Happy First Birthday, Fun With Carbs

My humble little carbohydrate-loving blog officially turns one year old today, marking not only the first anniversary of my foray into the food-blogging world, but also the day I became a freelance writer.

I left my full-time webstaff job at the Hartford Courant on Oct. 28, 2009, with visions of supporting myself through the written word. It was a decision few understood. After all, I had relative job security (as secure as a job can be in the news industry) and a salary with benefits at a time when unemployment had hit record highs. But I also had dreams, and I felt my writing skills were languishing. (Headlines don’t count. When I worked the breaking news shifts on courant.com, our running joke was that we only needed a save-get key for morning stories. “Shooting in Hartford.” “Carjacking in Hartford.” “Stabbing in Hartford.”)

I also had an idea to start a food blog, figuring I could chronicle my dining experiences and cooking adventures while sharpening my writing. After all, I hadn’t had a full-time writing job since 2005. And that’s where my mentor and savior Jeanne Leblanc came in. Self-employed as a web consultant after leaving the Courant herself in 2009, she offered to build me a site as a wedding present. She is responsible for the design, structure, back-end HTML and functionality of Fun With Carbs (not to mention those flowing red wine and delicious baguette images), and I can’t thank her enough for her hard work, talent and support. More than just technical assistance, Jeanne provided a listening ear and a steady stream of good humor as I started out on my own. Everyone should have that kind of backup when they’re making a life-changing decision.

Fun With Carbs opened more doors for me than I thought possible. Within a few months, I had been asked to help judge a culinary competition at UConn, gained press access to the Mohegan Sun WineFest and caught the attention of Five Guys Burgers and Fries with a quick post about our visit to their Worcester location.

Not only was it tremendously fun, but it helped prove that I could write. Even though I’d worked for the Courant for more than three years, my editor colleagues knew me as a web producer, the person they could come to for help with online story placement, photo galleries and multimedia extras. Now they knew I had chops as a writer, and began to call on me for more assignments.

I published features on “foodie” couples and restaurants’ use of social media in the Courant, making invaluable contacts along the way – media professionals and fellow Connecticut gourmands that I still speak to regularly. This list of excellent people only grew when I did another feature on local food bloggers. I now have even more friends that I can text or email to share news of an upcoming event, a must-try restaurant dish or a successful recipe. It’s a great feeling.

Most importantly, my independent attempt at food writing led to the two steady professional gigs I enjoy most today: the A La Carte blog for the Courant / CTNow.com and my biweekly contributions to the A La Carte restaurant column in the Courant’s Flavor section. Through these avenues, I’ve met some of the state’s most passionate and gifted chefs and restaurateurs (and eaten some knock-your-socks-off meals along the way.) I’ve also had the opportunity to attend culinary events like the Taste of the Nation in Hartford and the upcoming Foxwoods Food & Wine Festival. Oh, and do you remember when I interviewed Anthony Bourdain?

I’ve had a hell of a year and I can’t wait to see what comes next. There are so many people to thank for their support – my phenomenal husband Rob (we were only one month into marriage when this all began,) my parents and family; my great friends, my former Courant buddies who’ve stayed in regular touch and advocated for me for assignments; my generous editors in the Features department; my fellow bloggers for their inspiration, guidance and innovation and so many more.

Happy Birthday, Fun With Carbs. I think you deserve a Funfetti cake.

(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

8 thoughts on “Happy First Birthday, Fun With Carbs

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Happy First Birthday, Fun With Carbs ยป Fun With Carbs -- Topsy.com

  2. Sarah

    Congratulations, Leeanne! I’ve enjoyed reading FWC over the last year and can’t wait to read more…and I’m hoping to check out some of your recommendations when I visit my Dad in CT. Here’s to many more successful years (and LOTS of funfetti)!

  3. Kat

    Sto lat, sto lat, niech zyje zyje nam.
    Sto lat, sto lat, niech zyje zyje nam.
    Jeszcze raz, jeszcze raz, niech zyje, zyje nam.
    Niech zyje nam!

    (Good luck and good cheer in polish…may FWC continue for 100 more years!)

    1. Kat

      Polishfest will be held shortly after the new year begins… I don’t want to ask Mama Wasiuk to cook any more then she has to over the holiday season. :)

  4. amy

    Happy Birthday Fun With Carbs! As a fellow food-centric writer, your path is an inspiration and without this blog I probably would have never met you. So in addition to the birthday wishes, I owe a big thank you to FWC for introducing me to your carb-loving and wine-swilling author!


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