TeachingTraveling.com: Today we welcome Marc d’Entremont, a man with a remarkable career trajectory which includes teaching, theater arts, culinary arts, lots of travel, and freelance writing.
Read and be inspired by where YOU can take your career and life!
Take it away, Marc!
I was born with “wanderlust” according to the Minneapolis Multi Phasic Personality Inventory, a psych test I took in my 20’s. I was quite proud that the test highlighted what I already knew, considering I’d spent many childhood summers at my grandparents’ home in Florida, our family summer home in Nova Scotia, a year on my own studying in Ireland, and that I’d just taken the test while I was teaching in Puerto Rico where I was to live for 9 years. I already knew too many people who had never ventured from the green suburbs of Philadelphia into the “wilds” of that city. Whether “wanderlust” is genetic or a product of environment – my Dad was from Nova Scotia and my Mom lived in China until she was 13 (her parents were medical missionaries there for over 35-years – do I have stories…) – is of no importance. “Wanderlust” is an apt moniker for me.
From a very early age I had a passion for history, geography, maps, theater and cooking. I wanted to know the world, how it looked, what people did, why they ate that. I simply knew I wanted to share those interests and followed it with a university education in history, theater, anthropology and teaching. Eight years of teaching history/anthropology and theater – five in Puerto Rico (because I wanted to live in the Caribbean) – led me to another epiphany. I had been seriously cooking since I was 11- years old, and I wanted to become a chef… at 29 years old with a 2-year old son. It took me about a day to say to myself, “I’m a teacher. If I can teach hundreds of kids, I can teach myself.”
Over the next thirty years I ran my own catering business, was GM of a resort hotel, Executive Chef/GM for a multinational corporation, taught creative writing to learning disabled children, acted and directed in dozens of plays and landed the one job that tied all these skills together – creating, and running for 17-years, a Culinary Arts program for a large vocational high school outside Philadelphia which included a restaurant, bakery and catering business.
Travel was a no-brainer. I crisscrossed the USA, Canada and Europe. For my culinary students they had to know where the food came from, what the people were like, how a national dish came into being, and they had to taste everything no matter how “weird.”
Yet four years ago I was confronted with another “If I’m a teacher…” My wife and I traveled to Argentina, our first trip below the equator. After three weeks I was in love, not with another woman, but with the country. I had always written a lot for my students throughout the years, due to what I perceived as mediocre curriculum materials, and most were articles based on my travel/food/cultural experiences. I returned to teaching overwhelmed with the rich diversity of this vast unknown – to North Americans – land of Argentina, the 8th largest nation on Earth. That first trip introduced me to the Italian/French/Spanish city of Buenos Aires, to Cordoba, the soul of colonial Argentina and the stunning landscape and indigenous cuisine of the Andean Northwest. It was all I could do not talk about the country and introduce my students to this rich heritage every day.
Four months later, I realized I not only wanted to talk about it every day, but, blame it on wanderlust, I had to make another career change so that I could write about it every day and teach a North American audience that there was a virtually undiscovered land brimming with magnificent natural and made-made sites, tastes, European culture and 6,000 year-old indigenous towns. Fortunately, early retirement with a pension was an option. Two months after retirement, with the blessing of my wife, I was at the “end of the Earth” – Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina – 600 miles north of Antarctica. My agenda was to wander by bus north for five months, stay in any one destination for at least 4 to 5 days and cover as much of the nation as possible all the while interviewing people, exploring restaurants, hiking, cooking the local foods while staying in youth hostels (the best decision of the trip) and creating my first web site (www.travel-with-pen-and-palate-argentina.com).
Little did I know what a life-altering trip this would become. Not only did I realize, even with my “prestigious” education, that I was ignorant of southern South America (Uruguay and Chile as well) but that it included large populations from France, England, Wales, Eastern Europe and that Italy shared the same percentage of immigrants as Spain. Multi-lingualism, multi-culturalism, organic farming, grass-fed beef, an abundance of friendly and helpful people everywhere and a rich artistic and cultural life were evident at every location… and did I mention jaw-dropping natural scenery? Yet it was being a chef that caught this food-loving people’s eye. In Ushuaia while staying at the beautiful Posada del Fin del Mundo, I was asked, and readily accepted, an invitation to prepare a buffet on Good Friday – a major holiday in Hispanic cultures — for all the guests at the inn. Of course I had the help of the staff and basked in the praise of visitors from France, Brazil, Germany, New Zealand, and Argentina (I was the only North American). Could a teacher ask for anything more?
I financed that trip the way I always did: out-of-pocket. Travel, like buying groceries, paying mortgage or tuition for my three boys was always a part of my budget. It didn’t hurt that the cost of living in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay is less than half that of North America.
During that trip I knew I had found my new career as a full-time, freelance travel and food writer. My first readers were the many students I had kept in contact over the years but that soon spread as I completed my Argentine web site.
Yet that was only the start of what I knew had to be a new career as I launched www.travelpenandpalate.wordpress.com, my blog to “explore the world and my own backyard.” I believe every writer is a teacher and the ethics are the same – state opinions based on well researched and reasoned knowledge.
Continued membership in the American Culinary Federation and acceptance into the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association, travels in Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska, USA, Canada, Southeast Asia, a recent press trip in Missouri and mining the rich resources of southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey all provide fascinating resources to both enrich my knowledge and allow me to educate my readers.
Like any profession, establishing a career as a travel writer requires “paying tuition” by financing your own first adventures, but slowly the contacts with editors and public relations professionals result in payments for articles and reimbursements for expenses. I’m now on the staff of www.suite101.com as a freelance travel writer.
Once a teacher always a teacher and every teacher has the ability to teach themselves. If that teacher has wanderlust and a desire to write then they are blessed with a life-long vocation that will only enrich a widening circle of students.
Thanks so much, Marc! Readers, what questions or comments do you have for our wanderlust-filled teacher-traveler?