicious ethnic cheap eats, tasting menus, and byob restaurants are my favorite. I also love to spend money on good cocktails made from fresh juices, eggs, and hand crafted syrups.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But like another chowhounder posted, food and fashion don't go together all that well, so it is a love hate relationship. Actually it is mostly that I love to eat and hate the fact that sometimes I just can't have another dumpling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. After spending 13 years in banking and finance, I attended Johnson & Wales University in pursuit of a degree in culinary arts. After school, I ran an area (I'm in the Norfolk, Va. area) country club and my own catering business. For the past five years, I've had the best job ever - food editor for the regional city/lifestyle magazine - Hampton Roads Magazine. I get to coordinate food events, write about food, and, of course, eat lots of food!


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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: basicfoodgroupie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hi Patrick:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I envy your courage in converting your professional pursuit. I need to be so bold. I too am from South Hampton Roads ( Virginia Beach ) & enjoy the HR mag, when I have time to read. I've been fortunate enough to "tag along" with a family friend, Tammy Goetz Jaxtheimer ( Virginian-Pilot's critic ), but it's been a # of years since I joined her; in fact, it was way back when Ten Top was Peter's Tin Top, before he sold to his sister, which is still the best little place in Ghent. When I lived on Shirley ( a block away ) & too lazy to walk down, they graciously delivered whatever I ordered & a bottle of wine to boot - now that's service!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I'm a community college professor. I teach biology, and have always been interested in how organisms eventually become food for other organisms!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I am an accounting manager in the food industry, I don't make oodles of money but live in an area where everyone makes oodles. I just love food and all the ingridents that go along with them. One day I want to open a B&B that has a little breakfast,lunch place on the property so hopefully all I am learning from you other foodies will pay off and you will all be invited . I also think we should get foodie clubs together and go out once a month for a meal. I live in Fairfield County Ct so if anyone is interested please let me know!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: nbermas

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You might check on your local board for postings about chowlunches/dinners, or post there if someone would be interested in forming a group. We have several active yahoo chowgroups here in the SF Bay Area, and there's a taco truck crawl tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Louise

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      yeah, the yahoo groups is a good way to go if others are up for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      that way you can send out emails to the members of upcoming dinner, pot luck picnics, tastings, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. hi--I'm a publicist and former model--yes I weighed 97 pounds at one time--went out to fancy dinners and hardly ate a thing--things have changed--I taught myself to cook--my grandmother's were self-taught and wonderful cooks(Russian style)-my Mom cooked a mean lamb chop--I am now a gourmet cook--traveled around the world and pick up ideas constantly-I still won't pay a lot of money for something I can cook myself(no matter how much money I have)--I like chowhounding for great ethnic inexpensive meals--I don't eat meat and you can give me a great veggie meal anyday--

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I am a retired educator and former assistant director of education for a public television station. My husband is retired as well from an oil refinery. We both have masters degrees. We have enough income to do some traveling and eating at fine restaurants. We enjoy discovering foods of different regions and sampling the wines.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Got interested in Chowhound when stumbling across the site while trying to find a restaurant review.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Upthread I talked about occupation. As to food: I grew up in the Central Valley of California in the 50s-60s. We had all sorts of fruit and nut trees and an asparagus patch, always had family sit down meals. Mom and all the aunts were fantastic cooks—in about 20 different cuisines. They canned and preserved. We hunted and fished. Nothing was ever wasted. My cousins on both sides are almost all good cooks—a couple have great restaurants. We took advantage of all of the ethnic foods in Fresno: Armenian, Basque, Italian, Chinese, German, Swedish, and more. At peach harvest and packing, a woman from southern Mexico did the cooking. I didn’t have a BigMac until about 40.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I’ve worked as a fry cook and as a baker—both long ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Last I lived in the US was in the 70s after a few years in Bolivia and prior to 14 years in Asia. I worked largely with small rice farmers all over south and southeast Asia and in eastern Africa—getting to eat in their homes and on streets and popular restaurants. The last 14 years I’ve lived in Colombia with much more work all around Latin America, again getting to eat from fish stew and manicoba in the market in Belem to stewed turkey in a coffee farmer’s home near Copan, Guatemala, to early morning tamales and atole on the street in highland Chiapas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I bring back food from wherever I go to cook at home. Currently have cheeses from Italy and Oaxaca, cassava flour from Brazil, dried meats from Ethiopia and Laos, tea from China, tortillas and corn husks from L.A., spices from Indian and Nairobi, rice from California, Japanese pickles purchased in East Timor, and bunches of other Asian foods purchased in one of the big Korean grocery stores near D.C. … At home, I do all the cooking; and we rarely eat out. I’m currently trying to travel less in order to be with our nearly four year old daughter (plus I have time for CH). Life is really, really good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          SVP with a International Real Estate firm. Love to cook and eat. Not into food snobbery; however do appreciate good food and wine. Worked in food service in HS and college. Can appreciate regional and ethnic cuisines. Willing to try anything. Have been a CH'er for 6 months now. Love it. CH has expanded my tastes and experiences dramatically. Great resource when I travel, which is frequnetly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tomself

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am a nurse (and frustrated chef) who has a teenage son who has been eating vegetables since he could sit up - for his 5th birthday, he asked to go somewhere where he coud get a "nice salad." On his way to culinary school after high school. I guess I'll be living vicariouly through him!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sam, I'm coming to eat at your house, you've got such cool ingredients to work with.....and at least I know you won't mess up the rice ;-D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Look who's talking. I'd love to come to YOUR house!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tonight you're invited to smoked lung adobo: thinly slivered smoked lung simmered first with a bit of white wine vinegar, drained and then pan finished with a mix of sliced garlic, soy sauce, a mix of spices (from the Indian grocery in Nairobi), and three Tbsp of reduced-to-syrup cab. Served with light salad of mixed greens (including a couple of bitter ones) and, natually, rice. Cocktails: Flor de Cana rum from Nicaragua. Wine: Concha y Toro cabernet from Chile. Dessert: melon with touch of chili powder and maple syrup from Vermont. Nothing fancy, less than 30 minutes prep.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                smoked lung??? what kind of meat or animal is that from, just curious?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: justagthing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  justagthing, it is "bofe" in Spanish and is smoked cow's lung. I did it as described and served it cold on a bed of arugula and lettuce. It turned out kind of like duck char shiu in the sense of a glazed finish and smoked-adobo flavor. My friend, Bubba, came so I had to add: chicken waste parts in a teriyaki sauce served hot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Wow! All that in less than 30 minutes! Very interesting dinner!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sam, have you considered writing a book? I think it would be fascinating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thank you, chowser. What a nice thing to say. I do a lot of scientific analysis and writing. Posting on CH is relaxing and so much faster that it gives me quick breaks while I'm putting other stuff together in my head.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    BTW, what did you think of that Big Mac? Did you ever repeat the experience?;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Wow, what memories. We were on the road late returning home from the northern Philippines. An American agricultural economist with us (who also lived in the Philippines but didn't really appreciate eating with the rest of us) got us to go to a McDonalds. I had my first Big Mac. Loved it. I now have a Big Mac or Whopper two or three times a year in airports: BM in Bogota because of the jalapenos, relish, and the like; and a W in Miami because of the need for that (new to me) junk food rush after getting up at 4:00 am, going to the airport and its insufferable security processes, going through immigration, enduring th Cali-Miami flight and having to go through the rest to get on the plane for elsewhere. I have so few of such burgers that I relish them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. What a great thread. I am a funeral home owner, and my wife works with me. While our business sometimes limits when we travel, the times we do travel we love 'hounding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. What a wonderful thread! I'm a lawyer. I grew up as a young child in a small town Canadian prairie restaurant where both my Chinese parents were cooks. My user name is the name of that restaurant that was demolished sometime back in the 70's. Back in the 60's, most food had to be prepared from scratch. My memories include (but not limited to):
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - My father butchering meat into the cuts, with such even precision that fascinated me to no end;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - My father grinding the beef into hamburger meat, throwing balls of meat our way where us kids would pat the balls into hamburger patties on a table of bread crumbs;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - Looking into a pot and seeing a large turtle in it (scared the heck out of me);
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - The non-stop peeling of potatoes and then slicing them into fries, using a heavy cast iron grid screwed onto the wall. My parents would catch me cutting the potatoes into half (so that I could exert enough force on the handle to slice the potato through the grid - I only weighed about 50 lbs) and tell me to go away. Fries had to be longer;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - Watching and wondering how my father could chop everything so fast without cutting his finger;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - Watching and wondering how my father could ice a cake and make flower petals so quickly and beautifully;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It was a hard life for anyone, but it certainly exposed me to a lot of food experiences at an early stage. I also learnt from my father not to "cook the h*ll out of the meat", so I can't stand eating well-done steaks to this day. Only medium-rare for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Wow. 240+ posts in less than 3 days. Some sorta record, I think...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think this pops up every year or so. Last one was removed for some reason: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/333392

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Here's a much older one that's still around:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What's surprising is how many folks are pouring their hearts out here, but when you click their myChow, it's blank.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Maybe we need something more in the Profile to encourage more history and background - something less than a blog but more than a favorite restaurants or cookbooks list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't think Bio's are very useful in terms of credentials - our opinions are reflected here as a body of work and people learn to listen or dismiss each other over time. But it does provide a sense of where one is coming from and adds to the overall picture along with the body of work. Hey - we're all interesting folks - from the jazz trombone player on up!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I spent my early childhood perched on my grandmother's kitchen counter workin' the cone shaped setting end of her big Sunbeam Mixmaster. Along with way I learned how to bake. And one of the most famous family stories involved my father and my grandmother (his MIL) deciding to make mincemeat from scratch one holiday season. Their original intent was to make a few quarts. They ended up with 20 gallons of the stuff because the kept tasting and tweaking until they got it right. And that pretty much is the story of my life. I've kept tasting and tweaking; it's not quite "right", but it is on the right track.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Undergraduate degree in Food and Nutrition, graduate degree in Latin American Studies. I've spent 30 years in the food business, the bulk of it in non-commerical (not retaurants) food service, the last 17 years as a Director of Food Serivce of some sort. Currently I am the Director of Food Serivce for the San Diego Community College District. It's certainly not glamorous, but it pays the bills and supports my habit of eating well and traveling, not to mention the Mexican folk art collection and concert tickets. I love Mexican food and have been luck enough to study with all the usual suspects, Diana Kennedy, Rick Bayless, Marilynn Tausend, Susana Trilling and will be doing a week with DK next month in Mexico. I also write and am the in-house food blogger for the San Diego Magazine web site.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I'm lucky enough to work in the restaurant industry, doing marketing for a group of neighborhood restaurants. So in reading CHOW I get to count it as research as well as fun. I sit around all day and think of ways to get people to eat out more, which is hard for me to understand since I always want to eat out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think my chow-i-ness came from the fact that my mother served us pasta and salad every day growing up. Sometimes she skipped the pasta. I was always criticized for asking where the meal was! (Salad is NOT, I repeat, NOT a meal when it only consists of tomatos and bagged lettuce). Similarly the joke in my family was that when we went out I didn't need to see the prices to order the most expensive thing on the menu...So clearly I was always meant to be a chowhound.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Trying to teach the SO to be one too, but so far all I've done is change the contents of his fridge from beer and eggs to beer and kim chi.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I'm a SAHM. I have 2 kid under age 3. I have some college credits but no degree. The husband is a software executive in the travel industry who works from home. Before kids we travelled and ate everywhere. Now most of our disposable income is spent dining out or on food. We are devout chouwhounds which might explain why I have gained 100 pounds since marrying. Neither set of parents are foodies so it must be something we developed along they way. Both of our kids are indeed Chowpups. My 3 year old can't get enough sushi.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pickychicky1979

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chowpups! I love it. A friend who has two chowpups of her own older than mine tells me what to expect in the future - they turn up their noses at artificial maple syrup when they go to friends houses etc. Oh well - I love seeing my two year old snack on foods most people won't touch!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I'm an in-house attorney for a big financial services company. My chowish nature comes from my father, who cared passionately about eating well. He could really cook. He got his skills from his mother, who was one of the truly great New England Yankee cooks I have ever known.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm fortunate in that I can now indulge in a luxury meal when I want to, but I don't do it all that often. I got started as a hound when I had no money at all and still love to search out food that is wonderful but not expensive, which means that I often find myself in places where I look out of place and don't speak the language. There are a few restaurants I frequent periodically where the owners know me and have to tell their newer waitpersons that yes, that guy will eat all that stuff that people who seem to be like him never do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I am in Legal Recruiting, work at a large law firm in the Bay Area. I've always been a foodie. My whole family cooks and, well, that's all they do. Big family with lots of aunts, uncles and cousins who get together every weekend for dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I love to cook, bake and go to new restaurants and it helps that my significant other and I are DINKS. Oh, and we're also in our mid twenties (in response to lunchbox's question re young hounds here).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Just to add to the demographic, two regulars who have not posted on this, one is an administrative assisrant her DH a home remodeler, another is an ESL teacher and food writer for the local paper, DH on Law faculty. 2 lurkers one is my family MD who is getting himself ready to jump in, and another is a very Tallent-ed general restaurant manager and pastry chef. There is also another poster on a local board who is a prof in social sciences, food writer for a local glossy mag, she heads up our local Slow Foods convivium of which most of us are members. Several are part of our dining group. If they want to come on and give you all a little more background I'll leave that up to them

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I earned my Master's in Privacy Law last week (whew!) and job-hunting. S/O is an ERISA attorney-pension actuary.