Or, How I Became the Endive Guy
Yes, I am the Endive Guy, aka Rodger Helwig. And here’s the story on how I was lucky enough to take on that moniker.
Born at a very young age, I was always a foodie. When young, my Mother only believed that I was really sick was when I had no appetite. I was one child that was rarely late for dinner. No one had to call me.
My father was once in the restaurant business, so in my early 20s I joined that fraternity, managing hotel restaurants up and down the East Coast. After three years of working day and night, six to seven days a week, I decided I needed a real life. So, I went back to school at Boston University, becoming a documentary filmmaker.
Since I didn’t want to be a starving artist, I switched courses once again to follow my first passion — wine and food. Wine was the first stop, where I taught and promoted wine courses and events at the International Wine Center in New York.
From there I went on to market wines from around the globe, meeting many great winemakers and tasting wines back to 1797 (Madeiras, they last forever). But I got bored with wine. I know, how is that possible? And decided to move back to food, marketing produce.
Apricots, pears, cherries, pomegranates, sweet onions — I had fun working on them all. But when I heard about endive I was really intrigued.
Endive was something that wasn’t on my culinary radar. I had never purchased it (and I call myself a foodie?), only enjoying it at cocktail parties and special events. Then I met Jane St. Clair, a woman who has a website dedicated to artisan California food producers. She suggested that I contact Rich Collins, president of California Vegetable Specialties, producers of California Endive, the only endive produced in America.
Well, I did my homework and sent him a pitch email listing my many accomplishments in produce marketing. Subject title: IT’S TIME FOR ENDIVE TO TAKE ROOT.
Two days later, I got a call from Rich saying he was looking for someone like me to educate Americans about endive. Long story short, I got the job via a cab in Shanghai. Shanghai? Yes, the board of directors who had to approve me emailed Rich from a cab in Shanghai and gave him the nod to hire me. So when people ask how I got my job, I say I was “shanghaied.”
Rich Collins, who had been the preacher of the gospel of endive for almost 30 years, anointed me as the new endive preacher. So here I am writing this blog.
Instead of a divinity moniker, I decided that “Endive Guy” would work for me. After all, that’s what my friends now call me.
So, from now on this Endive Guy will try to have fun with this new blog, exploring the world of endive, other food topics, and whatever else amuses me.
I hope you’ll tune in and join the conversation.
P.S. The correct pronunciation really is ON-DEEV.