Maddy Fangio / Daily Nexus

This week marks my final one spent as an editor of On the Menu. I’m graduating a quarter early, which means leaving my second home, the Nexus newsroom, three months before what I originally planned. 

I’m not sure how I feel: a mix of sadness from leaving behind my Nexus family, relief from, hopefully, never spending numerous hours meticulously designing a print spread again, but definitely a sense of pride towards the many things my colleagues and I accomplished here. 

Every once in a while, I’ll stalk my own author’s page on the Daily Nexus website, re-reading my own work and critiquing it as most writers do. I tend to always gravitate toward my very first article: the one of which I am the least proud. I have the option to delete it with access to the backend of our website and all of its contents. Yet, I choose not to. You, reader, can still read it and cringe to this day. For those who haven’t read this article published in 2020, my words detail a full day of vegan meals I cooked as a college freshman living in Isla Vista and taking online classes during the pandemic. 

The article itself feels like a time capsule, a snapshot of one of the darkest periods of modern history. It is my first piece of food writing, one that came about by talking to a peer during a socially distanced coffee outing. She informed me about a side gig she enjoyed: writing and photographing for On the Menu. As a major foodie and lover of home-cooked meals, I didn’t even need her to go into further detail about On the Menu before I was already begging to write my first article.

So, no, I’m not entirely embarrassed by my early writing for this section. I see those articles — the several recipes about which I wrote to cope with the messiness of the world — as the naive beginning of my food writing career which unexpectedly blossomed during my college years, during a conversation over cups of coffee, 6 feet apart, masked and sitting outside on the Cajé patio. 

I constrained myself to write recipes for the first year and a half of my writing journey. It felt safe and inside of my comfort zone as, for years prior, I had been sharing my own recipes with family and friends. Yet, once I started to engage in conversation about food with people in somewhat invisible roles in the eyes of the consumer – pastry chefs, restaurant owners, food entrepreneurs – I truly found my calling. My passion for talking to others about food even led me to write about food for publications back home in the Bay Area for two consecutive summers.

Despite thinking I was more of an introvert all these years, I realized I did like talking to people and discovered cooking to be a subject over which even two people who couldn’t be more alike (in my case, I, a college student scrapping together meals in my tiny apartment’s kitchen and, in the cases of my interviewees, someone who risked it all to share their culinary creations with the public) could bond. 

When I couldn’t find the support I needed from myself to pull together these ambitious features before our Sunday night article deadline, I found it from my fellow Nexites who painstakingly read, edited and fact-checked my work with a level of detail and compassion that I didn’t expect from our tiny newsroom. I have to thank my On the Menu co-editors past and present, Abigail Monti, Chace Duma and Michelle Lee, for hearing my numerous article pitches and always believing in me to somehow pull them together in time. I also want to thank the Copy team for instilling in me the absence of the Oxford comma and Editor-in-Chiefs Pricila Flores and Atmika Iyer for passing along food news tips and guiding me throughout my time here. 

The friends I’ve made at the Nexus have shaped my college experience, making me and my once-thought-to-be meaningless words feel like a valued contribution to something larger, to a brilliant and talented community-led effort. It’s been a pleasure to lead On the Menu throughout its evolution and, looking back, I wouldn’t change a single thing, not even my very first article. 


Stephanie Gerson
Stephanie Gerson is a fourth-year Art History major and On the Menu Co-Editor. She can usually be found taking long walks, wandering about museums or grocery shopping.