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#foodbeast FOODBEAST Hit-Or-Miss

This Is How It Felt Spending 60 Days With The FOODBEAST Editorial Championship Belt

If you’ve ever been a fan of professional wrestling, boxing, or the UFC, it’s easy to understand the magnitude and importance of a championship belt. It underscores the challenge of getting up and grinding, knowing the promise of success is not guaranteed.

Thanks to the creative minds here at FOODBEAST, in August 2016 we had an authentic, custom-made, heavyweight style championship belt to award the editorial staff member who earns the top story each month, based on page views.

The rules were simple, whoever’s story had the most page views by the end of the month, held the belt the following month.

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For the first two months of the belt’s inauguration, I was its proud holder. I’ve carried the belt everywhere for the past 60 days. From happy hours, to dinner dates, and back and forth from the office everyday. I discovered it’s pretty easy to get free dessert once people find out you’re a champion food blogger.

Shout out to the dream for becoming a reality. 📸:@izzy_serious

A photo posted by Evan Lancaster (@spacexwolf) on

Still, the stories that helped me reach back-to-back months as FOODBEAST’s Editorial Champion became important talking points in the conversations I had about what exactly this belt represented.

My reign as champ started when I wrote about America hating Chipotle, a topic that resonated heavily with our audience. However, there was a sense of astonishment when discussing Chipotle hatred in person, as some people seemed blown away that there was animosity toward Chipotle.  

In celebration of my first victory, my roommate Kevin and I went to Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa, where Joel Amaro, OC Weekly’s 2015 bartender of the year basically runs the show. Joel knows everyone and put me on blast (in a good way) in front of the whole bar. It was pretty incredible to be treated like royalty, especially when it’s from one of Southern California’s most recognized mixologists. 

Joel also told me I couldn’t return without the belt from now on.

That same night at Pizzeria Ortica, I was followed around by a 10-year-old kid who gained enough courage to ask me if I was, “a UFC guy.” I was crushed by flattery and felt bad for not being more important. I let him hold the belt while mom and dad snapped photos, before I could offer permission.

In December, I broke the news on Liftware’s spill-proof spoon, one of the most innovative and life-changing products that can potentially help millions of people who suffer with physical immobility enjoy their meals with ease. Witnessing the initial reaction from people seeing a spill-proof spoon for the first time was nothing short of amazing.

One rainy night in January, Kevin, along with our friend Roy, took the belt to Plan Check Kitchen + Bar in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles. Our server, Kenny, made it adamantly clear that desert was, “on Kenny.” He also insisted on clearing our table before taking a photo of us, because he didn’t want to make it seem like Plan Check left their tables full of empty plates and glasses. We assured Kenny that it was all good. It just goes to show the level of service that followed the belt everywhere it went.

Personally, this belt has become more than a motivational tool and ironically began to symbolize my hard work as a journalist for the past decade. It’s been a tough road, but this seems like a notable milestone.

I made sure to document everything via Instagram, because who knows when I’ll be able to tell a story like this again.

Inaugural. Undefeated. Undisputed. January 2017 📸:cusmar8330

A photo posted by Evan Lancaster (@spacexwolf) on

Being able to explain that I earned the title of inaugural FOODBEAST Editorial World Champion, in back-to-back months is a high bar to set. I already know everyone on my team has accepted the challenge. 

 My job is to tell stories, which is usually a thankless job. While I may never be an ultimate fighter, or the next Muhammad Ali, but possessing this belt has helped me understand my potential as a writer and a professional. Most of all it has motivated my team to accomplish great things.

I won’t lie, I enjoyed the obnoxiousness of walking into an restaurant — or anywhere, really — knowing every single person’s head would turn and look at me as I stepped through the doors with an oversized, golden heavyweight belt hanging off my shoulder.

🏆📍

A photo posted by Evan Lancaster (@spacexwolf) on

For one reason or another, most people seemed a bit disappointed after discovering I was just a writer and not a fighter, but, I’ll be the first to tell you there’s no better feeling than someone asking you, “What’s up, Champ?” when they have no idea who you are, or what you do.

Currently fellow writer Peter Pham is the new Editorial Champion, but February is the shortest month of the year, so his collar should be getting tight already.

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Features

Meet The Woman Who Gave Up A Career In Law To Blog About Food And Couldn’t Be Happier

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I chose happiness.

It was 2 in the morning at the law firm and June was in day three of a weekend-long project. As she looked out the window of her office, she saw two futures for herself.

The first was that of a thousand office windows staring back at her. Like the one she stood behind, those windows kept lawyers like herself missing entire weekends of their lives.

Upon looking down, she saw her second future. One of empty streets, free of clutter, and ready to embrace a new day.

June took out her phone and began to dial.

You may know June Quan as the popular food and fashion blogger @stirandstyle. Y’know the one with the signature #StirandSmile pose where she holds food in the foreground and flashes a big smile right behind. Once upon a time, however, she was an overworked lawyer. Before she had her face in a mountain of burgers, June was buried in Himalayas of legal documents.

So how did she go from Esquire to wood-fired? Let’s go back to that night a year-and-a-half ago.

As she dialed, a million thoughts raced through her head. The one thought that kept resurfacing was how she didn’t want to be in an office at 2am any longer. She didn’t want to be one of the countless people spending thankless nights working towards something she didn’t love, that left her unfulfilled. She didn’t want to sit idly by and complain about her unhappiness.

So she decided to walk away.

While some think walking away from a cushy paycheck and a pretigious profession was ridiculous, who were they to judge?

By no means was June a bad lawyer. She was winning hearings and writing meticulous briefs during her time practicing law. Having passed the dreaded California Bar Exam on her first try was a impressive feat in and of itself.

Alas, the heart wants what the heart wants.

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Late night at the office. #TiredandStarved

June quit her job at the firm in Winter 2014. Since she was a teenager, her career path seemed to be set in stone: go to college, go to law school, pass the bar, become an entertainment lawyer, make money.

Entertainment Law was something she had always found fascinating and glamorous. Ever since she took her first internships at both MTV and Lucasfilm, June had wanted to work in the entertainment industry.

I tried to mold my life around a profession in law, to create a life where I’d be happy working as a “professional [in the field].” At the end of the day, it wasn’t the right thing for me and, you know, that’s OK.

The life of a lawyer was a difficult one. Aside from countless late and sleepless nights, there was also the unpredictability of her schedule. June never made plans with loved ones because of her schedule. It was even difficult to plan to go out to eat, something June obviously loved to do.

Giving up a bi-monthly paycheck and downsizing everything in her life to make ends meet was a major sacrifice for June. One of the few good things about staying so busy in the world of law, however, was that it gave her so little time to spend her money that she had enough saved to provide for and support herself through her transition.

Before anyone even picked up, June had made her decision. June was walking towards a life that made her happy. A life that gave her something to look forward to. 

After leaving her firm, and taking some time to figure things out, June started her blog: Stir and Style.

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Photos first, then eat. #HappyButHungry

The name Stir and Style first came to June during a lunch break. She had been shopping at the plaza her office was located in when she came upon a brown leather skirt (the style). She was immediately reminded of steak and ended up seeking out steak for lunch (the stir).

From there, she began to associate food with fashion. As if the two were one. This brown leather skirt inspired her first post on steak fajitas.

Since she was a child, June loved to eat. Before the advent of camera phones, June fondly remembers carrying around a Polaroid camera taking pictures of food rather than people.

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Triple-scooped ice cream with extra sprinkles. #StirandSmirk

Her first official tasting event was at Savor Santa Ana this past summer. From there, it’s just been nonstop for June.

She currently has more than 44,000 followers on her Instagram account, an account that has grown considerably in the last year. June even hosted Foodbeast’s recent PattyPalooza event.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my favorite part about a tasting wasn’t the food. Of course it’s the food, but to me, food has so many layers that doesn’t boil down to just the act of eating, tasting or savoring meal.

Eating food is an experience in itself. The experience includes going to new places, trying new things, meeting new friends, spending time with old friends, taking photos and just being grateful for the opportunity! I never take tastings or food events for granted because I know it’s a privilege to even get an invitation.

Every invite I receive is humbling

This was the life that made her happy.

Her parents answered. June told them her decision.

All she asked was for their moral support. She always wanted to make them proud, but she realized that she needed to make herself proud first. There was no point prancing around impressing everyone when you don’t love what you’re doing.

June explained that if she had to be at work most of her waking hours, then she should love what she’s doing during those hours. 

She was going after what she wanted and her parents were proud. 

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Pepperoni Pizza, please. #StirandGrin

While June no longer practices law in the traditional sense, she still uses the skills she learned every day. She earned her real estate license and uses her legal knowledge to help her clients buy and sell homes in LA and The Bay Area.

When hearing her story, some would consider all the time she spent in school a waste. For her, it was far from a waste.

I’m thankful for the time I spent in the legal profession. I don’t regret a single thing. I not only learned what I want in life, but also what I don’t want. My legal training has opened doors for me that I otherwise probably would not have the opportunity to walk through.

If there’s not a real estate contract in front of her, you can find June at many Los Angeles and Orange County-based food events. There, she’ll be taking photos (many, many photos) in her signature pose; food held out majestically to the camera, a grin from ear to ear:

The stir and the smile.

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This extra-bacon breakfast sandwich makes us #StirandSmile

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Video

Toronto’s Infamous Foodie Serial Dater Releases Teaser Trailer

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The world of blind dating took an interesting turn this week when Internet blogger Erin Wotherspoon, also known as the “Serial Dater,” was outed for meeting up unsuspecting guys and getting free meals out of them. The Canadian Foodie unsympathetically documents her dates on her blog as she is taken to restaurant after restaurant. Following the recent media coverage, Wotherspoon released a teaser trailer for her new project “Restaurant Tips From a Serial Dater.”

The video chronicles her (mis)adventures in the dating pool, luring unsuspecting singles to provide free ritzy food adventures in an attempt to cross restaurants off her hit bucket list. While the food world is in an uproar upon discovering Wotherspoon’s scheme, she seems to be capitalizing on her rise to infamy. It seems that even after becoming “Internet Famous,” Wotherspoon has no intentions of slowing down or laying low until this is over.

How long will it be before the next person she dates catches onto her strategy and calls it quits (or at the very least ask to go Dutch) on the meal?