You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is about. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. As a bonus, I’ve updated some of the questions!


Ben Hoyer, a past feature on 11 Questions, suggested I should feature Joseph. Always open to meeting someone new who is doing something(s) cool in Orlando I said, “Well of course!” and Ben was right, Hayes was a great candidate for the series; as he’s had a big part in shaping Orlando’s creative and culinary scene over the last 20+ years. Think about that for a minute, this guy has been pouring into the Central Florida community for a long time. What a great legacy (and he’s not even done!). I love how experimental he is with his work, not afraid to tackle a new idea or new process. I hope that rubs off on me.

Who do you look up to?

People who have decided to not wait for someone else’s approval to create.

Favorite book, album, musician?

The superbly talented guitarist Ralph Towner. The jazz trio La Lucha, who continue to accept my performance challenges with delight and telepathy. Miles, Mingus, Mark Hollis, Joni, Bjork, Lisa Hannigan, the great Niko Case, Paul Simon, give it up for local great Tierney Tough and The Pauses … practically every jazz luminary who lives and works in Orlando who if I start naming I’d only forget some. I could go on. I look for texture in sounds and words.

What’s your favorite place to eat in Orlando?

Seeing as I’ve been writing about Orlando since 1997, and specifically about restaurants, my list of best places to eat and what to order has filled 24 years of magazines, newspapers, travel guides and online pubs. Sorry, that’s the most defined I can get.

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

Oh, I’m sure there is some snide remark relating to politicians and naked mole rats, but that would be redundant.

Who in your life has inspired you?

The composer/musician David Amram, who I’ve known since the early 1970s, started playing jazz while his friend Jack Kerouac read poetry and today at 90 plays upwards of 60 concerts a year. My partner, Jennifer, who continually teaches me the joys of saying “yes.” The novelist Douglas Coupland who told me, “You should write plays”, and started me on my path.

What are you proud of?

Since coming to Orlando, I’ve been able to craft an artistic career that includes local actors, musicians, creative artists and, dare I say it, thinkers. Everyone who works on one of my projects gets paid and are, hopefully, challenged positively by the experience. And there are folks in this town who know my name, which is nice. I’ve managed to pull off several multi-event projects that have involved things like staging 13 self-produced performances in one year (13in13) and presenting six Pompeii-themed dinners in the middle of a freaking pandemic. And have 45 productions and readings of my work around the world since 2002. Being ADD helps …

What rejuvenates you?

A new project, a new idea, meeting a new person who sparks some different way of doing things. Saying, “Oh what the hell, let’s see if this works.”

There anything you haven’t done yet which you feel compelled to do or want to achieve in the future?

I don’t know, whatcha got?

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

After a lifetime of being very good at jobs I hated, I decided to do what I love to do most and somehow make money at it. So my professional life involves talking to people, asking those questions that time and again get the response “Nobody’s ever asked me that before,” and “Why am I telling you this?” and then writing it down; and my personal life is focused on telling stories. Simple, really.

How do you hope to be remembered?

As someone who helped. The one piece of advice I generally pass on to people is, be audacious. Some folks actually take that to heart, and tell me so.

If you were to choose a different career what would it be?

I’d open a stage/club/restaurant based on Jazz Club Novecento 900 in Venice, open during the week for jazz and world music performances and theater on weekends. So not all that different, really, from what I do already, just with lots more money. I can’t imagine wanting to do something different. Every day is something different.

Click HERE to read more “11 Questions” columns by Brian Carlson.

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