Meet Hunter Carpenter

A Be A Better Human Story

What’s been your First Watch journey?

For as long as I can remember, every Sunday my grandma and I have had a tradition. Before we start the week, we would go to brunch somewhere, and First Watch was always somewhere special we shared. Fifteen years later, our tradition continues stronger than ever, and it feels full circle coming to First Watch’s Home Office as a creative writer and storyteller. I’ve been writing my entire life but having the opportunity to put words to our brunch experience and the amazing people who bring it to life in our restaurants seemed like the perfect way to connect with that tradition on a deeper level.

What’s been your favorite moment so far?

My favorite part continues to be interviewing and giving voice to our amazing team members through our Be A Better Human series. It takes a lot of trust to share your story, so I take great pride and care when our employees share their own. Every conversation I have reminds me why I love doing what I do: everyone has a story, and if you can connect with that, you bring something meaningful to life.

Where does your passion for writing come from?

Words have always been my thing, something I discovered in a restaurant of all places. As a kid growing up in Sarasota, Florida, whenever I’d go out to breakfast with my grandma, I’d toss away the coloring sheet and use crayons and napkins to write stories for the servers. My first book was titled “The Dinosaur and the Tiger,” and ever since I could tangibly see my work come to life, I’ve been hooked. As you can tell, my grandma has been a throughline for this passion and has encouraged me to keep up writing and do so from the heart – because if you’re not, you’re doing yourself and others a disservice.

Hunter Taekwondo

How do you break your writer’s block?

A cup of Project Sunrise coffee is always a great start, but I also like putting miles on my running shoes especially along trails and parks near the water. I’ve participated in several half marathons and would like to start training for a full someday, as long as my knees hold up.

Clarity also comes to me when I practice Taekwondo, something I’ve done off and on for more than a decade and have a 2nd degree black belt to show for it.

We hear you’ve lived abroad…

I’m very much into travel. I lived in Japan for two years of my life, both as a study abroad student and as an English teacher. I can speak Japanese, something I’ve always wanted to do.

When I went to college, I studied the language during my freshmen and sophomore years before throwing myself in the fire during a full-year abroad in Tokyo – which is still to this day the best experience of my life. After graduation, I took an English teaching job in a very rural part of country, and that level of cultural immersion changes your worldview for the better. When I’m not putting words to paper, I’m dreaming about a return trip to put my rusty Japanese to the test.

What would you say to someone trying to figure out who they are?

I wrestle with this in my own life, truthfully. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I know being your authentic self takes courage beyond belief – and just starting that journey is enough. While not everyone’s situation is the same and some will navigate more challenging situations than others, it’s never a bad idea to start the process of figuring yourself out and creating a network of support. Just by being you, you’re inspiring an untold number of people to also go on that journey with you. While it is a challenging path, it is so worthwhile.

hunter carpenter babh vertical 1

When you think about the LGBTQ+ community, what does it mean to you?

Especially nowadays, it’s more of a statement to be out, proud and part of the community. I came out at the end of high school, and it took me a while to be fully comfortable and confident with myself. When I did, I found out that people still viewed and treated me as Hunter Carpenter. Being LGBTQ+ is but one part of my identity: I’m an avid writer, runner, brunch lover, martial artist, history nerd, and coffee aficionado. There are so many parts of our identity, and all are equally worthy of celebration.

Now more than ever, it’s important for the LGBTQ+ community and allies to show up. Pride Month is both a statement and a celebration, a time to be seen and celebrated for who you are – a feeling of belonging I hope lasts all year long.  

What makes a great ally?

To show up even when it’s tough. I think an ally recognizes and celebrates someone for who they are, but they also show up for the everyday moments just as much as the challenging ones – to make someone’s life just a little easier.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned?

Life gives you gifts but you have to recognize them as such. There’s something to being grateful about how far you’ve come and being confident that you’ve chosen a path and are stronger because of it. Also, I have to share my love for food comes from my mom. She is a dietitian by day and devoted cook by night, and always made it a point to have family time around the table every single night as we grew up. Even in my busy life now, family time still happens around the dinner table at home.

Favorite First Watch menu item…go!

In the morning, I’m a fan of the A.M. Superfoods Bowl with a cup of Project Sunrise coffee. The afternoon is a different story: Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowl with two scrambled eggs on top with a Kale Tonic.

Want to join Hunter in putting the good in good morning?