For most of us, midterm week consisted of caffeine-infused late nights and various bouts of stress-eating. From the family-sized bags of Cheetos Puffs to multiple packs of instant ramen, it’s safe to say this was not the healthiest week for hardworking NYU students.
For me, I was finally able to sit down and enjoy a nice, real Italian dinner on the night of my last midterm. That same day, I also had the chance to speak with junior Elana Rubin about her love of food and her tasteful experiences through working as the National Editorial Intern of Spoon University and running her own video blog, “FoodinWithRubin”.
Name: Elana Rubin
Hometown: “I’m originally from Florida. I lived there for fifteen years and then I moved to Philadelphia and lived there for two years, but I finished high school back in Florida.”
Major: Journalism and Art History
HC NYU: When did your love of food begin?
ER: When I was one year old, my mom made me a flourless chocolate cake for my first birthday. Apparently–there are pictures–after they sang me happy birthday, I just plopped my face into the cake and my mom had to clean chocolate out of my nose, my ears, everywhere. So, I guess it started with chocolate and it hasn’t ended. Chocolate became my first love.
HC NYU: When did you begin to consider yourself a food critic?
ER: I’ve always loved writing and I’ve always been very artistic. I took studio art and writing classes and I’ve always loved food as well. In the past year or two years, I’ve merged those two loves. I love reading The Infatuation, obviously Spoon University, and Frank Bruni, who is one of my favorite non-fiction writers; he writes food reviews for the New York Times. I also started having a lot of fun with my video blog called “FoodinWithRubin” where I basically go into restaurants or food places and video blog the experience. That has been interesting for me because although people can read reviews, having the actual ambiance and atmosphere–what the restaurant feels like and looks like–is something people also want to see.
HC NYU: Was there a particular event that inspired you to start writing about food?
ER: Well, last year, I took a Gallatin [School of Individualized Study] non-fiction writing class. I went to Milan for one weekend to visit my boyfriend who was studying abroad in Florence. We met in Milan and we went to this restaurant that was really delicious so I decided I wanted to write about it. It was actually one of my assignments for the Gallatin class, so I submitted a food review which was also supposed to be in the style of a New York Times food review. I had a lot of fun with it and I sent it to my parents. My whole family wanted to read it and they told me that I should keep writing about food so I decided that I would. I started being more critical about the restaurants I was going to, seeing what I liked and didn’t like and then writing about it.
HC NYU: How often do you cook and make your own food?
ER: Right now, I live in a sorority house with six other girls so our kitchen is not always spotless. It’s a little difficult to have a nice, clean cooking area for myself, but I do make breakfast pretty often. When I’m home in Philadelphia, I do like cooking a lot. I’m hopefully going to live in an apartment next year where I will be able to cook more often.
HC NYU: You recently took an internship position at Spoon University. Tell us a little about that.
ER: I was looking for an internship for the semester to see what I could do with food writing. I wanted to see if I actually liked food writing through working where they have a lot of that type of work. So, I applied to Spoon University and heard back from CEO Mackenzie [Barth], who was interested. That’s how it started. For Spoon, I write food news, compile roundups and compile lists. I also provide lists for brand partners like Buzzfeed, USA Today and Huffington Post so our articles are also featured there; that’s been very fun. Right now, Spoon University is a part of this program called “Techstars”, a program for start-ups where Spoon works with about ten or eleven other companies in learning how to approach investors and really expand their audience. Being a part of the core team–I work with the CEO on a daily basis–and being a part of a small group of people who are all really nice and really passionate about what they do is exciting to have as a working environment. It’s very inspiring to have such ambitious people around me.
HC NYU: What are your plans for the future in terms of writing about food?
ER: I hope to work with other places as well and experience different kind of styles of writing and how to approach food. I’m taking a journalism class this summer called “Eat New York”, so hopefully that will hone my food writing ability some more; I’m really excited about that. Also, just continue with my vlog and continue to write and read about food critics and see what they do successfully and not. Also, just eat.