The Food World 30 Years Ago, Old Apples, and New Cheese

Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.

1. A little history for you. Yesterday, I was looking up Jack Shelton, the “famous restaurant critic” listed on the Bill's Place burger menu, to find out more about him. (Turns out he was quite famous up until his death in 1984, and one of the first restaurant critics to insist upon anonymity.) I stumbled on this digital reprint of “Food Power,” a 1980 Ruth Reichl piece delineating who the major powers in the California food world were. The list is so old that it pre-dates Wolfgang Puck's rise to celebrity (though he's mentioned). But Alice is there, Chuck Williams is there, Marion Cunningham is there, and so is a great new restaurant critic at the Chronicle-Examiner, Patricia Unterman. A wonderful snapshot of West Coast cooking as it was coming into its own.

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