I decided to do Irish cuisine as my father in law comes from Ireland. However, there isn't really an animal easily associated with the Irish so I chose a pig as they are easily associated with Grills and I knew I wanted to create a logo for an Irish pub and Grill. I created a mind map for Ireland which included a lot of beer so for my logo I decided to have a pig with beer. I sketched out a few simple designs and ultimately chose to work with the figure-ground relationship and continuation. I finalized my rough sketch, imported it into illustrator where I used your method of circles and pathfinder to create the outline. Once the outline was finalized I tried a few variations in gray scale and then moved onto color where I ultimately chose the classic pink pig and Irish green and gold.
I would love criticism as I really do want to improve so please be completely honest with me!