Great question. From the very beginning I always wanted to be a wordsmith. I have a classical French culinary training. (Learned to cook at the La Varenne cooking school in Paris, and I even cooked at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Brittany.) But that was to give me a background for becoming a food writer. I know how to cook (and more importantly grill and smoke), but I'm definitely not a chef. Writer is what's on my passport and writing is how I make sense of the world.
The closest I ever got to the restaurant business was becoming restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. I reviewed restaurants in Boston and New England and then around the world for National Geographic Traveler. For one moment, I fantasized about opening a barbecue joint. Then my wife brought me to my senses. Besides, we already have one chef and one restaurant in the family. My stepson Jake owns Der Kommissar, an Austrian-style beer garden in Brooklyn. If you're in the area, stop by and say hi and try the smoked brisket bratwurst. It will leave you speechless.