Name: Corlin Merddings
How often do you bathe or shower?
Every day, unless I’m camping.
If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?
Mmmmm. Jellyfish or a cuttlefish. Jellyfish because they generally roll in larger numbers. People think that they are very simple. Some of them are kinda dangerous. I would also go with a cuttlefish, I like that both of them have fish in the name… cuttlefish because they’re kinda alien and they’re shape-shifters.
What are you passionate about?
I’m very passionate about food. Food systems. Very interested in the interplay between food culture and politics. I have a lot of smaller interests, but food and food systems—culinary things, which is a more defining interest. With food systems, how people come together to produce something that everybody needs. How the culinary culture of a place dictates what food comes in. The food that comes in, is affected by what’s grown and is affected by those who cook, what they can do with it. Then there’s the people who go to the grocery store, people who make dinner. How that all interplays with the environment, the economy, all of that is super fascinating to me. I grew up in Delaware, and that’s where Perdue Chicken is based. I don’t think that I ate more chicken as a result of being from Delaware, but Hoagies for sure. Honestly the water affects food too. Public water.
When did you start being interested in culinary arts?
I was 22 and had just quit my job in politics and needed a job, ASAP. Restaurants are pretty easy field to show up and get a job in. My mom was always an avid cook, but yknow single mom, didn’t have tons of time to say “come learn how to do this”. It was more like, “dinner will be ready very soon” kind of thing. Make sure your hands are washed. I learned a lot by just watching.
What do you feel accomplished with?
Um, I really like what I’ve learned about food. I didn’t really expect to have a “non-professional” job. I really expected to go into lobbying or diplomacy in some way. Honestly, I feel really good about the relationships that I’ve made through the food and beverage industry. It certainly has a dark side, but I’ve really… I love the connections that I’ve made. It’s probably the most tangible thing that I’ve accomplished. There are little things, like, I take care of a cat with health issues. I’ve written some really cool haikus. But yeah, mostly the connections I’ve made with people, it’s sort of what life is about. How you share it with other people.
What is the “dark side” of the industry?
The dark side of the service industry is, a lot of it is… kind of a stereotype. That we’re a bunch of drugged up alcoholics. Anthony Bourdain was not far off… There is certainly a lot of that. A lot of it has to do with the fact that a lot of people who stay with it are passionate about it. The intensity it takes to be good at it, often times has a flip side of people trying to calm themselves down or have a release from the tension of being hyper-focused. It’s intense to deliver good experiences and good food to people. Yeah, the dark side, We’re fucking crazy ::laughs::.
What is something that you struggle with?
Ummm. Realizing that I actually enjoy spending time by myself. I don’t do it very often and, at times I’ve questioned if I’m incapable of being alone, because I don’t prefer it. But every time I do it, I’m like, “this is fucking great!” Like, it does get lonely if you do it all of the time. But, remembering that I don’t have to have fun and be spending time with people all of the time. I should just kinda retreat and do my own thing occasionally.
What are your thoughts on relationships? Platonic, familial, sexual, and otherwise.
Uhh, I have opinions on all of them. Family is really interesting because, you don’t choose them. Personally, I have a decent relationship with most of my family. I don’t have awkward Thanksgivings, I don’t live very close. I love my family but I also love the distance that I have between myself and them. I think that allows us to appreciate one another more. With friends, that’s the family that you choose and I love my friends. If you were to ask me who I admire most, top one or top two is my best friend, somebody I really admire. I feel like those relationships are really important to maintain and nurture. Sexual relationships, I feel like, don’t necessarily need to be friendships, but a lot of my sexual relationships are friendships. I’m poly and most of that is recognizing that one person can’t always be everything to you or you to them. And you need to make space in your life for all the people who are going to add to your life and all the people who are going to add to the life of somebody important to you. As far as relationships, they’re really complicated. But, I think despite having a really rough six months, as far as relationships go, I’m over closing myself off to them or being afraid to communicate exactly what I want. Even though, very recently I’ve felt gutted and nostalgic and angry, I’ve turbed a corner; things didn’t really go the way I imagined they would… but, all those relationships are important in life. Maybe to varying degrees to different people, but, it’s the stuff. The crux of life.
What is one of your main motivations that you want out of life?
I want to enjoy the things that I do, I want to work with my hands and I want to pass on my ideas. So, to expand… I’ve had jobs and have been a variety of different things. Before I was a cook, before I was a bartender, before all of this… I didn’t love what I did, I didn’t love who I was while doing it, and that’s ok—but that’s something I’m working towards. I want to work with my hands because that helps me be less stressed. I can point to something tangible at the end of the day. Even if it’s something insignificant like a plate of food or a drink, it’s something that connects to people which is meaningful. So, I don’t necessarily want to be a biological parent, but if that were in the cards for me, being a parent. Ideas are not genetic and you can pass those on regardless. Even if I don’t become a parent in some way, I want to influence the people I know and love in some way. I want my perspective to hopefully mean something to somebody.