11I love food it is just that simple, and no matter where I may travel, it is my mission to source out the best food and product possible. I enjoy meeting the people behind the operations; from chefs, fisherman, farmers, artisan cheese makers, wine makers and distillers…just to name a few. I find their work compelling, interesting, and am humbled to be surrounded by people in this industry that are so driven and dedicated to their craft. Their work feeds our basic needs, yet can be transformed into magical works of artistry on a plate or in a glass.

As a culinary enthusiast and entrepreneur living on the Gulf Coast, 30AEats.com began in September 2011 after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Passionate about the local community and Gulf Coast seafood, I decided to create a website to share with readers the people behind our food, where good food comes from, and where it can be found. It is my goal to help others discover the flavors of our region so that they in turn will support the people that feed us good food, invest in it and themselves, and buy local products.

I am a freelance food and travel journalist, food photographer, the owner of 30AEATS.com, and partner in GulfCoastRestaurants.com. I also am a home cook and develop and test recipes for famed cookbook authors + chefs and food establishments, and enjoy judging food related competitions with celebrity chefs and other note worthy individuals. I have two children; one is at the University of Alabama, the other is attending Georgia Tech, and I am married to an Orthopaedic surgeon which comes in handy.

I was in a near fatal head-on collision about 15 years ago, and the easiest way to describe the outcome is to say I broke everything but my right arm and my face, sustaining internal injuries as well. Divine intervention, my superior medical team (which yes, included my now husband), and family stood by me through more than forty surgical procedures and are what helped me get to the place where I am today.

My former husband had family owned restaurant’s in New Orleans and was considered “raised in the business”. His uncles and cousins were shrimpers and fishermen, while his mother and aunts were chefs, cooks and seafood wholesalers; most still working today in the Rigolets and living along the Chef Menteur. Upon meeting at LSU in Baton Rouge, we both held jobs in the food & beverage industry and upon graduation he continued to pursue his culinary career, while I went on to my studied field of education and health in Ascension, East Baton Rouge and Terrebonne Parishes, also working with United Way and The American Cancer Society.

My years in New Orleans fueled my passion for good food and cultural heritage while my father was stationed and retired there. Growing up on the Gulf Coast and abroad for a short time as a child, I have great memories of crabbing after grade school along the Ashley River in Charleston, making Pancit with our house nanny Lourdes in the Philippines, and cooking my first significant meal in Algiers, Louisiana at the age of fifteen. I eagerly prepared Jambalaya in my grandmother’s black iron skillet using Leon Soniat’s recipe from La Bouche Creole, and though I  added just a pinch too much cayenne, everyone raved about my dish while quickly gulping down their iced tea.

As the daughter of a Naval Officer who was stationed internationally, I was fortunate to learn about new cultures and try many cuisines. I traveled the globe with the anticipation of each new place we were going to visit or live, but our Southern roots beckoned us home.

My father and generations before him hail from Alabama and were in the Grocery business in Carbon Hill, while my mother’s family is from Georgia with some lingering  in Savannah. Most migrated to Orlando to live in the “country”, rich with orange groves and agriculture, where my mother was raised. My Grandmother went on to remarry her high school sweetheart after my grandfather passed, and joined him as a peanut farmer in Statesboro, Georgia. I have amazing childhood memories of visiting them on their farm, driving the tractor through the peanut fields, catching catfish in the nearby pond with my sister, and sharing authentic fresh field-to-plate meals with family gathered around a small table in my Memaw’s kitchen.

Growing up on the Gulf Coast (New Orleans, Houma, Mobile) and living in Northwest Florida for the last twenty years, I have built a lifetime of food knowledge, skills, and relationships with many people in the food and travel industry. I am always eager to learn and absorb new ideas, share ways to incorporate and promote local fisherman, chefs, farmers, artisans and restaurants into the “new” movement of the moment, all while savoring the history and legacy of our Southern culture.

~Susan

(Photo credit: Laura Bogan Photography)

Owner of 30AEATS.com
Partner of GulfCoastRestaurants.com
Contributor to The Daily Meal
Contributor to Emerald Coast Magazine
Contributor bi-monthly to Thirty-A Review Magazine
Contributor to VIE Magazine
Contributor bi monthly to Beaches, Resorts and Parks Magazine
Contributor to Coastal Lifestyles Magazine
Contributor bi monthly to The Seaside Times
Contributor on occasion to 30A.com
Contributor to 30A EATS on Sowal.com
Contributor to Honest Cooking online
Contributor monthly to Southern Coterie (Southern Living Blog)
Contributor to Coastal Angler Magazine
Association of Food Journalists
Member IFWTWA
Association of Food Bloggers
Member James Beard Foundation
Member of the Southern Foodway Alliance
Member of the Cultural Arts Alliance
Sustainer-Member Junior League of Pensacola
Member of The Fishin Chix, Pensacola

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