"In eighth grade math class, I sat behind Lisa D’Angelo," says writer, director and photographer Brian Belefant. "She had a way of doing her hair that I thought made her look––at least from the back––like a 14-year-old Venetian contessa."
"Instead of calculating the angle of the line where it intersected the curve like I was supposed to, I spent most of class composing notes to Lisa," says Brian.
"I realized pretty quickly that as infatuated as I was with Lisa, what I really loved was writing those notes. Expounding on her beauty. Creating fantasy scenarios where we’d ride our bikes to the pier and share a can of Coke while the sun set over the water."
Brian says he never passed those notes to Lisa. He says he didn't need to.
Ten year later, Brian realized that all that note writing had prepared him for a career in advertising.
He moved to New York and became a copywriter.
"I did some lovely work for national and international brands––one week expounding on the beauty of Doritos. The next creating fantasy scenarios where, say, two Swedish speed skaters would smear Skippy Peanut butter on their skates, thinking it would enable them to skate as fast as Bonnie Blair," says Brian. "I’d write the love notes; the media department would place them on TV and in magazines."
There was only one problem. Brian says that he increasingly found himself being asked to wax poetic about things he had no great love for. "I felt like a gigolo," he says.
"The straw that broke this particular camel’s back, was an assignment I got to write a TV commercial for Pizza Hut, announcing that they were opening a restaurant in Parma" says Brian. "As in Italy. As in the land that not only invented pizza, but deifies it. Pizza Hut. The global brand headquartered in Wichita, Kansas."
Brian couldn’t do it.
He quit his job and vowed that if he was going to write, it was either going to be for himself or for something he truly believed in.
Where do you turn for great food or food inspiration?
When I’m preparing a menu (Like I actually prepare a menu!) I usually start with a cuisine. Do I feel like Mexican? Italian? Chinese? Once I’ve narrowed that down, I’ll figure out what I have and what I can make with it. Chicken and rice can become arroz con pollo, chicken piccata, or kung pao chicken.
Do you ever travel for food?
I've realized that how something tastes is a product of where you are when you taste it. It’s like the concept of terroir, but kind of inside out.
Before I was born, my dad lived and worked in Morocco. And every once in a while he’d share his experience by taking over the kitchen for a night and making couscous for dinner. I hated it. Years later, when I was making commercials for some very high-profile food accounts, I had an opportunity to work in Morocco myself. Naturally, I had couscous. And I loved it. The weird part? It tasted exactly the same as the couscous my father made. I’d be lying