The Creative Coast’s blogspot is Savannah’s sounding board for local thinkers, innovators, wanderers and wonderers. Guest bloggers share their thoughts, opinions and creative noodling from all over the map. This week’s blog is from Jesse Blanco, local TV anchor, entrepreneur extraordinaire, and soon-to-be world famous foodie. Read on to find out which ingredients Jesse is throwing into his digital stew …
Funny how things happen. A chance conversation at a water gun fight leads to the creation of Savannah’s best resource for foodies and others who appreciate well-made food.
A few years ago, I was at the Tybee Island Beach Bum parade in all my soaking wet glory. If you haven’t attended the Beach Bum parade, it is some of the most fun adults can have while keeping their clothing on. Without question, an outrageously good time!
On this particular day I am fighting the good fight, Super Soaker in hand, when I was approached by a friend and business owner on the island.
“We’d like to sponsor you in a cooking show” they said.
I turn, looking like a cat that had been dunked in a toilet 20-30 times, and said “Seriously? Where did this come from?”
“Well, you like to cook, right? And you’re good on television….right?”
Fast forward six weeks and I have a cooking show pilot on my iPod. Something to sample and get a peek at what the future may hold. The friend decided to pass on sponsorship. What we were left with was a three minute video and a few ounces of pride as to how well it turned out. Yeah, I’m not ashamed to say…it was actually pretty good.
That led to a discussion with a friend, Senea Crystal, who at the time was the marketing manager of the Savannah Mall. Senea, as were many, was impressed with the quality of the demo. She suggested I “do something with that video.”
“Yeah, like what?”
Senea said “You can become Savannah’s Anthony Bourdain or something.”
The funniest part about that is that I am really not an Anthony Bourdain fan. He just rubs me the wrong way. I certainly respect his accomplishments and his talent, but his style is an irritant.
That exchange with Senea led to the creation of Eat It and Like It, the brand aimed at answering THE most asked food question in Savannah: “We are going to Paula Deen’s one night, where else should we go?”
Twelve million visitors came through Savannah in 2012. A good many of them were here because of Paula Deen. I think that is absolutely wonderful. However, much like there is much more to see in New York City than the Empire State Building, there is an abundance of great food in Savannah for which this great city doesn’t get credit. Eat It and Like It was created to share that food and at the same time shatter the stereotypes that “Southern” food is all deep fried and dripping with calories.
Today, Eat It and Like It is approaching its third season in local television. We share great food and expose locals (and tourists alike if they can find us) where the best eats are in Savannah and the surrounding area.
Following Season One, we were nominated for an EMMY Award. We didn’t win, but there are many more opportunities to come. In addition to the television show, we have a weekly column in the Savannah Morning News and have been featured prominently in their food coverage of the area.
What started as a vision and a few laughs has been crafted into a very popular brand in this area with plans to expand our reach. Eat It and Like It was always created to be about the South. Tennessee to Key West. Charleston to New Orleans and anywhere in between. Always keeping Savannah as our center point and icon. We have launched a successful monthly “Gourmet Foodie Tour” in Savannah and have several food events on the agenda for 2013, beginning with Savannah’s first “Iron Chef” Competition at the Southern Women’s Show which was held last weekend.
As with any successful start up company, growth is slow but steady. Our website traffic has increased dramatically over the course of a year, as has our following on television. There is nothing but clear blue skies in our future and we can’t wait to explore them.
And we will.
Jesse Blanco – Executive Producer/Host Co-founder
Senea Crystal – Co-founder/Managing Partner
Katie Swanson – Graphic Design
Christina Cintron – Account Executive