Wednesday, May 11, 2016
It was nine years ago today that I began writing this blog, fresh off a trip to England which had prompted me to begin researching these things called "food blogs" on a quest for good London restaurants. Once I began, I never looked back and soon friends and family were reading the posts and making comments.
Then, I began to get email from people all over the world who were traveling to Boston and wanted some restaurant suggestions. Before long restaurants were inviting me to "media dinners" to meet their new chef or try their new seasonal menus. There were only a handful of food bloggers back then. Many more over the course of nine years have come and gone.
I never considered myself a restaurant critic and still do not. I am a food writer and although I am happy to give you my impression of a restaurant, I never followed the rules of classic restaurant criticism. It just seemed too outdated. Instead, I chose to write stories about food and that was mostly the stories of the people behind the food.
I'll continue to cover food events across the entire New England landscape from wine and craft beer shows, lectures with scientists and seminars with experts, to chefs that make the food and the people who grow it. It's a lighthearted look at food and the best part of social media has always been the "social" aspect. We'll also continue to meet people with profound and inspiring stories. I hope everyone will continue to explore the posts when looking for a food event to attend or a new restaurant to check out.
Especially fun has been all of the wonderful friends who've helped over the years with photography, event attendance and traipsing all over town often dragging cameras and other equipment. And the interns I've had were not just fun but offered real insight into what millenials think, want and do. All of this has resulted in being invited to judge competitions, serve on discussion panels, give media interviews and write for well-known and respected magazines and newspapers.
Thousands of people read the blog and follow us on twitter and instagram every day. Over the course of a month, that's a lot of people and they are all eager to go new places and try new things. They just want to be led there. There is no question that bloggers drive business into restaurants because our readers often feel that they have a personal relationship with us and quite often they do. They are the people who I worked with for many years, belonged to the same organizations, were friends and friends of friends. Throughout all of this The Boston Foodie has always been the number one return on google searches containing that phrase. In a recent survey I did with chefs and restaurants they all told us that food bloggers have become a vital part of their business and, for some, the most important media exposure that they have had.
Even when I show up uninvited to new restaurants, a reservation booked under a different name so there is no way they could be prepared for me and pay in cash so they can't get the name on the credit card I've found most places generally have great food and great service. Very rarely have I had an experience where I would never go back to the spot. So, yes I do anonymously visit places and they have no idea what I'm going to write about them ... if anything. The restaurant business is far too competitive today to expect a four to six week honeymoon phase as they work out the kinks like they did in the old media days. Every person who walks in the door is now a citizen journalist with a video recorder and camera in hand and ready to post something online instantaneously.
I also attend cultural and culinary events where I am well-known to others. Food and lifestyle writers are very lucky people. I believe it's important to give back to the community and support important causes and organizations that are doing great work. I'm proud to be able to help them in any way I can and my track record could not be better. Every one of the events I have chosen to promote in advance and attend has been sold out.
Trends come and go. I've seen restaurants embrace local food, something which I don't think will ever go away, thankfully. I've seen the hushed tones, white tablecloths and heavy silverware of fine dining enclaves dwindle in favor of more casual, louder spots that feature much smaller plates. The recent trend of more and more restaurants moving to the suburbs where the rents are cheap and the parking is free seems to be an exodus that will continue, not that Boston will ever have a lack of restaurants. Or food trucks. I've seen the cost of a dinner out (and a liquor license) skyrocket.
I'm certain that things will continue to change. There will be new, exciting places and landmark institutions will close. Yet, food is food. We all love it and we all love talking about it. Tipping or no tipping, minimum wage laws, generic big chain restaurants, private dining clubs, more and more wines, craft beers and local distilleries, cherished dining traditions, avant-garde cooking, a new generation of talented chefs and technology all spread out before us. I hope that all the readers and followers will continue to enjoy the journey with me and those who help. And a very big thank you to all of you who have.