#TPBTH Meet: Miguel Buencamino
Name, craft/industry/blog/passion, most popular handle/website:
Miguel Buencamino – blogger/whiskey/food/cocktail enthusiast at Holy City Handcraft
How did you get started?
Is peer pressure a good answer? I’ve always loved everything from cooking, eating at local restaurants, making cocktails and drinking whiskey (all of which was only documented on my personal Instagram (@mbuencamino). A good amount of friends and family have always suggested starting my own blog instead of relying solely on Instagram to share my recipes and experiences. It was a final push from a good buddy of mine, Steve Ramos (of @buildingsarecool) to really convince me to start a blog on WordPress. So… on a 6-hour road trip to Orlando, My fiancé, Brie and I were toying around with names for a potential blog, we knew we wanted it to have a heavy Charleston influence and emphasize something that encompassed something unique, rustic and that hand-made feel that the Holy City had to offer – that’s how we settled on ‘Holy City Handcraft’, I claimed the domain a few days later and the rest was history.
What or who influenced you the most as you were developing your craft?
My interest in cooking blossomed at a relatively early age due to the fact that I grew up with two Filipino grandmothers who were INCREDIBLE cooks. After a few years in both kitchens, under the tutelage of both grandmothers, they taught me everything from food prep (fun fact: I fully deboned my first whole chicken at the age of 11) to cooking. Between being tutored by my grandmothers, old school Food Network cooking shows (e.g. ‘Good Eats’ with Alton Brown) and more failed attempts at recipes and ‘experiments’ than I can count, I find myself in a place where I’m more than competent in the kitchen/bar but still constantly honing my craft. In some ways, Holy City Handcraft probably would not have come to fruition if it wasn’t for my grandmothers; and for that, I am eternally grateful. As far as whiskey and cocktails go, I think they came to me hand in hand; I didn’t really appreciate great cocktails until I had great whiskey, and vice versa. After a while, I found myself reading books about the history of spirits and whiskey and picking up a ton of cocktail techniques and classic recipes by watching videos and talking to bartenders/mixologists. Just like cooking, there was a loootttt of trial and error, and about an equal amount of unfortunate people that tried some of my earlier creations.
Why do you love your job?
Which one? I only get paid for one of them ☺ I’m a Quality Assurance Analyst by day and a blogger by night… it’s like a really lame super hero. I love my day job because I consider myself a pretty analytic person, so testing software is something I like doing because it gives me an opportunity to think outside the box. The fact that my office still has that ‘start-up’ feel and I can bring my dog Marty everyday makes it a fun place to work – not to mention my coworkers are some of the best people I know. I love the blog life because it gives me an opportunity to share my knowledge and creativity with like-minded individuals. It’s also given me an opportunity to network and collaborate with some of Charleston’s best and brightest in the food and beverage scene. It has been a real adventure to get to know some of those personalities I only used to HEAR about before starting HCH. Also, I would be lying if I didn’t say I think it’s awesome when people come up to me randomly on the street to tell me they follow me or tried a recipe I recently posted, it’s always incredibly flattering; it reminds me of why I started blogging in the first place.
What inspires you?
I’ve never been one to use a recipe when I’m cooking to making an original cocktail. It’s a lot of trial and error, but I my inspiration for both can come from anything. Whether its old recipe books, Instagram #foodporn pictures or whatever is fresh/local at the time; if it looks good, I’m going to try to make something out of it. If I’ve had it elsewhere and it tastes good, you sure as hell can bet that I’ll be trying to recreate it at home.
5 words that describe who you are:
Hungry, blogger, creative, mixologist, nerd
When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
So this is kind of embarrassing… Back in the 4th grade, I had a cousin who was a DJ and thought that was the coolest job ever. I remember wanting to be a DJ when I ‘grew up’… I guess it’s not too late to follow my dreams ha!
I think it would be awesome to blog full-time and be a social media and cocktail consultant on the side. Brie and I have always dreamt of opening up a brunch spot/specialty store under HCH (similar to Mercantile and Mash). Ideally, we’d make and sell local products through collaborations with some local Charleston businesses.
3 things you aspire to be or do:
- Become an subject matter expert in my field (professionally and on the blog).
- Keep making relationships with the amazing people of Charleston.
- Collaborate with more local business and products.
(Fill in the blank) I appreciate __________ in my life, because__________.
(food), (it brings people together).
What was one of the hardest lessons or toughest obstacles you had to overcome?
Coming up with the name! We spent forever trying to come up with the perfect name to encompass the ideas we had for the blog. The initial set up of the blog was pretty daunting as well, between claiming all the social media handles, finding a host, installing WordPress, picking a theme…etc. It was a lot of work.
Advice for someone who is looking to begin a new hobby/job/life pursuit:
If you’re looking to start something new, be dedicated and passionate about it. You aren’t going to get anywhere unless you work hard and bust your ass doing what you love doing. Take some risks and step outside your comfort zone from time to time, the worst thing that can happen is you learn a lesson. Think outside the box, even if there’s already someone out there doing the same thing you’re doing, you can always put your own touch on your content to make it unique and memorable.
Something your followers would be surprised to learn about you:
I’ve never worked in the service industry.
Mom’s Pork Adobo (it’s the Philippines’ national dish) and a bowl of jasmine rice.
Cocktail: The Boulevardier
Bourbon: Henry McKenna BiB ($), Old Weller Antique 107 ($$), Willett XCF ($$$)
“Just Like Heaven” – The Cure
“No one will feed you as well as someone who loves you. I believe that. I believe there’s a tangible, transferable value of love in cooking for people…” – Alton Brown
Holy City Handcraft: