Life is an unpredictable journey filled with twists and turns that we must navigate to reach our destination. My journey is a food lover's incredible Journey. It has taken me across the globe and through countless obstacles. But it's my love for food that has remained a constant source of joy and comfort throughout it all.
From leaving my home in Africa to chasing my dreams in America, I've faced countless challenges that have tested my resilience and determination. The rise and fall of my business, Winestyles, and the move to the US with my two kids were just a few of the hurdles I've had to overcome. But through it all, I found solace in cooking and experimenting with new recipes, and it was this passion that eventually led me to start my food blog, GrillCulture.com.
Join me as I share my culinary journey and the lessons I've learned along the way, and discover the joys and comforts of food for yourself.
A Taste of Two Cultures: How My French and African Roots Come Together in My Meat Blog
Meat, Memories, and More: My Life in Ivory Coast and Morocco
I was born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in 1979. My parents had moved there for work, and I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by the rich and diverse culture of West Africa. One of my fondest memories is enjoying Attieke with grilled chicken, a local specialty that we savored almost every Sunday after a fun day at the beach. The delicious food and flavors of Ivory Coast definitely influenced my love for grilled meat and all things meat-related!
- From Ivory Coast to Morocco: A Journey of Discovery
Unfortunately, our time in Ivory Coast was cut short due to the start of a civil war in 1993. Leaving our home and everything we knew behind was incredibly difficult, but my dad's decision to open a textile business in Casablanca, Morocco, led to a decade of amazing experiences. Not only did I make lifelong friends who are still an important part of my life today, but I also discovered a whole new culture and cuisine that continues to inspire me.
- Exploring New Flavors in Morocco
In my early years in Morocco, keftas and grilled chicken were my go-to foods, and I just couldn't get enough of them. But as time went on, I became more adventurous with my palate and started trying new flavors and dishes. Friday couscous became a tradition, and I always looked forward to discovering new tagines and tangias. Even though seafood wasn't something I ate very often at first, a trip to Essaouira introduced me to some of the most delicious grilled fish I've ever tasted. From that point on, Essaouira became my go-to destination for seafood!
All in all, my experiences in Ivory Coast and Morocco have given me an incredible appreciation for the art of grilling and all things meat, which I today share on my blog.
How French Culinary Traditions Influenced My Blog
While I spent most of my early life in Africa, my French background and trips to France have also played a significant role in shaping my culinary journey. As a French citizen, I've been lucky enough to experience the delicious traditions of French cuisine firsthand. From 1979 to 2000, I spent most of my winters and summers in Grenoble or Barcares, two charming towns in France. And later on in Paris. These visits were filled with family gatherings, laughter, and of course, delicious food!
- The Legendary Feasts of Grenoble: My Uncle's Cooking Skills
In Grenoble, my uncle's cooking skills were legendary. Every meal was a feast, starting with warm pastries from the local bakery for breakfast, and featuring charcuteries, seafood appetizers, meat or seafood entrees, a variety of cheeses, and delectable pastries for dessert. Needless to say, we were all in a food coma by the end of the meal.
- Memories of Summers in Barcares: Family, Food, and Wine
In Barcares, my summers were filled with long gatherings around the table, barbecues, and seafood restaurants. While I wasn't always a fan of seafood, the joy and laughter of generations of Olivas sitting around the table made these meals incredibly special. It was in Barcares that I also developed my love for wine, thanks to the world-famous Muscat Tuile from the Languedoc Roussillon region.
- Falling in Love with Parisian Cuisine: A Culinary Journey
Later on, my parents purchased an apartment in Paris, and I quickly fell in love with the city's cultural and culinary diversity. I savored the opportunity to try European, Asian, Indian, and other global cuisines, and was introduced to more sophisticated dishes like steak with rich sauces that I still love today. Over the following decade, I spent most of my savings exploring Parisian restaurants and trying to recreate these amazing dishes at home.
French cuisine, with its emphasis on rich flavors and meticulous preparation, has played a crucial role in my culinary journey, and I'm excited to share my love for all things meat with you on my blog.
Culinary Exploration Through the Eyes of a Scuba Diver and Meat Lover
Scuba diving may not seem like it has much to do with meat, but bear with me. Around 1996, my father and I were searching for a new hobby that we could enjoy together. He was a hunter, but that wasn't quite my cup of tea. I, on the other hand, loved water sports, but he wasn't too keen on those. Finally, we discovered our mutual passion for scuba diving. We joined the local scuba diving center in Casablanca, Morocco, and before long, we were hooked!
Scuba diving isn't just about discovering the hidden treasures beneath the ocean; it's also taken me and my father on some incredible culinary adventures around the world. From the Middle East to South America, we traveled to some of the most beautiful diving destinations and sampled local delicacies along the way. We tried everything from Polynesian raw fish to fresh-caught barracuda on the grill in Mexico. These trips are some of the most cherished memories of my life, and they've had a huge influence on my culinary style today.
While I've set aside my scuba diving gear for now and no longer travel the world, I'm excited to share my love for meat and my passion for culinary exploration with you on my blog.
From the flavors of Africa and France to the scuba diving destinations of the world, I'm constantly inspired to try new things and share my experiences with fellow meat lovers.
Turning Setbacks into Success: How Wine and Food Led Me to New Adventures
From Wine Tastings to Meaty Feasts: How WineStyles Influenced My Blog
After completing my college degree at UCLA and trying out a few different jobs in the US and Europe, my family gave me the chance to move to America, my childhood dream. We needed a new business opportunity, and with wine being all the rage at the time, we decided to explore the world of wine. That's when we discovered WineStyles, and I fell head over heels in love with the concept.
But to truly succeed in the wine business, I needed to know more about pairing wine with food. After all, what's a delicious glass of wine without the perfect meaty companion? So, I spent months exploring Southern California, taking wine classes, visiting local wineries, and chatting with chefs and sommeliers. I was lucky enough to meet so many amazing people from the French community who shared their incredible knowledge of food and wine with me. And as I set up my business, I knew that my passion for wine and meat would be at the heart of everything I did.
Today, my love for wine and meat lives on through this blog, and I'm excited to share my culinary adventures with all of you.
The Rise and Fall of WineStyles
In late 2005, I embarked on one of the most thrilling, yet tumultuous journeys of my life. With a lifelong passion for wine, and a dream of owning my own business, I took a leap of faith and opened WineStyles in Pacific Palisades. The road to get there was long and winding, filled with unexpected twists and turns. I poured my heart and soul into every detail of the business, from the carefully curated selection of retail wines to the cozy bar section where customers could sip and savor their favorite varietals. It was a labor of love, and I felt alive like never before.
- From Setbacks to Success: My Journey in Wine and Hospitality
But as with any new venture, the road was not without its challenges. Every step forward was met with two steps back, from licensing issues to finding the perfect location. At times, I wondered if this dream was really meant to be, if I was really cut out for the cutthroat world of wine and hospitality. But I persevered, driven by a deep passion and unwavering determination.
And it paid off. Within weeks of opening, we were already breaking even, with customers flocking to our doors for our exceptional wines, wine tastings, and delectable food pairings. The buzz grew, and soon we were featured in local newspapers and magazines. But nothing could have prepared me for the moment when we were featured on the front page of the LA Times food section. It was a surreal moment, a dream come true. And as the crowds grew and our sales soared, I felt like I was on top of the world.
- From Success to Closure: The Unforeseen Fate of WineStyles
But as with any peak, there must also be a valley. And unfortunately, the financial crisis hit us hard. We struggled to keep up with the rent, and despite our best efforts, we were forced to make the devastating decision to close the doors of WineStyles. It was a crushing blow, a heartbreak like no other. I felt like I had failed, like I had let down all of the customers who had come to love and support us.
But in hindsight, I realize that the experience was a gift. It taught me invaluable lessons about resilience, perseverance, and the importance of following your dreams no matter the cost. And while WineStyles may be a thing of the past, my passion for wine, food, and hospitality lives on. It's why I started this blog, to share my love of all things culinary with the world, and to inspire others to never give up on their own dreams.
Rediscovering Life through Food
After the heart-wrenching closure of WineStyles, I found myself in a state of confusion and despair. I had poured my heart and soul into the business, and it felt like a part of me had died with it.
- Rediscovering My Love for Food in Morocco
As I returned to Morocco, the country of my childhood, the fragrant aroma of spices and the warmth of my family and friends lifted my spirits. I felt like I had found my way back home, both literally and figuratively. And what better way to recover from the disappointment than by indulging in the pleasures of Moroccan cuisine? From the sizzling tagines to the aromatic couscous, every dish was a reminder of the rich and diverse culinary heritage that I had grown up with. As I traveled across the country, from the bustling streets of Marrakech to the laid-back seaside town of Essaouira, I rediscovered my love for food and the joy it brings to our lives.
- On the Road: A Culinary Journey Across Europe and America
Before I knew it, I was back on the road, this time with my father as we traveled across Europe and the United States in search of new business opportunities. As we explored new cities and cultures, we also sampled some of the most delicious and innovative recipes from top restaurants and chefs. It was a journey of discovery, both for my taste buds and my soul. As I immersed myself in this new adventure, I realized that food had always been my constant companion, the one thing that could bring me comfort and joy no matter where I was. And it was this realization that inspired me to start my own food blog, where I could share my love for food with the world.
Through my blog, I hope to bring people together, to share the joy of good food and the memories it creates. It's been a long and winding road, but I wouldn't have it any other way. For me, food is not just a passion, it's a way of life.
Savoring Life's Flavors: A Family's Culinary Adventures
Love, Laughter, and Delicious Meals
In 2011, while visiting Los Angeles for a business trip, I had a chance encounter that would change my life forever. It was at a local restaurant in Long Beach, where I met the love of my life, my soulmate, my partner in crime.
- Bonding Over Our Shared Love for Cuisine
We bonded over our shared love for food and the joy it brought us. We tried every restaurant we could find, and we talked about the flavors and the textures that we loved. It was like we were two children in a candy store, giddy with excitement as we discovered new and exciting dishes. Our different backgrounds and tastes in food complemented each other perfectly, and I found myself trying new things I had never considered before.
- A Delicious Romance: How Our Love for Food Brought Us Closer
As our relationship blossomed, so did our love for food. It was always a highlight of our time together, whether we were cooking at home or trying out a new restaurant. We shared our favorite dishes and talked about the flavors and ingredients that made them special. I found myself falling deeper in love with her as we shared these moments, savoring the deliciousness of each bite and the warmth of our connection.
- Exploring Culinary Delights: A Journey Through Morocco and Europe
When we moved to Morocco together, we discovered a whole new world of culinary delights. The markets were full of spices and herbs I had never seen before, and the flavors and smells were intoxicating. We wandered through the streets, trying new dishes and indulging in the local cuisine. And as we traveled through Europe, we experienced the unique flavors and styles of each country we visited.
But it wasn't just the food that brought us together. It was the shared experience of discovering new things and enjoying them together. We laughed and joked, held hands and savored the moment. And as our love grew stronger, so did our passion for food. It became a way for us to express our love and appreciation for each other, to celebrate the simple joys of life, and to create unforgettable memories.
How Food Helped Us Overcome Obstacles
After the birth of our daughter Zoe, we knew that our life was about to change in ways we never imagined. We had to learn how to juggle work, parenting, and our own education. And on top of that, we had to keep our relationship strong and alive. It was a daunting task, but food played a huge role in helping us stay positive and close.
- The Joy of Family Dining: How Eating Out Became an Adventure
We found that going out to eat, trying new restaurants, and discovering new flavors and cuisines was a great way to bond as a family and enjoy each other's company. We quickly realized that it was not just about the food, but the entire experience. From picking out the perfect restaurant to getting dressed up and going out, it became an exciting event for us all. Even our picky eaters, Zoe and Evan, would try new things and share their opinions with us. We were not just introducing them to new foods, but to new cultures and experiences.
- Exploring New Places Through Food: Our Best Travel Experiences
As we continued to explore new places, we found that some of our favorite memories were centered around food. We had unforgettable meals in Paris, took Wine & Painting classes in Orange County, and discovered the best seafood we have ever tasted in Mexico. But we also had great experiences closer to home. We would take trips to Santa Barbara, where we would visit local farmers' markets and indulge in fresh, local produce. We also made it a point to visit Cambria, Paso Robles, and Santa Ynez, where we could enjoy the best wineries and restaurants in the Central Coast.
Throughout all the challenges and struggles we faced, food helped us stay connected and positive. It has become a staple in our family life and we hope to pass on our love of food and culinary adventures to our children.
From Quarantine Cooking to Blogging
In 2020, as the COVID pandemic raged on, we found ourselves spending more time in the kitchen than ever before. Cooking became not only a way to pass the time, but a way to connect with each other and find comfort in uncertain times. And for me, it ignited a newfound passion for cooking that I never knew existed.
- Discovering Flavor: My Experimentation with Meat Cooking
I plunged headfirst into the world of meat cooking, trying out new techniques and ingredients to create dishes that were not only scrumptious but also aesthetically pleasing. Hours were spent perfecting the art of smoking meat, experimenting with marinades and brines, and discovering new flavor pairings. From the first sizzle on the grill to the final plating of the dish, every step of the cooking process brought me joy.
- The Perfect Pair: How My Wife's Side Dishes Took Our Meals to the Next Level
With my wife Sandra's help, we created meals that were not only delicious but also well-rounded and balanced. Her side dishes added a depth of flavor and color to our meals that elevated them to a whole new level. Together, we became a dynamic cooking duo, constantly pushing each other to try new things and take our meals to new heights. As we honed our cooking skills, we found that our meals at home were surpassing those at restaurants.
And so, in 2022, I decided to start a blog to share my passion for cooking meat with the world. I wanted to create a platform where like-minded individuals could come together and explore the vast and delicious world of meat. A place to share recipes, cooking techniques, and stories about our culinary adventures. A place where we could celebrate the joy that food brings to our lives, even in the toughest of times.
From Meat Lover to Meat Blogger: A Delicious Journey
As I look back on my journey, I can't help but feel a sense of nostalgia. The road wasn't always easy, but it was worth it. From my childhood dream of moving to America to the rise and fall of my business, to finding love and starting a family, and finally to discovering my passion for cooking and creating a blog, it has been an incredible journey filled with challenges, lessons, and triumphs. And through it all, one thing has remained constant: my love for meat and cooking. It has been the driving force behind my journey, leading me to achieve my childhood American dream. Looking to the future, I am excited to continue on this journey, sharing my passion with others and hopefully inspiring them to discover their own passions.
Come Join Me on a Meat-Lover's Adventure!
Welcome to GrillCulture.com, where my passion for meat and cooking meets my personal journey around the world. I'm thrilled to have you join me on this adventure, where we will discover new recipes, explore cooking techniques, and discuss honest product reviews.
Each recipe that I share with you has been inspired by my travels and experiences throughout the world. I've tried the best street food in Thailand, savored a succulent steak in Argentina, and tasted the most flavorful kebabs in Morocco. Every dish has left a lasting impression on me, and I'm excited to recreate these flavors in my own kitchen and share them with you.
Over the years, I've spent countless hours perfecting my cooking techniques. From learning the art of smoking meat to exploring the perfect combination of spices and cuts, I've had my fair share of trials and errors. But every failure was a lesson that brought me one step closer to achieving the perfect dish.
In addition to recipes, I'll also be sharing my honest opinions on the cooking products that I use in my own kitchen. I believe that the right tools are essential to achieving a great meal, and I want to help you make informed decisions when selecting your own equipment.
I would greatly appreciate it if you took a quick moment to support my blog by joining me on my culinary journey. Please go to Grill Culture’s home page to follow and subscribe.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read my story.