Before I started writing for SFoodie, I imagined the bloggers as a tight-knit team of scallywags, palling around town and sharing robust food adventures. Thus I was scandalized when former SFoodie editor John Birdsall told me many of the bloggers hadn't met each other, and some had never met him.
Such is the nature of journalism in the digital age, where we fire off posts from home studies/baby nurseries, laptops in coffee shops, or (for shame!) our full-time day jobs. Food blogging requires no centralized office, and we can "work together" without exchanging a single wisecrack.
I proposed a series of contributor profiles, where the veil of anonymity would be lifted for SFoodie's readers, and I would get to chow down with a bunch of homegrown local characters. Selfish motive: I just moved here from New York, and I was looking to hook up with some new writer chums.
Every week for nearly three months, I went out with a different SFoodie contributor. Each had a curious palate, a hearty appetite, and a unique approach towards food and the creative process. I'm a bit wistful the project is over now, so I thought I'd share a few behind-the-scenes highlights:
Other profiles in the series:
- When I met Laura Beck for my first-ever dinner in Oakland, there was a bomb scare outside the restaurant, with police tape, emergency personnel, and hand-wringing locals giving a festive backdrop to our meal. This was a killer icebreaker, as was Laura's confession that she hated our waiter for no reason whatsoever. ("He's the worst! I don't know why!")
- For my interview with Alastair Bland, I rode my bike to the wrong Cafe Gratitude, then stood outside on my cell phone, stubbornly telling him, "I'm here, where are you?!" For my interview with Lou Bustamante, I managed to walk by speakeasy-ish 15 Romolo several times before realizing it was a bar. Both gentlemen were quite patient with my new-kid-in-town foibles.
- Alex Hochman is about eight feet tall with the broad frame of a Yeti; I'm a pipsqueak by comparison. Yet at our interview (as well as a subsequent Giants game and an earlier po-boy adventure), I tried to prove I'm a big man by matching him bite for copious bite. Unwise, painful. Next hangout, I order salad.
- Tamara Palmer is a tough cookie. She hangs with hip-hop stars, chows down on offal, and reps the Outer Sunset, 'nuff said. But I think her most hardcore move to-date was to publicly reveal her food kryptonite: chicken. I gave her ample opportunity to cut that tidbit out of the interview, but despite some significant reservations, she insisted we keep it. Veritas super omnia!
- Not to be a saccharine creampuff, but Albert Law was a true inspiration. Follow your dreams, everybody! For real.
-Gil Riego, Jr.