Nick Smith, The Travel
Channel’s New Host, Talks
Food, Culture & Relationships
Nick Smith, reporter turned host of the Travel Channel’s show “Street Eats” embodies the spirit of many of the GR readers and contributors. He is unapologetic about his love of travel, fueled by his passions, and deliberate about his life choices. Just days away from the show’s premier, he paused to have a reflective conversation with GR about the process of building his dream, his love life and the drive it takes to keep chasing your vision, even when it gets dark.
GR: Congratulations on the new show. I am completely excited for you. I’m counting down the premier like it’s my show
Thank you. I am beyond excited. I think you share my excitement because you understand the struggle behind what it takes to launch something like this.
GR: Absolutely. It’s not an overnight process. It’s difficult. In fact, career change in general is difficult. In your case you went from a television news reporter to hosting a food centered travel show. How did that transition occur? And how was it?
It was a difficult decision, but I needed to follow my passion. I had to create a life that centered on the things I’m most passionate about; which are food, travel and TV. I had to find a way to marry the three so to speak.
GR: Marriage (both literally and figuratively speaking) isn’t always easy. How did you create a holy matrimony?
It was a long road. The time between forming an idea and knocking on the right doors can get pretty long. I had a lot of “no’s.” A lot of flying to another state, staying up all night to prepare for a meeting, only to arrive at the designated location and have the person say, “Something came up, but I can give you 5- minutes.” It’s a frustrating process, but this is all part of creating the life you want. The process was even more difficult because “real life” doesn’t stop while you’re building your dreams. I still had to work non-stop to pay the bills while pouring out money to invest in this project. I wish I could say “oh but It doesn’t seem all that bad now that it’s done.” That’s simply not true. I still think back and think how I did that.
Think your city has the best “street eats”? Hit him up on Twitter and let him know. He may just take you up on that challenge. (Tell Him GR Sent You!)
GR: How did you?
I just wouldn’t settle for mediocre. Don’t get me wrong. My previous career as a news reporter was something I worked hard for. By many standards it was “success.” It just wasn’t what I wanted. I knew I wouldn’t have been happy if I didn’t go after my passion. Following your passion is difficult sometimes.
GR: Yes it is. Just because you’re passionate about something, that doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult and demanding. Not only does it sound difficult, but the schedule sounds demanding. A demand that I imagine isn’t going to subside anytime soon. Tell us what your schedule is like now.
Yes it’s still intense. In order to scout the location sometimes we spend at least 4 days there. We take time to connect with the community and go beyond what you will typically see in a travel guide book. We want to help create a unique experience for the viewers. That requires work and time. Sometimes it feels like one day we are in Philly and the next moment we are in Cuba. It can feel non-stop.
GR: Has this change in travel schedule and career impacted your love life? Traveling around the globe **coughs** experiencing pieces of different cultures could sound like a dream job for some men.
Well my love life has definitely improved. Gainful employment tends to do that. I have yet to meet anyone that doesn’t appreciate a gainfully employed brother. But I’m not all that interested in **coughs** sampling different pieces of culture while I’m on the road. I’m single but I want something meaningful. Someone to share my highs and lows of life with. Someone to take this journey with me. That other stuff… I’m 44 years old, that’s not as necessary anymore.
I want something authentic. I want it to be real. I want to treat somebody the way I want somebody to treat my mother and sister.
GR: Thank you for the honestly. Wow your Twitter mentions are going to jump when this is published. But I had to ask that obvious question. You’re a good looking man. My readers want to know. Speaking of obvious questions, can we talk about how being a Black American traveling the globe during this season in history impacts your show? Or even if there is any impact.
Well even prior to this show I traveled often. I lived in Germany and several different states. I’m no stranger to being the only Black person in a space. But it does impact my show.
I know that in some countries their exposure to Black Americans is limited. I’m a tall, big black man. When we were in Hong Kong I got stares. Some people actually came up to me and wanted a picture because they assumed I was Obama. Other times I tried to walk up to locals and start a conversation and they were ice cold. It could have been a language barrier, or it could have been whatever preconceived notions they had about black Americans.
GR: Your show is centered on food. Which is a great ice breaker. At any point when you’re “breaking bread” with people do they ask questions?
No. However, we do have open conversations that I hope break stereotypes. I am always aware of their sometimes preconceived notions. Which is why on the show I am my layered authentic self. I want people to understand that we are not either Obama, a sports player or Love and Hip Hop. I mean, we can be all of the above. We are everything. I’m happy to be able to use my platform to demonstrate that. This works both ways. Sometimes I experience something new and reshapes how I previously viewed something.
GR: Which is the beauty of travel that our readers fully understand. Many of our readers are layered, diverse and seasoned nomads. They aren’t necessarily the “take a week off from work once year for a stay-cation” type. They create the life they want, convention be dammed. So they won’t really be interested in just any travel show. Tell me some thing about your show that would attract them.
Great question. This is the honest answer. No matter where you travel to you want to have a good time, great experience and great food without paying “tourist prices.”This show is providing you with that in our own unique and family friendly way. For more information about the show tune into the Travel Channel.
Shanita Hubbard is a mom, writer, traveler, speaker and social justice advocate. Her background includes juvenile justice reform, nation-wide consulting and collaborating on multi-million dollar grants. However, she is most proud of her title as the Mom of an amazing black girl. Follow her on Twitter