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Andrew Coppolino

Writer and editor of Rare Republic & Waterloo Region Eats

What do you do?

With no little grandiosity, I like to think of myself as an ambassador for food and drink in Waterloo Region. I’ve spent the last ten penurious years boosting local businesses and trying to help create a robust and dynamic food culture here.

With much less grandiosity, I’m a freelance writer and broadcaster with a primary focus on cooks, food and restaurants. I have my fingers in several pies as food columnist with CBC-Waterloo Region 89.1, in print in the Kitchener Post newspaper and as culinary correspondent with Rogers TV “Grand River Living.” And sometimes I literally have my fingers in pie because in my capacity as a food writer I have been asked to judge various contests. Including pie.

How do you stay up to date with trends in your industry/field?

I guess first off that I talk to people in the industry. The chefs and restaurateurs – and the suppliers and farmers that they use – are a wealth of information about what is going on in the industry and what they anticipate will be going on in the future.

Secondarily, I spend some time (and probably too much time) skimming through various websites and collecting information and material via social media. Really, what I’ve found is that it is much too easy to find too much information. Whatever do you do with it all? It’s that that I haven’t figured out.

Best way to stay on top of email?

Um, just ignore it.

I probably don’t stay on top of email very well. Oh, wait, maybe that’s why not a lot of people email me (thanks for connecting those dots). I try to take care of email first thing in the morning. But, really, I am not overwhelmed with hundreds of emails. Thankfully. So don’t email me, okay?

What are your top five applications or programs?

Hmmmm. Apps to me are things you eat before mains. I love BBM on my BlackBerry z10! I have a sports app on my phone that I use to check in about European soccer. I’m a West Ham and Palermo guy. I love Twitter too – it gives me a great opportunity to promote local restaurants. And to be my wise-cracking, smart-ass self.

I use Tweetdeck to keep on top of some Twitter feeds, both business essentially. I know a lot of people use Hootsuite, but, Luddite that I am, I have had good luck with Tweetdeck and it seems to work quite well for me. I’m not sure if it counts, but I have started doing more recordings on Soundcloud that I post in various places. I have a great hand-held H2 audio recorder with incredible quality. I edit CBC segments and Rare Republic interviews with a program called Audacity – it’s quite manageable, and I imagine I could get really good at it… if I tried to.

What is your best time-saving trick?

A “Before-I-Shut-Down-the-Office-at-Night” list: I usually scribble down two or three things to do next morning. I find that gets the day started right away – before the morning French press takes affect (the coffee; not Le Monde, which I could only read in French very superficially). I’m a late-night guy not a morning guy. Mornings are brutal for me.

One non-tech thing you can't live without?

Soccer. I used to play as a kid to varsity university and in the KDSL here in Wat Reg. But for the last decade or so I’ve coached with Kitchener Soccer Club rep-travel teams. Takes a lot of time in the summer, but I love the game so much.

Scotch. I like whisk(e)y and single-malts, especially late at night.

Cigars. Not too often. But often with scotch.

What does your workspace look like?

Post-apocalyptic, early modern Nordic. Black mostly. I’m on the 3rd floor of an older home at the edge of urban decay in downtown Kitchener, so everything meshes with my messy, cluttered desk. Oh yes, I go through every once in a while and clean up, but it backslides into chaos. Add two big dogs into the mix and it is hectic. I have some artwork that I like. A picture of some text that was “An Act of Butter” about the guild system in Medieval England (it’s a repro, not original) and an animal “painting” that was done by some goats at the Kitchener Collegiate highschool (that is original).

Structure of your typical day, how do you divide your time?

Structure? What is that? It’s pretty haphazard: writing a column or an article, doing an interview at a venue, eating a meal, taping a TV segment. It’s all over the map. When I’m at the home-office, I often eat a quick lunch at the computer. My days are rarely the same. The same stuff more or less but usually in a different order. Sometimes it’s nuts.

What is the best career advice/wisdom you've ever received?

It relates to having fingers in many pies. I was once told (but can’t remember who did the telling) that as a freelancer it is important to have many irons in the fire at all times. To keep the blacksmith analogy going, I’ve sometimes been burned by not having enough irons, but I generally heed that advice and always try to make sure that there are always new projects on the go.

Who would you like to see featured on Ways We Work?

Pat Rittinger, teacher at KCI, runs the Ag and farming program at KCI. Tremendous program!