Long before Yelp and Instagram made critiquing food into a global obsession, a handful of dedicated food writers chronicled restaurants and food trends.
Ruth Reichl began writing about food in 1972 and amassed quite the resumé in her career. Restaurant critic for New West and California magazines, restaurant critic and food editor of the Los Angeles Times, restaurant critic for the New York Times, and editor in chief of Gourmet magazine are just some of the literary hats she's worn. She's also authored four memoirs, a novel, a cookbook, and was a judge on Top Chef Masters.
Reichl, a contributing editor at Town & Country magazine and working on a novel, somehow found time to host the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Tribute Dinner. This year, the annual gala honors acclaimed chef and restaurateur Nancy Silverton and the CEO of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery, Rhonda Carano — two leading women in their fields.
Though it seems as if the culinary industry is
Reichl adds that
Reichl says that in nearly five decades of writing, she's seen many changes, notably in how the industry is covered. She notes the big impact the advent of food television has had on our relationship with food. And she approves of how social media gives everyone a voice. "Ultimately, that's a good thing." Reichl says that also makes her and other writers raise their standards: "It also means that traditional critics — the ones who get paid for their opinions — have to be more knowledgeable, more thoughtful, and better writers than ever before."
The journalist herself is famously keen on Twitter as a means of sharing her thoughts. With over a million followers, her tweets are a mesh of curated articles her followers should read and lyrical musings of the day. She loves using the social media platform as a channel for creative communication. "When Twitter was only 140 characters, it gave me a new voice. And I loved that. I still do. Figuring out how to paint a picture in very few words is a challenge that I find extremely compelling. "
She notes that Twitter can be
The culinary maven is quick to add that leadership isn't exclusively held by people in government. She cites Alice Waters and Jose Andres as examples of how chefs can be leaders, too.
With all the progress she's witnessed, Reichl still sees the work chefs — and the world in general — need to do. She says if she were to write a book about the future, she would call it Waste Not Want Not. The reasoning? "Waste and want are the two major issues we're facing in food all over the world."
For Reich, there's always work to be done and stories to write, but first a trip to South Beach. "A group of friends
Tribute Dinner Honoring Nancy Silverton & Rhonda Carano, Hosted by Master of Ceremonies Ruth Reichl. 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, February 23, at Loews Miami Beach Hotel, 1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $500 via sobewff.org/tribute.