Introducing the Novice Foodie: Crashing the Cook's Night Out

Aug 27, 2009 at 3:15 pm
Kelli Best-Oliver is on a quest to become a full-fledged foodie. Beginning this week, she will chronicle her adventures for Gut Check. She writes about any damn thing she pleases at South City Confidential.

I have no formal culinary training. It's been ten years since I worked in a restaurant, waiting tables at a bar and grill in my hometown during college. I can't always afford to eat at the best restaurants in town -- unless it's lunch or a special occasion. But I love food. I love cooking from scratch, I love growing my own herbs and tomatoes, I love watching Top Chef, and I read lots of food blogs. I read menus online for fun.

Read: Geek for food.

I may be into food, but I'm not in the St. Louis food scene. You know, the food scene. The folks who refer to local chefs by first name only, dropping Gerard or Josh like they're Madonna or Diddy. Who champion an amazing foie gras special the same way they talk about tortas. Who know exactly which restaurant to recommend for any situation. Who cure their own bacon using closely-guarded recipes. That food scene.

So how does someone whose DVR is full of Iron Chef: America and who subscribes to Food & Wine, but who probably needs to sharpen her knives -- literally and figuratively -- become a bona fide foodie? How do I meet the men and women behind the stoves of my favorite restaurants? How do I know where the best banh mi sandwiches are? How do I persuade myself to eat things I might not normally try, or, better yet, cook things I think I've got no business cooking?