Interview by Tonia Trotter
Photo courtesy of Daniel Browne
Author Daniel Browne knows a thing or two about hipsters, foodies, gentrification, and what happens when a city goes from “cool” to “hot.” In fact, he’s written a book about it. Dan’s book In the Weeds, hitting shelves this Friday, is a sweetly satirical tale centered around the culinary transformation that took place in recession-era Brooklyn. The Brooklynite turned Birminghamian will have a book signing and reading on Saturday, December 8th at Little Professor Bookstore in Homewood.
Dan, you are originally from South Florida. How did you end up in Birmingham?
I grew up in West Palm Beach and moved to NYC for college. I went to Columbia and ended up staying in New York for twenty years! My wife Lisa was offered a job at Southern Living here in Birmingham. We had a new baby and were itching to move out of the city. Birmingham felt good right away.
What about Birmingham feels good to you?
My wife and I lived in Park Slope, a really great, small neighborhood in Brooklyn. It is definitely more removed from the bustle of Manhattan and tourist traps, but it was still always so densely populated. People were lined up and spilling out of every corner, and I always felt like I was on the outside looking in. Even in the short time my family and I have lived in Birmingham, we already feel integrated into the community. There’s room to breathe, and I feel like it’s an ideal place for a family. The residents of Birmingham are inclusive and really seem to take pride in local businesses, restaurants, events, and the city itself.
Birmingham isn’t necessarily Brooklyn, but we are definitely experiencing a renaissance – especially within our creative industries like the culinary arts. You write about Brooklyn’s foodie evolution in your book. Do you recognize any of the same trends playing out here?
There was a popular publication that I used to read in New York called “Edible Brooklyn.” It was THE resource for farm-to-table/Edison-lightbulb eateries opened by former finance executives who decided to quit their corporate lives and focus on their side-hustle of making quinoa dosas or something else like that. There is now an “Edible Alabama.” Birmingham’s food scene seems to come from an authentic place, and I love the sense of ownership people seem to feel about what is happening in their community.
Where can readers buy your book and read your other work?