Happy Monday, Millennials!
Do you love food? No, I mean REALLY love its different combinations, textures and tastes, but never have time to cook a quality meal? Well, today’s “Millennial on a Mission” would like to help you change that, and welcome you to her table. While she once had dreams of becoming a PR executive in the cable television industry, she soon realized that her job no longer served a purpose for the goals she wanted to achieve in her career. So she changed her circumstances, took a risk, quit her job and began working at a neighborhood bakery and catering company to learn more about the restaurant industry and to become a better cook in her own right. I’ve known this savvy chef since our intern days in the T. Howard Foundation, and it has truly been amazing to watch her pursue her passion, and encourage others to live healthy lives as well.
Meet Taylor Henriquez.
Born in New York, Taylor spent most of her adolescence in Central Illinois and Atlanta. After graduating from the University of Georgia, where she studied journalism with a concentration in public relations, she made her way back up to New York City and began working as a public relations coordinator at a television network. Since childhood, Taylor has never been a pick eater, and remembers fondly helping her mother bake pies and cookies from scratch. She also credits her paternal grandmother for teaching me how to cook and appreciate foods that she ate while growing up in Panama. Taking all that she’s learned, she has now launched her own cooking website and YouTube series that showcase quick, healthy and affordable meals anyone can make.
CC: What inspired you to begin “At Taylor’s Table”? At what moment did you decide that it was time to ditch your traditional 9-to-5 gig, and do what you love full time? What challenges came with making that decision, and how have you been able to overcome them?
TH: Originally, I wanted to start a website that featured recipes created by me or adapted from chefs and cooks I admired. But there were already a million such blogs out there. Growing up, I watched Food Network as often as I did Nickelodeon and Disney. I loved watching the chefs and personalities teach their viewers how to cook. I wanted to bring that format back and teach novice home cooks that cooking for themselves doesn’t have to be intimidating, time-consuming or expensive, and I wanted to do this on a platform they were already using for entertainment: YouTube.
It was at this point that a light bulb went off. My job no longer served a purpose for the goals I wanted to achieve in my career, and staying there any longer would be more for my ego, in the sense of offering me stability, a 401k plan and the “prestige” at working at a popular cable network, than anything else. Maya Angelou was to have said “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
To be honest, I talk a lot of talk. I have so many ideas running through my head, but only a few actually ever get implemented. This is something that I am working on, and what I monitor when coming up with recipes, interviews and video content for At Taylor’s Table. I am very green when it comes to videography, and fear of failure is my procrastination excuse. The hardest part is getting started, and while it feels like crap to not know what you’re doing at the beginning, remember this: NOBODY really knows what the hell they are doing. You figure it out as you go and you keep learning.
CC: As a foodie, what advice do you have for millennials that are looking to eat healthier on a budget? Since you’ve started your blog, what have you learned about time management when it comes to creating, planning, filming and producing segments for your blog and YouTube channel? How do you hope to see At Taylor’s Table evolve, and what are you ultimate goals as a young chef?
TH: I really started cooking for myself in college when it was more affordable for me to cook than to go to Chick-fil-A. When I started working, I always took my lunch to the office, which were usually leftovers from the night before, while my co-workers bought lunch at the nearby salad bar or sandwich shop. I thought it was crazy that they were paying $10 for a bowl of lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and oil and vinegar. Cooking for yourself will always be more affordable than eating out: it really just revolves around managing your time to plan meals, shop and cook. I love eating out myself, but I save money for places that serve consistently good food and are unique, not at places like Chipotle or Panera Bread.
I don’t have any long-term plans yet for At Taylor’s Table. I just hope that home cooks, like myself, can watch the videos and read the articles on the blog and gain a new kitchen or cooking technique that they didn’t know before, be inspired to try new recipes, or just have a good laugh at my frequent use of the word “awesome.”
The great thing about working where I am now is that I get to be a sponge, and am learning from the chefs and cooks that have been doing what they are good at for years. Who knew that smoked almonds, sweet piquillo peppers, garlic and sherry vinegar could make a sauce to rival pesto. Or that lavender tastes heavenly in an apricot marmalade. You notice how ridiculously excited I am about this stuff? This is the excitement I’ve been looking for ever since graduating. My goal as a home cook is to never stop learning – even when I do master the cinnamon roll recipe I have had in a folder for years. Years.
Oh, and yeast breads scare me.
To Taylor, being a “Millennial on a Mission” means living a life that embodies her goals, passions and pursuits. And she knows that this can be difficult in a society that values a very linear path to success, meaning going to college, finding a job right after and spending the next 40+ years climbing the ladder. “I used to get so frustrated with my mother during our phone conversations while I was still working in corporate,” Taylor says. “I’d cry, complain and vent to her about how unhappy I was. I wanted her to tell me to quit and to leave to pursue my passions in cooking, writing and traveling.” I know that many millennials can completely agree with Taylor on this, and can get a bit annoyed when we are told to “stick it out” for a few years because the benefits are good ad we shouldn’t complain about having a job in the first place.
“I love my mom, and while she genuinely has my best interests at heart, I had to learn to take what she and others said with a grain of salt, and to start listening to my own intuition,” Taylor concludes. “You only know what’s best for you: not your mom, your dad, your best friend or employer.”