Kreskin J. Torres didn’t want to be another person who apologizes for not being able to achieve their dreams.
So four years ago, the Baltimore County native set off in his car with a goal and a plan to achieve it: travel all 50 states while working as an Uber driver to fund the trip.
“I wanted to see what it was like outside of Baltimore and experience different places around the country,” he said. “I wanted to experience the real America myself.”
By February 2022, Torres had visited 49 states. He plans to strike out the very last, Hawaii, in October.
When Torres, a Woodlawn native, began his journey, his main focus was on trying different cuisines, from real Southern cooking to a supper club in Wisconsin, as well as meeting new people. He wanted to speak with local residents, officials and police to hear their stories about their lives and the issues they face.
The 33-year-old never planned on becoming a social media influencer. But along the way, those he met wanted to follow his last travels. In 2019, Torres launched @theridesharefoodie on Instagram, eventually garnering over 19,000 followers.
“Food is our common ground,” said Torres, who now lives in Texas. “My main focus is to experience people and have conversations and food is a way to connect with different people.”
Growing up, Torres said he didn’t travel much outside of the Baltimore area. It wasn’t until he immersed himself in the culture of London in 2017 that he had the idea of crossing the United States. He spent the next year planning and saving before hitting the road.
During the first two years of his adventure, Torres, an Army veteran, said he would spend about a month in each state and travel for about a year at a stretch. He typically spent a week in a big city and then traveled to smaller towns across the state while working as a ride-hailing driver.
Wherever he goes, Torres said, he always seeks out the local delicacy and goes from there. In Wisconsin he tried cheese curds and in Nebraska he had chili cinnamon rolls – something that remains one of his favorites.
“It’s like taking a trip to America,” Torres said. “There are so many regional things that you would never learn if you weren’t there.”
Some of his favorite places have been in Anchorage, Alaska, because he “never thought he would ever be there”; Jackson, Mississippi, where he first experienced true Southern hospitality; and New Mexico where he fell in love with Tex-Mex cuisine as well as the slower Southwestern lifestyle.
Torres often scoured local Facebook groups for food recommendations. That’s how he met Deona Madrigal in Wichita, Kansas.
Madrigal’s husband is a chef and told Torres he had to try his food. The three first met at a local bar, bonding over their love of food. The couple ended up inviting Torres over for Thanksgiving dinner where they served fried turkey, a casserole of green beans and a brisket.
“When you meet Kreskin, it’s like you’ve known each other forever,” Madrigal, 42, said. “It’s really inspiring what he does and food unites people.”
Since meeting in the fall of 2020, the trio have stayed in touch. Madrigal said they occasionally text and she likes to follow her Instagram. The next time Torres is in town, Madrigal’s husband plans to take her shopping for cowboy boots together.
“Kreskin is practically a stranger when he visits these places and he befriends everyone,” she said. “Everyone has to eat and so when you’re willing to try different foods of all types, you’ll meet anyone and everyone.”
Alonzo and Amanda McNeese also connected with Torres through a local Facebook group about three years ago. The couple were so struck by his kindness that they invited him to Amanda’s birthday dinner.
And when they hit it off over dinner, the McNees invited Torres over for Christmas.
“He’s chasing his dream instead of talking about it,” Alonzo McNeese said. “I like to see people make no excuses and do what they want.”
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Torres said he slowed down his commute and instead of being on the road for nearly a year straight, he opted for a few weeks at a time.
The downtime allowed him to start working on developing an app he plans to launch next month. This will allow him to share the local recommendations he’s tried across the country with people and let others suggest places for more.
Eventually, Torres said he hoped to get food trucks from around the country together for a tour to give people “a taste of America.” One day, he dreams of owning a restaurant offering specialties from each state.
But until then, Torres is counting the days until he can tick number 50 off his list.
“I just want to continue to connect with people and get to know as many as I can and build relationships,” he said. “I just want to know what is happening in my country.”