About

Hi!
I'm Will - cook, writer and mayonnaise addict. I started cooking long before I set foot in a dorm room and though this blog was conceived of at college, it has grown to include a world of food beyond my old dorm. The blog includes everything from witty commentary and original videos to unlikely recipes and a gossipy interview series with notable voices in food. 

Pull up a seat and stay a while!


About Me
At 13, I started a catering business with a friend which we ran through high school. At Wesleyan University, where I graduated from in May 2012, I was involved with food as the creator of Dorm Room Dinner, another blog about my experience studying and eating abroad in Italy, as well as by selling sandwiches at the local farmer's market and cooking in my tiny college kitchen. In Spring 2012 I was a lead project organizer of FOODSTOCK, Wesleyan's conference on food writing. I've interned at the websites Serious Eats and Food52 and the magazine edibleNutmeg. I'm a contributor to The Huffington Post, edibleNutmegSerious Eats, The Brooklyn Paper and more.

I currently work on the Northside Festival and Taste Talks Food Festival. Before that, I directed CookNScribble's LongHouse Food Revivals, a series of annual gatherings of thought leaders in food across the United States.

Contact

Twitter: @WillLevitt
Contributor: Click here.


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A Short History of My Culinary Life

I STARTED COOKING long before I ever stepped foot in a dorm room. 

But I started out as a picky eater. When I was little, growing up outside of Boston, I ate two things. For breakfast, I ate cereal. Usually it was Cheerios and Grape Nuts, which I still eat for breakfast every day. But back then I had to wait until the milk made the Grape Nuts soggy because I didn't like their intense crunch. My mom says I was picky. I say I had sensitive teeth.

For lunch and dinner, I ate pasta. But not just any pasta. Oh no, I ate only one brand of pasta: Buitoini ravioli or tortellini filled with cheese. And that was it. I would call them "round or square noodles," and nightly would request one or the other.

"I want round noodles tonight," I would say. And round noodles it was. My mother would remove the tortellini from the freezer, plop them in boiling water and serve them plain. Sometimes I would have Classico tomato sauce, but only on the side. Put the sauce on top and I wouldn't touch it. Add butter to my pasta and you would've had to make a new batch. Parmesan on top? Are you kidding? 

It was around this time that I became interested in cooking shows. While I loved Saturday morning cartoons, I often found myself switching to PBS cooking shows during the commercials and never switching back. I would watch Julia Childs & Jacques P├ępin whipping together some fabulous meal, with no idea of what they were preparing and certainly no interest in eating it. But something about it grabbed me.

SOME YEARS PASSED. My diet of beige-colored carbs continued. Once I tried caesar salad and decided I liked it. Occasionally, I would help my mom or grandmother in the kitchen, mixing together sugar cookies from the Toll House Chocolate Chip package (I don't like chocolate) or filling deviled eggs with my grandmother, which I would eat unless she topped them with paprika, rendering them inedible to my finicky tastes.

And then the summer after finishing fourth grade, I visited France with my family. We went to visit some family friends, including my friend Alex, who were traveling there. We had rented a small house in a small town, where we would cook most nights. There were always fresh baguettes and jam. Vegetables were from local farms because there was no grocery store. And on the nights that we ate out, I started to get a little more adventurous. One night we had driven a long way and, lost, ended up in a tiny town. The one restaurant in this town served exactly two entrees, fish or steak. Stuck with few options, and certainly no round or square noodles, I ordered the fish. I ate every bite. I ordered fish one more time while in France. Again, it was delicious. A small fish roasted whole with butter sauce. I loved it. Who knows for sure, but I believe it was then that I fell in love with food.

I know it's a cliche to fall in love with food while in France, and certainly unlikely for a nine year old. But it was in France that I started to cook and eat, and I never looked back. I like to think Julia would be proud.


Alex (left) and I started W&A Catering.
TWO YEARS LATER, my friend Alex and I started a little business. We had begun experimenting with food for the past couple of years, and decided to turn our experimentation into a catering company. Soon, my parents asked if we would cook dinner for a few friends they were having over for a dinner party. We agreed, and served salmon with mashed potatoes and green beans. For a couple of thirteen year olds, it wasn't half bad. It was edible enough, in fact, that a guest at the dinner informed us that she was throwing an engagement party for 30 people in three weeks and asked if we were interested in catering the event. We were.

W&A Catering was born, which Alex and I ran - writing menus, organizing events, preparing the food and managing the parties - from 7th grade until we graduated high school. Our first event, the engagement party, went surprisingly smoothly. We made bruschetta, crab cakes, chicken skewers with peanut sauce, mini steak sandwiches and vegetable and cheese platters. Friends helped us with the serving. "It's not just good food for 13 year olds," commented one guest, "It's good food."

A guest from that event asked us to cater his wife's surprise birthday party. We said yes, and from then on the events kept coming in. We set up a website. We had business cards. Eventually the Boston Globe wrote an article about us. For the next six years, we catered dozens of events per year, from intimate dinner parties to fundraisers for 200 people. For the most part, it went without a hitch (besides a short run-in with the health department, which we quickly resolved). Guests liked the appeal of two young boys catering an event, and we liked cooking. It was the perfect gig. During the summer we would intern at restaurants. We would experiment with food in our spare time. There was a whole world of food to try and we wanted to cook it all. 

WE GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL and decided it was time for W&A Catering to come to an end. Our last event was at the same house we had catered our first event five years earlier. I went off to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where cooking quickly found its way back into my life. My freshman year, missing home cooked meals, I started cooking in the small (I mean small) kitchen in my dorm room's common space. Cooking became a way to meet people, spend time with friends, relax, feel at home.

The next year, I found my way into "Full House," a food-themed house on campus where I lived. We threw late-night homemade pizza parties, cooked dinner together every Sunday, gossiped about food writers and catered events for community service clubs. It brought together cooking and college under one roof. And I certainly didn't mind the extra pastries that ended up on the kitchen counter every weekend.

THEN I WENT TO ITALY. For my second semester Sophomore year, I lived in Bologna, Italy. I documented everything I ate while studying abroad on another blog, Magia Questo Bologna. While there, I ate pasta twice a day and felt no guilt. I befriended the tomato lady at the market and would buy the sweetest cherry tomatoes you can imagine, often finishing off the box before I got it home. I would listen to Italians talk about food - on the street, in a restaurant, on the bus, in the piazzas. I cooked in my dorm-meets-apartment "studentato" with my Italian roommates and American friends. I came to understand how tightly wound food and Italian identity are. I tried to incorporate that mindset into my own life. I ate my brains out.

My kitchen at college.

I RETURNED FROM ITALY, having written a blog and eaten some of the simplest and most delicious food I will ever consume. I had a newfound passion for food, for writing and frankly, for eating. In the fall of my Junior year at college I began this blog with the hope of getting college students to become more interested in home cooking, which has now been a central part of my life for many years. This blog has become about more than just college students and more than just home cooking, but I hope both those aspects have their place here. 

That year, in my tiny college apartment, I started cooking almost every night, as I had since middle school, with my roommate Damiano. We would cook for friends, throw little dinner parties, complain about the produce selection at our school's little supermarket and make pancakes on Sunday mornings. With a stove, a barely-functioning oven, a mini-fridge and no microwave we cooked some of the best meals I've ever had. A tiny kitchen is no excuse for bad food. Damiano and I also started a sandwich stall at our school's farmer's market, selling creative sandwiches at each market for lunch, which we ran until we graduated. And I began writing for my school newspaper's food section, Chew and Tell.

THE SUMMER AFTER MY JUNIOR YEAR I lived in New York City where I interned at the food websites Serious Eats and Food52. I worked weekends at Grandaisy Bakery, selling bread at their Soho location and at a farmer's market. During the summer, I blogged about food, participated in peanut butter tastings, sat in on a shoot of My Drunk Kitchen, ate duck fat popcorn at a movie theater in Brooklyn, and consumed more sandwiches than I care to admit (including the best sandwich in the world). There is nowhere like New York for food.

As a senior in college, I wrote a senior thesis on Italian home cooking in the United States, worked as the social media manager at edibleNutmeg magazine, and wrote about food for different publications. I was a lead project organizer of FOODSTOCK, Wesleyan's first food writing conference held in May 2012. I graduated from Wesleyan at the end of that month. 


I now live in NYC and write about - you guessed it - food. I'm currently the Director of Events for CookNScribble's LongHouse Food Revivals.

WHAT COMES NEXT? I have no idea. I'm still deciding what to make for dinner tonight.