On October 19th, 2016, I didn’t want to get out of bed. My days that year had been filled to the brim with two primary emotions—regret (wasting the hours doing something I didn’t love with people who liked me even less) and longing (to go out to dinner). I dragged my laptop across the bedsheets, my fingers moved before my thoughts could fully catch up.
Google search: “how to write about food for a living”
Google search result (#2): “Does food writing matter? by Monica Bhide”
That evening, I was late to dinner. Tucked safely in my purse was a tiny frame that protected a piece of neatly-torn paper. Typed on that piece of paper were the words, “I want to be a food writer.”
Those framed words filled me purpose and the will to get out of bed every morning. I ate voraciously and wrote fiercely. My mid-section and my Instagram account grew rapidly. I embraced the joyous feeling within my very soul that leapt every time I tried a new ingredient or preparation. My ego expanded with every new facet of restaurant dining I learned about and humbled in the face of undeniable artistry of cooking and exquisite choreography of a perfect service. My fling with dining out left me breathless, knocked out in love.
Six months later, I quit my job and began spending my days following chefs around kitchens. I thought I’d be asking questions like, “Why did you choose to cook X ingredient in Y manner?” Instead, I found myself asking questions like, “How can you stand dedicating your life to helping others celebrate milestones like birthdays and anniversaries when this line of work often makes you overlook your own?” Or, “Why be a part of an industry that is notorious for physical and mental aggression?” Or, “Why can’t employees get paid fair wages?”
The rise of food television allowed ordinary folks like myself to fall in love with the grit and glamor of food. Publications dedicated to food have turned neophytes into experts. But there’s still too little being done in terms of sharing the real stories of what it’s like to work in and with the restaurant industry. So, I decided to do my part by creating a space that is devoted solely to those stories. Un-Plated exists to build deeper connections between the people who work in restaurants and the people who covet the dining out experience. Un-Plated tells the unfettered stories of the warriors, the dreamers, the artists, and the hustlers in and around kitchens.
My hopelessly devoted attitude towards dining out hasn’t changed, it’s broadened. My journey with Un-Plated has turned me from a lover of food to a student of socio-economic policies, agricultural affairs, business development, and the layered depths of the human psyche. I’m no expert, I’m forever learning. But one thing I know—in food, I am discovering the grimness and the grace of our existence.