Meet wine and food writer Joseph Hernandez
Interview with NYC-based reporter Joseph Hernandez

Meet Joseph Hernandez (heytherejoeybear.com), wine and food writer inspiring people to get the best out of their foodie trips around the world.

Joseph is an award-winning wine and food writer, currently the research director at Bon Appétit. Joseph previously served as the deputy editor of food and dining at the Chicago Tribune, and senior editor at Thrillist, SevenFifty Daily, and Wine Enthusiast. He is a member of Chicago and New York City Travel Massive.

Read more about his inspiration to be part of the tourism industry.

How did you get into the food, wine and travel space?

When I graduated journalism school, my first job was blogging, event planning, and assisting with social media for the earliest iterations of TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange) – a conference for travel bloggers and brands.

My part-time job, in addition to that work, was blogging for a wine shop in Chicago and assisting with those classes. From there, I worked as a cookbook assistant, managed a wine shop, earned my wine certifications and eventually, started working for wine and food publications.

How do you research stories and what are you working on now?

Researching is tough at the moment, due to the pandemic. I usually learn about interesting stories the old fashioned way: talking to people and learning about what makes them tick. These days, I mostly pay attention to what’s being talked about online and using that to inspire deeper dives in stories I would be interested in covering.

Recently, I learned about an immigrant Korean woman in the Midwest who became one of the most important sources for pears for spirits and beer companies in Chicago, and I just want to learn all about her story.

How does diversity play a role in your work and how can the industry be more inclusive?

This is a really tough question because I don’t believe in diversity all by itself. I believe in equity and inclusion, and I mean that at the highest levels. Who gets to tell stories and who are we telling our stories for? How are those stories depicted? Through a lens where the default assumption is whiteness, or through a lens that’s curious and educational?

When I’m editing, I always consider the potential audience for a story, and it’s not white readers or viewers: Frankly, more Black and brown people want to see themselves and their cultures represented fairly and honestly in food and travel media, but publishers and brands are leaving a lot of money on the table because they are only creating for white viewers. I know that sounds like I’m using capitalism to make a case for fairness and equality, but in my experience, that’s the language of the gatekeepers, and we, unfortunately, have to meet them where they’re at.

I hope eventually we can move past having to make a business argument, but in the meantime, I will proudly bang my pot to amplify and elevate diverse voices until we are not only seen and heard but in the boardrooms making these decisions ourselves.

What is one of your favorite destinations for dining and why?

These days, my kitchen is the center of my food life. That said, when restaurants feel truly safe, I can’t wait to reacquaint myself with my neighborhood of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

I miss my local spots — I’m surrounded by incredible Caribbean food, Black-owned restaurants, and lots of innovative New American places. I really miss eating locally.

Who are some travel writers you enjoy following or recommend?

I think the best travel writers don’t actually write about the traveling itself. My faves are writers who write intimately about time, place, the context of their experience, without centering their “look, I was there” narrative.

I love love love the work of Nneka Okona (afrosypaella.com), who is such a thoughtful writer really does her research, to boot. I also am a big fan of Benjamin Kemper (www.benjamin-kemper.com), an American writer based in Madrid who really devoted himself to the nuance and stories of Georgia.

His deep respect for the locals and telling their stories — he moves out his own way — comes through clearly, whether he’s writing about the cuisine or the destinations.

Tweet Share Email
1 year ago
Comments
Would you recommend this Article?
1 Review 5/5
Be the first to comment!
Sign in to comment.