Meet & Eat: Alison Herzog, Serious Eats Community Intern

Note: It's time to meet another member of the Serious Eats summer intern squad. Please welcome Alison! She'll be helping Adam with community-building projects, and of course, helping us devour whatever floats into this office. Say hello, and get to know her! —The Mgmt.

20100629-alison-meeteat.jpgName: Alison J. Herzog
Location: Salt Lake City; New York
Occupation: MBA Student, Marketing
Website/Twitter: / @alisonjherzog

Guilty pleasures?

Fountain Diet Coke; Taco Bell (judge away—the Chilito won my heart at age 8); Ben & Jerry's Half Baked, Chubby Hubby, and Flourless Chocolate Cake

Describe your perfect meal.

This is a question I've pondered many a day. I personally don't believe there is a right answer for me. It depends on the day, my mood, my locale. I'd need at least a week of perfect meals to make this work. That being said, here's my list in no particular order:

  • Kauai: malasadas from Kmart lady, a virgin Lava Flow (heaven), and a plate lunch which MUST-have teriyaki chicken, teriyaki beef, sticky rice, and lo mein.
  • Capri/Napoli: Gnocchi alla Sorrentina (the fresh bufala mozzarella is so divine!), Pizza Margherita, and a San Pellegrino Limonata.
  • New York: a few plain slices from Joe's Pizza, a Tsunami dog from Crif Dogs, a double Shack Burger, fries, and a concrete with chocolate custard, hot fudge, peanut butter sauce, and chocolate truffle cookie dough all from the Shake Shack, and maybe for dessert a Bouchon from Bouchon and some pork dumplings from the Dumpling Man.
  • I won't do an entire week, but I will tell you that for Paris I will just eat pain au chocolat all day long. That's my dessert heaven; buttery, flaky layers wrapped around semi-sweet chocolate.

What food won't you eat?

Broccoli makes me gag. Also, I'm allergic to tree nuts. What will I not eat out of sheer integrity? Plenty of things that Andrew Zimmern eats, such as durian. I see no reason to take up valuable stomach space with things that are quite apparently disgusting. Finally, I would not eat cuy (guinea pig) again. Peruvians are very into it, but, for all intents and purposes, it's a rat. I would have been fine except for the hair in my mouth. The teeth were also a little much for me. Google it. You'll see what I mean.

What would you like to try but haven't yet?

Plenty of things—that's why I love to talk to other foodies; to find out what I'm missing so I can remedy the situation.

Favorite food person?

I love watching Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Adam Richman on Man v. Food. There's something about watching two guys who are obviously passionate about what they are doing. I also appreciate seeing the local joints they feature and keep a running list of which ones I would like to try down the road.

When did you first realize you were a serious eater?

It's hard to say. Probably when I started eating with chopsticks as a small child when all of my other siblings were still using forks. I ate so much Asian cuisine that I became adept very quickly. I don't know many young children that would rather have sticky rice with some spicy concoction of meat and vegetables than a hamburger from Mickey D's. I also used to love sitting on the kitchen counter beside the stove while concocting various dishes. I'd add whatever spices and seasonings I felt like to see what I could create.

What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions?

For the most part they're very appreciative. It means they know that if they are with me they will always be abundantly fed, whether it's because I'm cooking or forever over-ordering. In addition to the being well-fed, they appreciate it because I will not accept eating at just any old place. I expose them to places and foods they might not have been willing to go out of their comfort zones before.

Favorite food sites or blogs?

Serious Eats is my daily go-to. [Right on! —Ed.] I also love David Lebovitz, Smitten Kitchen, Steamy Kitchen, Tartelette, and Cafe Fernando.

Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours?

It depends on where I am. I always look to whatever local friend I have. If I don't have someone, I look to Google for help, or ask my friend Dianne.

And what's the best recommendation she's ever given you?

My current fave is Sawadee, a Thai restaurant in Salt Lake. I am a sucker for their peanut sauce—I could happily eat a bowl of it plain.

What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it?

I used to be a breakfast lover (just not at the breakfast hour). I think I've transitioned to more of a dinner hour kind of gal. Savory dishes are my current thing. I'm currently loving fresh tacos from Lone Star Taqueria in Salt Lake.

Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make?

I do love cooking and baking. My current best dish is my Massaman curry. I could eat it all day. This curry blends four things I love: spice, cream (in the form of coconut milk), peanuts, and sticky rice.