Josh Scherer, fourth-year political science student, faces an identity crisis when it comes to his passion for food. He takes on a hyper masculine role in the typically feminine field of cooking for the public. His online blog, Culinary Bro-down, combines his sometimes vulgar “bro” demeanor with his his artistic mastery of the culinary sphere. The result: “refined, new American with trashy, processed twists.”
When was your introduction to food?
I’ve always been into eating. I had a pretty good case of the childhood obesity going on. I grew up with just my dad and my brother, a very masculine household. My dad couldn’t cook very well, so my brother and I got really into food after making dinner some nights. We’re always pushing each other; he’s a really good cook. He introduced me to good food.
Are you more into the writing or the food aspect, because I don’t think the point of your blog is to just provide people with good recipes. You really enjoy the entertainment value to some of your posts.
It’s tough to differentiate; both writing and cooking are huge passions of mine. I don’t set out to make a post intentionally funny, I just recount how I was feeling in that moment. None of that stuff that I write is made up. I don’t think I could write a serious food blog if I tried. Like, you see these food blogs where it’s, you know, a female baker who when she came in from playing outside, her mom would have freshly baked banana nut bread waiting for her, so “I want to recreate this for my daughter.” I don’t really have those experiences. I don’t want to write about my mom’s cigarette Rice-A-Roni.
You say “female bloggers,” do you think you’re different from most bloggers because you’re a man?
Yeah I think it’s a mostly female-dominated field with its own little niche. I think that’s one of the things that spurred me to do this. I read a lot of food blogs and most of them are from the female perspective, which is something I couldn’t come to terms with – I don’t exactly identify with (the blogs).
So when you watch shows, is it cool seeing a male figure cooking? You said it’s mostly female dominated so could you see yourself going into that area?
Yeah it’s cool. They’re kind of the role models that kind of drove me to do what I do. It’s weird because the chef world is very male-dominated. When it comes to marketing to the public it’s a whole different thing. It’s these daytime soccer moms sitting at home watching TV. So yeah, it’s cool to see a guy breaking into that market.
When you write your posts, is there a front at all?
I think there might be a little bit of a front. It’s a bit of a persona from which I write. But it’s also the persona that I cook with. I lived in a house in Santa Barbara with 10 guys, and the things we’d cook were – we’d wake up on a Sunday, hung-over, wanting both breakfast and carne asada fries. So what do we do? Make some home fries, throw a dozen fried eggs on top of it, and then throw carne asada on that. So I think it’s a front in a sense, I’m not actually that big of an asshole, but I think it makes me different.
Do you think that to make it in the cooking world, you have to have a unique personality? Somebody like Paula Deen takes on a personality, do you need to have it with the “Bro?”
Definitely. It’s not so much that you have to be different, it’s that people need to consume your work. You have to have a market for what you do. There are people with the most plain, insipid personality. Like Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa. Have you heard of her?
Yeah, my mom watches her.
Exactly, you’re mom watches her. She doesn’t have a unique personality, but she has a niche. She has a group that she caters to and that’s the important part.
What’s your market then?
My peers, honestly. I write like what I’d like to read. Because I think some of these blogs don’t come from an authentic place. They’re trying to cook things that they’ve seen on TV, whereas I’m writing about how I’d want to read.
Is hard to take on the personality that you do? You roll your ingredients with a Svedka bottle, and then write about these elegant dishes.
It’s something I really struggle with. My post going up tonight, you get on a roll and you start steamrolling. I talk about how pretentious cocktails can be, and then I spend the next paragraph talking about hand jobs. I seriously don’t know how I deviated from the cooking side of things to that. The more fun part is the masculine funny guy, but I really do try and maintain that dichotomy. There’s definitely compensation. Big time. Most people that actually know me see I’m not actually this hyper masculine guy. Sports have dominated my life, which is a hyper masculine field. You tell your teammate you cook, and they’re not so progressive. It’s a good outlet for me with the personality I adapt, it’s the persona from which I want to write.
What are your biggest writing inspirations, though? The way you write doesn’t reflect other blogs, but there must be some sort of inspiration. You’ve said where the food aspect comes from, but your blog is totally not only about the food? You say words like “slutdom” and I’m pretty sure you won’t find that on most blogs.
I tried to find a different word from slutdom, nothing had as good of a ring to it. But in terms of writing, my favorite blog right now is “Thug Kitchen.” They have mastered the ridiculous duality that I love; they’re vegan, but all their posts are these ridiculously vulgar write ups. But you can tell they’re intelligent, creative people and they obviously know how to cook. This other one I read is “Rollings Reliable.” She’s a food science major at Davis, and she writes very authentically with things that interest her. She’s a big sci-fi nerd, and she translates that into her cooking. That kind of stuff really speaks to me. I prefer authentic blogs with personality. That’s my favorite thing.
Do you think you do that successfully?
Definitely. I’m looking for the meal my friends are going to like. One thing I’m going to post in the upcoming weeks is a “Philly Cheesesteak Benedict.” It’s a cutout of a round challah bread, a homage to my Jewish heritage (We high-fived). Shaved rib eye, onions, poached egg, and then I made Cheez Whiz Hollandaise. It’s my favorite type of thing, with dichotomy of the refined and the trashy, processed cheese. It’s just things I’ve always wanted to eat, most of which was thought of while intoxicated with friends. I really like my duality. I understand I have the limitations of being at college, so I always try and recreate the stuff I’ve eaten. I don’t actually know anything about fine dining, but I balance my duality; I think it’s kind of my shtick.