About Me

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” ~ Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

As the third year anniversary of Bunkycooks quickly approaches, I thought it might be time to share a little more about me and Mr. B with my readers.  Do you ever wonder what drives people to do what they do?  What compels someone to travel 30,000 miles a year and write about their experiences?  There is always a back story and it is time that I share a little more about us.

Bunkycooks was started in November 2009 as a traditional food blog.  There were no big plans for the blog, other than to share my passion and love of cooking with others.  Since that time, this journey has introduced us to an ongoing adventure that I never could have imagined.  Meetings with some of America’s best chefs, small farmers, distillers and wine makers, food artisans, and behind the scenes visits to extraordinary culinary destinations have been eye-opening and inspirational.  If you understand what led up to November of 2009, maybe you will see why our travels and essays of the last few years have become a way of life for us.

With Jo at Manakintowne Specialty Growers in Powhatan County, Virginia

Cooking and entertaining have always been a big part of my life.  My parents were divorced early on and I was a latchkey child.  I was in the kitchen at a very young age preparing weeknight meals for my mother and myself so dinner was on the table when she came home from work.  Cooking became a creative outlet and a way to occupy many hours at home alone.  As I got older, I planned elaborate dinner parties with friends and prepared meals for holiday and family gatherings.

While I had designs on culinary school in Paris at age sixteen, my high school college counselor had other plans for me and suggested Cornell University’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management.  Young women did not attend culinary school in the 1970’s, so I was told to go to college and if I still had frivolous designs on becoming a chef after college, I should pursue them after a “real” education.  Managing a hotel or restaurant was not my goal, so I decided to attend the University of Richmond.

Culinary Class with Executive Chef Colin Bedford at Fearrington House Inn, NC

As they say, life happens and becoming a chef was shelved for more traditional company jobs in order to make a living.  My passion for cooking never left me and I filled my free time immersed in cookbooks and in the kitchen.

Many years, a family, several career moves, and countless recipes later, I married my husband, Roger.  I left a corporate job in Boston and moved to Atlanta.  We had a wonderful life planned, filled with travel and new adventures.  One month after we were married, tragedy struck.  Roger fell from the roof of the house in what was a near fatal accident.  Two years later, he was diagnosed with what we would learn was Stage 4 colon cancer.  Life would never be the same.

Beamer with Roger in the hospital

The first six years of our married life were filled with medical visits, surgeries, and concern about the future.  Roger went through two bouts of cancer and years of chemotherapy.  He had another cancer scare with a tumor in the spine that turned out to be benign.  We did not want to think about what would come next.  In that time, I also had several major surgeries.  We focused all of our attention on healing, but each year brought a new challenge.  It seemed like the bad news would never stop and it was taking a toll on us.

During that time, I turned to cooking and entertaining, once again, as a way of dealing with the catastrophic events that we could not control in our lives.  I hosted numerous dinner parties at our home.  Visiting with our friends was therapeutic for Roger and cooking in the kitchen was medicinal for me.  We never realized how important our good health was until we had lost it.

During these years, our travel was limited because of Roger’s chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and fatigue.  We did, however, manage to go to Europe when he was on a break from treatments and felt well enough to travel the long distance.

South of France – October 2009

In October of 2009, we flew to the South of France.  It was every bit as spectacular as I remembered it.  The food, the markets, the mountains, the Mediterranean sea, and the lifestyle…I did not want to return home.  After several unforgettable days in France, we boarded a ship that would take us to several ports in Spain: Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, and Barcelona.

Spice displays at Mercat de la Boqueria

While every port was memorable in its own way, the Boqueria (market) in Barcelona truly was a life changing experience.  We strolled through the market and were in awe at the stunning foods on display.  We had never seen anything like it before.  The meats, the cheeses, the produce, and spices; everything was spectacular.  A bustling counter service restaurant (Kiosko Universal) prepared tapas of razor clams and heaping mounds of beautiful wild mushrooms.  Simply sautéed and seasoned, it was some of the best food we ever tasted.  That was late October.  Inspired by our trip and visit to the market in Barcelona, the first actual post on Bunkycooks was published November 24, 2009, Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona.

The meats were spectacular at the Mercat in Barcelona

In the spring of 2010, with Roger feeling better and his cancer in remission, we decided to take the opportunity to explore the world around us and write about some of our discoveries along the way.  For many years we had focused on friends and activities close to home due to health considerations, but with renewed energy and the prospects of a brighter future, things began to change.

With Chef Johannes Klapdohr in Highlands, NC

I interviewed Chef Johannes Klapdohr at Old Edwards Inn (Highlands, N.C) in June 2010.  Chef Klapdohr was passionate, to say the least.  He talked about our food supply and the problem with many aspects of the American diet.  He encouraged us to reach out to farmers, artisans, and other chefs to learn more.  Half a day with Chef Klapdohr and a lunch later, our world was turned upside down and suddenly, there seemed to be a real reason and a purpose for the blog.

With Chef John Fleer in Highlands, NC

Since that first chef interview, one thing has led to another.  The next chef interview was with John Fleer at Canyon Kitchen in Cashiers, NC (Chef Fleer was formerly at Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN).  This interview again led us to other farmers, artisans, and opportunities.  One chef interview would result in a farm visit which connected us back to another chef, a new culinary destination, or food artisan.  And so it has been for the last few years.

With Luca Paschina, the winemaker at Barboursville Vineyards in Charlottesville, VA

We did not ask for this to happen, it has just evolved over time.  We have been pulled into this life.  It is not out of design.  It is not out of ambition.  It is from a sincere desire to share the amazing stories of the people we have met and the places we have been.  We have been moved by the stories of these people, perhaps it is because of our own challenges that we have had to overcome.  The insight in to the food and the culinary world continues to excite us.  It has been an honor to become a member of this extraordinary community.

I spent my birthday at Carolina Bison in October 2010

We believe it is important to share what we have learned and for people to understand where our food comes from.  So many people have lost that connection and think that food comes from plastic packages and cardboard boxes.  Our visits to farms are continuous reminders that animals have provided that meat on our table and that farmers have pulled those vegetables from the ground in order for us to nurture our bodies.  It is also important to understand how our food supply is changing and to keep informed in order to make wise choices about our food purchases.

With Alison Bryant at Four Mile Farm – Ball Ground, GA

We want to support local farmers, artisans, and purveyors and help preserve food traditions and heirloom ingredients that are at risk of being lost forever.  We want to encourage families to create traditions around food that will be passed down through generations.  We want to bring the stories of some of America’s great chefs to our readers to build a better understanding of the passion and skill that goes in to great recipes and extraordinary food.  This is also the reason we have created our culinary tour business, On The Road culinary adventures, to allow others to experience and meet some of the chefs, artisans, and culinary destinations that have changed our lives.

With Chris Morris, Master Distiller, at Woodford Reserve

I could never have imagined in November 2009 how much we would learn, the relationships we would form, and the people we would impact.  I feel fortunate that we have our health for the first time in years and that we can enjoy life again.  I also hope that Bunkycooks has inspired and educated others over the past few years to get out and enjoy the best food, people, and places that life has to offer.  As we know from personal experience, life can be short and you need to live each and every day to its fullest.

With Chef John Besh at August, New Orleans

For those of you who have always wondered how and why we do this, we do it out of pure love for the people we have met.  Their stories are inspiring.  We do it because it chose us, we did not choose it.  I am thankful for all of the opportunities that writing Bunkycooks has given us and grateful that we have survived the worst of times.  I look forward to what the future has in store for us, and hopefully, the best is yet to come.

Thank you for reading Bunkycooks and for your support over the past three years.

Curious goats at Spinning Spider Creamery – Madison County, NC

34 Responses to “About Me”

  1. 1

    Kath — October 21, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

    I have so enjoyed seeing how Bunkycooks has evolved over the last couple of years. I really enjoyed reading this post – “the rest of the story”. May you and Roger have many, many more healthy years of traveling the world and sharing your discoveries and the people you meet with your appreciative readers! :)

    • Gwen replied: — October 21st, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

      Thank you so much, Kath. It has been an incredible journey and I appreciate that you have taken the time to come along with us over the years.

      Gwen

  2. 2

    Lucy — October 21, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

    Wow! Gwen, what an amazing story! I love your blog and look forward to many more years of stories and pictures from your travels and interviews.

    • Gwen replied: — October 21st, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

      Hi Lucy,

      Thank you. It has been nice to get to meet you in person and know a little bit about you beyond the blog. We look forward to the future as well and hope it will provide many more interesting stories to write about.

      Gwen

  3. 3

    Janis — October 21, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

    I think it is amazing how that if you are open to what life brings magical things can happen.

    • Gwen replied: — October 21st, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

      Hi Janis,

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, it is very true. I think we can attest to that.

      Cheers,

      Gwen

  4. 4

    kay b — October 21, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your life story…I so truly enjoyed reading the story…

    To good health and many more adventures and many more blogs..they are great.

    thanks
    k

    • Gwen replied: — October 22nd, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

      Hi Kay,

      Thank you so much for your comment. I am glad that you have enjoyed reading Bunkycooks and hope you continue to do so.

      Gwen

  5. 5

    Eva — October 21, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is always amazing how something so good can be around the corner after such a difficult journey. May you and your husband continue to be blessed with good health and happiness. You have certainly been a bright spot for all that follow your blog.

    • Gwen replied: — October 22nd, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

      Hi Eva,

      Thank you so much for leaving a comment and I hope you will continue to enjoy reading Bunkycooks. I hope the future articles will continue to inspire you.

      Gwen

  6. 6

    Lynn Lekander — October 21, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

    You are having the BEST time and it shows. Your posts are inspirational, thank you and continued good health to you and Mr.B

    • Gwen replied: — October 22nd, 2012 @ 9:20 pm

      Hi Lynn,

      Yes, this has truly been a life changing experience and I appreciate your support during this time.

      Gwen

  7. 7

    Glenn Connell — October 21, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

    Thank you Gwen for sharing your inspirational story. I hope some day we can meet. You have both had more than your share of trauma. Your outlook is amazing and I admire your courage and talents. Keep writing – you are good at it and your recipes are amazing.

    • Gwen replied: — October 22nd, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

      Thank you so much, Glenn.

      It would be great to meet in person some day. We have had a challenging journey and am happy to share the stories of those people who have made a difference in our lives and have made us take pause.

      Gwen

  8. 8

    Lisa — October 21, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

    Happy three years blogging, Gwen! This post was both fun and heart wrenching. I’m so glad you both battled the bad and conquered because had you not…we wouldn’t have the ‘Bunkycooks’ it is today. Your posts are always an amazing read and experience..as if we were all there with you. As I’ve told you many times…your blog is a virtual bucket list for me, not to mention the thought-provoking posts that cover such a wide range of culinary related topics..controversial or not. OH..and the photos..I could go on forever!

    By the way…I love the pic of you with Besh!!! The look on your face is priceless!

    • Gwen replied: — October 22nd, 2012 @ 9:59 pm

      Hi Lisa,

      Thank you so much and I hope we meet in person in NYC sometime soon! Life has certainly thrown us a curve ball, hence, my quote. What you think may happen in life, is often not what happens and maybe, you end up where you need to be. It’s been a long road and yes, I love that photo with John Besh. It was definitely one of the happy moments, and I have to say we have had many of those.

      xo Gwen

  9. 9

    Shelley C — October 21, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

    What an amazing story – thank you so much for sharing. Happy blog-iversary and I look forward to many, many, MANY more years of reading about your adventures here.

    • Gwen replied: — October 22nd, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

      Hi Shelley,

      Thank you so much for your comment and I hope we continue to inspire with the stories and recipes.

      Gwen

  10. 10

    Marie — October 21, 2012 @ 10:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing – not only this story, which is touching and inspiring, but also all that you do on this blog. It enriches my life.

    • Gwen replied: — October 22nd, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

      Hi Marie,

      You are an inspiration to us as well. I am so appreciative that you have followed Bunkycooks since the very beginning and I am so glad that we have provided some inspiration for you over the past few years. We love you and your support and I look forward to the day when we can enjoy some pork BBQ (recipe from Bunkycooks) with you and your family!

      xoxo

      Gwen

  11. 11

    30A EATS — October 22, 2012 @ 12:40 am

    Thank you for sharing your inspirational story. I too have had many health battles from a head on collision and can understand the frustration. Also how travel, writing, and a passion for good food can be healing. I too love meeting the people behing good food and hearing inspiring stories. I began to follow you after your interview with Fleer as I spent a good bit of time with him at Blackberry Farm prior to his departure, and since with Lenn. Maybe we will finally meet one of these days I’m in Atlanta visiting my son at Tech, or if you decide to come to 30-A. Congratulations on your 3rd year, and Cheers to good health!

    • Gwen replied: — March 4th, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

      Hi Susan,

      I do hope our paths cross sometime soon. We aren’t that far away from each other, so I am sure it will happen one day.

      Gwen

  12. 12

    Lana — October 22, 2012 @ 2:26 am

    Even though I have been reading your blog almost since its inception, I enjoyed this post that connected all the dots:) I wish you many more years of exploration! Congratulations! And hugs for you and Roger:)

    • Gwen replied: — March 4th, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

      Hi Lana,

      Thank you so much and I appreciate your continued support over three years. It’s still hard to believe it’s been that long!

      Gwen

  13. 13

    Suddie — October 22, 2012 @ 10:20 am

    We love Bunkycooks! That’s you!

    • Gwen replied: — March 4th, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

      Thank you, Suddie. :-)

  14. 14

    Barbara — October 22, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

    Wow….and I thought I knew you and Roger pretty well! What an inspired piece Gwen! Thanks to your blog, I have learned so much and travelled right along with you both. Best of luck (and good health) to the next many, many years!! Cheers!!

    • Gwen replied: — March 4th, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

      Hi Barbara,

      Thank you and yes, there was a bigger story that I really wanted to share after three years.

      I hope you continue to travel with us as I am certain there will be more adventures ahead!

      Gwen

  15. 15

    Maria P — October 22, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

    This is truly an inspiring love story! Love you guys!

    • Gwen replied: — March 4th, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

      Hi Maria,

      Thank you and we love you, too.

      xo

      Gwen

  16. 16

    Sheryl Getman — October 25, 2012 @ 6:13 pm

    A remarkable story, remarkable accomplishments. We both loved your article.
    We are forever on your side, in every way possible. Congratulations on your anniversary. We cannot say enough. Thanks for all of your wonderful, astute, lovely articles. It is an experience for us, each time you write. Thank you. Sheryl & Daniel Getman Getman’s Orchard

    • Gwen replied: — March 4th, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

      Hi Sheryl,

      Thank you for all of your thoughtful comments and support. I am also inspired by your ability to manage the farm, the orchard, cooking, the new house, and all of it done with your pack of TT’s! You are amazing and I hope we are able to meet in person sometime soon.

      Gwen

  17. 17

    Nancie McDermott — December 5, 2012 @ 11:55 pm

    So moving. You have told your powerful story with profound grace and illuminating spirit. I was already delighted and grateful to know y’all and be connected. Now I add ‘privileged’. To your long, happy, healthy, prosperous, joyful life, and to following it here and In Real LIfe.

    • Gwen replied: — January 22nd, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

      Hi Nancie,

      Thank you so much. It has been a pleasure to get to know you since we first met in New Orleans in 2011. I do hope that 2013 brings us an opportunity to spend more time together to cook and get to know each other better.

      Gwen

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