Justin Choate: Uncovering Big Eats in Little Berks County

I was born in a small town just outside of Philadelphia – Aston, it’s called. As a kid, I was never a picky eater. I would try anything you put in front of me. I credit a lot of that to my Uncle Bob who, as I get older I realize more, is a big reason why I am who I am today. He introduced me to so very much when it came to food.

He gave me my first piece of sushi – I’ll never forget it. He brought me to many restaurants throughout the City of Brotherly Love and encouraged me to try something new each time. He always played the, “Just try this and tell me if you like it” game. He wouldn’t tell me what I was about to eat because he knew it might deter my want to try. That’s how I came to love many different meats and cheeses and other non-traditional creations.

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Now, this is not to discredit my parents who cleared ever avenue for me to pursue every ridiculous and wild dream I had, and still support me to this day by believing in every ridiculous and wild dream I have. My parents bought me a knife set one year for Christmas because I wanted to pretend I was on the Food Network and host cooking shows from our kitchen. Everybody knows that a true chef needs great knives.

So, I left Delaware County back in 2010 when I attended Albright College to study Communications with a focus in journalism. I always knew I wanted to do something in food or sports. Sports came first. I had the honor to be the Public Address Announcer for the Reading Fightin Phils for five seasons. It was a dream come true for me, and I’m lucky to have had that opportunity.

But, working in sports is very strenuous and doesn’t leave much time for other activities – like raising a family. That’s what my wife, Kelly and I are doing now. Kelly and I met in college, and got engaged in the summer of 2015. We were married in July of 2016, and we recently welcomed our first son, Cameron, into the world this past November. It’s been the best adventure of my life.

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Anyway, let’s talk about the reason why I’m here – Bites of Berks. I told you earlier that I wanted to work in either food or sports. Sports came first, food came next. When I moved to Berks County, my love for trying new, unique foods didn’t fade away. In fact, it grew stronger as I quickly realized how much culture Berks has to offer. There are so many hidden gems in our beautiful county that need to be uncovered and brought into the limelight. That’s where my idea of Bites of Berks came from.

But, while I do love to eat, the most important thing about this entire project isn’t just the food. No, it’s the people behind it all – the men, women and families who work tirelessly and passionately to bring their best to the table day in and day out.

You see, food is more than just eating. Food tells a story, and is the backbone of this melting pot we are so lucky to call home. But as corporate chain restaurants continue to come in, it’s breaking that very backbone. That’s why I want to tell their stories. My goal is to make as many people as possible aware of the love and passion our local restaurateurs are pouring out each day. It’s going to be a long journey, but one filled with fun and flavor. Won’t you join me?

This is Bites of Berks.

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Justin Choate
Justin Choate
I’m Justin Choate. I'm just your average guy who grew up in Aston, Pa., now living in the outskirts of Reading with my wife, son, and cat. I moved to Berks County in the Summer of 2010 when I began my freshman year at Albright College, and I haven’t left since. I also currently serve as the Public Address Announcer for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, formerly working for the R-Phils. I collect hats and socks, and I love to eat and travel.
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