Branding. Creating your ‘you’ – telling the world what you’re all about. Big companies create taglines like “Just do it” or “We love to fly and it shows.” In today’s world of social media branding, hashtags do that, too. Some of my faves are #golocal #pleaseandthankyou, #ilovethiscity and #deliciousness. Shocker…I love food. And Baltimore. A lot. My approach is simple: If I love a restaurant or a dish or a drink…I want everyone in Baltimore to love it, too.

I started writing this blog about three years ago after I’d fallen in love with cooking. I wanted to share my experiences. Cooking projects, great meals, favorite restaurants, stories of city chicken keeping and more. Over the years, I’ve developed a nice little local following. Like…my friends and family, and now? People I don’t even know follow me on social media, ask for restaurant recs, cooking tips and more. GET OUT! Me. So, we’ve got something going here…but where will it go?

Enter, my friend Patrick. He is young, creative and incredibly talented. Back in 1995 and I was in between jobs and a family friend hired me to wait tables at the cafe at Ladew Topiary Gardens. One Sunday, the most beautiful little family came in for lunch. Their two boys were about 3 and just under 1 and since I love kids and it wasn’t busy, I joined them on their quilt on the floor and started playing. After a little while, Mom and Dad (Helen and Mark) asked, “Um, do you babysit?” Yes. Yes, I do. So, then I became their sitter. The other good thing about my time at Ladew? I learned to make a great Bloody Mary in that cafe kitchen. Fresh horseradish is the key.

So, a few days later, I go to their house in White Hall, pull into the driveway and music is blasting out of the windows of the stone farm house. I knew these people would be my kind of people. (They actually introduced me to French press coffee and Lyle Lovett…so there’s that, too.) We sat and talked and immediately bonded. Love that. I babysat Peter and Patrick on and off for a few years, even taking Peter (3 at the time) to NYC a few times one summer while his photographer mom Helen worked there. That was amazing. I really got to know the city that summer. What an experience for a 20something girl. That was also the summer I met Joan and Drew Norman from One Straw Farm – these cute boys are their nephews. So, that was another fortunate occurrence and I’m so thankful to call them friends, too. Joan gave me my first flock of chicks – and even took back one that turned out to be a rooster!

Fast forward 16+ years and here were are. Patrick has been running his own video production company – White Ridge Productions – for a few years now. I had lunch with his mom Helen at Johnny’s a few months ago and we discussed the idea of Patrick creating a video for my burgeoning little brand. I had already seen his work, so I knew it would be good. Yes! Let’s do it! (Then…Oh my God…what have I done…oy.)We set up two times for shooting at my house. I wanted to get shots of me in the kitchen, the chickens, the bad dog (you will see him in the background a bit), me writing and whatever else Patrick wanted to shoot. As the day of our first shoot approached, I began to get a little nervous. What would it be like? Would I look like a complete jerk foodie? (I still hate that word, by the way.) And as for me even being IN it? I’ve never liked photos of myself and absolutely hate being the center of attention. It’s just not my thing…much prefer to be behind the scenes. But, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more confident. Part of it is just being comfortable in my own skin, part of it is when you get older you just don’t care as much about what people think. I’m good with me now. Cooking has become my passion and it’s given me lots of good stuff. Confidence has come as part of the package and that feels good.

Patrick and I came up with an outline of things to shoot and talk about and that helped create a little structure. And he’s is a great director and got me to feel comfortable in the situation. At 18, he really did such an amazing job seeing what I had to offer and getting it on screen. When we were finished shooting, I was so relieved. And we had an impromptu celebratory dinner with Helen and Peter at 13.5% Wine Bar. I had a nice cold beer. For me, the hard part was done.

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And then…soon after, the videos were finished. One is 2:11 and one is 45 seconds long. I, of course, like the shorter one. (Less of me…) Here they are:

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So, there you have it. I hope you like them. Please share them with your friends however you can – email, Facebook, Twitter…write Vimeo Charm City Cook in Sharpie on your friend’s hand… Gotta get ’em out into the world. Also, if you don’t already, follow my blog, follow on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. And stay tuned for a local Instagram Meet Up event I’m organizing with Baltimore Magazine and The Food Market. It’s gonna be fun. Follow me on Instagram to be sure not to miss the details.