According to Kerri Kilbourne, she has a habit of asking the waitstaff at restaurants to choose her meals for her. This usually freaks out her dinner companions.
But, so far, the practice of putting her meal fortunes in someone else’s hands has turned out pretty well. So well, in fact, that she has decided to start a blog to chronicle her eating adventures.
It’s called “She Ordered What?!?”, which one can only assume was named because it’s how her friends react when she goes out to eat with them.
I have never met Kerri outside of Twitter, but she is on my list of people who I would like to meet in real life. (That list is titled “People Who I Would Like To Meet In Real Life.”)
When I learned that she had written more than 30 posts, I had to get her on the blog. Not only does she write about something most of us like — food! — but she’s local. By reading this post, you’re supporting your local bloggers.
In this session, we discuss where Kerri got the idea, where she wants to take it, and the best meal she’s had in Detroit.
Brad: Let’s start with the easy question: Where did you come up the idea to start She Ordered What?!?
Kerri: I’ve always been pretty open to trying new foods, and I’ve definitely always been indecisive! Years ago, I started relying on servers’ choices, and because I like to be surprised, I ask them not to tell me what they’re bringing. I find that when servers ask too many questions, or tip their hand, the meal isn’t as much fun for me (I start to over-think it!). As a former server, I know that waitstaff knows the menu best!
After several meals with coworkers, I had an epiphany…people are really intrigued when I “order” this way. They get antsy, nervous, sometimes scared, and excited to see how this will play out. So, I decided I’d start to blog about it – hoping a friend or two might read it. I’ve been really surprised and pleased with the response to “She Ordered What?!?”!
You grew up in Ohio (I think), but went to school in the South. As a born and raised Northerner, I’ve always associated the South with having really good food. How much of the content for this blog was born out of exposure to that type of cuisine?
Yes, I grew up in Ohio, on the east side of Cleveland, and went to school at Clemson, aka: the BEST college anywhere!!! Southern food is indeed fantastic! The BBQ, the veggies, the “comfort food”, etc. I do still love heading down south for football and Southern tailgating!
There were other triggers as well though. I was about the luckiest girl ever, since my first job out of college was as an engineer, supporting European accounts. I traveled regularly to awesome cities in Europe – and I had delicious food there!
I’ve also lived on the west coast (I moved from Orange County to Dearborn, Mich.), so I’ve had some great food there too – health-conscious, ethnic, seafood, etc.
It’s only fair to attribute my love of food to my varied experiences from throughout my life – from the times my parents exposed me to various dishes as a kid to my experiences as a traveling professional.
If I’m not mistaken, this is your first shot at blogging. How has it differed from what you expected? How has it met expectations?
While this is the first “focused” blog I’ve written, it’s actually not my first rodeo, so to speak. I wrote a personal blog a few years back, and I was the Clemson sports contributor for an Atlantic Coast Conference blog a couple of years ago. I learned from those experiences that blogging takes time, planning, dedication, and passion.
What’s different this time around is that I really feel like I’m doing something just a bit different from what others are doing. I don’t consider myself a “foodie” or a “food blogger”, although food is a big part of this. I’m also not a restaurant critic! I think of “She Ordered What?!?” as sharing experiences – plain and simple.
People have told me that they really enjoy reading about my experiences, and that they find the concept really interesting. Several folks have also taken risks in restaurants and have tried the “She Ordered What?!?” method of dining, with a handful (including my dad) having written guest posts for the blog. That’s been really rewarding for me – seeing others become inspired enough by my experiences to try something new.
It’s also exceeded my personal expectations. As I mentioned earlier, I simply hoped a few friends might read my posts!
The writing you do on your blog is vastly different (I think) from the writing you do for your job. Do you find that going to a different writing place helps your day job?
Yes, this is a total departure from my day job. Although, it’s funny…several coworkers (execs included) read the blog regularly, so it’s definitely not a secret!
I do think that having an escape from Corporate eBusiness has helped me. It brings out my creative side – which has always been there, but had been dormant for some time. I like having a balance of the “engineering” side of my personality with a less structured side. In fact, that’s one of the things some of our executives have commented on – Ker is “type A”, how does she surrender control? For me, it’s a great equalizer.
And, as you mention, I think Corporate America has benefited as well. I can think more creatively at work, I’m probably a bit more relaxed than I had been in the past, and it’s given folks a new insight into who I am outside of the office walls.
In a perfect world, where your blog is read and adored by millions, where will it take you?
Ah, this is a question I’ve been struggling with lately! I’ve had so much support from friends, family, and coworkers – and their imaginations are so much bigger than mine! I’m not sure I see the blog turning into an online video series for the Food Channel, but that was one big idea that friends had.
Right now, I’d simply like to continue to build a loyal following. I get very excited when other bloggers “like” my posts, or when I get a new follower. I hope that trend continues because it makes me feel like a legitimate blogger!
I’d also like to steal some ideas from blogs that I love, like Detroit Moxie. I’d love to have t-shirts made to get the word out about “She Ordered What?!?” A coworker is actually working on designing a logo for me right now!
All that said, I think I have to reserve the right to change my mind about what “success” looks like for “She Ordered What?!?”, and just admit that I’m at the bottom of that hockey stick curve you’re imagining with this question!
Finally the random question:
For the purposes of this Q&A, I’m sticking to the theme: What is the best meal you’ve had in Metro Detroit?
I’m going to cheat on this one, Brad. There are two meals that I really enjoyed – very different meals, and very different experiences.
First, I wrote a post about Tria, in the Henry Hotel. That overall experience was simply delightful! The servers were totally on board with the concept, and were very excited about the blog. They chose a delicious meal, a perfect wine pairing, and three fabulous dessert bites. They really made for an extraordinary night.
The second one (and not by order of enjoyment – just the second of the two examples) was the Mac Shack’s Koh San Road macaroni and cheese which I tried at a food truck rally in Waterford, Mich. Again, the owners were 100% on board with the concept (and have been big supporters since), and they chose a meal that I will admit I would have never chosen for myself (given all of the options). It was basically a Pad Thai macaroni and cheese – and it was AMAZING! Really flavorful, and quite unique. And, it was even better reheated two days later!
I have a lot more ground to cover in the greater Detroit area, so I’m certain I will come across more fantastic dishes, but those two currently top my list.
I would like to thank Kerri for taking time out of her busy dining out schedule to answer a few questions. The next time you are at a restaurant and are undecided, maybe you’ll take a page out of her book, and let the waitstaff order dinner for you.
Who knows – you might never order for yourself again.