I first met Corey at the sausage making class at Portland Homestead Supply. He was the instructor but seemed more like a host of a party. (If you get a chance, you really should take his class. It’s like an intimate dinner party where you get to help make the food.)
The thing about Corey is he is one of those clever and charming people that you feel like you’ve known forever. He’s a great conversationalist and super intelligent.
Jamie: Please tell us a little about yourself.
Corey: You can never step in the same stream twice.
Jamie: I’ve never had anyone answer that first question so succinctly. I am curious to know the journey of an anthropology professor into a software design and development founder. I picture one as a nutty professor of sorts, surrounded by cobwebs, dust, and musty books. Perhaps with an old desktop that is terribly out-of-date. While the other person has a pristine Apple laptop, wears a hoodie, and goes to “meetings” at coffee houses. How did that transition happen? (And don’t destroy my illusions of what an anthropology professor is like if you can.)
Corey: Actually, being an anthropology professor prepared me well for a life of software design. Anthropology’s focus on culture and ethnographic field methods have been somewhat co-opted by the user experience industry. Also, delivering over 4,500 hours of lectures prepares one for speaking at conferences – something I do quite often. This is my main form of marketing. Lastly, my talks, blog posts, and approach to digital strategy and design all derive from historical and anthropological research about things like stone tools, cave art, and medieval scrolls. So – I’m still a nutty professor, writing pedantic and oblique blog posts, surrounded by musty books. I do, however, have a shiny Macbook Air and meet with clients at Heart Coffee Roasters. No cobwebs, however. And hoodies are for hipsters and children.
Jamie: You told us a lovely story about “becoming a foodie” in the Sausage Making class I took at Portland Homestead Supply. Would you mind sharing that story again here?
Corey: I had been a line cook on and off for a few years. However, I did not yet understand the magical aspect of food. It was a meal at Wildwood on NW 21st – it had just opened and there was a real buzz about the place.
I remember the dish being set in front of me: bacon wrapped trout on a bed of lentils. Simple enough. But it was symphonic – an astonishment. The woodsmoke of the bacon, the texture of trout. And the lentils were all nose – so complex and perfect that I can STILL taste them. I put my fork down after a few bites, took a deep breath, and wiped away tears. That was when I realized I knew nothing about food.
I’ve been trying to learn a little something of that magic ever since.
Jamie: So if you had a perfect food day in Portland, what would that look like?
Corey: The perfect food day – love the concept. It would start at home with a hot mug of black Heart coffee made in a french press. I would fry eggs in walnut oil and an eventual splash of moscatel vinegar (cooked off), salt, pepper. This is eaten with good toast and enjoyed with the wife and children. Lunch at Olympic Provisions – probably one of Joe’s genius soups (beet!), a green salad, and a glass of white. Snack of nuts and chocolate at 3:00. Dinner with the fam at Navarre. Stinky wine, greens, rabbit, mussels, white beans. Right before bed, I smother a banana with peanut butter and eat this over the sink, breathing out of my nose.
Jamie: Haha! That last part! Would you like to share some internet links?
Big thanks to Corey for participating in my series! I really appreciate him answering my questions. If you think of more, ask them in the comments, I’d be happy to pass them along.