Susan Benton, Owner | 30AEATS.com
I love food it is just that simple. No matter where I may travel, it is my mission to source out the best food and product possible. I am honestly most happy when I can meet the people behind the operations. Chefs, farmers, cheese makers, distillers all fascinate me, and I find their work compelling and interesting. It is an incredible experience to be around people in an industry that are so passionate, dedicated and hard working. Even more fascinating, is that all of this work is done to feed our basic needs, yet can be transformed into magical works of artistry on a plate or in a glass.
With 30AEATS, I hope to share with you the people behind our food, where good food comes from, and where you can get it. It is my goal to help you discover the flavors of our region so that you in turn will support the people that feed us good food, Invest in it and yourself, and buy artisan products.
I am a freelance food writer, I cook, photograph, blog and eat. I also paint, mainly abstract using acrylic. I enjoy developing recipes and use knowledge gained from my travels and personal experiences to cultivate them. I am the owner of a massive cookbook collection which I plunder through daily, some which have been in my family for several generations. I fish, grow herbs and plants, and raise kids. One of which is
at the University of Alabama , the other is a Senior in high school. I am married to an Orthopedic surgeon, which really comes in handy.
I was in a near fatal head-on collision a little over 10 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 caring medical team, and family are what got me to the place where I am today. I have had more than forty surgical procedures, understand chronic pain as I live with it daily, and sympathize with others who are in it. My approach to healing is not found in a medicine bottle, but in the natural remedies found in our food. The joy of creating and eating good food, and sharing food with family and friends, has brought me great comfort, inspiring conversations, and a new lease on life! I believe food can heal the body and spirit.
My first husband had family owned restaurant’s in New Orleans, and he 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 Chef Menteur. We met at LSU, Baton Rouge and both worked in the restaurant industry. Upon graduation he continued in the restaurant business, and I went on to my field of Education and Health in Ascension Parish, with Chef John Folse nearby to inspire me with his cuisine.
I spent many years in New Orleans and consider it home, as it was the place I lived the longest. My passion for food, culture and cooking really kicked in as a teen when my father was stationed there. Though I could make a mean fried egg sandwich by grade school in Charleston, and throw together Pancit with my maid Lourdes in the Philippines, the first meal that I cooked on my own was for my family when I was fifteen. Jambalaya in a cured black iron skillet was enjoyed, and washed down with cool sweet tea. I had not yet mastered the art of cayenne pepper and may have added just a pinch too much, but no one dared say a thing!
As the daughter of a Naval Officer who was stationed all over the world, I was fortunate to learn about many new cultures and try many cuisines. I traveled the globe and loved the anticipation of each new place we were going to live. My roots are Southern, will remain that way, and my cooking style is traditional Southern Fare with a dash of flavors from my travels thrown in. In New Orleans,we call that lagniappe.
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 became a peanut farmer in Statesboro, Georgia. I have wonderful childhood memories of visiting them on the farm, family gathering over a harvest table, driving the tractor thru the fields, and catching catfish in the nearby pond with my sister.
Living on the Gulf Coast for more than 30 years, and Florida for the last fifteen, I have built a lifetime of food knowledge, skill, and relationships with people in the industry. I am always eager to learn and absorb new ideas, and share ways to incorporate and promote our local fisherman, chefs, farmers, agriculture and restaurants into the “new” movement of the moment.
Owner of 30AEATS.com
Contributor to Emerald Coast Magazine
Contributor to EAT, Sowal.com
Association of Food Journalists
Association of Food Bloggers
Member James Beard Foundation
Member of the Southern Foodways Alliance
Member of the Cultural Arts Alliance
Sustainer-Member Junior League of Pensacola
Member of The Fishin Chix, Pensacola