Eating to Live Online: Virtual Food & Real Life
Food may be the new rock and roll, but there's a lot to hate about current food culture. The conversational territory is carved up into ridiculous feats of gluttony, Rube Goldberg cooking processes, mean-spirited reality TV competitions, food porn, snarky yelps, corporate swill mongering, and dogmatic diet proselytizing. Even something as well-intentioned as the local food movement can take on an elitist tone.
Amid all the bread and circuses, there are opportunities for change. With videos, podcasts, blogs, hangouts, we have the media to educate ourselves and the tools to create change. Or some of us do. Running parallel to the digital divide is a crisis of food insecurity obscured by foodie trends. Often, the very same populations who lack resources to take online cooking classes or create a blog also lack access to fresh, healthy food.
A vlogger, podcaster, chef, and journalist will discuss the extremes of hedonism and hunger and demonstrate how new media changes conversations.
Food writer for the Austin American-Statesman, cookbook coordinator for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance
Hilah Johnson started HilahCooking in January 2010 with her partner Christopher Sharpe. They produce two how-to videos a week and she has written four cookbooks so far. Her focus is mostly on simple recipes with a Texas touch that cooks of all skill levels can create at home with confidence.
She recently quit her dumb day job to work full-time on HilahCooking. In addition to cooking, she enjoys long walks, chips and salsa, drinking beer, and bringing home stray dogs.
Recovering Yankee and ex-expat, Mary Helen Leonard fell in love with Austin several years ago, and is now proud to call this little city her home. She’s a professionally trained cook with a background in French, Japanese, and Chinese cuisines, from a food-crazy family of fishermen and restaurateurs. This mix of culinary influences has resulted in a cooking style that Mary Helen likes to call “homespun fusion”. Comfort foods are often at the heart of her recipes, and they tend to be peppered with unexpected flavors and ingredients.
She enjoys sharing her skills online as a culinary instructor for ChefHangout.com. Mary Helen also loves competitive cooking. Recently, she took home the prize for “most experimented” at the 2012 Austin Food Experiment for her tomatillo ice cream. Mary Helen’s food obsessions include, but are not limited to: noodles, pickles, rice balls, avocado, hot sauce, quinoa, dim sum, beergaritas, sweet potatoes, and, of course, ice cream.
Will Burdette is a graduate student in English at The University of Texas at Austin, program coordinator of the DIgital Writing & Research Lab, a food podcaster at No Satiation, and technology chair of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance.