For the last few months, OUTvoices Nashville’s print edition has featured a new column—our first regular cooking column, “Joe Eats World.” This column is an extension of Morales’ work as a food blogger and chef and part of a larger project in what will soon become OUTvoices TV. Morales recently filmed the pilot episode of a “Joe Eats World” web-based television show.
Morales decided to go to culinary school around 2014, in what he said his husband might call a “midlife crisis”—though he protests that that’s not quite right. “I just felt the need to do something different,” he said. “I like to write, and I like to cook … so when I started talking about going to culinary school, to begin with, I didn’t have a desire to be a restaurant chef.”
Joe Eats World
This was also the real genesis of his food blog. He intended to learn about food, how to cook, and document his journey in his blog. As for his food career, he said, “I decided I’d figure that out along the way!”
He admitted that felt kind of silly. “At my age and having that naivety?”
Once he got started, however, things didn’t follow that plan, either for his blog or his career. “It was going to be more of a diary… I guess that's how it always starts: you always have these good intentions. I started a blog because I was going to document my culinary education … start to finish and then about the restaurant industry and whatever else. Going into culinary school full time, doing side work … it just kind of sat there!”
As far as his attitude toward restaurant work went, that also transformed during culinary school. “I was like, ‘Alright, I absolutely want to get into the restaurant.’ And once I went into a restaurant, it was amazing. Some of the best times I had in the kitchen were in the restaurant!”
Chef Joe Morales
Out of culinary school, Morales became a sous chef for a Michelin-recommended restaurant, where he worked until they closed in 2019 and relocated to Cleveland. The closure of the restaurant spurred him to rededicate himself to food blogging and teaching.
“I started to teach cooking classes at a local kitchen here in Chicago,” he explained. “There's an LGBTQ owned business that is down the street from us, so I was doing a lot of cooking classes and stuff there for them until the pandemic hit, and all of that stuff got shut down.”
Morales has continued to develop the “Joe Eats World” blog—which took the shape of a full food blog, though primarily focused on recipes and cooking tips—during the pandemic. When it comes to recipes, Morales took a different tack than many contemporary food blogs. Rather than focus primarily on the backstory and history of the dish, with personal asides, his blog entries focus their detail on the execution of the technique and conclude with the formal recipe.
In addition to detailing his perfected recipes, Morales also gives readers a window into the development process professional chefs go through as they experiment with dishes in a section he calls the “Test Kitchen.”
“Basically, the Test Kitchen details when I get these ideas of cooking something or trying something, how I executed it, and then I will tell you whether they fail or not. So far … there's been some failures. You know sometimes something sounds good but in the execution not so much! I did a twist on this chicken and Italian sausage dish that was a little sweeter than the traditional preparation. It sounded great. And then I made it, and I was like, ‘This tastes like s**t.’ Sometimes you have to try it to find out!”
Why document the failures? “I struggled with that because everything that people put on their websites—the recipes, or whatever else—they're going for the hero shot and the perfect picture! Nobody likes to talk about their failures, so in my Test Kitchen I document both successes and failures. Like—I don't think I wrote about it yet but—I've done sourdough bread, and I don't know what it is with me and sourdough bread. But my first attempt at sourdough is always a failure. One time I woke up two days later, and the starter was just pitch black. And I had to toss it out. But you know people can learn from our mistakes, so I write about it, focusing on ‘do this, but don't do that’.”
Joe Eats World ... Television?
When asked how the “Joe Eats World” television show idea was born, Morales explained that it kind of came together with the birth of the OUTvoices and Aequalitas Media brands on the one hand and his return to the blog on the other.
“I was going to do videos for YouTube that would supplement the ‘Joe Eats World’ blog—it was basically going to be me filming myself doing recipes and stuff like that. Then, it kind of morphed as people would say, ‘Oh, you should do a cooking show. And maybe you should have drag queens or something like that—you know, some sort gay themed show’.”
Beyond the direct appeal to the LGBTQ+ community, Morales thinks this kind of show brings the added value of both showing that our community’s interests are broader than stereotypes and bringing visibility to LGBTQ+ people in the industry.
“I think that the last year-and-a-half has kind of taught us that there's a lot of things that are unspoken unseen. And I think that having an LGBTQ cooking show could help highlight LGBTQ+ diversity in a positive way. We're more than we're more than what they see on comedy and dramas, or at Pride events.”
“Cooking,” he added, “also has broad appeal. There's enough negative crap going on in the world. And there are a lot of LGBTQ+ people in the industry that aren't getting a lot of visibility. A lot of gay or lesbian or transgender chefs—people within the LGBTQ+ spectrum—aren’t highlighted. They're usually just kind of in the background and doing their thing; they're just trying to make a living, enjoy what they're doing, and create great food. A show like this would bring them front and center.”
A lot of planning remains to be done to bring “Joe Eats World” to little screens around the globe, but Morales was on set last month to shoot a pilot, and planning for the series is proceeding, as OUTvoices continues to develop digital content for its OUTvoices TV and OUTvoices Radio arms.
But you don’t have to wait for video to follow what Chef Joe Morales is up to in the kitchen. Check out “Joe Eats World” each month in OUTvoices Nashville, and read his blog posts at joeeatsworld.com.