(It was never my intention to have my own story be part of this series. However over the last 2 months of working on it, several friends, followers and participating people in the feature have suggested that I should. It was harder than I expected, and I questioned: ‘how much do I share, how honest should I be?’ Well, this is it, this is me. The honest story of how I got started, what inspires me and the hardest things I’ve had to overcome to get to this point in my life…where I am really, truly…HAPPY). XO.

Name, craft/industry/blog/passion, most known handle/website:

Candice Marie Genaro Lukasak Herriott

Food Blogger: chsfoodwriter.com (Instagram: @chsfoodwriter and @chsdailylife )

Career: Hair Stylist (color specialist) 17 years in the industry

How did you get started?

I have always loved food and wanted to learn as much as I could about it. Whether it was cooking, gardening or canning. I eat out a lot due to working several late nights a week at my job and often at the end of a 12 hour day, all I wanted to do was tuck into a comfy corner at a bar or restaurant and order a plate of something delicious and have a lovely beverage. About a year ago (some friends who are chefs) pointed out that I often had clients and friends asking for restaurant recommendations and inquiring about my garden. They suggested that I start a food blog…because after all, I was already offering my suggestions. After a few days of consideration there was a random night that after 2 glasses of a terrific bold red wine and on the heels of having a broken heart and feeling the need to redirect my thoughts, energy and time into something else and explore a new creative outlet…I decided to make a go of it! I had never read a food blog or any blog for that matter…but why not?!?! I googled: How To Start A Free Blog. And the rest is history! I decided to stop dating men and began to date food. The result, was the creation of: Charleston Food Writer.

Who or what influenced you the most as you were developing your craft?

I made the decision early on that I wanted to highlight and feature things that I thought were fun, interesting or new that I LIKED and share them with my followers. I wanted everything I did to be focused on being: positive. I am not a professional food critic or a writer…I just like good food, and thats what I wanted to showcase. I wanted to offer a positive view of whats out there…we all have enough stress and seriousness in our daily lives….my blog and Instagram serve as a platform to inspire people to try new things and see whats going on in the food world, our amazing city and highlight farmers, restaurants, chefs, and growers. My biggest influences: ALL 4 of my grandparents (they all gardened, cooked and were people who worked hard, loved tending the soil and grew amazing produce…they were unpretentious, kind-hearted and respected the earth). THEY ARE EACH INSPIRATIONS TO ME and I am very grateful to have gotten to know them while growing up. They have really helped to mold my perspective about life in general and played large roles to me in my adult life at a formative point when I was creating the life that I have built (and am continuously building) for my daughter and I. Having grandparents is a special thing, it’s a gift, that I will treasure always.

Another large influence that has had a big impact on my blog and its progress, is Jenny Dennis the publisher of skirt! magazine. She brought me on at the beginning of 2016 to be the food contributor for the new skirt! magazine blog that launched last January. She took a chance on me and the things that have come from that experience and her personal support, have really helped my blog and myself to grow. (Thanks Jenny…I will always be grateful)!

Why do you love your job?

The same is true in my career (bill paying job) and my fun, (hobby blog job): I love that I get to meet new people, try new things and have fun. I often reference it as: my food adventure….because that is what it is to me, a great adventure of discovery, excitement and exploring the unknown.

What inspires you?

There are so many things here’s a list… the stories of people who are taking chances and embracing challenges and doing new things or following their passions. The honesty of people sharing their stories of failures or the lessons they learned along the way or in hindsight. Good books. My garden. The innocence and perspective of my child. Jogging the Ravenel Bridge…(that is my place of thinking, healing and working out the stuff I need to work out mentally…being up there is amazing, love that view and the feel of the breeze in my hair)! Traveling. Exploring. Sitting near the ocean. The sound of rain on my back patio. The melting colors of a great sunset. The smell of freshly ground coffee beans. Hiking in the woods with my grandparents. ART. MUSIC. COOKING. I could keep going on…..

5 words that describe who you are:

Renaissance woman, food lover, tenacious, passionate, global citizen

When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be: The President of The United States (since I was in the 3rd grade and dressed myself in a blue turtle neck and red blazer for school picture day). I’ve been obsessed with wearing blazers ever since. I went to college in my mid-twenties and worked for the South Carolina Senate Finance Committee at the state capital in Columbia and was a double major of, International Relations and Economics with a Minor in Arabic studies…I was aspiring to work for the State Department and wanted to live overseas-this career aspiration came to a end upon my unexpected pregnancy with Mini-Me…I realized that even though I wanted to obtain that goal…my priorities had changed and so had I, and I was good with it. (But it’s entirely possible that my dream of being President, has not completely faded with my childhood). lol.

Dream job:

Travel the world and write/photograph my food adventures!

3 things you aspire to be or do:

1-be a kinder person, 2-have a balanced life, 3-contribute to my community

(Fill in the blank) I appreciate_________ in my life, because__________.

I appreciate my daughter in my life, because she has given my life an entire new meaning and helped me to experience what real joy and love are in a way I never knew before.

What was one of the hardest lessons or toughest obstacles you had to overcome?

There are 2 real answers to this question for me. The first pertaining to work. The second my personal life.

1-Realizing that I can’t do everything all the time,no matter how much I want to. Sometimes you have to let go of something because its impossible to do everything and be good at it all….its important to evaluate and re-evaluate the progress of goals and priorities and realize when its time to let go of something to allow for the opportunity to continue to hold onto something else and nurture it.

2-The toughest obstacle in my personal life that I have had to overcome is forgiving myself. Several years ago I got myself involved in a terrible relationship. I always have had this horrible notion that women of domestic violence situations were weak, I questioned what was wrong with them-WHY DIDNT THEY JUST LEAVE THE ABUSIVE SITUATION?!?!? I thought they could do something about it if they tried hard enough. Well that was until I found myself in a relationship that was extremely abusive (mentally, emotionally and physically). It broke me.  At first I felt like it was situational-maybe just a 1 time, 2 time, 3 time thing. Then I began to blame myself and think it was partly my fault for saying or doing the wrong thing. Then I began to believe the lies that I was being told by someone I falsely believed cared about me. I lost my confidence, I lost my belief in myself, I became afraid, depressed and scared. I found myself completely broken and then the day came that I decided that I was exactly everything I swore I would never be…I was a victim. I realized it would never end, never change and suddenly realized one night that all those news stories and articles that I heard of women being killed by abusive husbands, boyfriends and attackers…I realized how it got to that point…the point of no return. I decided that no matter how scary it was going to be…that this was not how my life was going to continue or end. I slowly broke free and over the coming years regained my confidence and my strength but what has taken the longest is forgiving myself. I’m still overcoming that obstacle. I mostly have worked through it, but I’ll probably always be partially afraid-but no longer bow to it, or break under it. It’s a daily struggle I have to work out and let go of, the negative self talk, the fear, the painful memories…but it is now only an obstacle (one that continues to decrease in size) it is not the blockade that I once faced…and that gives me comfort, peace and hope.

Advice for someone who is looking to begin a new hobby/job/life pursuit:

You are afraid. It’s likely that you have a long list of things you are worried about: failure, ridicule, wasted time and efforts, possible financial loss, the loss of the current state of stability. It’s normal to feel those things. Most of us do before we start something new. But don’t let that list hold you back. Don’t be afraid to take a risk if it’s for something you feel compelled to do or explore. We all have our fears…don’t let them hold you back. We are all capable of achievement and great things…but you have to be willing to invest time, energy and passion into what you are pursing. (A great example of this that I heard many years ago was, about Mozart. Mozart didn’t learn to play piano in one day…it was however in the 5 minutes that arose throughout the day that he found between tasks that he practiced and improved and became great).

Something your followers would be surprised to learn about you:

I’m not tech savvy (at all). I don’t own a t.v. and 2 years ago, I didn’t even know what a hashtag was. #truestory #lol #comealongway

Favorite food: #1 cheese & bread!!!! But also highly rated on my food list: freshly picked blueberries, cabbage rolls, rocky mountain sandwiches, dim sum, anything seafood, a good steak (preferably raised on my aunt and uncles farm), fresh farm eggs, garden tomatoes and creme brûlée!!!!

Favorite drink: (love them all equally): champagne, bourbon, coffee, tea

Favorite song: Impossible to only have 1 favorite song…I’m not sure how I could ask people to answer this question!?!?! Lol. Here’s a play list that probably tells a lot about who I am…A COMPLETE MIXTURE OF SOUNDS, FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS. I was raised going to church, listening to country music, grew up near MOTOWN and was a teenager in the 90’s….and will probably always (secretly) be a hopeless romantic at heart!

Lose Yourself’ by: Eminem

‘Letting Go’ by: Ben Sollee

‘My Girl’ by: The Tempatations

’32 Flavors’ also ‘Out of Habit’ by: Ani DiFranco

‘Two Feet on the Ground’ by: Emily Hearn

‘Hold It Now, Hit It’ by: Beastie Boys

‘Don’t Panic’ by: Coldplay

‘What I Got’ by: Sublime

‘Numb’ by: Linkin Park

‘Set Fire To The Rain’ by: Adele

‘Porcelain’ by: Moby

‘Send Me On My Way’ by: Rusted Root

‘Baby Girl’ by: Sugar Land

‘She’s In Love With A Boy’ by: Trisha Yearwood

Any church congregation singing, ‘Amazing Grace’ it gets to me, touches my soul and makes me cry…every time.

Favorite quote: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

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