Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Joshua Manocherian on Staff Training: The Best Way to Deliver Exceptional Service to Your Diners

Joshua Manocherian on the Importance of Training Your Restaurant Staff

Joshua Manocherian co-owns a farm-to-table concept restaurant with his wife. He is a retired photographer who now enjoys being a restaurateur. He created this blog to share his passion for food and photography. In his latest post, he talks about one of the most critical factors in restaurant management: a team of well-trained and highly-skilled staff.
When a guest walks into a restaurant, there are three things that greatly affect their dining experience: the food, service, and ambience. When any of these factors are not up to standard—what the guests expect—then it is safe to assume that those guests are unlikely to return. Your guests' dining experience is the ultimate indicator of success—more than the profits, at least for Joshua Manocherian and his wife.
Food, service, and ambience; three crucial factors in a restaurant's success or failure; but the one that weighs heavily on your guests' experience at your restaurant is service. Suffice it to say that no matter how delectable your dishes are, if you deliver poor service, your guests will hesitate to come back. Who would want to be stressed out when dining out? And stressful is what their experience could be if you make them wait for their food, if you serve cold food meant to be enjoyed hot, or horrors upon horrors, you have a rude wait staff!
To ensure that your restaurant staff delivers exceptional service to every guest each and every time, regular training is necessary. Upon first coming in to join you, your new hires need to be trained about the food and the menu, your safety protocols, food preparation, waiting, welcoming guests, dishwashing and cleaning tables. All of these elements are what make your daily operations run smoothly; and new hires need to be well-informed about each of these as well as every other aspect of the restaurant to enable them to communicate effectively with guests should they raise concerns or questions.
Yearly training is also recommended to refresh your staff's knowledge about the restaurant and the protocols, as well as to give them the opportunity to hone their skills and learn new ones. This deters complacency in the workplace. In the restaurant business, everyone needs to be on their toes all the time; and they need to be alert and attentive. A minute of delay could completely ruin your guests' dining experience. Your staff also needs to learn how to anticipate—especially when it comes to what each specific customer may want or need. In this regard, they need to truly pay attention to every guest that comes through your doors. Giving customers something (like a glass of water perhaps) before they even ask for it can work wonders.
In my next post, I will share with you some of the training steps and areas that you can focus on to enable your staff to deliver exceptional service to your guests.
Do you have comments on this post? Please feel free to leave Joshua Manocherian a message below.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Joshua Manocherian: How to Start Your Own Backyard Garden

Joshua Manocherian: Starting Your Own Backyard Garden? Here’s How!

Hello, everyone! I’m Joshua Manocherian. I was a professional photographer before going into the restaurant business. While I’ve always loved eating, most of what I ate came from either a can or a box. When I met my wife, though, she introduced me to fresh produce and organic cuisine. We settled into a little house with a pretty large backyard and we tried planting random seeds, hoping that something would sprout out of the soil.
To make a long story short, we failed miserably. Weeds soon took over the garden and choked the life out of our plants, and those that survived were undernourished. The following planting season, we got advice from a friend of ours who was into organic farming. Here are some things we learned from him that you could use, too:
1. Start slow and small. Backyard gardening takes time and effort, and if you have a full-time job, it’s tough enough to take care of one raised bed, let alone a whole garden of raised beds. Speaking of raised beds, you need to construct them – raised beds are basically plots of loose, uncompressed soil that serve as physical barriers between your crops and the rest of the garden.
2. Start early. If your backyard has a lawn, till it up and rake out the sod. The sod can be very useful later. Once you’re done tilling, build raised beds with the tilled soil. I suggest doing it before winter so that it’s ready when spring comes around.
3. It’s never too early to enrich the soil. You can find a source of compost or aged mushroom soil easily. When enriching the soil, use a 50/50 mix of the compost and the soil that you have right now. Next, cover it with two inches of mulch – shredded fallen leaves are good for this purpose. Mulch will keep the soil moist and help keep weed seeds from being blown into the ground.
Also, while you might want to grow plants straight out of the seed packet right away, I’ve found out that it’s not a good idea for a first-time backyard farmer. Instead, use seedlings from a reputable gardener. Rake off the mulch, plant the seedlings, then rake the mulch back on, leaving just enough space to let the seedlings grow. Once you are able to nurture seedlings to maturity, then you can go on to planting straight from seeds.
While backyard gardening is hard work, remember to have fun. Set aside enough time to take care of your plants, and if something fails, learn something from it it. Backyard gardening is perfect if you like learning about plants, soil, and water. Who knows, you might learn a thing or two about yourself too. After all, planting a garden takes a lot of patience and love.
I will write more about organic backyard gardening in future posts so do check back for updates. This is Joshua Manocherian, and I hope you had fun reading my blog as much as I had fun writing it.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Joshua Manocherian: Food Photo Tips from a Professional Photographer

Joshua Manocherian: How Photographers Make Food Look Good in Pictures

Hi, Joshua Manocherian here. I was a professional photographer in a past life, and even if I’ve exchanged my DSLR camera for a chef’s toque, I still appreciate the value of a good picture. When it comes to the food industry, appearances can make or break a restaurant. It is a well-known fact that the proper presentation of food can affect how the diner tastes it. A well-taken photo of a platter of bread, for instance, can make someone want to visit the bakery, while a not-so-appetizing picture of the fanciest fare won’t be enough to make someone have a taste.

If you use Instagram, you might notice that a large proportion of the posts you see are pictures of food. Social media makes it easy for people to document their food adventures; and to be honest, a lot of the food photos I see do not do justice to the dishes and those who prepare them. A second-rate camera phone, for example, can reduce a fiery red bell pepper into a paler shade that is closer to pink, while a bowl of purple yam preserve can look drab and gray when taken by an inexperienced photographer. As a restaurateur, one has to make sure that his/her food looks good all the time, even in pictures.

Here are some food photography tips that I’ve picked up during my time as a professional shutterbug:

1. Use natural light. Too much light, such as that coming from a flash, can "drown" all the vibrant colors of food, while too little light will result in something barely visible. Whenever I eat during my travels, I always asked for a table near the window to let me use natural light while taking photos of my food. Natural light has a way of bringing out food's natural colors, unlike artificial light that is too harsh too often.

2. Composition matters. Like every other form of photography, food photography relies heavily on proper composition to come up with a beautiful shot. Your food photo is well-composed if you can tell right away what the subject is. Are you shooting the cake, the wine, or the plate? Most photographers use the rule of thirds to compose their shots. Think of a picture as a canvas intersected by three horizontal and three vertical lines. Your food should appear where the invisible lines meet to draw your eyes to it.

3. Style your food. Food looks a lot better when they’re styled very well. Just like clothes, the size, color, and shape of the crockery they’re served in will affect the way they look in pictures. If the dish is a bit plain-looking, consider serving it in a colorful container or surround it with color-coordinated accessories such as napkins. On the other hand, colorful dishes should be served on plain white plates. Whatever you do, do not show used or dirty spoons, forks, or knives!

I will next discuss the importance of presentation in a restaurant environment. This is Joshua Manocherian and I hope you keep reading my blog!

Monday, 5 June 2017

Joshua Manocherian: My Tips on Running a Small Restaurant Part 1

Joshua Manocherian Shares His Tips on Starting a Restaurant Business

Hi, dear readers! Joshua Manocherian here. When my wife and I decided to open a restaurant, I must admit that I had a lot of apprehensions about it. After all, my wife and I didn't really have any hands-on experience in running any type of business. While we did a lot of freelance work, we've never had a go at a traditional brick-and-mortar business with overhead and utility expenses, operations, and general management needs.

While my apprehensions and fears may be legitimate, they nevertheless were an obstacle that I needed to hurdle if I wanted to truly go ahead with a career shift that has been on the back of my mind for the longest time. So when my wife and I finally, finally decided that managing our own restaurant was the next—and best—step for us, we made it our goal to never quit regardless of the roadblocks and stops that could be thrown our way.

With that said, my first tip is to keep your eyes on your goal and never quit, no matter the obstacles, delays and dead-ends. There will be times when you'll doubt yourself and your decision, and perhaps even berating yourself for giving up a stable job to chase a dream. These are the times that you need to remind yourself that quitting wasn't part of the deal when you started on this road.

Now, as to the details of your small restaurant, the first thing you need to do is look for a good location. This can be quite challenging because business locations can be a hit-or-miss deal. Ever wonder why some restaurants don't make it despite the heavy foot and vehicle traffic, while others located in a remote neighborhood have customers lining up for hours? A lot of it has to do with the neighborhood, the purchasing behavior of the consumers within your vicinity, income, and of course, your menu.

So when choosing a location, analyze the demographics, the neighborhood diners and restaurants, and other social indicators. You should also pay attention to the lease agreement as sometimes it's the exorbitant rental fees that are taking up almost all of the profits. You may also want to check the history of the location. Whether you're superstitious or not, it wouldn't hurt to find out the location's past as this could be a factor for consideration for some consumers.

Still on location, is the commercial space in good condition or does it need extensive remodeling or renovation? Check also that all utilities are in perfect working order; that the space follows strict building and safety codes, and that you have enough room for the dining area, lounge or waiting area, and the kitchen.

I will talk more about space, kitchen, and table set-up in my next post so please stay tuned for that!

If you have questions regarding running a small restaurant, or you wish to share your thoughts about this post, please feel free to leave me, Joshua Manocherian, a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Joshua Manocherian Sports Blog | Monmouth’s Sudden Demise

Joshua Manocherian: Monmouth and the Art of Not Dancing

Joshua Manocherian is a fan of teams with good bench mobs, and by “bench mob”, he’s referring to in-game celebrations. Last year’s Monmouth Hawks had everything – scorers, dunkers, signature wins, bench mobs – except an NCAA Tournament slot. And now, it seems they’re going to miss the Big Dance again.

This year was supposed to be Monmouth’s year. One season removed from an NCAA basketball season marked by highs and lows, Monmouth was pegged to finally break through the MAAC conference tournament and on to the NCAA Tournament with a 27-6 overall record.

Siena, who entered MAAC tournament play at 16-26 after starting the season with four wins and 11 losses, had other plans. The Saints were down by fifteen at the half, but rallied to take the lead with four minutes remaining. It was a monumental upset by Siena as Monmouth had beaten them twice in the regular season, but if the Saints make it all the way to the Big Dance, it won’t be their first time – they had a string of appearances from 2008 to 2010.

As for Monmouth, they might have to wait another year. Their last appearance was in 2006.

This is no doubt frustrating for the Hawks and their fans, who surprised the world in 2015-16 with their high-octane running game and colorful bench celebrations. They even made the highlights of ESPN SportsCenter on the strength of their celebrations alone, but on-court, were also making a strong case for an at-large bid.

The Hawks opened their season with wins at UCLA, Notre Dame, USC, Georgetown, and Rutgers, with Notre Dame ranked at #17 when they played. Normally, that type of performance would net a team an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. However, they went on to lose conference games to teams who were ranked much lower than them, lost to Iona in the MAAC championship game, and they didn’t get to hear their name called on Selection Sunday. Instead, they played in the NIT, losing to George Washington by 16 at home in the second round.

This season, the non-conference slate was significantly weaker than the previous season’s. Instead of playing against teams that traditionally had high RPI rankings, they played just two teams with top-50 RPIs: North Carolina and South Carolina. The former blew the Hawks off the Dean Dome, beating them by 28. The South Carolina game, however, was decided only in the final seconds. In hindsight, with the Gamecocks standing fourth in the competitive SEC, it was a good loss. But of course, a really good win is a lot better when it comes to computing for at-large slots.

The rest of Monmouth’s schedule doesn’t look good on paper, either. They only won against two teams in the top 100 of the RPI rankings: Princeton and Iona, and Memphis, which now plays in the American Athletic Conference, isn’t the same as the Derick Rose-led Memphis team that almost won the NCAA championship game against Kansas. Princeton leads the Ivy League and has a pretty good non-conference record. Iona, while third in the MAAC, is ranked 33rd among all Division I teams for scoring and has signature wins against WAC leader Nevada, MAC runner-up Ohio, and not much else.

If you were ticked off that Monmouth did not make it to the tournament last year, you might as well skip Selection Sunday and watch something else. And maybe wait for the NIT or CIT to come around and hope that the bench is still worth watching.

Keyword: Joshua Manocherian Joshua Manocherian Sports Blog | Tim Tebow’s Unusual Road to Major League Baseball

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Joshua Manocherian: Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Arizona Wildcats Preview

Preview: Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Arizona Wildcats

Emily Muhleman is a sports blogger based in Seattle. She writes mostly about the NFL, the Pac-12, and the West Coast Conference. When she’s not writing about sports, she likes long walks on the beach in Olympic National Park.

This Sunday’s matchup between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Arizona Wildcats is expected to be an exciting affair. Gonzaga and Arizona are ranked #10 and #16 in the AP Poll, respectively, and each have exciting players that might just be NBA draft first-round picks next year.

The Zags are coming off six straight wins to start their season. Their last two games were against #21 Iowa State and Florida (who were unranked last week but now sit at #24), and winning a third straight game against a ranked, high-major opponent will only boost their confidence heading into the rivalry game against Washington. It will also help them make their case for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid.

Arizona, on the other hand, had their own little run scuttled by the Butler Bulldogs. While the Wildcats are in the AP rankings right now, it isn’t exactly because of their strength of schedule. Their past four wins have come against Santa Clara, Northern Colorado, Sacred Heart, and Cal State Bakersfield. A win against a higher-ranked opponent, such as Gonzaga, could make a difference on Selection Sunday, especially with UCLA expected to run the table in the Pac-12.

While much has been said about both teams’ backcourts, the must-see matchup will be the one inside. Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski was projected to be a first-round pick this year, but opted to take another year of college eligibility after missing most of last season due to back injuries. This season, the seven-foot Pole is looking every bit the NBA player, averaging 11.5 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block per game. Facing him is the Finnish phenom, Lauri Markkanen, who is already being compared to the New York Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis this early. Markkanen is averaging a team-high 18.2 points and 7.8 rebounds a game, and the contrast between Karnowski’s bruising inside game and Markkanen’s finesse will be intriguing to watch.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Joshua Manocherian: Markelle Fultz: NBA Star in the Making

Why Washington’s Markelle Fultz Might Be Next Year’s Number One Pick

Emily Muhleman writes about sports in the state of Washington. While she studied at Washington State, she keeps close tabs on the state’s other collegiate teams, including the Washington Huskies, the Seattle Redhawks, and the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
The Washington Huskies might be a middle-of-the-pack team right now, losing their season opener to Yale and dropping two straight games against TCU, but it isn’t keeping the crowds away from home games. The reason? A 6-5 freshman guard named Markelle Fultz.
A five-star recruit out of DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Maryland, Fultz chose Washington over 21 other schools that included Xavier, Texas, Maryland, North Carolina, Connecticut, Georgetown, Arizona, Kansas, and Louisville. He averaged 19 points as a senior and was named MVP at the FIBA Americas U-18 Championship. What makes his story even more impressive is the fact that he started playing varsity ball only as a junior, being assigned to DeMatha’s junior varsity team as a sophomore. He joined the Huskies as part of the eighth-ranked 2016 recruiting class, which included three other ESPN 100 players.
Fultz started the season strong in Washington’s loss to the Yale Bulldogs, logging 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. Prior to the November 30 game against TCU, he averaged 23 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game. These are all impressive numbers for any NCAA player; what makes them all the more impressive is that Fultz is a true freshman. Against TCU, he had a highlight play where he crossed over a defender before dunking over another with one hand on a fast break. This shows Fultz is not just a scorer – he can also be very entertaining.
Draft Express has ranked Fultz as the possible number one pick in next year’s NBA Draft on the strength of his performance so far. I wouldn’t bet against it even if Washington doesn’t get into the NCAA Tournament. After all, if Ben Simmons failed to lead LSU to the Big Dance and was still drafted first overall, Fultz could do it too.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Travel Photography Gear: What To Pack?

If you’re reading this, chances are, you’re a new travel photographer, planning to be one or you just booked your dream vacation and wanted to capture every moment of it. You won’t want to go out without these essential items. These aren’t really expensive but they are necessary for your travel photography.

Extra Batteries

Make sure to put these on your pack as soon as you get a hold of them. They’re very important but they’re easily forgotten. Your trip might take days and a fully charged battery won’t be enough.

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Most cameras today come with a rechargeable battery. Make sure to bring these so when you swap out your battery for a new one, they will go straight to the charging dock. Make sure to bring a power adapter as well if you’re traveling overseas.

Basic cleaning gear

Take a lens cloth to wipe dust off your lens and a cloth for wiping down the outside of your camera.


Bring your UV filters with you. They’re not only used to protect your lenses, they also cut flares.

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Memory cards

There is no such thing as too much space in storage. Capturing high resolution images will rack up data faster than you’ll expect. Especially when you’re on your dream vacation. A good practice is to get multiple memory cards instead of buying the one that has the largest storage capacity. It’s safer because you wouldn’t know if your card gets corrupted, lost, or stolen.

Joshua Manocherian here. Thanks for visiting my blog. If you want to get more of these, you can follow me on Twitter.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Joshua Manocherian on Creating a Solid Business Plan

Joshua Manocherian on Writing a Strong Business Plan

Joshua Manocherian is a retired professional photographer who now runs his own small restaurant in San Francisco, together with his wife. This post focuses on the importance of writing a good and solid business plan—and how time and effort are necessary sacrifices in the process.
You may have had a random idea about a business venture during your lunch hour, and not wanting to forget it, you wrote it down on a napkin. Or you may have had several discussions with your friends about starting a business and you're all quite excited about it. If you're serious about starting a business, however, you've got to put your ideas on paper—on an official, carefully written and well-researched document.
A detailed and well-written business plan can get you funding, get you the right suppliers, and pretty much provide you with a concrete compass as you navigate the world of entrepreneurship. The first three details will guide you towards the direction that you wish to take; these are identity, problem or need, and solution.
Your identity is who you are; how you wish your target audience to perceive you. For our restaurant, my wife and I decided to create an intimate space where good food and service are available. We also wanted our customers to see our restaurant as their friendly neighborhood diner where everyone is treated like a beloved member of our family.
A lot of ideas started flowing from there. Now that we know who we wanted to be, we were able to identify a need that we knew we could expertly address; my wife, after all, is an experienced chef!
Problem or need
Whatever type of business you'd like to get into, you must have something to offer to your consumers—a sound solution to a problem or need that's easily accessible. My wife and I saw that with a lot more consumers now being more conscious about what they eat, which means that there's a higher demand for organic food. There is also an increasing awareness about humane animal treatment. Both these premises gave us the inspiration for our restaurant.
Seeing that the market for farm-to-table specialty restaurants still had plenty of room for new players, this was the direction that we took. Add to this the fact that my wife isn't really a huge fan of processed and pre-packaged food, and what we had was someone with the experience and expertise in creating unique recipes using the freshest ingredients from local farmers and artisanal food producers.
In other words, to address the increasing demand for organic food, and the consumers' support for humane animal treatment, we went in the direction of an intimate farm-to-table restaurant that offers unique dishes and fresh takes on a few favorites at affordable prices.
So there you have it; the three key components of a business plan that will help you work on other details of your proposed business.
For questions regarding this post, please feel free to leave Joshua Manocherian a comment below. Rest assured he will get back to you promptly.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Joshua Manocherian Invites You to Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market

Joshua Manocherian on His Weekly Trips to Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market

When my wife and I came up with the idea of a farm-to-table restaurant, we knew we needed to build strong and mutually beneficial relationships with local farmers and artisans so we will never run out of a fresh supply of our ingredients. Hi, friends! This is Joshua Manocherian and I'd like to extend a personal invitation to all of you to come visit Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market to support our local farmers and grab the best and freshest produce you will ever find in San Francisco.
For the reader's information, the Ferry Plaza Famers' Market is one of the most popular and widely visited farmers market in the country, averaging about 40,000 visitors per week. This California-certified farmers market is an ongoing project of the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA). Launched in 1999, the goal was to bring the freshest farm products, as well as artisan food to consumers in order to spread awareness about sustainable agricultural practices.
Apart from bringing consumers the best and freshest local produce and artisan food products, the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, through the initiatives of CUESA, also features cooking demos, especially market to table demos; cooking classes, and panel discussions.
What can you buy at the farmers market?
Practically every type of fresh produce from local farmers and artisans are available here; from fruits to herbs, meats, eggs, cheeses and breads, jams, and even flowers! If you're hungry, there is also a wide selection of freshly made street food available on Thursdays like wood-fired pizza, grilled meats and sandwiches, tacos; and on Saturdays, hot and delectable meals.
When my wife and I go, we always run into other local restaurateurs and chefs. And occasionally, we would also see famous chefs from all around the country doing their shopping here. Whether you're a chef or a foodie, you will definitely have an amazing experience at the farmers' market!
Where: Ferry Building Marketplace (along the Embarcadero) When: Tuesdays and Thursdays,10 am to 2 pm
Saturdays, 8 am to 2 pm
Please take note that on weekday schedules, the smaller markets are located at the front of the building. On Saturdays, the markets are at the front of the building and at the back end.
Trips to the farmers market are my personal style of therapy. I find my weekly jaunts to Ferry Plaza relaxing and extremely enjoyable. There, I get to catch-up with suppliers-turned-friends, other restaurant owners, chefs, and practically everyone within my immediate circle.
On days when my wife couldn't go, my trips to the farmers market are instantly turned into my alone time—a luxury that I haven't been able to enjoy all that much since we opened our restaurant. But whether alone or with my wife, one thing's for sure: I never miss the weekly famers market in SF!
I encourage you to visit the official website of CUESA to learn more about their farmers markets, including upcoming events that you could be interested in. I also invite you to visit your local farmers market if you can't make it to this one in SF. It's the best way to support local farmers and artisans.
If you find yourself in San Francisco, feel free to look me up! This is Joshua Manocherian, and I hope to see you at the farmers' market!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Photography And Psychology: A Good Match?

Many of you don’t know this, but there is very good reason to believe that getting into photography can do wonders for you psychologically. It is therapeutic and calming. This fact makes photography all the more appealing. When you’re doing the thing you love, and you find out it’s great for your mind, that’s a wonderful feeling any way you put it.

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The specific observation was that studies showed how the mind reacts when information taken in from shooting pictures arrives.

The first fact you have to be aware of is that shooting images produces happiness. A number of recent studies have already showed how photography positively affects how people appreciate their everyday endeavors. When photographers are really into what they’re doing, they are living in the moment. The rush that comes with this stimulates brain activity and keeps the brain active and healthy.

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Along with an alert mind, your brain will also gain more focus, and learn to be more creative. Focus comes with never breaking contact with subjects of their images, as well as their background. Creativity on the other hand, stems from the need for photographers to tell stories with the images they capture.

Hello, I’m Joshua Manocherian, a retired photographer. Check out this page for more on me and my passions.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Best Places For Shutterbugs In The Fog City

San Francisco is probably one of the most photogenic cities in the entire world. At every turn, you can see plenty of subjects for photography. The fog that mists over the city can also, at times, enhance the shot. Some of the best places to take pictures of in San Fran are listed below:

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Any place that has the Golden Gate Bridge as backdrop

A well-known fact is that Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most photographed tourist spots in the world. However, many vantage points provide fantastic views of the iconic bridge. Some examples are Baker’s Beach, Battery Spencer, Vista Point, Land’s End, and Marin Headlines.

Twin Peaks

Two hundred and eighty-two miles above sea level, the summit of Twin Peaks offers a view of the whole San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, and even Oakland in the horizon. Shooting cityscapes during either the day or night is perfect at Twin Peaks.

Chinatown and The Castro District

Those looking to practice street photography, Chinatown, especially during Chinese New Year, and the Castro District, the center of LGBT culture in San Francisco, are great places that present countless opportunities to capture vivid, colorful images.

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Fisherman’s Wharf

There are many tourist traps in San Francisco, but one of the best is Fisherman’s Wharf or Pier 39 because of the excellent photo opportunities in the place. There are sea lions that inhabit the area, and the Alcatraz is one long lens away from the pier.

Joshua Manocherian here, a San Franciscan. I used to work as a photographer, but now, I only do it recreationally as I currently manage a farm-to-table restaurant with my wife. Know more about me by following me on Facebook.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Joshua Manocherian Sports Blog | When A Poet’s Namesake Plays Football

Edgar Allen Poe, Army Wide Receiver

Joshua Manocherian is a huge fan of college football and was ecstatic when the Army Black Knights finally defeated the Navy for the first time since 2001. He is fascinated by individual players’ back-stories. Today, he writes about Army wide receiver Edgar Allen Poe, who, it turns out, has a lot in common with the famed poet of the same name.
I’m a sucker for great back-stories. And in this season’s Army Black Knights football team, the most fascinating so far is that of wide receiver Edgar Allen Poe.
Does the name ring a bell? It should if you paid attention in your high school literature class. Edgar Allan Poe, famous for his poems “Annabel Lee” and “The Raven”, also attended West Point. Unfortunately for his Army career (and fortunately for lovers of poetry), the more well-known Edgar Poe was dismissed in 1831, after being charged with gross neglect of duty and disobedience of orders.
The other Edgar Poe, the wide receiver in this year’s Army team that just beat Navy and is about to go on to a bowl game, doesn’t see a dismissal in the horizon. With eleven career touchdown receptions, he is tied for sixth all-time in Army football history.
He did have times when he wanted to quit, though. When asked about his first time sleeping in the field, he stifled a wince.
"It rained. It poured for about 10 hours. That was the coldest I have ever been in my life. My neck muscles started cramping up," he told Army West Point Athletics.
But with his fellow seniors on the team all going through the same ordeal, he decided against quitting, instead sticking it out for one last push, one dedicated to fallen teammate and comrade-in-arms, Brandon Jackson, who died in a tragic car accident in September.
He recalls an incident involving the late cornerback in fall camp. The team had a lip-syncing competition as a group. Suddenly, Jackson just burst out into the competition, wearing women’s clothes and leaving the entire team in stitches.
Edgar Allen Poe cherishes that memory of his departed teammate. “I think that’s a good one to remember… that’s one of the most cherished moments I have. For [Jackson] to be part of it means so much.
For now, though, Poe wants to help his team win the Heart of Dallas Bowl against North Texas. And with his singular focus and the fact that his team wears black, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to call him "The Raven". After all, his namesake, the poet, might just have written those verses about a future Army wide receiver.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Fulfillment In Dirty Labor: Explaining The Joys Of Gardening

Gramps built everything on his farm from the ground up, working hard alongside his farmhands (including a strapping teenaged yours truly) in keeping agrarian enterprise on the outskirts of Fresno going up until he retired. Although we both shared a love of planting and growing things, it was his attitude toward work that rubbed off on me. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with getting your hands a little dirty and honest, hard work was something that mattered.

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Even though I eventually went on to become a professional photographer, the call to agriculture kept on coming back, though by then, I've become invested in a modest house in San Francisco. Of course, that never stopped this old city boy, and I have long since turned every possible nook and cranny in my yard as a planting space for various plants, mostly edibles.

There are few things as wonderful in life as getting your hands dirty and growing stuff. Nature has a very therapeutic effect on people, enough that not a few psychiatric professionals are encouraging this hobby to help people cope with mental disorders like depression. Plus, nature has quite the calming effect on the human psyche: merely being around plants helps us feel at ease and calm.

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For the young and the young at heart, gardening can also be a gateway to foster the curious mind and cultivate a love of conservation. Those who tend to plants will be able to see firsthand how plants grow, behave, and interact with their environment, and be witness to how our activities, good and bad, can affect other living things.

Joshua Manocherian here. Follow my other blog to catch more on my adventures in gardening, picture-taking, and cuisine.