Food journalists should be commended for
jumping into this genre, especially since they've dissed it
for so long. Most don't get it yet, though. They write the same
way they would for print, ignoring opportunities to get involved
with their readers.
The queen of online food writers started years ago. Regina Schrambling,
a former New York Times food section editor, began
writing sarcastic blurbs about New York media and restaurants
on her website Gastropeda,before
anyone knew what a blog was. She has never made her posts into
an official blog.
Alan Richman, a GQ contributing editor, riffs on food
and wine on the magazine's
blog. There's nothing new here. It reads the same as if
it appeared in a column in the magazine.
A few restaurant reviewers blog. Michael Bauer of the San
Francisco Chronicle launched Between
Meals. He was recently accused of never reading it because
he didn't respond to posts. Frank Bruni of the New York
Times writes Diner's
Journal, a harmless backstory about his job reviewing restaurants.
The merciless and bizarre blog Bruni
Digest parodies and critiques Bruni's print reviews.
The two newspaper reviewers cover such safe topics as bored
hostesses, difficult reservations, how full to fill a wine glass,
and food trends. Restaurateurs sometimes post comments, as do
restaurant-goers. Often the comments are some variety of “you
got it wrong," a typical response. The majority of letters
to newspapers and magazines are complaints.
Corporations smell the cash
Corporations that sell products in the
food industry now respect food blogs for their online audience
reach, loyalty and influence. In addition to starting blogs
written by company spokespeople, companies also send products
to food bloggers, looking for reviews. Book publishers send
cookbooks to bloggers for reviews or recipe testing. Marketing
plans now include campaigns to get mentions in some of the biggest
Corporate interest sometimes benefits food bloggers more directly
than free merchandise. Faith Kramer of
Blog Appetit found that not only was it easy for her to
get into a Fancy Food show as press, but that vendors treated
her with the same enthusiasm reserved for traditional media.
Restauranteurs, chefs get into
Food professionals, particularly chefs and restaurateurs, have
lots to say online, even though it’s hard to imagine when
they have time. Chef Chris Cosentino’s blog, Offal
Good, for instance, shows him holding handfuls of innards.
He decided to create “an education and inspirational tool
for those interested in learning and cooking with offal.”
Food Whore, written by an anonymous restaurateur, is more
stream-of-consciousness. Here she is, ranting about holiday
parties: “The Season of Sequins and Fake Smiles is upon
us, and the last 6 days have been mayhem. This week alone I
will be home for approximately 2 hours tomorrow night, just
enough time to meet this man living in my house who I think
might be The Husband.”