From the sidelines to Kitchen Stadium, Jaymee Sire’s career continues to evolve.
If Jaymee Sire’s career path is any indication, Ralph Waldo Emerson nailed it when he wrote that “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey”. It’s Jaymee’s journey from sports television to food that compelled me to learn more.
The career blueprint for an aspiring sportscaster would likely map out a path that begins in local television before ideally moving to regional sports with the ultimate goal being a dream job with a national network. Jaymee’s journey followed that template, taking her from local work in her native Montana and then San Diego to a regional role in the Bay Area. From there, the award-winning talent headed east to bucolic Bristol, Connecticut, and an anchor job with ESPN.
2017 layoffs at the Worldwide Leader in Sports stopped Jaymee’s trajectory in its tracks, but she turned those life lemons into lemonade and landed fortuitously among fellow foodies at Food Network, where she ably filled Kevin Brauch’s shoes as the floor reporter on Iron Chef Showdown. Other Food Network appearances combined with roles at the James Beard Awards and New York City Wine & Food Festival to firmly entrench her in the food world.
While still working in the Bay Area in 2011, Jaymee started a food blog called “e is for eat — eating my way through the alphabet”. Perhaps foretelling her future, that creative outlet fed her passion and led me to ask if being laid-off from ESPN was possibly a happy accident.
“I was still very much in my sports career so my blog was like a creative outlet for me initially, kind of a hobby, a passion, something I could do outside of work. It was really just sharing this other passion and interest that I had with the world. I was definitely interested in transitioning to food but I found it very difficult because I built my career doing sports and was respected in that world. It was hard to go from a place where everyone knows you and respects your work and knows your resume to ‘who is this person?’.
So I took the ESPN job knowing it would be an amazing opportunity, a learning opportunity, and a chance to get recognized by a wider audience and hopefully translate that into something else, whether it’s food or travel or lifestyle or even news. When the layoffs happened in 2017, it was kind of a chance to explore and go pursue these other things. If I had still been at ESPN, I wouldn’t have had the chance to do Iron Chef Showdown and some of these other things that I got to do.”
Before I even had a chance to ask about the challenge of adhering to the format of “e is for eat”, Jaymee reflected on the alphabet in the room.
“When I first started it, I felt like I needed a theme to help me focus on a daily or weekly basis when coming up with recipe content. I won’t say that I ever regret it and the first couple times through the alphabet was fun, but eventually, it was ‘what am I going to come up with for x this time’. It really did push me to be a little more creative and come up with things that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of without the alphabet theme. it’s a fun way to think outside-the-box, though it can be a little restricting when I want to post something with certain ingredients and I have to make it fit with the alphabet. No one would care if I skipped letters or posted out of order, but I like to stay true to the format I decided to follow nine years ago.”
S is for sandwich and Jaymee Sire has one named after her at Ike’s Love & Sandwiches in San Francisco, California.
“The Jaymee Sirewich is awesome. I remember when that first came about when I was living in San Francisco and the day it debuted. I remember thinking ‘okay, I’ve made it. I have a sandwich named after me’. I still obviously take a lot of pride in that and people still tag me in their sandwich photos and tell me that it’s their favorite sandwich. I joke with Ike that he should definitely give me royalties of some sort, but he’s a great guy and I’m happy to support his business.”
With a passion for travel that obviously equals her love of food, I asked Jaymee how those interests complement each other for her.
“For me, one of the best ways to experience a culture, especially one that you’re not familiar with, is through food. And I think that can span across a lot of different genres, everything from street food to high-end Michelin star-type establishments because if it’s something that’s native to that country or that area, they’re still drawing from those simple street food-type places and elevating it, taking a simple idea and making it their own and a bit fancier.
Travel is just a really great way to immerse yourself and learn about a culture and their history and why they eat certain foods and use certain ingredients. That’s something that I not only enjoy, but that enhances the travel experience for me.”
I asked Jaymee if there’s a specific food destination on her bucket list.
“I’ve been to Tokyo, but it was for work when I was still covering the Bay Area teams and the A’s were there playing the Red Sox for the first time. We spent eight days there, but I feel like I was working the whole time and while we did eat some great food, I wasn’t seeking out places I wanted to try. Now, knowing so much more about the cuisine there and seeing friends and people I follow go there and all the amazing foods they’ve eaten on those trips, I’d really love to go back and really dive into all that.”
Jaymee’s love of food blossomed as a child when she and her sister were tasked with cooking dinner once a week.
“The rules were that we had to cook dinner once a week and there had to be a protein, a vegetable, and a starch. The things we made early on were kind of simple, but the more I got into it and following recipes that I found in my mom’s cookbooks, I thought it was really fun. It was definitely then that I started becoming more interested and excited about cooking.”
It’s always fun to ask a foodie, especially one who has traveled extensively both domestically and abroad what their last meal would be. Jaymee?
“I love that question! I ask it a lot at the end of interviews myself. For me it would be super simple, it would be a carne asada burrito from pretty much any taco shop in San Diego. That’s the first place I really lived for an extended period of time and I just fell in love with the cuisine down there. And it has to have good hot sauce. The hot sauce is key.”
Needless to say, the peripatetic Jaymee Sire has found her happy place in the food world. And regardless if her journey leads back to sports or other broadcasting pursuits, it’s clear that her passion for food will be well-fed.
Has Jaymee Sire inspired you to start a food journey?