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.
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.”
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. 😉
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.