Yes, Washington, there is life after a lost election. If you ask Treasures of Tuscany founder Lisa Mushaw about hers, she will tell you tales of traveling back and forth to Italy, tasting olive oil, cooking at a count's house and sipping wine. Not a bad gig.
Mushaw's journey started at the conclusion of the 2000 election. As a Clinton/Gore political appointee and a Gore/Lieberman supporter, she found herself in Washington and out of a job. "It was a heartfelt battle to the bitter end, so when we all became really unemployed the shock of it finally set in,'" she told Yeas & Nays.
As a foodie, she thought about moving back to Los Angeles, or perhaps opening up a getaway spot in Middleburg, Va., where guests could come, drink, and be served food from a cast of rotating chefs. But none of these were the right fit for the right price. "I spent about six months trying to do something local and I just, it just wasn't coming out."
Mushaw then booked a week-long trip to Italy to take cooking classes. The classes weren't so great, but the man teaching them became a valuable contact, then a business partner. Mushaw stayed a month and eventually got a new cooking and travel concept off the ground, "Treasures of Tuscany: An Epicurean Voyage."
Based out of Montecatini Terme in Tuscany, travelers spend a week cooking and touring the region. "I really call it a vacation with a cooking program, because we really only cook three times a week and each cooking class is set at a different vacation with a different chef," she said.
In addition to the cooking "school," the former Department of Agriculture worker has become an olive oil importer, selling her Treasures of Tuscany olive oil online stateside. "When you are around wine and food, typically people are very nice and gentle and happy and comfortable and that was what I was trying to evoke," she said of her businesses. "So we have created that at the cooking school in Italy, and by bringing a little bit of Italy back, which is that flavor in that olive oil."
So does Mushaw ever miss politics? "No," she said. "I don't."