On this last day of April, we’re happy to share an interview with globetrotting food blogger Jay Eatz. I first met Jay Eatz while participating in a weekly Twitter event, The Travel and Food Chat (#TTAFChat, Mondays at 8pm UAE, 12pm ET) where he is one of the chat’s co-hosts. That first encounter led me to JayEatz.com, his food site where there’s always something great cooking, and where I learned a lot about him that makes me think we’d be friends if we lived closer to each other. Besides being a Canadian Beef Blogger Ambassador (Yep, you heard me), he’s also a cooking instructor, and was good enough to talk with me about things like the current food scene in Ontario (where he lives), the best meal he’s ever eaten and where it was, and what cooking class he’d love to teach in the future.
Flavorful World: In late 2015, you won MakeItBeef.ca’s competition for the title of Canadian Beef Blogger Ambassador. How has ambassadorship affected your cooking style relative to preparing Canadian beef dishes?
Jay Eatz: I don’t think much has changed in regards to my Canadian beef cooking style. I loved cooking with Canadian beef long before I had the title. I fell in love with Canadian beef as a teenager working as a meat cutter. I did have my eyes opened to beef carpaccio while I attended the Canadian Beef Culinary Series at El Dorado Royale Resort & Spa in Mexico. It is now one of my favourite appetizers. I have also discovered some new recipes from the Roundup App that Canadian Beef developed. I think the biggest way it has affected me is how I now get the feeling like I am cheating on Canadian beef anytime I make other meats like Canadian chicken or Canadian pork.
FW: Your site has offered up guides to many aspects of cooking and eating, including one on dining in Antigua. Of all the meals you ate there, if you could experience one again right this minute, tell us what dish, at what establishment you enjoyed it, and what made it stand out.
JE: If I could be transported to Antigua right this minute for one dish it would be rock lobster with a side of macaroni pie and key lime pie for dessert. The establishment I would enjoy this meal at would be Miracle’s South Coast Restaurant and Bar at the gates of Jolly Harbour. I had the pleasure of enjoying two meals there last time I was in Antigua and a few other times for drinks. Besides having amazing food this establishment has a great atmosphere. It appears to be a former house that has been converted into a restaurant. The bar is located inside and the dining tables are located on the exterior veranda. This place is almost magical at night. A mystical haze projects from the veranda as you are serenaded by the sweet sounds of the Cicadas and tree frogs. The mountain across the street is sparsely dotted with the street lights lining the driveway up to the Sugar Ridge Resort. The flickering of the candle on the table and the soft chatter of neighbouring diners carry’s you through the evening as you dine alfresco. Truly an experience one needs to experience for themselves.
FW: How has being a member of Food Bloggers of Canada influenced your own blogging style?
JE: It hasn’t really influenced my blogging style but it has been a great resource for blogging tips and blogging opportunities. The FBC has some great content written for food bloggers by food bloggers. They cover topics like “blogging 101”, writing and editing, food photography and more advance topics like technology, SEO and monetization. They also have great paid opportunities for Canadian food bloggers. The FBC also has a great facebook forum where bloggers can network with each other and discuss some of the issues they face seeking the advice of the FBC members as a whole. FBC membership also holds clout with brands, Canadian beef was very excited that I was a member
FW: You’ve taught cooking classes on spices and rubs, casseroles, and more. What class would you like to teach that you haven’t yet had the opportunity to, and what aspect of it do you find the most appealing?
JE: I would like one day to teach a cooking class about Caribbean cooking. I would love to share some of this dishes I have experienced there with my students. I feel like a few more trips down there could add to my repertoire before I am ready to teach a class. It is amazing how a dish can take your mouth on a tropical journey and I think this would be appealing to offer this course to my students over the winter class sessions. We get a lot of snow in Canada so a little Island flavour could make for a great mid-winter culinary escape.
FW: How did you come to be involved with the #TTAFChat that happens weekly on Twitter? What is your favorite aspect of co-hosting these chats?
JE: I stumbled upon the #TTAFChat about a year ago. I found it appealing because for the main part it examines a weekly topic with a 50% focus on travel and a 50% focus on food. It is also unique because it is the first chat of its kind originating from the Middle East. I got in touch with Judy Sebastian (one of my co-hosts) over twitter after a request from #TTAFChat for future topic ideas. I suggested a beach themed chat and was invited to be a guest host for the week. The guest spot turned into a permanent co-host spot. My favourite aspect of co-hosting these chats are interacting with such a diverse and amazing bunch of people on twitter as we discuss two of my favourite topics, travel & food. The chat has a global reach so it amazes me to be interacting with someone from places like the UAE, England, Germany, South Africa, USA and Canada for one magical hour each week. You leave the chat with a new perspective of the weekly topic because of everyone else’s input. It is also interesting to interact with people that travel a few times a year and have a personal twitter account with 100 followers to industry experts that have been all over the world and have 100k + followers.
FW: What is the most interesting/exciting trend happening in Ontario’s restaurant scene right now?
JE: There are so many things happening with the Ontario restaurant scene right now. I see a big surge of restaurants catering to the healthy eating phenomenon, even the chains seem to be integrating healthy choices to their menus. One trend that I have noticed in particular is the rise of elevated dining in smaller/rural communities. It seems like the bistro is no longer a big city thing and Joe’s Dinner is no longer dominating the rural market.
FW: Where will your travels take you next, and what dish(es) are you looking forward to sampling when you arrive?
JE: My next trip will definitely be to the Caribbean. I have Sint Maarten on my radar. I am hoping to do some Island hopping and Sint Maarten is a great spot to do this from. I would like to visit the neighbouring Islands of Saba, St Barts and Anguilla. I had an amazing time at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort last time I was there and would like to add a few days stay there to my itinerary. Cheryl at the pool bar makes the best BBC’s. I am most looking forward to visiting the Sun Shine Shack in Anguilla. The owner Garvey tweets pictures of his amazing BBQ regularly and I have been dreaming about trying his grilled lobster and enjoying a cold Carib Lager.
FW: Excluding the name of any of your pre-existing blogs, websites, or print/online personas, tell us what name you would give to your memoir about your culinary exploits?
JE: I think if I were to write a memoir about my culinary exploits I would name it Jay Ate: Retrospectives of a Foodie.
FW: When you aren’t cooking/eating delicious things, how do you most enjoy spending your time?
JE: You may have heard me make mention of someone called the G.F. (girlfriend) in my blog? I spend a lot of my free time with her. I also love cooking for friends and usually have dinner guest over weekly to enjoy a meal and a few adult beverages. Some of my blog content results as a by-product from these evenings. I also play a mean pinball (although I am far from a wizard) and I am ranked in the 10th percentile of all world ranked players.
*Note to Readers: To keep up with Jay and see where he’s heading next to eat and drink awesome things, check out his latest exploits on www.jayeatz.com, follow him on Pinterest, and Google+, watch him on YouTube. Not enough? You can also find him on Fridgg.com.