The Role of Social Media in the ‘Food World’

For my next project I want to focus on how different people, in different areas of ‘the food world’ interact with social media and the web. How the use of social media has helped further their businesses in ways it otherwise could not.

The food world in all its capacities has been changed immensely by the use of social media and the web. We can now make our dinner reservations online, restaurants have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Food bloggers can gain their own strides without being published in a mainstream paper.

Renee Hirschberg, a local boston food blogger and restaurant critic who has graciously agreed to speak with me. The web and social media is an integral part of her business and I am looking forward to hearing her thoughts on how her business has evolved other the past decade and how the use of social media has helped her progress.

I have also contacted  the two co-founders of ‘The Fresh Truck’. Daniel Clarke and Josh Trautwein, both Northeastern graduates, have taken an old school bus and retro-fitted it into a mobile farmers market set to hit the ground this coming summer. The aim of  ‘The Fresh Truck’ is to bring local, fresh, affordable produce to lower-income neighborhoods surrounding Boston that do not have easy access to nutritious food. To create community involvement and stimulate change to help build stronger, healthier communities. I am intrigued to hear their thoughts on how social media and the web has made their endeavors possible thus far as well how they plan to continue using it once they are up and roaming through Boston’s neighborhoods.

I am still looking for a few more, local sources and would love any suggestions!

Happy Eating

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Exploring Reading Terminal Market

Trending in Boston has ventured to explore the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ for the weekend, Philadelphia!

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to explore the local cuisine and hot spots. While in Philly I went to visit Reading Terminal Market. Similar to Faneuil Hall right here in Boston, but much larger and with a bit more variety. Boasting more than 80 vendors, Reading Terminal is a melting pot of different cuisines, local delicacies and an open market  where you can do your weekly shopping.

Full of delicious smells and passionate people, weaving through the aisles of Reading Terminal is an experience not to be missed.

Open Doors

Last week, my class go the pleasure to speak with Mary Knox Merrill, the current Associate Director of Multimedia and Communications for the Marketing and Communications major here at Northeastern.

Merrill came to talk to us about her journey to where she is today. Merrill is a professional photographer, having traveled extensively  for the Christian Science Monitor working on documentaries and taking photos before joining the NU community. The main purpose of her visit was to teach us tricks of the trade to creating a great story through video. But there was more to her lecture that really resonated. Merrill talked about her path into photography and journalism. After college she interned and took different apprenticeships in photography and eventually got to the Monitor. Merrill expressed just how important it is in the field to get out there, network and do anything and everything offered to you – because you never know what is going to help you towards your goals.

“You never know who is going to open a door for you”

This philosophy is something I have always personally believed, but I feel in the business of journalism it is particularly important. In 2 years of my college career I have done internships with MassLive.com, the online partnership to the Springfield Republican in Western Mass. where I worked as a digital reporter. I wrote stories, conducted interviews, filmed and edited videos, took photos and more. I learned an incredible amount during my two months with MassLive- a lot of skills that I am now translating back into the classroom. I interned as well with WSHM, the CBS affiliate in Springfield, Mass. Here I helped write scripts for the afternoon and evening newscasts, updated stores for the station website and even went out on stories with reporters. And finally, through Northeastern’s co-op education program I was able to spend 6 months in New York City working for MSNBC . Here, I worked in the booking department for the daytime shows during the week. I helped coördinate guests, conduct research and worked elbows-deep in the action behind live national television. Besides working in the esteemed Rockefeller Plaza during milestone events like the 2012 Presidential Election, Hurricane Sandy and the 2012 Summer Olympics I learned so much about the television business that has undoubtably shaped my future – and has attributed greatly to my education in the classroom.
Learning through experience has been a truly invaluable gift for me -getting out of the classroom and into the field isn’t something that should wait till you have your diploma. The more work experience you can gather under your belt, the more and more it will help you.

It is key, in today’s world and in the world of journalism to not be afraid to dive in and learn through every outlet at your fingertips.

Northeastern battles ‘Nemo’

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Blizzard Nemo tore through the Northeast over the weekend, Northeastern University students weren’t too upset by the whopping 25 inches of snow dumped on campus. With classes cancelled, the T service suspended and the majority of stores, restaurants and conveniences suspended students took to the campus quad to enjoy the snow.
Click on the photo above to a link to my Flickr photo gallery

Cooking with Chef Alarcon

Chef Pedro Alarcon

Photo: Chef Alarcon at Northeastern University, taken by Olivia Hesslein

There’s no better way to break up a stressful day of classes then by going to a cooking demonstration!

Here at Northeastern we are lucky  to have an on campus kitchen, Exhibition Kitchen – used to host cooking classes, demonstrations and other food related events for students. This past week the university brought in local chef, Pedro Alarcon owner and executive chef of  La Casa de Pedro in Watertown, Mass.

Chef Alarcon is a native of Venezuela and has brought his love for his country and knowledge of local cuisine right here to Boston. Watching Chef Alarcon cook you could see his passion come through, talking about how when “I came to this country I didn’t even know how to fry an egg.” and how far he has come. Chef Alarcon decided to make a classic Venezuelan dish and favorite from his restaurant’s menu: Arroz con Pollo (chicken with rice) with fried plantains.

Here is a link to Food Gawker, a website I personally use to find recipes. I like it because other foodies from all over can post their much-loved recipes here to share.   There are a myriad of different Arroz con Pollo recipes to suit your fancy!

Alarcon described this dish as one that is a classic favorite for large families and one that is relatively inexpensive to make. Which was a perfect dish for the crowd of college students he was cooking for – that they could easily replicate on their own.

While watching Chef Alarcon, I was live tweeting the event. – linking to photos and the event homepage through Northeastern’s website. The only thing that could have made live-tweeting this better is if Twitter was able to come up with a way to tweet smells- because the food smelled heavenly… Live-tweeting an event is a beneficial form of ‘reporting’ because you are broadcasting details in real time. From cooking events  such as this to something like the Presidential Inauguration, readers and tweeters alike appreciate the immediacy of learning about something while it is still in the midst of unfolding.

Do you KNOW what you’re eating?

The beginning of any gastronomical experience starts with where the food you’re eating comes from. Your local Stop ‘n’ Shop or Shaws imports (some, not all) ingredients from all over the world. The peppers on your salad could be from Chile and the strawberries on your cereal in the morning could be all the way from California.  A foodie recognizes the importance of eating local because is it healthier for you and has fewer preservatives -it also helps stimulates local business.

Another thought to this affect:  Do strawberries that have been picked at an unknown time then shipped 3,000 miles in a refrigerated car sound appetizing?

Eating local can be challenging, but Boston and all throughout Massachusetts there are farmers markets open everyday. You can find one near your home or near your office that is convenient for you.  Here is a link to the Massachusetts Farmers Market Association.

Innovators in the great city of Boston have been coming up with even more ways to make local, fresh produce easier to obtain … by starting, The Fresh Truck!

Coming sometime this year, Josh Trautwein and Daniel Clarke, co-founders of The Fresh Truck have created a mobile farmers market out of a retrofitted school bus. Bringing local produce to the greater Boston community, regardless of neighborhood or income.

The ‘Truck’ trend of food-on-the-go has boomed within the last few years as well as the allegiance to local farmers markets is happily growing. The Food Truck combines these two popular fads into something that will hopefully stick around for a long tome to come! Farmers markets are really making an effort to reach new communities and educate. For instance there is a weekly farmers market open year-round at Northeastern University supplying fresh produce to students. This is a fantastic idea because it is teaching students who are just beginning an independent lifestyle about the importance of buying local and eating healthy and provides this service right at their doorstep.