Behind the Scenes With Ken Eats Gainesville
If you’ve lived in Gainesville long enough, you’ve begun to notice the state of flux our restaurants constantly live in.
New restaurants and bars seem to pop up every month and, in turn, older joints go out of business just as fast. With this shifting roster of eateries, it can be hard to keep the good separated from the bad. Ken Eats Gainesville aims to educate you on the finer points of eating local. There’s no Burger King or KFC on his website; instead, there is a focus on fare from smaller, more grateful businesses. Ken’s goal from the beginning has been to provide townies with honest food reviews and updated eatery events (further supporting local business). Because of this, his Facebook page has exploded in fanship (over 6,000+) and his website launch brought in over 10,000 hits.
This past weekend I was lucky enough to snag an interview with Ken to talk about everything from food to family.
What brought you to Gainesville? What made you stay for so long?
I moved to Gainesville in 2004 for school, and I stuck around because I fell in love with the place. It’s the perfect blend of big city amenities, small town charm, and the cost of living here is so affordable. It’s a great place to be around a lot of people my age, and it’s one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. right now.
Were there any restaurants or food critiques in particular that triggered your desire to review?
Not so much a particular restaurant as it was just a general displeasure over existing restaurant reviews in the area. I think a lot of people mince their words and were being nice to restaurants just because they’re local. Every time I get asked this question, I always mention that while I support local restaurants, I think it’s important to hold the bad ones accountable. We need to hold restaurants to a standard, or else we’ll never be able to grow. Bad restaurants shouldn’t be able to survive just because they’re local. I believe in the free market. No one was doing this, and I wanted to give it a shot.
You’ve mentioned your mom on the Ken Eats Gainesville’s Facebook page and Ken Eats Gainesville website. Do you feel like she was a huge contributor to your love of food? More so than your dad? Or was it a little bit of both?
Definitely. My mom is a fantastic cook, and she cooked for us every day when I was growing up. I think my dad contributed more towards my love of going out to eat, though; we’d go out to eat every week when I was a kid. My dad is also in the food business (he owns an Asian grocery and food supply company), so I grew up around all sorts of weird edible goodies.
Do you have an overall favorite Gainesville beer?
Favorite beer from Gainesville? The Swamp Head 10-10-10 Imperial IPA. Favorite place to grab a beer in Gainesville? Stubbies & Steins.
If you could run your own restaurant, what kind of place would you want it be?
I’ve actually thought about this a lot and narrowed it down to a Poutine shop, or a Ramen bar. Both are comfort foods in their respective homelands, and I love them both very much.
If you were presented with the opportunity to make food critiquing your day job, would you take it?
Absolutely! Who wouldn’t want to travel around eating good food and seeing the world? I think it’s a dream job for many people.
And finally, is there any type of eatery you wish Gainesville had?
A French restaurant. We need a good French restaurant!
How do you feel about Ken and his reviews? Is there any place in particular you think he’d like (or hate)? Be sure to comment below. We love hearing from all of you!
Featured photo courtesy of: facebook