Archive for the ‘Editorial Thoughts’ Category

Diving into WSET Level 3

Monday, August 19th, 2019

As I mentioned last week, I started the WSET Level 3 course. Many of the suppositions I made about the program were correct.

  1. I am one of the older (although not the oldest) person in the class. It doesn’t bother me. I assumed many of the students would be younger.
  2. Many of the students work in the food and beverage industry. That’s a no brainer. As a food blogger, I’m on the very fringe of that industry, which is fine with me.
  3. There is a lot to learn. The instructor verified that. It’s much like taking a college course; you’ll spend 2-3 times the amount of class time studying at home.
  4. There will be a good amount of wine sampling. On the first night we sampled 4 wines. In the next few weeks, we will move to 6 wines per class.

There also were things that I didn’t know.

  1. The tasting isn’t the hardest part of the exam. The instructor had numerous tips to help with it and will continue to share them during the course.
  2. There’s no need to bring a laptop. I bring my laptop to 95% of my meetings, so I can take notes. When you’re sitting at a table with an assortment of glasses, crackers, and pitchers, there’s no room for a laptop.

Finally, there were things that I didn’t consider.

  1. Although we sampled 4 glasses of wine, we drank none. In fact, after we took our first sip, he recommended that everyone spit. Ah, yes, the paper cup wasn’t for water; it was our personal spittoon.
  2. Sampling a number of wines is tiring for your palate. Although I drank none of the wine, my mouth definitely felt like I had consumed a lot of wine. I honestly had zero interest in actual glass of wine when I got home.

One week down, fifteen weeks to go. I have a lot of studying to do in that timeframe. And I have to say, I’m pretty excited about it.

My Current Roles- Part 4

Monday, August 12th, 2019

My fourth role, although my newest, is in some ways the one I have had for the longest period of time. I’m a student. Again. I always like to think of myself as a lifelong learner, but in this case I’m taking an actual course. Tomorrow I attend my first class in the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 3 certification course.

Where, why, and how did this wine education begin? I’ll start with the easy part- where. In September 2017 my husband I traveled to San Francisco on business. We rounded out the trip with a weekend stay in Napa. That alone was amazing. What made it even more amazing was that a childhood friend had begun working at Rarecat Winery. We spent many hours there, reconnecting, enjoying their wine, and learning about her wine journey.

After this trip I spent a lot of time thinking about wine and its educational opportunities. For me it hit many sweet spots. As someone who spends hours each week thinking about and working with food, adding some wine knowledge made a lot of sense. Additionally, the prospect of a new challenge was exciting. I hadn’t taken a true class in over a decade, so it seemed like a good way to engage my mind.

In the beginning of 2018, I enrolled in an online course to earn my WSET Level 2 certification. The course was self-paced with an in-person exam, for which I could choose the date and location. I took the exam and earned the Level 2 certification with distinction.

Although I enjoyed that course, I knew that the Level 3 would require more time and dedication for me. The prospect of taking it online was daunting, as a portion of the exam revolves around tasting. Knowing my own learning strengths and weaknesses, I needed to be near other students to get better feedback on wine tasting. So, I delayed enrolling in the course.

This spring I decided to search for courses near home and found that a weekly course is offered in Boston. There couldn’t have been a better format. Boston is only an hour away, so it’s an ideal location. Offering the class on a once a week basis gives more time to study. (There’s a lot to learn!)

What exactly will I do with this new certification? I’m not 100% sure. I have contemplated the idea of becoming a wine educator. I also have debated if there’s something entrepreneurial I can do with food and wine. For now, I plan to focus on learning. For those who ponder or ask- no, it’s not just an excuse to drink wine. Although it is a fine benefit.

To read about Role 3, click here.

My Current Roles- Part 3

Monday, August 5th, 2019
There’s a clown in every group.

Next month marks the two year anniversary for my third role, which is at Wasabi Ventures Stables. Conveniently, I just expanded my role there, giving me a double title: Community Evangelist and Director of Aftercare. However, before I delve into these roles, I’m going to transport you with the wayback time machine.

As a child I was not one of those girls who was in love with horses. I didn’t dislike them, but I didn’t read horse novels, take riding lessons, or dream of having my own pony. However, I always was, and am, an animal person. So, my personal menagerie consisted of cats, dogs, tadpoles, chickens, and even lizards. I always enjoyed caring for other living creatures.

Fast forward to about a dozen years ago. I was dating my now-husband, and he asked about taking his and my kids to a racetrack. I told him in no uncertain terms that children shouldn’t hang around a place like that. He then suggested that just he and I go so I could experience a racetrack. Growing up in New Hampshire with parents not interested in the sport, I’d never been. We went to Suffolk Downs, and I found it to be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Fast forward again by a handful of years to when my husband began telling me about his dream of building a racing syndicate. I thought it was a good idea, and I was glad to assist in a small way. As he built this business, I had the opportunity to spend time in the barns with our horses, to experience the thrill of being on the rail at the finish line, to stand at the paddock and watch my horses. In short, I fell in love with these magnificent creatures.

In no time, my plan of helping in a small way grew to holding the role of Community Evangelist. I tracked purchases and ordered rewards. I planned events to bring our community together and created contests to strengthen engagement. This allowed me not only to help with the business but to build friendships with many members of our club.

Moving into 2019, I wanted to contribute more to WV Stables and find a way to make it more of an us project. When I thought about my interests and work strengths and combined them with the new contacts I was making, I felt a pull toward aftercare. Almost all people in the Thoroughbred industry are strong advocates for safe and positive placements for horses when they are done racing. For me, it’s become a driving force. After working as racehorses, these animals deserve a good home.

In the coming months, I’ll be launching new programs that not only will help retired Thoroughbreds but also that will encourage our club members to be part of the solution. I am excited to see how much we will be able to do.

I may be a late arrival to the world of horses and racing, but now it’s become a focal part of my life.

To read about Role 2, click here.

My Current Roles- Part 2

Monday, July 29th, 2019

For the past three and a half years, the role of Program Director at Wasabi Ventures Academy was what filled the majority of my workweek. Now, I’ve rearranged my schedule and, as such, have made this role a smaller part of my day.

This role has been an interesting one for me. When I was first offered the position, I wasn’t sure that it was the right fit for me. What did I know about working with startup founders? Would I be good at getting entrepreneurs to a point where they’d deliver strong pitches as they competed for prize money? After discussions with a couple of the partners at Wasabi Ventures, I decided to give it a go.

Through the handful of cohorts that I coached, I developed more confidence and realized that a good number of the tools needed were actually in my back pocket. I had built a startup. I’ve dabbled in the periphery of the venture capital world. I used to teach. I am willing to learn. Combine all of those ingredients, and I think I was a pretty good fit for the role.

So, why now is this a small part of my day? It was time for me to do something new for my career. While I thoroughly enjoyed working with the teams and seeing all of their growth, I wanted to investigate other options that really speak to my passions.

That doesn’t mean this role has gone away completely. Not at all. I still work with founders but on a much smaller scale. I currently am not running a major program but work with founders on more of a one-on-one basis.

In the coming months, I’ll be focusing more on what’s next for me than what’s next for startups I’m coaching. However, as I do that, I’ll also be utilizing a number of the contacts, skills, and resources that I developed while holding this Program Director role. It’s definitely a full circle sort of experience.

To read about Role 1, click here.

My Current Roles- Part 1

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

I figured if I’m going to return to blogging more about work and life, I might as well start by writing about all of the hats that I wear. To give it some sort of order, I’ve decided to write them in a chronological order. Thus, out of all the roles I hold, the role of Chief Foodie and Recipe Creator at Think Tasty is the one I’ve had the longest.

If you’ve read the About page at Think Tasty, you know a bit of my history. If you haven’t, feel free to click the link. You also can just continue reading.

Basically some of my oldest memories revolve around food. From helping my mom make cookies (and not just to get dibs on a beater) to critiquing wedding cake as a seven year old, food has been a central part of my life. I’ve always enjoyed creating, cooking, and sharing.

The more time I’ve spent cooking and baking, the more I have developed a sense of confidence that allows me to be more creative. For me it isn’t just about the time in the kitchen, it’s also about the time spent imagining. I love to think about an ingredient, how I’ll prepare it, how I can make it shine. I enjoy considering ways to develop more flavor and highlight different textures.

I always have enjoyed sharing the food I created, but I’ve become more introspective of that as well. The reason I enjoy sharing food isn’t so much to hear praise from others, rather it’s my way of making other people happy. Whether I’ve made a dessert to celebrate an event, brought an appetizer to a gathering, or am hosting a dinner, I love seeing other people feel happy and satisfied with what they’re eating. It doesn’t hurt if I like the food as well.

So, twelve years into it, I’m still running Think Tasty. I dedicate at least one morning a week to recipe testing. That doesn’t include the time I spend deciding what dishes I’ll be making in the coming weeks, designing the actual recipe, or shopping for ingredients. No, it’s not a full-time gig, but it fills many hours in each week. I feel very fortunate to be able to spend part of my workweek focusing on this lifelong passion.

Return to Editorially Yours

Monday, July 15th, 2019

Ah, my dear PeKu. I haven’t written here in almost two and a half years. During that time I put PeKu on the back burner while I focused more on my role as Program Director at Wasabi Ventures Academy. During these past 30 months I even took a little time off from Think Tasty. That lasted only six months before I was craving time cooking in the kitchen and writing about it. 

So, here I am writing for the corporate base of my publishing company again. Why?

Things have changed in my professional role. Although I still run the Wasabi Ventures Academy, I am focusing my energies on other projects. As I have for the past twelve years (minus my mini hiatus), I am still creating new recipes weekly for Think Tasty. I love the time I spend thinking about recipes, creating them, and sharing them with others. Writing about it is fun as well.

I also have decided to add a little education to my plate. Last year I began my wine studies and earned my Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level 2 certification. I enjoyed the challenge of learning something new that aligns nicely with my love of food. Although it took me a while, I have decided to continue pursuing my wine education and will start the Level 3 course in August. 

Finally, my husband and I now own a Thoroughbred syndicate. No, I’m not going to become a trainer or jockey, but I am the Community Evangelist. A decent amount of my day is spent sharing updates with our co-owners, working on marketing, and handling a bit of record keeping. I am also working to find more ways to be involved with aftercare for retired Thoroughbreds.

With all of this going on, why start writing at PeKu again? The simple answer is PeKu is a major part of my identity. It’s my handle on social media. Although I write weekly about the food I’m making and things occurring in my life, it just seemed like the right time to return here as well. I turned 49 this year, and while it doesn’t feel like a major event that next year I’ll be 50, maybe it is on some subliminal level. I definitely am spending a decent amount of time figuring out what I want to do next. 

So, here I am, back writing at PeKu. Let’s see what this new journey holds!