Best Job on the Planet: What Happened?

I know a LOT of you saw my posts and pleas for votes a few weeks back for the “Best Job on the Planet” contest. Naturally, every one has been asking “Did you win?!”

In summary: No. I did not win but there’s more to it than that. First of all, I’ve been working on this job since March, and as an optimistic person, I definitely tried to stay positive, despite the odds. Every time I thought about it, I got a little flutter of excitement in my stomach. Yes, there would be a small chance I actually won,  but I had to try, right? I’ve done a lot of things in life that many would say are impossible–hey, even making a career out of travel journalism was not something that many family or friends really thought I could do. But I did. And I’ll keep on doing. My motto has always been to try.

To me failing is far less scary than the idea of not even trying.

Fourth of July in LA

Though it was disappointing not to win, the biggest disappointment was when I found out it was a voting contest.  That had never been mentioned as I passed through each round and I was surprised to learn after all this, the final winner would be determined by a vote.  I understand why ThirdHOME wanted to have a voting contest –we are all self promoters/marketers and having all of us marketing ourselves and the brand does seem like an easy way to get a lot more coverage. However, I am not always sure that a vote is the smartest way to determine the best candidate for the job. I definitely think every single finalist was worthy of winning, but we all know voting contests can be scammed, cheating can occur and it is a really cutthroat, stressful battle for those in the final round.

Cheating did occur and many votes were disqualified. There was such rampant cheating that the contest actually ended 11 days early. The winner, Sorelle Amore, is a talented photographer and I’m sure she will kickass on this assignment. But the voting, cheating and abrupt ending was sort of an anticlimactic way to end what had been a big part of our lives for the past few months.

However, I am truly grateful to have made it past three rounds and to have had so many REAL, honest-to-goodness votes from people across the globe. Besides my mom, I’m truly surprised and honored to have seen so much support from other travel lovers, other travel industry professionals and other adventure seekers out there. It made me realize the world is truly smaller than I ever thought.

As I said in my Instagram post below, announcing the outcome– I already have the “Best Job on the Planet.” But I’ll never regret trying and pushing myself in new ways. I never expected to get to the finals and this experience was proof that you really do never know until you try.

Thanks for following along with this journey and more adventures are certainly in store!

 

 

US Japan Seminar Japan Embassy Tohoku

SPEAKER: Japan – U.S. Tourism Seminar on Tōhoku

Japan has always fascinated for its mix ancient history and cutting-edge modernism. It has such a defined unique culture and sense of tradition.  I was very fortunate to be able to travel to the Tōhoku region of Japan in April of 2016 for an assignment. This was my first trip to Japan and I was hired by CNN Asia to host a video that focused on some of the main highlights of this Northeast region of Japan. (Check out my CNN Video of Japan here!) 

This June, I was able to relive this dream trip and share it with all the attendees at the Japan-U.S. Tourism Seminar. I flew to D.C. for this event, which was sponsored by the Embassy of Japan and the Japan National Tourism Organization.

The evening was focused on bringing awareness about the state of tourism in Japan and to share more of this dynamic country with an audience of 300 US journalists. When I first arrived, I was in awe of the tranquil yet grand residence of the Japanese Ambassador, the setting for this wonderful night of celebrating Japan.

I was asked to speak on my experience in Tōhoku; detailing where I visited, what we covered on our shoot and my impressions of the region. Since I spent 6 days, from before dawn to way after dusk, I managed to see a lot in almost all of the 6 prefectures of the region.

After our host, H.E. Kenichiro Sasae, the Ambassador of Japan to the US, welcomed us all into his home, the guests mingled and interacted with the Japanese food, drink and travel products that were on display.

My presentation came at the middle of the event, and it was such a pleasure to explain what it was like to experience Japan for the first time through the Tōhoku region. I spoke about 5 key themes that we covered throughout the visit: Landscape, Arts, Traditions and Pastimes and Cuisine. I told the stories of meeting the locals and experiencing each of these as not only an American, but as a female traveler as well as a travel blogger. I had some funny stories to relate regarding the competitive eating of Wanco-Soba or trying to paint a Kokeshi doll with a master craftswoman. I also detailed the experience on the stunning Sanriku Coast and at Ginzan-onsen, a hot spring town.

Curious? Check out my full presentation here (don’t worry, it is mostly photos and bullet points!)

We also heard from the esteemed individuals such as Mr. Ryoichi Matsuyama, the president of the Japan National Tourist Office, as well as Mr. Hiromi Tagawa, the chairman of the JATA and Mr. Keith Kirkham, the Incoming Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the US Embassy Japan.

Overall, I met wonderful representatives of Japan and talented journalists in the DC travel community. We later visited a party at the National Geographic headquarters, which rounded out this impactful 2 days in DC. It still is such an honor to be an “ambassador” of sorts for this incredible country and the stunning region of Tōhoku.

Have you been to Tōhoku? If so, leave me a note!

xo Kelley
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BEST JOB ON THE PLANET FINALIST!

I am so excited to share this with everyone! So back in March, numerous friends from all over, kept sending me this think link to ThirdHOME’s Best Job on the Planet. This job entailed going to 12 different destinations and staying in 12 luxury dream homes for one week each, profiling each through social media, blog and video. Expenses and a nice salary included. It’s no wonder that this job listing caused quite a stir in the media, across blogs and across the world. It seemed to good to be true…

Wait, before I go any further. Have you heard of ThirdHOME? Before then, I’d heard about it through my brother, as it’s a luxury house swap website for people with… luxury houses (my Santa Monica apartment doesn’t cut it.) I have to admit, I did spend time drooling on their website at some of the ridiculously awesome homes available for swapping.

But back to the job: I know that these contests get tons of applicants and often end up a hoax or a waste of time. However, after reading the job requirements, especially:  “Must have the ability to understand and appreciate luxury and share your experiences with the world via blogging and vlogging along with other social media outlets,” I realized that this job was meant for me. Not only have I been a full time travel video creator since graduating, but I also have honed my focus on luxury travel. My shows focus on the best hotels in the world, bucket list experiences, high end tour operators, world class food and once in a lifetime travel moments. So… I grabbed my camera and submitted my video to apply. That was round 1.

A few weeks later, a wonderful email popped up in my inbox telling me that I’d beaten out 17,000 other applicants to make it to round 2! HOORAY! Now things were getting more real! I actually let myself dream about winning the job at this point and put all my energy into submitting the next round of materials which included photos, writing samples & answering questions.

best job on the planet finalist

Now, just a few days ago, I received the email I’d been waiting for–Congratulations! You are in Round 3! YEEHAW! The wait was long and I had started to think it was no-go, but I’d always held out a little hope. This email was a relief but let me tell you, now it’s really real. I feel like I’ve been preparing my whole life for this role and I want it BAD! My final task includes making a video which will be put out to a public vote on June 15th. I have to go back to prepping for my video shoot but I wanted to share that with you all so you can follow along with this journey.

Once the video is live and contest has started, I’ll share how to vote. Please check back on June 15th–every vote is going to count!

Kelley Ferro Taste Awards

YAY! I won a Taste Award!

The 8th Annual Taste Awards was held this past month and I was thrilled to win the Best International Program Award! My Eat Like a Local show was the grand prize winner in this category of nominees from producers all over the world– I am honored to be among such an impressive lineup of travel producers.

The Taste Awards 2017

If you haven’t heard of them, The Taste Awards are very prestigious awards for the food & travel industry. Their website most accurately describes them: “The Annual TASTE AWARDS are the original awards for the Lifestyle Entertainment Industry, and the highest awards for creators, producers, hosts, and directors of Lifestyle Programs, Series, Shows & Cinema. Also known as the Tasty Awards, they are the premier broadcast awards show celebrating the year’s best achievements in Food, Fashion, Home and Lifestyle programs on Television, in Film, in Online Video, and in Apps, Radio, Podcasts and Photography.”

Kelley Ferro Taste Awards

They cover quite a lot of programming, and this year Jamie Oliver, Carla Hall, Vice, Tastemade, Outside, MasterChef and many more big names received awards. The red carpet ceremony was held here in Los Angeles on the rooftop of the 60 Hotel. Unfortunately, I was out of the country on a travel shoot (comes with the territory) so I wasn’t able to attend. However I did receive this (heavy) gold medal award and of course, I wear it constantly. 😉

Colombia Cartagena family dinner

My Eat Like a Local series has been close to my heart (more like my stomach…) because I strongly believe that food is an authentic tool into a culture. My series has 74 videos, ranging from outdoor feasts on the Montana prairies, to night markets in Taiwan to the finest Michelin restaurants in  Europe. The preparation is the most important part, so I’ve filmed episodes on cooking classes in Tuscany, going to markets with locals in Papua New Guinea and learning how to make dumpling by hand in China. To me, food is the great equalizer and through this series, I was able to meet passionate chefs, generous home cooks and excited locals that wanted to share their favorite foods, and ultimately their country with the world.

One experience that epitomizes how food can open doors, occurred in Colombia. I was filming a series in Cartagena, with one episode on food. A local family of 3 girls, a doting dad and perma-smiling mom, invited myself and my cameraman, Justin, to their home for dinner. Their modest house was outfitted in blinding but festive, blinking Christmas lights, and the music was on & doors wide open when we arrived.

Justin and I couldn’t speak any Spanish and this lovely family didn’t speak English, but that didn’t stop us from sharing a lot of laughs, miming out stories and feeling the love & hospitality of Colombia. The young girls toured me through their rooms, the oldest so proud of having her own room. One giggly teen showed me photos of boys on her phone, and cracking up as we both swiped through photos of actors.

I fried plantains with the matriarch, learning the process of smashing them first and sampling them to make sure they were crispy.  Their mild mannered dad arrived a little later to a chorus of excited daughters, which showered him with kisses as he walked through the door from work. I was able to be a part of this true slice of life–learn about a local life, about Colombian traditions and about family, all under the roof of what started out as strangers. And all this happened because we were sharing a dinner together. The food was loving prepared but I learned so much more beyond the recipes. Food was just the beginning of the conversation, and I still am in touch with the daughters even today.

If you are curious, you can see highlights of this dinner in my Food of Cartagena video below.

We won a Trippy for Best Food Video of 2015!

I am very excited to announce that a video from our Live Like a Local: Peru series won a Trippy Award from Tripfilms. Food of Peru won top honors in the Best Bites: Top Food Video for 2015. Tripfilms is the largest travel video website and I’ve had the privilege of contributing to Tripfilms for the past 8 years.

I can understand why all those tasty, exotic Peruvian staple foods and signature dishes made the audience salivate enough to bring home the top prize. From a ceviche cooking class to tasting local fruits at the market, to dining 6000 feet up at Machu Picchu, Peru deserves all its credit as a world-class culinary destination.

If you haven’t seen it already, check out the award-winning Best Food of Peru below.

Special thanks to sponsors Visit Peru, Travcoa Travel and USTOA for supporting the Live Like a Local: Peru campaign. And thanks to all the Tripfilms audience that voted for us!