New York’s own entrepreneur Ashanti Middleton,
is a black female with a brand all her own, married to her wife of two years. Her food and drink review channel “Taste and Toast” has gained a following and a prominent internet residency through her website and youtube channel.
What set her a part from all the other channels and reviewers was her distinct passion for the entire process, while staying true to her authenticity.
“I went to college for business management. I found a passion in film and entertainment afterwards,” said Middleton. “I’m like a self proclaimed food connoisseur. It really comes from a passion of wanting to go out and try new foods. So I took that, in addition to me loving the entertainment industry, in addition to me wanting to help.”
She described to me that her ultimate goal is to drive more traffic into these
cheers-worthy bars and delectable restaurants, while growing her personal platform.
Her many years of experience in retail, customer service and product management gift her the understanding of creating an entire dining experience.
This gives her a leg up to reviewing all types of eateries.
I asked her to describe the overall process of reviewing a location and to detail her experience thus far.
“We profile the business as a whole, the ambiance, the history of the restaurant, and then of course, the food,” said Middleton.
“My favorite reviewing experience was when I went to go visit a Thai restaurant in Brooklyn called Samui. What I usually do is tell the owners to prepare two dishes and two drinks.
They prepared 30 dishes and 20 drinks.
We were eating all day!”
I had a moment of rethinking what I was doing with my life; free food and drinks? It sounds too good to be true. Of course, I then had to follow up with asking about some of the biggest struggles that parent the experience of entrepreneurship.
“Right now I’ve been able to self finance everything. As you grow and as you become more in demand, you need more money. I don’t get any money for shooting but I’m still paying my videographers, so it’s like an investment. I don’t want to say I’m losing money, but it is money out of my pocket,” said Middleton.
As a Human Resources manager with a local retailer, she is able to fund her channel entirely on her own. Middleton hopes that her next obstacle can be one building atop her current journey. She aspires to be picked up by a major platform; ie a TV or or major digital channel.
Taste and Toast has even been featured in the Huffington Post.
Click here to see the article.
The idea for the channel Taste and Toast originated from Middleton and her close friends several years ago.
“I have two best friends of 25 years and we were brain storming for maybe 3 days. We came up with a whole bunch of names. And finally I came up with the name, Taste and Toast. I said ‘I like Taste and Toast, because that’s what I want to do!
It was a name for keeps,” said Middleton.
Beyond her personal youtube channel and website,
Middleton has other projects as well.
“I have another venture too, my wine. I have two business partners and it’s called Esrever,” said Middleton.
“We were at the table, drinking, probably 6 or 7 years ago,
me and my two best friends of 25 years were like,
‘What would it be like to own your own wine business? How do you even do that?”
Middleton shared more on the beginning of creating her wine brand.
“We just started with the basics, what type of wine would we like to taste and then we came up with some names. We were throwing a whole bunch of names out there. They give me credit for the wine name as well,” said Middleton.
If you look closely, you’ll see that the name Esrever,
is actually Reverse spelled backwards. The name is catchy and flows well.
Middleton’s biggest inspiration is her friend that she refers to as her younger brother, David; he’s integrated as an actor in the entertainment industry.
“He’s 27 now and I knew him when he was 18. I was around him when he first dibbled and dabbled into the acting field and now he does work for the Food Network and all types of stations. He’s really prominent in his field,” said Middleton.
“So watching him go to auditions, get turned down and get picked up, get paid gigs and just go through this, I began to love it just by follow him to his gigs.
I grew an interest and took it from there.”
Middleton also hosts food related events as well. Her MC persona thrives when she’s hosting and shooting new episodes at these events.
“I’m happy to say that I’ve been picked up as an official media partner for Famous Food Festival. It’s this big food festival that happens every year and they go on tour, so they’re coming here July 14 and 15th,” said Middleton.
The festival is put on by Eric and Ryan; Middleton will be their media partner for the festival.
“I’m also the host and media partner for Bronze magazine. They’re having their second annual pop-up event, a pop-up shop, which is May 12th.” Between Middleton’s successes, she unfortunately has received some push back because of her identity. However, she remains collected and unbothered when speaking about it.
“I do have two companies that didn’t want to work with me because I’m gay. I did experience that. But it doesn’t bother me. None of that bothers me at all. It’s their choice, it’s what they want to do. So I just keep going,” said Middleton.
When I asked her about how companies have embraced the gay community, she elaborated.
“Most companies use it as a selling point. Like a a lot of companies. Even if they don’t agree, that’s what’s in now, accepting homosexuality. If you talk bad about the homosexual society, they’ll come after you. So if they find out that your business doesn’t support homosexuality, you have a big battle against you. So a lot of companies welcome it because it just helps their business grow, even if they’re doing it selfishly,” said Middleton.
Middleton’s ambition precedes her persona in the reviewing and entertainment industry. Her hard work and emphasis on direction forward amplifies her strength in character and passion for her work.
“The key to this is consistency. There are days where I just want to throw in the towel. Like more than not, honestly. There’s a lot of days that I go through being discouraged, but you have to remain consistent,” said Middleton.
Surrounding herself with positive influences makes all the difference as well.
“I really find the most joy in talking to people that are like me, that are like minded and that are in something that they want to grow. I love that. Like regular people that are trying to build their dream.”
Here’s one of my favorite reviewing videos from her channel.
Episode 6 – Sneak Peak #Extra Taste Coco-Roco
Keep an eye out for Taste and Toast, Esrever, and Ashanti Middleton
as she climbs the ladder to all her successes.