The Monroe College Art Collaborative Club


November 2016

The Working Artist Featuring Food Writer Jason Logsdon

Questions by Rico Neely

Q:  With other journalists like you, how were you able to find a way to differentiate yourself from everyone else in the business?

A: I actually wouldn’t consider myself a journalist, just a writer.  While I occasionally write about news, I generally focus on more evergreen content like recipes, how-to articles, and reviews.

As a writer, there are two main things I’ve done to differentiate myself. The first was to focus on my biggest strength, which is to take complicated subjects and break them down so people can easily understand them.  The second was to focus on a small niche that I didn’t have much competition in. The modernist cooking niche also has the benefit of looking very complicated to people, so it allows me to really take advantage of my ability to explain complex subjects.

Q: I aspire to be a prosperous journalist some day in the very near future. What advice would you give me towards being a successful journalist? What are the things that you feel you could’ve done while you were younger to reach where you are today faster?

A: I guess my biggest piece of advice would be to start writing now, and write as much as possible, in as many places as possible.  Put out a blog (or several blogs), answer questions on Quora, write on and actively consume various social media channels, try to pitch and write guest posts for other blogs or larger media organizations. The more writing you do, the better it will become, and the more versatile it will be.  Also, the more you can get your writing in front of people, the better chance you have of the right people seeing it.

Q: How are you able to remain knowledgeable of the culinary trends, and what do you use as inspiration in writing your pieces?

A: I follow a few blogs in the modernist space but I mainly talk to my readers through my blog and on social media. I try to get a handle on the issues they are facing and the questions they have. Then I do my best to research those questions and come up with the answers my readers are looking for.

I think being fully immersed in the industry you are writing about is the best way to stay up-to-date.

Q:  What lead you to start this aspect of culinary journalism (molecular gastronomy)?

A: I was writing several blogs and the modernist cooking site started to get more readers and was one of the subjects I was more passionate about.  It ended up spiraling from there into a full-time job. I can’t say it was a direction I was focused on going, it just happened organically.

Q: What strategies have you used to achieve a certain level of success in your life as a journalist?

A: My biggest strategies are to focus on my strengths, put out a lot of good content, and to keep at it. It amazes me how many people have come and gone in the modernist cooking space since I got started 7 years ago.  Having the ability to stick with it over the years makes you stand out and gives you credibility more than anything else can.

Q: In culinary journalism writing skill must be immaculate.  What writing and analyzing skills should I focus more on to ensure an engaging and enjoyable journalism piece?

A: I think a lot of it comes down to what you are trying to accomplish.  I mainly focus on breaking down complicated ideas, so the quality of my writing doesn’t have to be nearly as good as someone who is read for their prose alone.

My readers judge me first on whether they understand what I’m saying, whether it answers their questions, how my photographs look, and probably finally on my writing skills.  This doesn’t mean I don’t have to have good writing, it’s just not as important to my readers as it is to many people. I can also write much more conversationally for my audience than many writers.

You need to figure out what your writing is trying to accomplish (i.e. convey information, evoke emotion, read beautifully, sound objective, be personal, tell a story, be concise, etc.) and focus on developing a writing style that will best accomplish that.

I also highly recommend finding people that are willing to read your work and edit, proofread, or help improve it.  I have several people I rely on and they always catch a lot of stuff I’ve missed.


Rico Neely is a first year culinary student here at Monroe College. His piece, “Excellent Customer Service” was featured on The Monroe Art Collaborative website earlier this month.

Jason Logsdon has expertise in modernist cooking, fantasy sports web development, and the self publishing process. He also presents at conferences, interviews with reporters and writes cookbooks. Jason currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. You can visit his website at



Creative Writing Club Tonight November 22nd!

Last meeting Gianna and Joe led seven students in an exciting game of Mad Libs, as well as group stories! Tonight we’ll be creating poems by erasing words with crayons and markers, and writing about Thanksgiving. Everyone welcome! There will also be books and comics to look through from our lending library. Come to Milavec Room 105 at 6pm tonight!

Comic Lending Library in Huguenot 140

Come one, come all! We now not only have books to borrow, but comics as well! We have Avengers, Spiderman, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and a bunch of superhero mash-ups.  There is also a section dedicated to kick-butt females!

Come see Professor Scott in the Offices of Huguenot 140!

Coffee House November 14th: Would You Accept Your Transgender Child?

“I would accept them. They are the same person I knew.”

“I’m not going to judge them, but I’m not going to support them.”

“I would get them help.”

“I would feel uncomfortable, but I would get over it because they would be depressed the rest of their lives being who they don’t want to be.”

“I would tell a 12 or 13-year-old to hold off a little bit to get more information.”

“I would give them love as a parent but I wouldn’t support them.”

“These things happen. This is life.”

“My biggest concern would be the health of the child.”

“I don’t want kids, but I’m intrigued by everyone’s opinion.”

“It’s human nature to be uncomfortable.”

“Who am I to hate someone for being who they want to be?”

“Who a person loves shouldn’t offend others. Your mindset is the problem.”

“I accept people for who they are. If you are happy, then let it be. Don’t let anyone tell you anything but that you are beautiful.”

“Some people are just ignorant. Children should be allowed to be transgendered, but maybe not quite transsexual until a few years after puberty. In the bathroom, gender should never be an issue. In the locker room, it comes with some form of self-confidence to change in front of everyone. There should be gender fluid bathrooms as well as locker rooms because gender is not important.”

I Expect You to Die


See or email professor Troshonoff if you are interested!

Coffee House November 7th: Ethel Has Gotta Go

Topics Discussed:

Utilitarianism–The belief that a morally good action is one that helps the greatest number of people (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

What is the “greater good”? Is the death penalty moral?

Would you divert a train full of children away from impending doom if it meant killing Ethel, a 44-year-old mother of two instead?

Student Quotes:

“Ethel’s gotta go.”

“If someone killed your mom, would you want that person to be alive?”

“I strongly agree with the death penalty.”

“You don’t have the right to kill anyone.”

“I think when you are spiritually in a place where you know how life can turn out, you won’t want to take a life for a life.”

“Who am I to take a life away from someone?”

“Do unto others what others do unto you.”

“I have to smoke them before they smoke me.”

“It’s like an endless circle of violence.”

“With the death penalty, innocent people have been put to death.”

“A suicide bomber–his right is our wrong.”

“The death penalty should be assessed based on age and what they did.”

“We should be able to take a life if necessary.”

“Justify the actions of a person that is willing to kill themselves and you would never put at peace the cycle of death.”

“I believe in the death penalty. From the age of eight and up you have to get punishment for your actions.”

“No one is entitled to take a life.”

“No human has the right to take the life of another human. In the instance where the eleven-year-old is a terrorist, he should be killed because he is putting other people’s lives at risk.”

“The only person allowed to take someone’s life is the person who gave it in the first place–God.”

“I believe that this topic can be too emotional to come to a precise decision. There are many factors and scenarios that come into play that change someone’s mind along the duration of a conversation.”

“I am not for the death penalty, no one life is greater than the next. No one on this Earth should be granted to take a life because someone took a life. It does not make it right and the situations wouldn’t become any better if you killed someone.”

“No, I do not agree with the death penalty. I believe in torture rather than the easy way out.”

“There is nothing more valuable than a life. That’s why killing is not right and no one has the right to take a life.”

“Everything in life is subjective. Nothing is ever black and white. Judging a minor on the same premise as an adult is utterly ridiculous. What is fair is not necessarily just or even equal. You should not expect to punish a child the same as an adult, regardless of the crime. It’s just not right.”

“The death penalty is a reasonable exercise, but the justice system is so destroyed that they shouldn’t give the death penalty.”



Excellent Customer Service

By Rico Neely 

Whether you’re dining at the elite Club 21 in the Walt Disney World Resort or at a local deli on your street corner, customer service goes a long way. It leaves an everlasting mark in the minds of every guest. To me, customer service can be compared to a beautiful dish; although the dish may be visually appetizing, if the taste doesn’t reflect that of the look people will refuse the dish in the future. An establishment can have a jaw-dropping beautiful décor along with Michelin star-worthy food, but if the people in the front of the house doesn’t treat the guests like they should- respectable and mannerly; very quickly, the want to visit that establishment will fade away. However, on the other side of the spectrum, even if an establishment’s “food is DEPLORABLE!” As the Daily Journal would often say; if there is exceptional customer service people would most likely return as they would feel like kings and queens (in their own right). Excellent customer service is the ability of an establishment to constantly and consistently surpass the expectation of customers/ guests in a remarkable way. As show host, and comedian, Steve Harvey says, “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that one does extra”, therefore extraordinary customer service goes out of it way to ensure every customer/guest is treated like ‘the boss’.

During my life, I’ve experienced both positive and negative customer service. A time when I was given negative customer service was back home in The Bahamas at a local restaurant. From the moment I entered the establishment my family and I were caught off-guard by the hostess’ offensive tone and comments. “I don’t think you could afford this restaurant” were the first set of words to slide off of her lips as she laid eyes on us. Immediately. With a straight face my parents ordered to speak to the owner (who was my mother’s younger sister). After my mother told her sister of what happened; in the humblest way possible the hostess was fired on the spot. A little embarrassed, my aunt decided to make our meal free of charge not to mention that my twin sister got a hostess job at the restaurant one week later.

A time when I’ve experienced positive customer service was during my 15th birthday in Aquaventure at the Atlantis Resort. A group of my friends and I went to the water park for the day; upon entering, everyone working in the establishment greeted us with a smile, some even singing me the Happy Birthday song. The workers made me feel special; like a king- the birthday king. While on the park, some of the lifeguards noticed that we were lost; instead of avoiding us, they gave us a tour of the entire park inspiring us in the process with words of encouragement. The day ended amazing. What shocked me most was the fact that the lifeguards gave us a tour of the island on their lunch break. When asked, “…why?” They all replied by saying, “Once the guests are happy they’re happy.” Because of the workers going the extra mile, my friends and I told others and even went back.

In the end, one quickly realizes that great customer service is one of the more critical aspects of any business. It can either enhance or degrade any company. Although customer service isn’t a tangible item, it holds great wealth in the business world. People want to be treated like they matter and hold some type of worth in the eyes of another. Customer Service consists of small efforts to make a large impact in any guest’s experience. Customer service surpasses all the other operations of any business and is seen as the most important part of a business. Customer service depends heavily on the individuals representing the organization/ company whom are in direct or indirect contact with customers/ guests; if these people aren’t friendly and welcoming then the business may more than likely suffer.


My name is Rico Neely, and I am 17-years-old and a graduate of Doris Johnson Senior High School in my home country, The Bahamas. At Monroe College, I am studying Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management. This piece is about customer service, as well as my encounters with both bad and good customer service.




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