Featured Friend of Grub: John Howard-Fusco

Our Featured Friends series will be an interview style post where we highlight some of the dope people we’ve met since starting our foodie journey. This weeks Featured Friend is John Howard-Fusco the nightlife correspondent for the Courier-Post and the author of “A Culinary History of Cape May: Salt Oysters, Beach Plums & Cabernet Franc” . Check out our interview with John below!

1. John how ecstatic are you to start your training/initiation into one of the more elite and exclusive fraternities in the tri state area…i’m talking about the Pork Sweat Boys (#PSB) of course?

I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to work my way up to becoming party of the Pork Sweat Boys. I know this invitation isn’t given out to just anyone. And I’ve already started my training – I had one day recently where I had scrapple with breakfast, pork roll on a burger for lunch, and a cupcake topped with bacon. That’s right: BACON ON MY CUPCAKE!

2. So you’re originally from the South Jersey area right and attended Rutgers University? Tell us a little bit about growing up in the SJ area and also about your time at RU.

Just to clear things up: I didn’t attend Rutgers. I did go there a lot, and did some of my best drinking there, but I actually attended NYU. I root for Rutgers because I’m from Jersey and I know lots of people that went there, and NYU stopped playing football back when Eisenhower was president. We do play Division III basketball – Go Violets!

I was born and raised in Willingboro from parents who grew up in South Jersey, so this has always felt like home. I’m very proud of the fact that I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood – an experience I appreciate more and more as I get older and see so much hate out in the world.

3. Our team of bloggers always has great interactions with you on Twitter and that’s how we knew you were definitely a part of the foodie culture, whats a spot most people might not know about in South Jersey but they absolutely should know about because the food is great.

Hammonton. It’s the most under-appreciated town for food in South Jersey. Period.

4. How did you decide to start Eatinginsjerseyblog.com?

My wife Lisa and I both loved food, loved trying new places, and we loved telling anyone and everyone about our experiences. A friend on ours told us that we should start a blog. “Great! What’s a blog?” I figured out what one was, and we started Eating in South Jersey in 2008.

5. You’re blog actually got such a following that you got mentioned by the NY Times, NJ.com and others, now that had to be a thrill. You have any tips for any aspiring bloggers out there that are thinking of joining us in the blog world?

Yes! 1) Don’t expect to make any money from your blog. 2) Use your blog to work on your writing craft and build a portfolio. 3) Don’t expect to make any money from your blog. 4) Try not to use the words ‘yummy’, ‘tasty’, ‘gourmet’ or ‘artisan’ too much. 5) Get to know as many people in the same genre and be a part of that community. Be supportive of others. 6) Did I mention the money thing?

6.We touched on it a little bit in Episode 2 of the Just Grubbin podcast but not as much as we would have liked…not only are you the Courier Post nightlife correspondent, have a weekly segment on Small Bites Radio, one of the founding member of the Big Al fan club, but you’re also a author! Tell us about “A Culinary History of Cape May: Salt Oysters, Beach Plums & Cabernet Franc.” and kind of the process of how you decided to begin this journey.

The book is a telling of Cape May’s history through food and dining. Cape May is America’s Oldest Seaside Resort, and food has always been a part of the story in some way. The journey for me started in the 1990s when we began to spend time in Cape May, taking in the history and eating all over the place. When our blog was at its height, The History Press came to us for food book ideas for South Jersey, and went with the one on Cape May.

7. I’ve heard from multiple authors that the process of writing a book can be completely mentally draining and can take its toll on you. Did you find this to be true? On the flipside of that it must feel awarding as hell when you have it finished and published.

“I hate writing. I love having written.” This quote from Dorothy Parker says it all. The process can take its toll. I had a Flash drive with a bunch of notes go kaplooey on me, and I crumpled into a fetal position for several days. But I recovered. It’s an amazing feeling to finish, and then get to see and feel the actual book in your hands. I can go to a local library and see it on the shelves! I can look up my name on Amazon and something comes up! OK – now I just sound pathetic, but you get the idea. Having people I have never met come up to me at a book signing and telling me how much they enjoyed the book is amazing!

8. You’ve been listening to the Just Grubbin podcast since episode 1 and it’s how you discovered our blog I believe…I say all that to say this….you ready for this Trenton Thunder Pork Roll game?! We might have to live podcast from the bleachers, what do you think?

You have to do a live podcast. I can’t imagine not doing that. I also can’t imagine the Thunder not honoring Trenton’s native son, Big Al. I so hope the team from Reading changes its name to “Scrapples” when the teams play each other, as people have suggested. The Battle of the Breakfast Meats!

9. Lately we’ve been getting a lot of cheesesteak and wing discussions on Twitter and on our pod. Can you give us a couple of places for our readers to check out that they might not know of when it comes to both of those categories? Feel free to list multiples.

I have to admit that when it comes to cheesesteaks, I’m a snob and always go back to Gaetano’s. I have to work on that and be more open. As far as wings go, it’s got to be the wings at Shore Fire Grille in Manahawkin and LBI. Smoked then fried. Oh man.

Wings from SFG
Wings from Shore Fire Grille

10. We can finish the interview up with this. What are some upcoming events or restaurant openings are you looking forward to attending and bonus question, is a wrap a sandwich?

Two restaurants I’m looking forward to opening this spring: Exit Zero Filling Station in Cape May, and White Rooster in Toms River. The Filling Station is an old gas station being done up retro-style and serving Indian food. White Rooster is going to be an upscale Cuban restaurant.

A wrap is not a sandwich. Any diner menu will tell you that.

If you enjoyed this, check out more posts from the Just Grubbin team here! Also make sure to listen to The Just Grubbin podcast to hear us go into further detail about this and to hear all of our random irreverent takes on food, drink and whatever else.


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