What advice do you have for business travelers using technology to find the best food?
All you need is your phone. People just don’t use it right. If you want to find the best under-the-radar food places, you need to follow the people on social media who are the tip of the spear in that regard. I also love throwing out a question on social: “Hey, I’m in Kansas City. Where is the best plate of ribs?” and see what I get back and from who.
What food and travel trends are making their way up?
I ignore trends; I can’t stand them. I wait for the glue to dry. We are in the midst of a vegetable renaissance that will only get bigger. And for travel, thank God people are finally discovering Africa.
How do you try to interpret culture through food, and what do you think is key to doing it well and being a great storyteller?
I don’t try. I think it’s the only way. You can look in a museum, but that’s potentially boring and all about dead people. Everything is about the story. Without a story you have all the other crappy shows in my genre. Food is history. You can look at a bowl of stew and tell the story of a people from the ingredients and techniques if you have all the frames of reference. It’s easy, but not simple.
Studying food, history, anthropology and sociology for 38 years helps to connect the dots. I love telling stories. Food is good. Food with a story is better. Food with a story you haven’t heard before is better than that, and food with a story you haven’t heard before that you can relate to is best of all. I try for that every day.