Getting to Know Sophorn McRae, aka Eating Local with Norococo

This is part of a joint Eat Local Memphis and Norococo collaboration. See Sophorn’s accompanying post here.

I read a fair amount of blogs. I think they are the perfect medium for someone with my sort-of-add slash super excitable personality. I love that a blog can be someone’s personal voice, edited by themselves, so that we just get a collection of things that have meaning to them. I like getting to know people a little bit through their writing and photography. Hopefully, what my blog creates is a bit of a sense of who I am, more than just a listing of places that one can eat in our fair city.

One of my favorite blogs coming out of Memphis is Norococo. The blog both shares the life and times of Sophorn McRae and shows off her design chops. She takes pictures of things all over town, and it is really her skill at photography and design that push me to become a better photographer. You can definitely see that I’ve gotten some inspiration for my blog from her.

Coffee and Questionnaires – Meet Local – Sophorn McRae

Sophorn McRae is the brains (and everything else) behind the blog Norococo, so we decided to take our mutual blog respect and turn it into a real life meeting. Oh the irony of two bloggers actually getting together in person instead of emailing/tweeting/facebooking. So, K and I met up with Sophorn, husband Christopher, and their star son Atticus for brunch at K and I’s favorite brunch spot, you guessed it, the Beauty Shop. While there we discussed blogging, food, family, Memphis, and lot of good stuff. We also took the chance to eat a couple of things.

We’ll do this in a modified interview style. Some of these answers will be paraphrased, as it was hard to take notes and eat at the same time. You understand, right?

Eat Local Memphis – How did you come to find Memphis?

Sophorn McRae – Christopher and I were at Auburn (TR note – War Eagle!) studying architecture, and it came time for us to move out of our place. We had narrowed it down to Memphis, Nashville, and Birmingham, and we really were waiting to see who had opportunities in our field.

Christopher McRae – Actually, I had gone on a cross country road trip about ten years before, in which I was not on a schedule. When I came to Memphis on the trip, I assumed I’d be here for a night. 10 days later I left, and it has always held a special place for me, so I was kind of lobbying for Memphis. When we were setting up interviews, one thing that really struck me was the transformation of downtown Memphis in the 10 years since I had been here.  A city that is capable of that is a city on its way up. Fortunately, Memphis was where the job opportunities were, so here we are.

Eat Local note – I love when anyone picks Memphis over Nashville these days. I feel like I watch a lot of my friends make the move East along I-40, so it really excites me when we get good new people. To me Memphians have a great opportunity to stick around and make this a better place.

Food Interjection pt. 1

While we were having drinks, the famous Atticus went ahead and ordered up a fine meal of grits and bacon. If you aren’t familiar with Atticus McRae, he will probably be listed in the next Top 5 Under 5 list that comes out. He is a cool guy. He may only be four, but he orders breakfast at an eight-year-old level. Follow him on Twitter, really.

Where’d It All Begin?

What I really wanted to know was how one of my favorite blogs got started, and in this I got an incredible answer.

ELM – How’d this blog get started?

Sophorn – It really started a few years ago when my niece sent me a “Flat Stanley.”

ELM – A what?

Sophorn – This was a class project in which all of the students in her class made a two-dimensional person that they could send in the mail. They asked each person that they sent it to to take Flat Stanley around their city and take some pictures. Then send pictures and Stanley back to the school. I got really into this project, and I took Flat Stanley all over town. We went to Graceland, we went to the Rendevous, we went out to see music. Flat Stanley got to know a lot of people, and I put together a cool package to send back to the school.

ELM – Awesome!

Sophorn – And when it was all said and done, the students in this class decided that Memphis was the coolest city in the world. Cooler than New York, Alexandria, and all the other places that Flat Stanley visited.

ELM – So doing that project engaged you in the city in a new way. As a tour guide, you became a spokesperson for Memphis.

Sophorn – Exactly. The other benefit to Flat Stanley was that I met a lot of people while working on the project. Anyone will do an interview with a paper cut-out for a school project. In getting to know those people and enjoying those interviews, that set a stage for future interviews on this blog. This blog was born from that project, and it became a way for me to constantly cheer-lead for and share the special things about Memphis.

Sophorn – And then as a professional designer, it serves as a portfolio as well. By putting effort and crafting each post into something unique, I show what I am capable of as a professional.

ELM note – This is awesome. What a way to connect with your city and the people around you. By showing off your talents in such a way that shows off this city, you are doing us all a service. Wish everyone could spend a little bit of their time using their talent to share what they love about this place!

Food Interjection pt. 2

Now that I was really learning about the McRaes and the blog, we were all able to settle down over our brunch plates. I know that you have probably seen these before, but here goes! I’m going with super fast descriptions, because this post is long!

Chilequis Migas. Egg nachos, basically. I love these.

Carnitas and pear eggs benedict. Take the pork we all love, add some sweetness, and add a poached egg. Turns out you get something of a dream breakfast. I get this often.

The tradition. Eggs Benny.

Egg Pizette. The egg pizza.

Seen in Memphis

Lastly, Sophorn has been working on another awesome project. She and a number of talented photographers are collaborating on the Seen Memphis (or See N Memphis), which is a sweet street photography project to show what Memphis is like on a personal level. Great photos and a cool way to see our city through different people’s perspectives.

Share Your Memphis

What I like about Sophorn, and other bloggers like her, is that she shares the Memphis that she sees, tastes, smells, lives, and enjoys. This is a city that has amazing experiences to offer, and all of those can’t be told by one person, so we each have an opportunity to be a part of making this place better for as all. I love that people can take their unique views and talents and put them to work for the community. That’s why I read Norococo all the time, and that’s why Sophorn is great for Memphis.


You want to go to there (to read the blogs):

Seen Memphis

2 thoughts on “Getting to Know Sophorn McRae, aka Eating Local with Norococo”

  1. Thank you to you and Sophorn for doing these articles.

    There was a discussion at Whining and Dining last week regarding eating local. One restaurant owner (Rick) was intense in his feelings for chain vs. local, understandbly so. However, what surprised a few of us was his contention that most local restaurants sit empty all week while the chains are full. What shocked me personally is his lack of motivation to change the “chain” mindset. I appreciate your willingness to take on changing the mindset!!

    Thank you again for these articles and for all that you and the McRaes do for eating local!!

    PS I am in complete love of all things Muddys!!!

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