At the Bar: Why Umami

Kayaking at the Channel Islands

On a recent trip to Santa Barbara, I was coming back from kayaking around the Channel Islands thinking about Umami, why I was trying to start this up, and what I want it to be about.  Seldom in life are we given moments of clarity and I’m not going to claim one here, but after months of trying to figure out how to start a storytelling business focused on food, I had an aha moment.

Over the past few years, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what I’m passionate about.  The constant, the times I feel most alive, are around creative people who are excited about what they’re cooking and eating.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s me trying to get my ribs to have that perfect combination of smoky flavor and crispy texture or whether I’m talking to a friend about this perfect little potato dish she had on a trip.  It always comes back to creative people who are enjoying their lives and the world around them.

I love to cook. I love to cook with friends more.  I love to eat good food. I really love to eat good food with interesting people.  Food is the great connector in our world, how we eat, what we eat, who we eat with are the things that define our lives and our cultures.

This is where Umami comes from. It comes from wanting to have those moments, to share the stories about the things that take our lives from the mundane to the extraordinary.  It’s about trying something new, it means being open to learning things we didn’t know, it means expanding our taste.

The reason I’m creating Umami is to have a place to tell the stories about food that matter to our lives.

What Umami will be is a place to tell the stories about food that matter. We’re going to dig deeper than top ten recipes lists to tell stories about why something works, we’re going to help people understand how techniques work, about where ingredients come from, and what they mean to people’s lives.

To tell these stories, Umami will have a team of talented contributors who bring a diverse set of experiences and points of view to the table to tell the story of food.  Our mission is to help people expand their tastes as we expand ours.  So join us, send us your ideas, ask us questions, tell us what you like and what you don’t like.

I don’t know where the journey we’re starting is going to go, which is what I’m most excited about.  All I know is we’re going to try lots of things, some that are going to work and some that aren’t going to work and that you’ll get to hear about them all.

I know we’re going to meet lots of interesting people and try lots of interesting food.  And hopefully what we’re going to do is have some fun, as we help each other understand what sustains us.

I’m also hoping to have more aha moments. Sitting at the front of the boat looking out over the Pacific Ocean my aha moment wasn’t that this was the perfect thing for me to do or that my life had a new meaning, it was that to do this right Umami needs to be a place for passionate people to tell compelling stories.  It means finding a way to create a business that focuses every day on giving great storytellers the space and resources they need to explore their passions.  If we can do this Umami will be the site I want to read every day and hopefully the site you can’t live without.

Mark Hinds is the Founder and Publisher of Umami, his At the Bar columns are his excuse to spend time in great bars “conducting research” and writing about what’s happening with Umami.  

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