I started working in the kitchen after I graduated from high school in 1999. At this point in my life, I had no focus, goals, or motivation. I applied to work at Concordia Language Villages at the urging of my mother. A couple years earlier, we had met the person in charge of the food service department there, Jodi Nordlund– to this day, one of my favorite people in the whole world. I remember applying to work there and not really being too excited about it; I was 17 going on 18. I interviewed over the phone and was offered a job working at the German kitchen as a dishwasher. It was easy work and I actually enjoyed it. There were pretty girls from foreign lands; what’s not to love? After my first three weeks of washing dishes, the food service manager observed that I had a knack for cooking, so I was promoted to assistant cook. It was a very silent promotion, however, to avoid dissent from my fellow dish monkeys, and I still had to wash dishes from time to time–something which, to this day, is still expected of me. Or perhaps I simply expect it of myself?

Working in kitchens, opportunities for advancement depend on your ability to learn, understand, work hard and obey. My biggest two strengths were learning and understanding. Utilizing these, I was able to advance through the ranks of the kitchen very quickly. I even found time to learn a thing or two about baking bread and making pastries. The desire to learn about food had been building in me for many years. As a child, I lived on my family’s semi-self-sustaining hobby farm. It was here that I first learned about where food comes from. I learned that in order for me to eat meat, I had to understand that an animal has been killed for me. And I also had to be okay with that.

After a decade, even though I loved working in the professional kitchen, I began to burn out and I realized that I needed a new career. I hated that I never wanted to cook at home. It just felt like work to me. Aside from that, the lifestyle of a cook can be a very destructive one. Toward the end of my stint in the professional kitchen, I took a research trip to Argentina to study food and cooking. As I traveled across that beautiful country, eating amazing, simple, and delicious food and frantically writing about it. I realized that cooking, eating, and writing about food was what I really wanted to do. It was one of those truly rare and genuine moments in life where you discover something about yourself that brings you closer to yourself. Closer to that person that you are supposed to be. That person that you’ve only been able to see glimpses of. The person those who love you have always known and always loved.

So a few months later, when Jonathan Hatch told me about his idea for a website devoted to meat, I was naturally interested. My experience in Argentina, though still recent enough to be fresh in my mind, had been clouded by some recent negative experiences–a sort of climax of poor judgment, if you will. I was a bit anxious to get back to that moment in Argentina, and I saw the creation of this website as an opportunity to get there. So Jonathan and I started getting together, eating, talking, communing, and what have you. We were both looking for a new place to live, and we both had always wanted to live in a high-rise. So when we toured Galtier Towers, we both knew it was the right place. I remember walking down the street with him after looking at the apartment: both of us were so jazzed and energized about the place. It was then that I knew living together was the right decision. After I finally quit my job selling mattresses (one of those in-between jobs that sucks), I got to work on getting How to Cook Meat off the ground.

-Nils Hoyum