Featured Community Member: Rich

Nov 7, 2009 • Featured Member

Richard BeckerIt is my pleasure to introduce one of my very favorite bloggers and social media professionals, who is an expert in marketing, writing, and public relations. He is also an experienced and seasoned professional blogger who owns his own business and manages multiple blogs. His name is Richard Becker and he hails from one of the food capitals of the world, Las Vegas, NV. As many of you know, BlogWorld was held there last month.

You told me today you were teaching until 4 p.m. is this at a school or in your business?

I teach several communication classes for students and professionals at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, including writing, editing, and social media.

I have been wanting to interview you for Half Hour Meals since the beginning of September, and I am glad things have settled down enough so you can drop in now and again. You are so lucky to be situated in the city so many chefs are now calling home. Do you enjoy the extensive availability of top-notch restaurants from which to choose?

For many years, I worked as a dining reviewer for area travel and hospitality magazines and Frommer’s Travel Guides, which really opened some doors and allowed me to enjoy some of the best restaurants in Las Vegas, those of chefs Kerry Simon, Charlie Palmer, and Emeril Lagasse among them. Once you work as a reviewer, it’s hard not to save up and go out once in awhile.

Which five are your favorites and which cuisines do you like best?

The Las Vegas restaurant scene is changing all the time so some of my favorites have since closed. If I had to choose five, I might pick The Stirling Room at the Stirling Club (Charlie Palmers), Picasso at Bellagio (Julian Serrano), Mon Ami Gabi (chef Gabino Sotelino) on/or near the Strip. Local favorites include Garfield’s and La Madonna. (I’d include Simon’s Kitchen at the Hard Rock if it were still open).

I don’t know if I can pin down a favorite cuisine because I like to mix it up. Based on my choices, it seems I lean toward Mediterranean when I go out. But when I cook, I love preparing Asian food. There is something magical about the importance of when you add ingredients, as much as what those ingredients are, that fascinates me about that cuisine.

You are always involved in community outreach and helping others. There is a upcoming event at BloggersUnite.org, which concerns food bloggers. Can you share with our readers what this is all about? How can we get involved?

There are several great events that are imminent for all bloggers, including Veterans Day and “Who Will Stand and Fight For Preemies.” But one of the newest events added, which concerns food bloggers is the Brown Bag Project, which helps people give the gift of food for Thanksgiving. This  event is being organized by Jason Teitelman. One of the best aspects about the event is that it encourages bloggers to help in their community and then blog about it so others can do the same. I love that it encourages giving. Anyone can join by visiting BloggersUnite.org! Brown Bag Project

Please tell us a little about yourself, your cooking abilities and describe a few favorite dishes that you cook.

Sure, I cook three or four times a week, with my intent to make restaurant caliber meals. I tend to start with specific recipes and alter them based on area ingredients, as well as some tips I learned from chefs as a dining reviewer. I already mentioned Asian food, but I cook a variety of dishes covering all cuisines. The only complaint I receive is that I rarely make the same thing twice, even if it is a favorite.

You have told me before that you get into the kitchen to cook for family some nights of the week. Are you the only one who cooks in your family?

My wife cooks well, but it just makes sense that I pick up three or four nights so we can eat by 6:30 p.m. or 7 p.m. instead of waiting for her to come home and cook. Besides, I enjoy it. Cooking is a great way to unwind after work because you can focus on a single task and enjoy an immediate result with family and friends.

How long have you been blogging? What drew a man of your caliber to this realm, and knowing you are on BlogCatalog, Half Hour Meals, Twitter, and most recently, BrooWaHa, how have these social media helped you in your professional life?

I originally started blogging in 2003-2004 (not counting an internal public company newswire I wrote, which was like a blog, in 1993). In 2003 my wife and partner first introduced me to today’s definition of blogging. My early blogs were written under pseudonyms, but I closed those down when I started the Copywrite, Ink. Blog. Some of the social media ventures and networks I participate in are mostly related to the fact that I enjoy making contributions when I have time. However, part of our service includes helping companies integrate social media into their communications plan. Participation is a great way to understand the networks and meet creative people. (I also work for and/or partner with BlogCatalog from time to time and have for a couple years).

When you open a cookbook, which sections do you look at first, main dishes or desserts? What is your specialty? Which herbs or spices do you use most often?

I almost always look at main dishes first and build the rest of the meals around that. Lately, it seems I’ve been using a lot of garlic and cilantro, but it really depends on what the dish calls for. Asian cuisine is always a hit. I mix it into rotation about once a week or every two weeks. But really, I have an eclectic palate. So, every night is very different based on the meat and style of cooking. I only cook desserts once every couple weeks.

If you didn’t do what you do professionally, what type of work would you switch to that interests you?

If I weren’t a commercial writer, I would move toward writing fiction. But if writing weren’t an option, I would gravitate toward art or photography. Then again, I held many jobs throughout high school and college, and really enjoyed them all. The trick is to find new ways to make any job more creative and do your best with it.

How did you hear about Half Hour Meals and why did you join?

I heard about Half Hour Meals from Tony Berkman after he asked for help on the initial media release, which announced that BlogCatalog purchased it. I signed up right after to get a feel for the site, made some suggestions, and forgot about it until its relaunch was complete and you started reminding me to visit again. I’m still in the early phases of becoming engaged with this great group of people.

Have you tried any of our member recipes yet?

Not yet. But I have been reading some of the comments to see what people are doing with substitutions. Sometimes I see some dishes that remind me of one my recipes so it influences me in that way as well. I’m planning to make one of the scone recipes first, but mostly because I know the story behind it.

What features do you like about Half Hour Meals?

I love people first because they always add the flavor of any network. I think you can learn a lot about them based on what dishes they like the most. I also recently had the rare privilege of cooking with Clive Berkman in my kitchen during BlogWorld. Now that is one feature, if you can call it a feature, that I will never forget. He left his knife behind too; it saves me a lot of prep time when I cook.

If asked, what would you tell others about Half Hour Meals?

I would tell them it’s like a community cookbook. Really, it’s not all that different from sharing recipes with friends and neighbors like my grandmother used to do, except it’s online and this community includes the whole world. I love it.

I saw on your bio that you are a Scorpio. I do hope you haven’t celebrated your birthday yet, but in the event you have, I want to wish you a most Happy Birthday and to thank you wholeheartedly for sharing your valuable time with us.

Thank you. And yes, I am a Scorpio, but I’m on the cusp of Sagittarius. So, technically, I’m still one year younger. Heh. But please do let me add how privileged and grateful I am that you asked to interview me. We’ve known each other for such a long time and while I might be a professional communicator, you taught me a great deal about the social networks along the way, too. It’s exactly why I love what I do. I get to meet people who touch my life in ways I never expected. Thank you for that. All my very best to you Theresa! You can visit Rich here.