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ORIGINAL ESSAYS The Adventurer vs. the Scholar by Liz Crain, for Powell's Books Blog

Posted by Liz Crain on 29 Jun 2017

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Recently I spent a good amount of time watching the great PBS food series The Mind of a Chef. The show typically sticks with one chef for several episodes — shadowing them at their restaurant(s) and with their staff, and also traveling with them into the wider world of their inspiring culinary adventures.

I’d watched most of the episodes already, and I rewatched the Gabrielle Hamilton ones (she’s an inspiring chef and author of one of my favorite food memoirs, Blood, Bones and Butter). I’d never watched the eight Ed Lee episodes in season three, though, and after watching episode one I was hooked. Lee is the Korean-American chef-owner of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, born and raised in Brooklyn.


In one of the latter episodes of season three, Lee talks about how much he admires the late Jim Harrison and his gutsy, freewheeling, inspired ways. He adds that we’ve shifted our modern-day focus to favoring the experts and scholars in their fields so much so that we no longer tend to celebrate the lifelong adventurers, the Jim Harrisons of the world — who have a primary pursuit for which they are most known but who also keep their work and adventures wide and varied. He points to all of the growth, learning, and fun that come from this more gutsy way of living — of trying new things, regularly getting out of your comfort zone, and always being as hungry as Jim Harrison most certainly was. 


Tokyo-based Teruo Kurosaki embodies all of this and then some for me. Kurosaki is the mastermind publisher behind True Portland: The Unofficial Guide for Creative People, yet he has so many other pursuits beyond publishing. In the 1980s, he opened Idée, which quickly became Japan’s leading contemporary furniture design business. Many more Idée shops followed in Tokyo and throughout Japan before he sold the company. In 1999, he founded the Tokyo Designers Block — a world-renowned international design event. Since then, he has founded Tokyo’s United Nations University Farmers Market and hosted many food and drink festivals there, published numerous books and publications through his Media Surf, founded Freedom University — a forward-thinking continuing education school, and opened three Midori co-working spaces throughout Tokyo. The list goes on and on. 


To read the entire essay, go to Powell’s Books.

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