Jordan Hamons of The Hungry Traveler Takes an Unexpected Leap from Marketing Maven to Queen of the Kitchen
“Take the risk and pursue what you love”
The Hungry Traveler has us aching for the finer things in life. Its pages tease us with images of foods we want to feast on in places we want to add to our passports. For those of us with a passion for food and travel, the blog serves as an escape into an idealistic world we wish to inhabit.
Except that to call it idealistic wouldn’t be completely fair because the girl behind the blog, actually does live in this world. An unexpected change of events led Jordan Hamons off the road to a career in marketing onto one toward a career in the kitchen. Lucky for us, she’s sharing the journey and her advice for other Single Girls feeling the itch to change course.
By: Jordan Hamons
I’ve loved to cook for as long as I can remember. I made pizza dough from scratch before I could even read. Before I was tall enough to reach the counter, I would stand on a chair to make a variety of BBQ sauces and then hold taste tests for my parents. We used to plan our weekends around going to my aunt and uncle’s house (they had a satellite dish) to watch Emeril Live! on Friday nights. Our road trips included long detours to try Wisconsin’s best pie or visit the SPAM museum.
Food has always been my destination,but I never considered cooking professionally for a career. I went to college at the University of Cincinnati and studied in a rigorous business program that put me on the fast track for a career in marketing and international business. I did everything my program told me I needed to do to be successful. I took my advisor’s motto, “Don’t just go to class, go to college” seriously and got involved on campus, studied abroad, volunteered, and completed challenging internships. Don’t get me wrong, I had a whole lot of fun too. The summer prior to my junior year, I started interviewing with companies for post graduation opportunities. I received two great offers in the fashion/retail industry and after much deliberation chose to accept the offer in Dallas, Texas. I thought I had it all figured out.
Everything changed though, when six weeks before I was supposed to complete my last internship, the company cancelled the program. This led me to a summer with way too much time on my hands in an apartment with a beautiful kitchen. So what did I do? I cooked and baked and cooked and baked some more. After four years of kitchen-less living, my love for the kitchen was rekindled.
Losing that internship was the best thing that could have happened to me. For the first time in four years, I had nothing planned out for me. It was time to reevaluate what I wanted to do after graduation. I took a risk and enrolled in culinary school hoping that professional training would give me the experience I needed to get in the door at food or hospitality companies. I originally thought I would only complete one or maybe two semesters of culinary school and then pursue a career in the industry, but I ended up having so much fun that I decided to finish out the program. A year later I graduated with my culinary arts degree.
During culinary school, I spent the majority of my free time, applying to jobs, stalking recruiters on LinkedIn, and desperately trying to figure out what to do next. Having had no luck, I was exhausted and discouraged and decided to give myself a break from the pressure and just be content working part-time for a few months. As soon as I stopped looking, I got an email from a recruiter about a corporate chef position at a Fortune 500 company in Cincinnati. The position sounded great but I was honest with the recruiter and told her I felt that I was completely under qualified (it was the truth). I said I would be happy to come in and interview but I wanted to be honest about my experience and not waste her time. She had me come in anyways and after a series of interviews I was offered the opportunity to stage for a day. Unique to the culinary world, stages give cooks the opportunity to work in a new kitchen unpaid for a short amount of time to learn new skills and techniques. In this case, it was another interview and basically a try-out to see if my skill level and personality would mesh with the team. Not expecting to be offered the job, I went into my stage simply to gain experience in the culinary interviewing process. I was given a list of tasks to complete including knife skills, making and presenting a salad using specific ingredients, and creating a sauce for the day’s dessert. I was in way over my head but things went well and somehow I pulled it off. A few days later I was offered the job. I think I’ll always remember the beet and citrus salad and coffee crème anglaise I made that day.
After nearly a year, I’m still with the same company working full-time as a chef in the executive dining room. I spend my days doing what I love, cooking and baking, and with menus changing daily, I am quickly building up my culinary repertoire. I enjoy the fast pace environment of a kitchen and working with my hands, but sometimes I miss the analytical thinking and writing skills I learned in business school. While I love the food industry and I know it’s where I belong, I struggle with figuring out my ideal role and how I’m going to get there. My long-term goal is to become a cookbook author and recipe developer and that led me to blogging. I recently started The Hungry Traveler Blog to challenge myself to develop and write about recipes and also as an outlet to discuss my passion for travel.
While it hasn’t been easy, the challenge of pursuing what I love has been worth it. I’ve realized that I’m never going to have it all figured out but I just have to trust that things will always work out the way they are supposed to. My advice is to take the risk and pursue what you love. It might not work out exactly how you plan, but you’ll learn a lot about yourself and have a ton of fun in the process!
When she’s not writing about food and travel, Jordan Hamons spends her days working as a professional chef in Cincinnati, Ohio. Food has always been her destination and she believes that eating well and traveling often lead to a life well lived. She shares her favorite recipes and best travel tips at The Hungry Traveler. For more from Jordan check out: