Take Note: Giselle on NY Culture, Failure & Tony's Pizza in Brooklyn
Ever come across people on social media and wonder how you can get yourself across the country just to hit up happy hour to LOL over the funniest nothings, rap battle over burgers and dig deep about dreams in motion with said people? Giselle is one of my said people. We connected over a year ago on Instagram and it was her love of the hustle that made me click that follow button. As part of her audience, I saw all the hats of being a woman being worn and worn well - a no-nonsense creative entrepreneur, carefree mom and heart-eyed emoji wife to her husband. Recovering from a power outage caused by the blizzard of the season, Giselle sits with us to share some wisdom on New York culture, failure and Tony's Pizza in Brooklyn.
What are the best and worst parts of being a food writer?
I have asked myself this question time and time again but after soul-searching for an answer, I still can’t define the worst parts of being a food writer. Allowing myself to enjoy eating without losing my mind over diets and calorie counts is the greatest thing, personally. While I never label myself as a ‘foodie’ - I mean, who I am to call myself an expert on eating? - the term is something that I embody. I have always had a passion for eating new foods and taking my taste buds on an adventure, especially when traveling. Immersing myself in the food of the locals is the greatest way to fully embrace a culture and I truly believe that food’s purpose is to bridge communities together.
You live in Worcester, MA but tap into your inner New York. What does that mean?
First and foremost, I am a New Yorker. I was born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens and the city has shaped who I am today.While that must be the most cliche answer given by every displaced New Yorker, it holds true. Every city I visit, I try to bring the cultural aspects of New York with me. I see the models that work and make New York vibrant and attempt to recreate them, on a smaller scale, in Worcester. I currently write for several publications based in Worcester and I run my non-profit, The Learning Hub, from Worcester and so it has become my second home. But like Dorothy once said, “There is no place like home.”
What does your average daily routine look like?
An average day for me consists of a little bit of everything! I homeschool my two daughters, Brooklyn and Evian, from 8 am to 1 pm while taking a conference call somewhere in between. By lunchtime, I am ready to indulge in a new sandwich from one of my favorite shops, Figs & Pigs, or take the girls out for a little mid-day snack at Deadhorse Hill. Of course, throughout lunch, I am taking photos of everyone’s food for Instagram and social media. Even my daughters ask to take photos of their food - I have created little foodie monsters!
But my days really start after lunch. They are crammed with meetings at new libraries to expand The Learning Hub, interviewing chefs and reviewing food, writing articles, taking on more meetings and managing my husband’s photography schedule. By the time dinner rolls around, I am sending off my last email of the day, eating dinner with the family and then heading out to cover local events. My days and nights mesh together and I can barely tell Monday apart from Friday.
You make it look easy, what don’t people see on your IG posts or tweets?
I recently read an article titled, The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship, and I never read more truer words. People tell me I “make it look easy” all the time but what they don’t see is the constant struggle to balance work and life, the financial instability taken on when starting a new business (especially, a non-profit), the obsession that takes over your work and the constant struggle to maintain work as an extension of myself and not who I fully am. I love social media and the transparency it gives people. I think it is great to peer into the windows of social media and see what entrepreneurs are doing on a day-to-day or what foodies are eating for dinner, but I remind myself that there is always more than the picture suggests.
What has being a mom of girls taught you?
Being a mom of two curious, little girls has taught me to be fearless. Watching them explore new ideas and take on challenges without doubting themselves has deeply resonated with me. I want my daughters to be a better version of who I am and every day, I attempt new challenges, to show them failure is the only path to success and bravery is needed to overcome any obstacle.
What advice would you give a younger you?
If I had the opportunity to speak to my younger self, I would advise her to learn to fail. Growing up, failing was my biggest fear. Whether it was disappointing my family or getting a subpar grade on a test, I dreaded the word ‘failure.’ Starting at a young age, I worked hard to reach my goals but I also made my goals easily obtainable. I didn’t challenge myself as much as I could have and I didn’t pursue some of my earlier business ideas because of overwhelming fear of not being successful. Now, I’ve grown to appreciate failing and have learned to use it to my advantage.
What are the most important writing rules you live by?
If you asked my editors this question, they would say the most important writing rule I don’t live by is adhering to deadlines. For me, the most important rule of writing is writing without rules. It is the ability to sit down and pour my thoughts onto a page when I feel inspired and not only when I have an upcoming deadline. Writing is creating and when we put rules on the creative mind, we limit its potential. Again, probably not the same mindset as my editors lol.
What is your favorite dish and what does that say about you?
Choosing one dish as my favorite is like choosing which child I love more! However, I appreciate a great burrito, a hearty Sicilian slice from Tony’s Pizza on Graham Ave in Brooklyn and grandma’s homemade rice and beans.
Any parting words?
In the words of one of the greatest writers, Ralph Emerson,
Thanks Giselle for letting us take a peek into your world today - your energy is infectious! I look forward to our worlds colliding over some burritos and beer. Until then, I'll follow your trail. Cheers!
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