Alum, food blogger keeps college athlete persona
UCLA alumnus Josh Scherer is the associate dine editor at Los Angeles Magazine and author of the food blog Culinary Bro-Down. He recently finalized the contract for a cookbook based on his blog’s recipes. (Daniel Alcazar/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Nov. 4, 2015 12:38 a.m.
BY ANNA SAVISAAR
Alumnus Josh Scherer received a Chipotle gift card and, jokingly, an acorn squash during a Secret Santa dinner with the UCLA track and field team. He asked to keep the squash and ended up roasting it, pureeing it and piping it on top of sugar cookies.
As a college student, Scherer started a food blog called Culinary Bro-Down, written from the persona of a college athlete. Two years later, Scherer now works as the associate dine editor for Los Angeles Magazine and, on Oct. 22, finalized the contract for a cookbook based on his blog’s recipes.
“Even as a little kid, I knew how to cook,” Scherer said. “I could see how the ingredients came together in the pan. It’s always been innate.”
Scherer’s parents didn’t cook so he grew up on frozen food and microwavable meals, but honed his culinary skills by constantly watching Food Network. At 6 years old, Scherer snuck away from his babysitter, and despite his fear of the stovetop flame, made himself a grilled cheese sandwich.
“It’s insane that cooking is looked at like an incredible specialty skill,” Scherer said. “The rest of the world, every age group, cooks because that’s how you get food in your mouth and not die.”
Before transferring to UCLA, Scherer created dishes in the dining halls of UCSB. Scherer took sliced mushrooms from the salad bar, put them in a bowl with some salt, pepper and olive oil, and popped the dish in the oven. The end result was a decently sauteed mushroom.
When he lived in an apartment, Scherer woke up at 6 a.m. on Sundays to get brunch supplies at Costco. On his front lawn, he then cooked giant tortillas españolas and drizzled syrup over homemade waffles. The aroma of home-cooked food filled the nostrils of the fifteen people sprawled across the grass in attendance for weekly brunch.
When Scherer transferred to UCLA, he moved into an apartment with Nicholas Scarvelis, a current fifth-year English student and former Daily Bruin A&E contributor. Scarvelis first met Scherer seven years ago through high school track.
“When I first met (Scherer) he was a comedian with man boobs,” Scarvelis said. “He was simultaneously large and full of energy.”
In 2013, Scherer published the first entry for his online blog Culinary Bro-Down, which features a picture of Scherer wearing board shorts and a Corona tank top. In his blog, Scherer wrote about turning a $15 blender into his food processor, using Keystone Light as his braising liquid and his belief that creatine is an essential food group.
Three months after Scherer started Culinary Bro-Down, Saveur magazine nominated it for the Best Food Blog Awards. Scherer said he set himself apart from other aspiring writers by deliberately trying to be different.
“Culinary Bro-Down is a complete caricature,” Scherer said. “It’s based on real things, but I wouldn’t even identify as a bro.”
Scherer still writes from the same perspective as Culinary Bro-Down. It’s what people want, Scherer said; when editors ask him to write for their publications, they want his voice to be as strong as ever. In addition to writing Culinary Bro-Down, Scherer began writing about food for “Mojo,” the Daily Bruin blog, in spring 2014.
“(Scherer) has a lot of humor,” said Willy Blackmore, Scherer’s former editor at TakePart, an online magazine. “It’s very much his voice – he writes the way that he talks.”
Now Scherer lives with his girlfriend and their two cats, one of which is named Hot Pocket. Scherer recalled standing in his kitchen, grabbing an empty wine bottle, flouring it up and beginning to roll out pizza dough. His girlfriend had reminded him that he did in fact own a rolling pin.
“He’s developed his interest and taken it to the next level. That’s a cool thing to see, that he’s matured in that way,” Scarvelis said.
Scherer has traded in his protein powder for polo shirts and oversees all of the food and drink content across Los Angeles Magazine’s The Digest blog, but said he still can’t tell the difference between white and black truffle oil and he still uses Keystone Light as his braising liquid.
Currently, Scherer said he is trying to find a balance between writing professionally and bringing his blog’s voice to his work.
“The lines between blog and publication are so blurred now that you can start breaking down this tone that journalism has had for years and start making things engaging,” Scherer said. “It makes the stories more powerful.”