About Restaurantouring and Me

The short version: I’m Conway. I like food. Food is good. Sometimes, I ramble on and on with no apparent end in sight.

The long version (don’t say I didn’t warn you):

“Restaurantouring” is a mish-mash of the words “restaurant” and “touring,” which means the act of visiting various places of interest for business or pleasure.  It’s a play on the word “restaurateur,” meaning an owner of restaurants.  I came up with this thoroughly bad pun in a mostly somniferous state.  It stuck, and I use it now because I think I’m funny and clever (I’m not).

Essentially, this blog is about various restaurants where I go to eat; hence, “restaurant” and “touring.”  Now that I’ve thoroughly beaten this dead horse, I should say that this blog isn’t entirely about restaurants and their food.  I love all food, so this website will likely also contain different things that I cook at home, some random thoughts about food or people somehow related or involved with food, as well as food news.

I decided to start writing in this blog to try to maintain what’s left of my sanity, especially since my day job keeps me so busy and frazzled a good bit of the time.  I guess I’ve always had a thing for food.  It’s just too bad it took a major car accident for me to fully realize this fact.

all this to avoid killing a possum!

All this to avoid killing a possum! I'm an idiot!

One of the first things I thought of immediately after crashing my car (besides “F****CCCKKK!!!” and, as an afterthought, “I wish I were as acrobatic as my car”), was that life is too short to eat bad food.  It was a terribly cold night (It was the Friday before Thanksgiving 2007).  I just worked a nearly 12-hour day.  I only had a thin jacket on top of a thin sweater, and I was terribly hungry.  In fact, all I remember thinking of, right before I crashed, was a recipe for short ribs that I came up with, inspired by a recipe from Alton Brown’s book, I’m Just Here For The Food, and by a recipe from James Beard’s book, American Cookery.

Instead, I was forced to sit on the ground outside for an hour or so while the police did their thing and the firemen stood around looking for something to do.  My cell phone died while waiting (damn you, crappy batteries!), so I wasn’t even able to get in contact with anyone to come pick me up until much later, at the police station.  I refused hospitalization because I just really wanted to go home and eat some beef short ribs.

The following week, I made a pretty damn good Thanksgiving dinner, if I do say so myself (but that’s another blog!).  I had those short ribs, too.  Delicious.

As a small child, I used to help my mom chop vegetables and stir fry things in the wok (I am Chinese).  Growing up as a latch-key kid, I started cooking for myself, my sister (after my sister burned soup, I vowed to never trust her with the cooking again.  Dear God, I hope she doesn’t read this blog…), and the family when I was 11 (eggs and omelets were my favorite!).  An avid eater (with an avidly expanding waistline to match!), I cooked and ate from then until adolescence, when I stopped attending high school.

what the hell happened to me?

what the hell happened to me?

After dropping out, I was handcuffed and brought to the island of Jamaica by two male escorts (unbelievable, I know.  I don’t swing that way, but my mom thought it’d be a good idea to hire some douches from a male escort service to come get me at 3 AM on December 7, 2002.  Day that will live in infamy indeed!) to attend a crisis intervention program and private high school known [misleadingly] as “Tranquility Bay *”.

I'm not one of the guys on the floor, thank God!

I'm not one of the guys on the floor, thank God!

There, I copied cookbook recipes into my sad little marble notebook for fun and was forced to eat some pretty awful foods to keep us all more or less alive.

This was one of the better breakfasts: stale water crackers with peas and "corned beef," scooped from big 5-gallon plastic tubs

Then, finally, after a lot of hard work and patience with the bizarre rules at “TB,” I graduated from that high school and was accepted to college, where I ate at the cafeteria almost every night — not because the food was particularly good (it was God awful), but because they had pans and ranges where I could cook my own food.  My roommate pointed out that I didn’t go there to eat.  I went there to cook.

Okay, so I didn't cook this one

Okay, so I didn't personally cook this particular plate. . .

After graduating from college with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, the first thing I did (indeed, the very night I graduated!) was I called to request a free pamphlet of information about a culinary school in New York (I won’t say which).  I’ve since decided against going to culinary school, but I’ll discuss why in another blog some time in the future.

Shortly after graduating, I started working for the government — the Veteran’s Administration — where I still work, currently.  I’m a research assistant on something called the HEROES Project.  It’s cool.  I kinda like it.  I get to travel a lot to New Orleans, where I get a car to drive to Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  That explains why I eat a lot in those two areas (New Orleans = yay, Hattiesburg = wtf?).

Alas, the HEROES Project keeps me extraordinarily busy at times.  After the accident, I moonlighted as a caterer.  I catered some parties for family and friends.  I also catered for 50 people for a wedding (that’s the bride below!):

and I also catered for about 80-100 people at a rock concert at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ for WSOU 89.5FM‘s 60th Birthday Bash:

Me and Five Finger Death Punch

Me and Five Finger Death Punch at WSOU 89.5 FM's 60th Birthday Bash at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ

I wanted to make a Five Finger Death Punch for Five Finger Death Punch, but that’s another recipe.

While catering, I took what little profits I made, saved them up, and occasionally went out to eat at fancy restaurants.  The first truly fancy restaurant I ate at was Chef John Besh‘s Restaurant August, in New Orleans, Louisiana.  There, I had my first tasting menu in January of 2008 — 10 courses, with wine pairings.  A fantastic meal.  I even got to meet the chefs after dinner — the Executive Chef, Steven McHugh, and Chef John Besh.

Chef McHugh and I

Chef McHugh and I

Chef Besh and I

Chef Besh and I

Of course, as with all the other things I’ve jumped into doing in the past, I learned that I was doing it all wrong.  The way I was catering — cooking from home, without a license, rather than in a commercial kitchen, etc. etc. etc. — probably wasn’t the greatest idea in the world (hahahaohgodpleasedon’t sue me I can’t even really afford the milk and cereal I’m going to have for breakfast tomorrow morninghahahaha).

Moving on.

After quitting the whole catering-for-barely-any-profit thing, I resumed cooking for family and friends on occasion.  I even catered for a party for work recently (but that’s another blog).

Additionally, I randomly bumped into Chef John Besh on a trip back from New Orleans and Mississippi.  Turned out we were on the same flight.  I was excited, because he’s one of my favorite chefs, and one I watched closely on Food Network’s Next Iron Chef America competition during the summer of ’07.  Chef Michael Symon would ultimately go on to defeat Chef Besh in the last round of competition.

Chef Besh advised me to immerse myself in all things culinary.  He suggested I do that by reading and eating, which is what I’ve been doing since that day.  So, I have been reading, eating, taking pictures of food, cooking food, and eating some more.  This blog is testament and documentation of that.

My goal in writing in this blog is to keep track of my own thoughts and moods and tastes in food and restaurants.  Additionally, I’d like to be able to share those thoughts and ideas, as well as any potential recipes I may come up with and any food photography (read: food porn) I might take.  If I am able to, I would also like to educate my readers, although there is much (too much) that I still need to learn myself.  All in time, I suppose . . .

But please . . . take a look around!  Read what looks interesting to you, as you please!  I hope you enjoy what I’ve presented to you here.  Comments and constructive criticisms are always appreciated!

* For more information about Tranquility Bay, check out these fine websites! :

WWASP, the parent company of sorts – Wiki page

TBFight.com, an anti-WWASP and anti-TB website

Some news article about TB that I didn’t really read, but looked cool

P.S. I don’t mean to make TB look all bad!  If you’re curious, ask me specific questions!  I’ll respond as objectively as possible, unlike the links I’ve provided here [insert smiley face here].

2 Responses to “About Restaurantouring and Me”

  1. […] Mondays prepping all the food.  This week, it was the beef short ribs I talked about in my “About Me” […]

  2. […] What can I say?  Last week, I came to the realization that I had been alive for a whole year since my car crash, and I became overwhelmed with joy.  I was so happy, in fact, that when my date cancelled on me an […]

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