Limited Edition Cheesesteaks

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Sarah Schuster, COL ’17

Some interns get coffee. I got limited edition cheesesteaks, chicken parmesan-filled dumplings, and whole-pig roasts. Mine was a job where a second (or fifth) lunch was considered “training” for the big leagues. I was sent to restaurant openings and reported on brunch, and spent my afternoons in the office talking menus and food trucks. For something as mundane as food, it would seem almost absurd to spend an entire summer devoted to the culture around it, but the food scene in Philadelphia is vibrant, energetic, and honest. Yes— we all eat. But Philly really eats.

For this young writer and food fanatic, the dedicated people behind Philly eats quickly became my family throughout my two positions (I wrote for Foobooz at Philadelphia Magazine, and blogged/worked part-time for the demonstration-restaurant, COOK). Each and every person I worked with treated me as an equal and a professional, handed me a knife or a camera, and set me to work.

It was in these two very different settings that I spent my time tasting and writing about food. During the week, I worked primarily in the Philadelphia Magazine offices. I’d call new vendors and restaurants and ask them for their stories, or I’d research little-known pop-up events and write posts about them. When I had downtime, I’d scour Instagram in search of awesome food photos to round up. In the evenings, I made my way across Rittenhouse Square to COOK where I welcomed and served guests, photographed, and occasionally prepped food alongside chefs for the dinners they held each night. Given my time at Foobooz, I had the opportunity to interview many of these chefs in my magazine position, making working with them hands-on all the more exciting.

The learning was often explicit: re-familiarizing myself with WordPress and learning how to properly edit photos were skills that needed honing, and working on multiple projects at once while in the office let me flex my journalistic muscles. Further, the office setting surrounded me with other professional writers, meaning there was never a dearth of inspiration.

Implicitly, I picked up hosting and management skills by throwing myself immediately into work at COOK, and picked up more information than I thought I could ever remember about the food world of Philly. While I’ve lived in Philadelphia for two years now, before this past summer I had very little knowledge of the world on the other side the Schuylkill River. Now I know the dim sum scene at Passyunk Ave, the pizza in Fishtown, and even the brewers in Phoenixvillle. The city opened up it’s heart and it’s kitchen to me, and there were no invites I refused.

Whether it was practicing plating with Jose Garces in his kitchen or grocery shopping with chefs at the Fitler Square Farmer’s Market before blogging late into the night for COOK, my summer constantly offered me new experiences in the food and journalism world that is undeniably central to Philadelphia. I’ll be continuing part-time work at both places in the fall, and longterm friendship, too: if I learned nothing else after this summer, I now know without a doubt that those who eat together, stay together.

And that where there’s good food and good company, there is always a good story.

Author: Student Perspective

Views and opinions from current Penn students.