Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Little Advice From My Mother...

Bluffton Today column
August 17, 2011

My mom told me not to write this. But, last week I told her to call the VOX and she didn’t listen to me, so now we’ll be even-steven. If you know me at all – which many of you assume you do – you know that I couldn’t let the religious right have the last word. Since as I type, we are on day 12 of the Courtney is a Heathen 2011 Tour, I thought it important to make a few points and ask a few more questions.

Based on the feedback from my last column, it is clear that I am likely the most prayed for person on Bluffton. So, sounds like you all are taking care of the job for me and I am in the clear. Thank you for that.

In addition to the multiple prayer chains, I also received a healthy load of invitations to attend various church services and most interestingly, the Answers in Genesis Conference being held in Beaufort last weekend. I almost went. I mean I was a huge fan of Phil Collins in the 80s and I figured if he was going to be just a few miles from home, it was worth the trip. But alas, my schedule got in the way.

All kidding aside, I understand that many people have a personal relationship with God, however I found it interesting that so many are so possessive of their relationship, telling me about “their” God. Does this mean God is different for everyone? I was also a little surprised by the church-goers and believers who want to “run me out of town on a rail,” to find my house and sit out front praying for me (which is why I am appreciative of the second amendment), to watch me be punished for what I write. None of those threats appeared “Christian” to me. So, it begs the questions, what would “your” God think of how you treated me? Now I am even more confused.

Here is what I do know. If there is a God, he must have a fabulous sense of humor, because it is a crazy, crazy world that we live in. And, if he has a sense of humor, he read my column and laughed. If he is all knowing, he knows that I ask questions and make points in order to the stir the pot. He also knows much more about me than anyone else ever will. And, after adding it all up, I presume he would dub us even-steven as well.

Now that this is behind us, let’s talk about a few additional suggestions you should heed when your mother makes them …

Cut your hair. Boys, you look like idiots with the Justin Beiber haircuts. Walking around shaking your head, so your bangs fall just so across your eyes, is not combing your hair. Get a buzz cut and get over it. While you are at it, buy a pair of pants that stays up around your waist so I don’t have to look at your underwear.

Girls, get a pair of shorts that are long enough so I don’t have to look at your “juicy” rear. Keep in mind that the boys you are trying to impress can’t see a thing because their hair is hanging over their eyes.

(Boys, see note above.)

Neighbors, power wash your houses for crying out loud. Mold green is not an approved color in our POA regulations.

Dog owners, scoop your poop. In fact, a new town initiative – which you can learn about at town council, after the opening prayer – is aimed at raising awareness about how water pollution from pet waste affects the May River, and encouraging pet owners to be responsible and "Scoop the Poop." Visit for the er, scoop.

Avoid too much sugar.

Brush your teeth twice a day. (And floss.)

Don’t drink and drive.

And, may God bless America.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Are You There God? It's Me Courtney

Bluffton Today columnAugust 3, 2011

They (yup, still trying to determine who “they” are) tell me that God is everywhere. Interestingly, I bumped into him two weeks ago, at a Bluffton Town Council meeting. A town council meeting, in a government building, is not where I expected to stumble into the omnipotent one. I thought it more likely that we may meet whence I meandered into a church, after a ten year hiatus, and as the lightening was flashing, and thunder crashing, I would shout out, “I believe.”

Alas, I was wrong. And, somehow in my previous visits to council I managed to miss the prayer. The prayer! Am I really even typing those words? I was stunned that after the meeting was called to order, Mayor Pro-tem Fred Hamilton ringed up God and ask him to bless the meeting, bless the people, and bless our town. (I later sneezed and also got a blessing.)

Perhaps I’ve been previously side-tracked by Mr. Hamilton’s snappy attire (I am indeed a fan of his wardrobe), but how have I missed this? I am mortified that after six years in Bluffton, I am just now tackling this topic. I must be losing my edge.

But now that I have my wits back about me, I’m thinking that Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave. After all, it was old Tommy J. who, in a letter dated in 1802, suggested a separation of church and state. Said suggestion was later adopted as a part of the establishment clause of the first amendment, and cited by the Supreme Court on many occasions.

So, why in the heck are we mixing God and local politics? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve sat through some of these meetings, and many a debate, and I am certain I muttered, “Oh my God,” “Christ Almighty,” “Sweet Jesus,” under my breath on more than one occasion. Yes, I’m a blasphemer but this isn’t about me.

It is about you. It is about your right to a separation of church and state. We have rules people. In fact, we have rules at town council meetings. For example, if you would like to be heard, there is a process you must follow. You must, in advance of the start of the meeting, fill out the appropriate paperwork (online or in person), to be heard. Once you are called to the podium during public comment period, you have three minutes to get your point across. This begs a few questions -- If God is at town council, does he fill out the form in advance? What organization does his form say he is representing? If he (or is he a she?) exceeds the allotted three minutes what happens?

The agenda at the July council meeting was rather benign. The meeting, uneventful. Nothing to get all excited about. No scandal. (There was a special guest appearance from former councilman and mayoral candidate Charlie Wetmore, but he behaved and even stayed within his 180 seconds.) Was the peace and calm a result of a shout out to God or was he too busy to hear the call come in that night?

Now I have even more questions. Does God show up anytime he hears his name? In traffic, when someone cuts you off? At the gym, when you can’t lift another pound? In your living room when you’ve (yes, you!) got the volume on the “Skinemax” channel a tad too high? (You'll note that this sentence didn't make the print version, but I had to try!) In the middle of the night when one of the kids is crying? At the airport when your flight has been delayed again?

How does he know when help is really needed versus when he is being called in vain?

Good lord, I could go on all day …

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

August: A Line in the Sand

August 2011 CH/CB2
This month, crazy Frank Dunne, Jr. and I pontificate on philandering politicians. I, as always, am right. You can read Frank's opinion here, if you must.

Frank, I know you are not suggesting that I lack character or the ability to judge character. (Even though, per last month’s column, I do contribute to the eroding moral compass of the nation.) So, I’m going to give you a pass on that one and instead focus on that fact that your singular “Weiner” example is actually the perfect illustration of your one-track argument.

Anthony Weiner, that’s the best you can come up with? I mean granted, Weiner is media gold, he’s out and about showing off his private parts and his last name just happens to also be the caption for his pictures? Jackpot!

But, in truth it’s not about Anthony Weiner, Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Mark Sanford. Once again your narrow mind steers you down the wrong path as you suggest that this issue of philandering is one, only limited to politicians and two, that the only ones doing it are the ones who get caught.

Oh contraire mon frère. You may remember my “open your eyes regarding marriage argument” from last month? Well, let me continue to enlighten you. Let’s talk numbers, including the staggering 8.5 million members on, a website dedicated to helping married philanderers find a “philanderee.”

While infidelity statistics abound, I’m actually going to go conservative here and quote a 2007 Lust, Love & Loyalty survey, which concluded that, “About one in five adults in monogamous relationships, or 22 percent, have cheated on their current partner. And nearly half of people admit to being unfaithful at some point in their lives.” MSNBC also cited research expert Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey for the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago who conducted the study “American Sexual Behavior,” a poll of 10,000 people over two decades. The study found that 22 percent of married men and 15 percent of married women have cheated at least once — similar to the results from the survey.

If these statistics are true, 20% of our nation is cheating on their partner. So, for argument’s sake, let’s say that 20% of elected officials are cheating on their partner. However, unless they’ve been caught in a media firestorm, we don’t know about it. Is it really their cheating that makes them a bad politician or is it the media circus that surrounds the “big reveal” that renders them unable to lead?

I vote for the latter. Character is comprised of many things. And, everyone defined character differently. If politically a politician stands for and works for everything that you believe in, do you really care what he does in his personal life? What if you find feet to be disgusting and your Congressman has a foot fetish? What if he is having an affair (with a women with beautiful feet, mind you), because his wife hasn’t been interested in sex in 10 years? Better yet, what if his wife is cheating too? Or, what if they have an agreement to step outside their marriage? Why do we care? Are you not going to vote for him because his ideals don’t match up to yours in every column? If so, you’d never vote again.

Look around right now. One in every five people you see is statistically a cheater. It could be your mailperson, the little league coach who lives next door, the bagger at your grocery store, your child’s teacher, your best buddy, your boss, the waiter at your favorite restaurant, the minister at your church (oh yeah, I’m going there).

Is your mail still being delivered on time? Is team moral up? Are your freezer items separated from the cans? Is your kid getting A’s? Is your buddy still your favorite drinking partner? Is your boss still tolerable? Is your service still top-notch? Is Sunday’s sermon still inspiring?

All I am saying is let’s not rush to judge.

I’m sure you’ve made some mistakes along the way Frank, but heck, our Editor still let’s you write. Right?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's Up Doc?

Bluffton Today column
July 20,2011

This one is dedicated to my doctor, who never actually became my doctor, because even though my primary physician felt that there was an issue that needed a specialist’s attention, that specialist refused to see me.

As I am sure you can imagine I was beyond thrilled by this scenario. For entertainment purposes, let me shed a little on the conversation for ya. It went a little something like this.

Me: “Hi, this is Courtney Hampson. My doctor sent over a referral and my file and I’d like to make an appointment.”

Them: “Let me connect you with our referral specialist.”

Referral Specialist: “Yes, I see a note that says, ‘Dr. Evil cannot see you at this time’.”

Me: “So, he’s too busy or is just offended by me in general?”

RS: “Your symptoms are not really something he treats.”

Me: “Really, what specific symptoms are not valid enough for Dr. Evil?”

RS: “Well, I don’t actually have your file in front of me.”

Me: “So, you’re making this up? Or you are just not qualified to answer my questions?”

RS: “All I can tell you is what it says here.”

Me (under my breath): “Specialist may be a stretch in your job title, don’t ya think?

Me: “So what you are telling me is that my doctor of five years thinks there is an issue and wants a specialist to take a closer look, but you are refusing to see me?”

RS: “Well.”

Me (louder): “So what you are telling me is that my doctor of five years thinks there is an issue and wants a specialist to take a closer look, but you are refusing to see me?”

RS: “Yes.”

Me: “Ok. What was your name again? Susannah? Great. You and Dr. Evil can look forward to seeing your name in print real soon. What is it they say … any PR is good PR? Have a great day.”

Then I burst into tears.

I’ve been feeling crappy for awhile. We’ve tried a few things to regulate the ol’ hormones, but nothing seems to kick the symptoms in the arse. I experienced years of reproductive challenges, so I basically chalked this up to faulty plumbing and darn it stinks to be a woman. My doctor (and my Mom) finally convinced me to have someone else take a look.

Enter Dr. Evil, who won’t see me and whose name I can’t pronounce, and since I read aloud as I write, and because I wondered if a name drop would make it to print, I changed his name. He is, of course, the only endocrinologist in my health plan. Oh, and his office is in Savannah. And, his practice might have the word endocrinology in the title. Maybe.

So now what? Well, I’m thinking witch doctor. Which doctor? A witch doctor. Which (isn’t this fun?), in our first world usually refers to chiropractors, homeopaths and faith healers. Homeopathy you say? I’m in. Homeopathy is a system of medical therapy that uses very small doses of medicines, or remedies. These remedies are prepared from substances found in nature - plants, minerals and animal substances.

So, I’m putting on the white jacket and headed to my laboratory. (Since you now know that I read aloud as I am typing, you should know that I annunciated that as “la-BOOR-atory.”)

Plant material – I’m going mint. I will mix said mint with a little rum and some soda and Mojito my way to a healthier me.

Mineral – do diamonds count? I’ve got a new one on my left ring finger. And, frankly that makes me feel better already.

Final ingredient – animal. Pig is big, so I’m going bacon.

Oh, stop. I know that is not how homeopathy is practiced. But it was funny. And it took my mind off the fact that there is a bigger issue here and I am debating how to tackle it, however the last thing I want is a political debate a la health care, or a retort from Bill Roe. So, I guess the only question I have is … what’s up doc?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dave Miner: The Man, The Myth, The Legend, My Friend

CB/CH2 goes bi-coastal in the July issue with an interview with Napa winemaker Dave Miner.

He loves grapes and his girls. And if you throw in a little jazz guitar, Dave Miner is in seventh heaven. The stories of his three great loves intersect often. In fact, it kind of makes you believe that some things are indeed meant to be.

Music was his first love. Dave’s aunt was a musician, and guitars were always lying around the house for his amusement. He was also known to fiddle with the ivory keys on occasion. But practicing music was much less interesting than playing sports. So music remained something he did “just for fun.”

Wine came next. In his twenties, Dave began collecting wine with his uncle, the founder of Oracle Software Company. He would visit his uncle in San Francisco. They’d get to talking. Then they’d get to drinking. And as Oracle continued to take off and more money was rolling in, they started buying to satisfy their ever-evolving palettes.

Soon, Dave was working in the Oracle sales department, seeking a closer connection to his uncle and the undulating Napa Valley. And then, the stars aligned and his uncle bought a vineyard. And there, he fell even deeper in love, with wine. He made a break from Oracle, started his own technology company, sold it, and was pondering his next move when he got the call.

His uncle was sick, and Dave was asked if he would take over operations of the winery. “I needed less than five minutes to make that decision,” he quipped. To his uncle he said, “I’ll be there tomorrow.” That was 1993.

By 1996, the first vintage of Miner Family Wines was available. But, not until after he met his third and true love, Emily. As he told me the story of the first moment he saw her, he paused to catch his breath and tears formed in his eyes (and, in mine). With wistfulness he admits that he was “diggin’ her from day one.” Emily was his first employee and after she spent six months trying to set him up with someone else, she finally “got it” and agreed to go out with Dave. After a whirlwind romance, and in a ‘how cool is that’ moment, Emily’s father hired the celebrated jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli to play their wedding reception. Talk about a perfect match!

Today, Miner Family Vineyards is a labor of love. True love. Dave’s jazz guitar collection (all crafted by the legendary Bob Benedetto in Savannah) adorns the winery’s tasting room. And, appropriately, a painted portrait of his wife and two daughters (and the vineyard) adorn the back of one of those guitars.

When you meet this man you are immediately drawn into the warm embrace of his laughter. He is funny, and sassy, and ever so sarcastic. He’ll tell you how it is. And then he’ll ask you if want to share a bottle of wine.

The next time you meet him, he’s an old friend. Indeed. Chances are … you have met him.

Dave makes the journey from the wine country to the South Carolina Lowcountry multiple times each year. He says, “there is an allure to the Lowcountry.” The first time he visited our fine area was to meet with the guys at Benedetto Guitars and make a little music. Six years later we are frequent destination for this vagabond, where he has forged many relationships via his wines.

Yet, Miner’s reach is truly country-wide. When talking to his pal, Jason Carlen, Sommelier at the renowned Spiaggia in Chicago (and former “wine geek” at Palmetto Bluff), his thoughts are sincere toward Dave, “Golly I love that man. He and Emily are some of my favorite people in this crazy world we live in. His wines emulate him beautifully. They possess the ease of someone you want to know, the class and sophistication that only comes from being so well-rounded and worldly, and something un-definable and a little bit dirty that makes you want to do naughty things. I can't get enough of him or his wines. I am honored to know him and call him a dear friend.”

As for the wine, Dave says, “You can collect it, but I’d much rather you open the wine – with your friends and family and create some memories. I mean, the best part of my job is hearing that Miner was at someone’s wedding or family milestone. We were there. What’s better than that?”

Now, I’m no wine connoisseur, but I can tell you that Miner – the wine and the winemaker – are easy to fall in love with – they are both pretty darn smooth.

Dave will tell you, “Pull the cork and drink it. If you get lucky, then I’ve doubly done my job.” He may have the best job ever.

Check out Miner Family Vineyards online

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Luciana Label

I don't know if I am hip enough to wear The Luciana Label, but at least she let me interview her for the July issue of CB/CH2!

With brow furrowed and lips pursed Luciana Quiroga moves around her client, studying the fabric, the way it drapes, how it moves, and perhaps just as important -- how the client feels donning her creation. It is no doubt that this serious approach to her work is what puts Quiroga in the fashion spotlight.

In contrast, I’m in the background drooling over this line of clothes that appears both comfortable and fabulous in the same stitch.

A native of Argentina, with a Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) fashion degree under her belt, Quiroga is a young fashionista with a desire to spread the word on the art of custom made clothing. Nearly two years after the opening of her self-dubbed boutique – “Luciana,” Quiroga is also putting her name on the fashion map.

As her career takes off, I had the opportunity to go behind the seams (so clever, that I stole it from Quiroga’s website) with the designer to get the scoop.

Where did your love of fashion originate?
I’ve always been curious about how all these dresses and skirts were made. My mom exposed me to fashion very early – taking me along to have a dress made by a local seamstress in South America. Also, I did a lot of shopping for clothes as a teenager. Attending SCAD was a dream come true for me - I finally had the opportunity to create my idea of what clothes should be.

Tell me about how your travels have inspired you? I’ve been very fortunate to travel in South America, Spain and throughout Europe. Seeing different styles in person, touching the fabric, from a variety of cultures, definitely inspires me and my designs. All that together defines what Luciana is today.

Are you ever surprised by what inspires you? Not necessarily. Inspiration for me is everywhere and can come from anything – people, places, music …

Did you play dress up when you were little? No, my love for design was a teenage escape. Although I always enjoyed dressing up my sister – and now I love dressing my customers.

If you had to pick one outfit from your closet to wear forever, what would it be? Shrugs. I love them and have plenty of them! They are easy to wear, simple to carry around, look good, and of course, come in handy in cold places like restaurants or movie theatres.

When you are designing for a specific person, what is the first question you ask that client? What colors do you like? Do you like solids or prints? And many more questions naturally follow. The more I know about my customer enables me to create a better design.

How do you want someone to feel when he or she is wearing your clothes? Comfortable, confident and glamorous! In fact, those words also best describe my designs.

What is the one article of clothing that every women should have in their wardrobe? A stylish dress of course! That’s what I create - one of a kind, super comfortable dresses that can be for every day wear or, made formal with accessories.

How long does it take you to complete a piece – from concept to finished product? Each piece is one-of-a-kind and every customer is unique, so it truly depends on the design, the fabric and the print.

What is the last book you read? When time permits, I read Couture pattern making books and anything related to fashion.

Favorite movie? I love so many – particularly ones that make you think - but no movies about aliens!

Is there any one person who you would love to design for? My clients! I get so much pleasure and satisfaction from seeing a client in one of my pieces…

What is your greatest extravagance? My Senior Collection at SCAD. Out of about 200 students I was selected to show my collection in the 2010 Senior Fashion Show. I keep the video, pictures, sketches and the actual clothes close by. I am so proud of what I created – it has helped me greatly in making the transition from student to professional.

What is your most marked characteristic, and is that reflected in your design?Creativity is probably what most of my friends would tell you, but some think my sense of humor too. I like to transform things, and not just clothing - from simple to fabulous and unique.

Tell me a little about the clothes we’re seeing in this issue … Colorful, couture, comfortable and very “now.” And, if you don’t see what you like, please come in and I will design something specifically for you.

What can we expect next from Luciana?I’m very excited about the new “Luciana Ready to Wear Club” launching on July 1st. There is no membership fee for our current customers and each item purchased offers them fantastic opportunities such as exclusive showings and very special pricing. It’s my way of showing appreciation for their loyalty and support.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Celebrity Chefs: Why All the Fuss?

Things are heating up in the kitchen and in the July issue of CB/CH2

In the summer of 2002, I moved from semi-metropolitan New Jersey to farmland New Jersey (yes, there are farms in NJ, it is the “garden state” for crying out loud!), for my ex’s job. While he was working every day, I was twiddling my thumbs trying to determine where I should set my career sights. I settled on a (short-lived) stint as marketing manager at a local winery (yes, they have grapes in NJ too). Each summer the winery would host a local festival – food, wine, entertainment, etc. I unfortunately started my new gig about 10 days before said festival. So, when a local chef who was going to do a cooking demo cancelled at the last minute, I was volunteered to man that post.

My boss had no way of knowing that my culinary repertoire was limited to (burnt) grilled cheese and scrambled eggs, that usually morphed into fried eggs because I tended to over-scramble.

I’m not sure if having the aforementioned knowledge would have mattered all that much to him, so I kept it to myself. We were desperate and desperate times call for desperate measures. I did what any professional would – I panicked. And then I turned to the Food Network for support. Lo and behold Rachel Ray was whipping up a 30-minute meal that I was certain I could master. I went to bed feeling a sense of relief until …

I received the news that my demo recipe should, of course, include ingredients sourced locally. I was planning a teriyaki and ginger grilled chicken topped with mango salsa. Feeling pretty confident that mangoes were not indigenous to NJ, I had to get creative. And I did. I added wine. Heck, it was local!

Come festival day, I stood atop a shoddy stage, with propane burners and demonstrated to a crowd of old ladies, “my” recipe. And guess what? They loved it. (Did I mention the free wine flowing at the festival that likely numbed the palate?) Alas, I didn’t burn anything and there were no reported illnesses. Success.

I learned a lot that day. Anyone can cook – if they channel their creativity and have fun with it. Today, chefs who used to be “back of the house” personnel are now front and center, infusing their personality into each dish. They’ve come a long way.

In 1963 Julia Child waltzed into our living rooms from her kitchen. With her almost jarring yet endearing vocal pitch and inane ability to honor the five-second rule when a chicken would find itself on the floor, Child brought French cooking and the allure of everything French to the American people. Dubbed “our Lady of the Ladle” by Time Magazine in 1966, Child was likely our first on-air celebrity chef. Under her PBS-documented tutelage, desperate housewives everywhere found the wherewithal to become masters of their kitchen domain.

Fast forward a few decades and then, BAM! Emeril Lagasse shows up on the Food Network scene and kicks it up a notch by tossing his signature “essence” into every dish. Folks were tuning in by the kitchen-load not necessarily for the recipes, rather for the entertainment -- live music, audience participation, sass and sarcasm. And a celebrity chef is born!

As the Food Network began to take shape and adding more notable chefs to their repertoire, a cult following slowly began to take shape. America was interested in cooking at home again. We would watch Bobby Flay conduct a cooking demo on the Today Show and then find ourselves in line at the butcher ordering twice-ground-brisket for our burger buffet that night because, “Bobby told us to!”

Food Network knew the recipe for success, and adding hunky chefs to the mix didn’t hurt the cause. Easy recipes for the at-home cook and eye-candy to boot? The chef-groupie is born!

Tyler Florence was my chef crush. And that was my little secret ... right up until I had to work with him. I have no shame and I will admit that the first time I met Tyler, I got a little hot and bothered. Ok, a lot hot. And I can probably also admit that my cheeks flushed with every exchange for the first year we worked together. By year three, I was cured of the flush and the crush, but remained ever-impressed by his uncanny ability to whip up a Thanksgiving meal, on stage, in front of hundreds, in 30 minutes, and then work the crowd as if it was full of his closest friends.

Locally, our celebrity chef star shines bright. Food Network’s “Dinner Impossible” star Robert Irvine, opened eat! on Hilton Head and made having his food totally possible for locals and tourists alike. Irvine also appears completely at ease in the national spotlight, and the Lowcountry limelight. In fact, I bumped into him on the sandbar a few years ago. Of course, I was so star-struck that the only thing I managed to say was, “I know Tyler Florence.” Classic.

And lest we forget that our very own Orchid Paulmeier – of One Hot Mamas fame - is battling it out plate for plate each week for the crown of the “The Next Food Network Star.”

We are a country obsessed!

Melany Mullens, publicist with Wagstaff Worldwide, who represents some of the biggest names in southern cooking has this to say, “The rising popularity of food-focused TV networks and shows has given the at-home chef a chance to learn from kitchen masters and makes intricate cooking and constructing complex dishes more accessible than ever.

It’s hard to imagine a time before the Food Network when Emeril, Mario, and Bobby weren’t around to show us behind the scenes of their kitchens and give tips. How can you not want to test recipes and expand your palette to try foods you see others enjoy! Thus, a foodie is born. Molecular gastronomy, innovative flavor profiles, and making beautiful, tasty food are some of the simplest ways to be a rock star chef and accrue the requisite foodie groupies.”

And groupie I am. I subscribe to three foodie newsletters and have a grossly ridiculous collection of cookbooks from “celebrity chefs.” I rip recipes from magazines, as if I may go hungry without. And I get a smirk on my face each time I realize how lucky I am that my day job allows me be a part of the team that plans the annual Music to Your Mouth food and wine event at Palmetto Bluff – juggling chefs, winemakers, pig farmers, bbq-masters, and honey-bee herders, among others. (Shameless plug!)

Who have I become? With thousands of Food Network hours logged, I actually relish my time in the kitchen. Now, I don’t have the fever to ever perform the mango salsa shuffle on stage again, but I’ve definitely come a long way from burnt grilled cheese.

Who’s hungry?