Meet & Eat: Ben Trott

Meet and Eat

Getting to know the folks behind the food and drinks you love.

You might not know Ben Trott, but you're probably familiar with his work. Along with his wife, Mena, Ben created Movable Type, the blogging system that Serious Eats uses to bring you food info each day. As cofounder of Six Apart, Ben and his colleagues are also responsible for TypePad, Vox, and LiveJournal.

20070323trott.jpgName: Benjamin Trott
Location: San Francisco
Occupation: CTO/cofounder, Six Apart
URL: http://btrott.vox.com/

Favorite comfort food? As it's winter now, we've been enjoying heartier stews, soups, etc.—things that make us warm. Just last weekend I made this beef stew with port and porcini, which was filling & fantastic, and since I made the full recipe, lasted us the better part of a week.

Guilty pleasures? Ice cream, pretty much any flavor. I worked at Baskin Robbins for a year while in high school, and I had a free scoop of ice cream with every time I worked--but it wasn't nearly enough to put me off ice cream entirely. I like everything from the really simple stuff, like French vanilla, to the wonderful sticky toffee pudding, which basically has chunks of cake in it.

Describe your perfect meal. Five years ago (omg, five years ago) Mena wrote a post about coming up with an ideal meal, if we could combine courses from a bunch of places we'd eaten. It's sort of funny to look at, because in those past five years, we've eaten so many new and incredible meals that aren't represented there, largely because of work or with people we've met through work--amazing sushi and tempura dinners in Japan at tiny little restaurants with just counter seating; an incredible French Laundry experience that left me unable to eat for a day both because I'd eaten so much and because it was just so good; a meal at Masa that was just so incredibly joyful in its simultaneous decadence (deep-fried truffle!) and simplicity. We're really lucky to have had eating experiences like that.

But for all of that, one of the best meals of recent memory came in a fairly inauspicious way. For a couple of wonderful months in 2005, there was a taco truck one block away from the Six Apart offices. We'd go there every day for lunch. At the beginning of 2006, it moved away to the financial district (too far to walk), and we've bemoaned its loss ever since.

One day, we went climbing in the Mission, and on the way home, we saw the taco truck (our taco truck!). We bought some carne asada tacos, brought them home, and had a perfect meal (so good that our dog, Maddy, wished she were human, so she could have some tacos, too).

Food you won't eat? There aren't many. I'm not a big fan of mayonnaise; in fact, I never used to eat it at all. Story: A couple of months ago in Japan, I went out with a couple of friends and coworkers to dinner and ate crazy things like cow stomach. I loved it, which, I think, was a bit of a surprise to my friends. Imagine their surprise the next day, then, when I refused to eat the mayonnaise-corn-potato pizza they ordered. That's just going too far.

What food would you like to try? It's not so much a food as a way of eating. One of the places I'd really love to travel to is Thailand, because I'd love to just wander around eating food from vendors on the street. Walk and snack, etc.

Favorite food person? That's really tough. Anthony Bourdain was the first food person I actually started reading, and he got me interested in the food/chef world. Jeffrey Steingarten was next, and reading him actually made me start to think about enjoying food, as opposed to just eating it. As for a current favorite, probably Michael Ruhlman, as I'm currently catching up on all of his books, and am totally enthralled with the CIA drama in The Making of a Chef, or Michael Pollan, because I just can't get over how good The Omnivore's Dilemma was.

When did you realize you were a serious eater? I actually don't really think of myself that way; I just think I like food and drink a lot. I also really enjoy cooking, both for other people and for myself, because it's a really therapeutic thing after a long day of working.

What do your friends and family think of your food obsession? Mena and I have always really enjoyed food, and I think she's probably happy that I'm cooking all the time again, now. There was a fairly recent period of time--for a year or so--where we ate Jenny Craig food mostly exclusively. It started out as an exercise in weight loss, but quickly devolved into a painless, simple way to get food, until we both realized that what we were eating was not, in fact, food (although, for what it's worth, we did lose weight). That was when I started cooking again--I wanted to enjoy eating again, and to control what I was actually putting in my stomach.