Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Charis Boissevain-Dawes has always had a deep-rooted respect of and appreciation towards the culinary arts. Having had an upbringing in a city with a plethora of down-to-earth, distinct foods from the traditional Philly cheesesteak sandwich to the savoury pretzels, Charis quickly developed a healthy appetite for food in and of itself as an enriching experience.

Charis’ early jobs included a dishwashing position at a local Philadelphia French Bistro restaurant called Parc, which further expanded her palate and reinforced his passion for all thing’s food. She enjoyed spending some time in San Marcos, Texas during these earlier periods. From there, she decided to enroll at the JNA Institute of Culinary Arts, in the Diploma in Culinary Arts program; here, however, she realized that she was at a crossroads: Her passion for food was in more of an experiential and less of a professional business sense, and as such she decided to strike out on her own as a food blogger.

In the process of reviewing food abroad, Charis Boissevain-Dawes came to another realization: She thoroughly enjoyed the experience of travelling to new places just as much as the experience of trying new foods. As such, she decided to become an avid food and travel blogger, reviewing worldwide locales and their local cuisines.

What do you love most about the industry you are in?

What I love most about the food industry is seeing the level of passion involved in the creation of a memorable meal. In addition, I also love seeing the different forms that passion can take in the different places I travel to.

What keeps you motivated?

One of the biggest motivations for me is knowing that each day, there will always be an exciting new dish for me to try, with the promise of many more new ones to come.

How do you motivate others?

As a patron at dozens of eating establishments, I try my best to give back whenever I can. When I can give a genuine sense of appreciation for a delicious meal, whether it’s through compliments or an above-average tip, I like to think that it’s the best motivation and encouragement for all of the aspiring chefs out there, as well as the dedicated servers who work alongside them.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I have always felt a lot of inspiration from the local Philly cuisine I grew up on. The Italian-inspired dishes have a very warm and welcoming sense to them and will make you feel right at home after the first bite. This feeling is what inspired me to seek out new food experiences, to get that sense of what foods give people that same sense of loving where they live all around the world.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

Given the more casual nature of my job, It can be easy to get caught up in a mentality where you don’t feel that you’re *really* working at all, but the reality is that every time I travel somewhere to review for my blog, it is indeed my work. With this in mind, the most important thing to keep in mind is the concept of pacing yourself. In the same way that it’s important to savor good food, you also have to take your time when you’re writing reviews while travelling abroad, in order to ensure that they are as high quality and meaningful as possible.

What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?

For me personally, the hardest thing to overcome was the idea that I had dropped out of college with my diploma very much incomplete. What I’ve learned to accept over time is that being on the other end of the food experience, working in the kitchen, is simply not what I wanted to do for a career, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I have nothing but respect for the individuals who do want to pursue a career as a chef, but I’ve also learned to give self-respect to myself for wanting to pursue a different path.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

At this point in time, I would consider my biggest accomplishment the moment when I committed to heading out the door of my own city towards places unknown. I had never travelled abroad before, so the experience was definitely intimidating; that being said, once I was on my way I had absolutely no regrets. I had overcome my fears and made it through to the wonderful experiences on the other side.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?

One piece of advice that I cannot stress enough towards anyone willing to listen is simply this: Be honest with yourself. Wherever you are at in your life, always take the time to stop what you’re doing and assess whether or not what you’re doing, whether it’s your job, your school, your relationships, or another factor, is making you truly happy and self-fulfilled. Never be afraid to course-correct when things aren’t giving you that sense of satisfaction anymore.

What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?

Over the years, the biggest life lesson I have learned is that every single person is born with a passion of some sort. Whatever it is, it’s not just that you should pursue it; it’s almost a responsibility, in a way. When you’re doing what you love, you’re not just building yourself up: You have a real opportunity to build up those around you, so whatever you need to do to pursue your passions, don’t hesitate to do so!

Outside of work, what defines you as a person?

Even though I consider my work deeply connected to who I am as a person, what I feel is the underlying factor is the fact that I am a very experience-oriented individual. From the experience of trying a type of food that I’ve never eaten before to travelling to a new place that’s totally unfamiliar to me, and everything in-between, I love taking it all in and getting lost in it.