Years lived in Toledo: 23
Occupation: Incubation Operations Manager at Launchpad Incubation at The University of Toledo
One lyric to describe my ideal self: “The only true voyage would be not to travel through a hundred different lands with the same pair of eyes, but to see the same land through a hundred different pairs of eyes.” – Marcel Proust
Most people know me for: Whenever I meet someone that I don’t see often, they always comment on the food I post on my Instagram profile. My day job is working with startup companies to accelerate new ventures at UT’s Launchpad Incubator. I put on events at Launchpad related to new technology where I meet a lot of awesome enthusiastic people. I’ve also been working with the Cleveland Water Alliance’s Erie Hack initiative, a hackathon to help develop solutions to challenges faced by Lake Erie’s coastal cities.
The best thing I’ve ever eaten in Toledo was: For things as important and diverse as food, I have “favorites” divided into certain categories. Here are a few: Pizza: 5th St. Pub if I’m feeling fancy, Gino’s if I’m in sweatpants. Chinese: B.M. Chen, and QQ Kitchen (GET THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS) are great for eating out with friends, but Rice Blvd is my go-to for a tasty, fresh, and quick lunch (get the yakisoba). My grandpa was a chef in LA and made amazing Mexican food. Spending a lot of time in LA as a kid gave me a certain taste for really authentic Mexican food that continues to curse my tongue to this day— with that said— honorable mention to Maya’s on Monroe St., they have the most amazing mole sauce!
If I could change one thing about Toledo: In my observation, Toledo tends towards exclusivity. This is starting to change as more “walled gardens” are opening up to the realization that we are all better off collaborating in an inclusive way, rather than trying to build our own little fiefdoms.
If I knew I could get away with it, I would: Purchase all of the empty buildings and turn them into indoor vertical gardens for agricultural education, economic growth, and nutritional literacy.
When I’m craving soup, I go to: Make it myself. I make insanely good ramen.
The best view in Toledo: The patio at The Heights, with their delicious lobster tacos, a cool beverage, and conversation with friends until the sun drops behind the skyline.
The Toledoan I most admire: To be honest, there are a lot of people I could put here, but I’m going to shout out to a new, up-and-coming guy who is making some waves that I really like— Sam Chang of Midstory, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit thinkhub that’s dedicated to curating and uplifting the narrative of Toledo and the Midwest, as it is often overshadowed by the coasts. Sam made the move to come back from the east coast, dropping his full-time job as a manager of a prison education non-profit in Boston, and is putting his all into his hometown in a meaningful and thoughtful way. I hope more people can do the same! Check them out at @midstorytoledo and midstory.org.
(If you were an animal) Hunter or gatherer: Both… but seriously I actually started a separate Instagram because I’m REALLY into foraging for indigenous edibles like wild mushrooms, flowers, and herbs. Check out ForageToledo.
The thing I truly need to let go of: My deep love for adding bacon fat to just about everything. Thank you Grandpa Valdiviez, for this delicious vice.
The reason I am most proud of myself right now: I’m starting to read more books— paper and hardbound, rather than online articles and stuff on my phone. It’s less distracting and I like the feel of good paper.