Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Hillary Proctor

When Kinzie Ferguson suggested I ask Hillary Proctor for an interview and I checked out her website, I knew that I'd be adding it to my reader right away. Hillary writes about the food scene in Chicago, and while I've wanted to visit the Windy City for a while now, all of her posts make me want to get there right away! If you're in the Midwest or just love food, you should definitely check out her blog!


Who are you? My name is Hillary, and I live in my favorite city in the world, Chicago.

Where can you be found online?  Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work?  If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation?  Remember, you're in a hot tub with them on a clear cold night, stars twinkling above you.  They want all the details.  If your work doesn't live online, tell the hot-tub-stranger about your writing in such a way that makes them urge you to get an online receptacle for it. My primary passion is food and drink, so I blog about my dining experiences at (creative name, I know, but I wanted the flexibility that comes with self-branding). I focus mainly on Chicago restaurants, but also cover wherever my travels take me, and even a little bit of home cooking. I'll also post recaps of special events like Restaurant Week and food festivals, as well as occasional topical pieces.

I've made a conscious decision to only celebrate great food and drink on my blog; if I'm disappointed by a dish or restaurant, I simply won't write about it. I'd much rather devote all my space to positive recommendations and outstanding experiences than add more negativity to the internet (let's be honest, this world already has enough Yelp reviewers who are just looking for something to complain about!) I do my best to describe food in a way that inspires my readers to feel the same kind of joy and wonder that I feel while eating it.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging?  When did it happen? I've loved to write ever since I was a little girl -- I had a particular penchant for starting stories, but never quite finishing them. I went on to study journalism in college, which was also when I realized I enjoyed the whole culture around food more than the average person. I went to culinary school after that, primarily to become a more credentialed food writer, but still wasn't actually writing in any kind of consistent way. Finally, after some prodding by close friends and colleagues, I started the blog in order to chronicle the best things I ate and drank in a more formal venue than just casual conversation. I also knew that the only way to improve as a writer, and specifically a food writer, was to keep writing.  

Why do you write? I write to capture some of my most memorable food moments in a concrete form that I can refer back to again and again. I write so that others can relive and share in my dining experiences, even if they weren't there with me originally. I write to express my own perspective on an ever-shifting culinary landscape. I write because words are important and powerful.

Your writing inspires me.  Who inspires you? I'm inspired by great food writers and critics (M.F.K. Fisher, Ruth Reichl, Francis Lam, Jeff Ruby, and Smitten Kitchen's Deb Perelman, to name a few). I also am fortunate enough to have incredibly talented, inspiring friends in all forms of media: journalists, photographers, bloggers, painters, and everything in between. I'm inspired by people who are pursuing their dreams and passions, whether artistic or otherwise, and whose enthusiasm for their craft is so contagious that you can't imagine them doing anything else.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? Australia. I've always wanted to scuba dive and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, and the food scene -- in Sydney and Melbourne especially -- is really exciting there. I'd love to browse their markets and try all kinds of new ingredients that are indigenous to the area. In fact, if someone would pay for me to taste my way through farmers' markets and food stalls all the way around the world, I'd pick that instead!
What is your favorite place on earth? It's tough to pick just one, but in the summertime at least, I have to go with lying on a blanket in Millennium Park at dusk, full from a picnic of fancy snacks and wine, watching blazing pinks and oranges in the sky give way to darkness above the twinkling lights of the skyline, letting live music carry me away.

Anything else you'd like us to know? Don't be afraid to try something new, especially when it comes to eating and drinking! I would never have developed the culinary passion I have now without being exposed to all kinds of different things and being willing (or, in rare cases, forced) to taste anything at least once. I think that really applies to life in general: as cheesy as it sounds, you'll never know if you like something that seems foreign or scary unless you get a little adventurous and try it. In my experience, it's worth it.

Oh, and if you ever need a restaurant recommendation in Chicago, let me know! :)

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