Is there a place you’ve always wanted to live, where you’ve felt totally at home in? For the Accidental Locavore, that place is France, specifically the Cote d’Azur, and to be really specific, Nice, Vence or Antibes. From the moment the plane touches down at the airport, I’m in my happy place. Between the amazing stretch of the Mediterranean, the perfect yellow of the buildings in the old city and the azure skies, it’s impossible not to have a smile on your face! And the food is pretty good too, don’t you think? To be able to shop at that amazing market on a daily basis, would be a dream come true.
My challenge has always been trying to figure out how to earn a living over there. My French is pretty good, but not professionally fluent. Having been to school there, after college, I’ve experienced living there on a full-time basis, so while there would be some adjustment, that part of the learning curve would be minimal.
Skills that translate are: intelligence, excellent writing skills, fearless networking (connecting people on many levels); I am extremely visual, have a great creative mind, with the ability to think in, or out of the box and see solutions where others see road blocks. Problem solving comes easy to me, and I am always up for new discoveries, whether it’s an answer to a problem, or a new artisanal cheese maker. Where most people hate change, standing still makes me crazy. For that and because I love when I’m learning something new, technology has always entranced me. Marketing both from a client and end-user point of view, allows me to flex skills in various venues, including but not limited to social media. As an entrepreneur, I’ve built a business from start-up, made it profitable and sold it, so I am familiar with all the phases a business goes through in its life cycle.
In the food arena, Americans and the French could use me to write about food, test recipes, review restaurants, source small artisanal producers, including hunting out the best of local markets and promoting them through traditional and social media. While restaurants wouldn’t want me in the kitchen, my skills as an entrepreneur, my taste for out-of-the-box solutions and the extensive experience I have as the end-user of restaurants, would give a unique perspective to that industry. That mix of skills would also be marketable to anyone working in the product development of food products, especially those aiming for a more local, sustainable niche.
My vision of being a cross between Patricia Wells (the American working and living in France, and Rachael Ray, the incessant marketer) includes a cooking show, focused on exploring markets world-wide and showing an international audience how to shop and cook with the finest local products. To gain experience for the cooking show, I have done appearances on Emeril’s Table, Slice of Brooklyn, and am currently shooting a segment of a PBS special. Branching out from that would include sustainable cookware, books…cooking and guides, custom spice mixtures, gardening tools and many other branding/licensing opportunities. Guided tours, both local and international would personalize the market experience, introducing people to the farmers, etc, and exposing them to the purveyors who have the best_____.
Watching businesses develop has always been an area of fascination. With my ongoing curiosity about what people do for a living and how businesses work, a lucrative series of making successful matches between candidates and clients has not only benefited the bottom line, it’s resulted in building many other successful enterprises, including my own. Coaching other entrepreneurs would b e a natural spin-off from this.
So how does that get me to my goal of living and working in France? What are the skills that translate and more importantly, what are the attributes that build on both sides?