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Food Blogs

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
August 10, 2006

In case you haven’t noticed, I love food. I love to eat it, talk about it, think about it, dream about it, analyze it, play with it and more. I’m clearly not alone in my obsessive food behavior, since you’re reading this. In fact, in the world we live in today, there are innumerable food lovers, the food obsessed, who are discussing their passions through blogs. And the number keeps growing each day.

What blogs have been able to do, not just in the food blogging community, but across the board, is allow open discussion on topics at all levels. Whether you are an expert or a novice, you can voice your opinion and solicit feedback, support, criticism, argument or fanfare. Interesting topics and posts have made blogging evolve from publicized personal diaries, where people would dump anything they wanted to say online, to one of the most important forms of media and marketing tools in the modern world.

There seems to be a food blog for every interest group out there. And if it doesn’t exist yet, it’s sure to pop up in the next couple of days. I find this phenomenon fascinating and wanted to find out who some of these bloggers are. So I reached out to nine of them to learn more about their range of activities, content and goals. The nine blogs are: The Hungry Cabbie, The Paupered Chef, Slice, The Strong Buzz, Cha Xiu Bao, Nordljus, Cupcake Bakeshop, She Loves NY and The Food Section. Six of the nine are based here in New York, and then I chose one from the West Coast, one in Europe and another from Asia. I would have loved to interview many more, but given my inevitable time constraints, I had to limit myself and decided to focus closer to home.

I found that each blogger’s approach and topic may be different, but they all show a high level of professionalism in creating and maintaining their blogs. I have to mention that controversy has surrounded blogs based on attacks from traditional media in dismissing much of the blogging world as amateur. The funny thing is that, for many, blogging started out as a way to be expressive and communicate, and bloggers did not claim to be journalists or experts. It seems that traditional media feel threatened by the blogosphere. This almost mimics the situation a decade ago when brick and mortar companies tried to dismiss online start-ups, and today these groups coexist and work together. I am not saying that there isn’t a lot of junk out there — after all, this is the Internet we’re talking about — but the number of high-quality products you find is also staggering.

When food blogs started taking off in 2003, I don’t think popular forerunners like Chez Pim, Chocolate & Zucchini and The Amateur Gourmet thought that they would make a career out of it and accept offers from publishers to write books. Existing food blogs often inspire others, me included, to create their own. The outcome has been so wide-ranged and extraordinary. You may not agree with a blogger’s taste or opinion, but you can’t deny that each blogger’s efforts are shaping this medium and its future. Blogs today are capable of generating revenue as full-blown businesses — that’s how far we’ve come.

So here’s to the success of blogs! Now let’s take a look at a sampling of nine blogs, each of which has a different creative focus. Keep up the good work!

Food Blogs

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
August 10, 2006

Josh Cha Xiu Bao


Chaxiu Pie
Luk Yue Teahouse (Hong Kong)
Andouillettes a la Lyonnaise
Le Bouchon aux Vins (Lyon)
Chicken and Whale’s Heart Sashimi
a nameless restaurant (Osaka)


Ms. Glaze’s Pommes D’Amour
Chez Pim
A Full Belly

Josh leads a double life. He keeps his blogger identity a secret from his colleagues, so he is known by first name only, or by his blog persona, Cha Xiu Bao. For those of you who don’t know, cha xiu bao is a Cantonese dish of steamed buns filled with barbecued pork. He named his blog after his favorite food.

Born in Shanghai and raised and living in Hong Kong, Josh’s first language is Chinese, yet he writes Cha Xiu Bao (CXB) in English with occasional Chinese commentary interjected. Of course, Hong Kong is a bilingual society since it was formerly ruled by the British, so it’s not entirely odd that Josh started his first blog in English, but by writing in English, he has been able to appeal to and communicate with a broader audience. Inspired by Fatman Seoul (now defunct), Chez Pim and others, he was excited to start a blog so that he could share his passion with people with similar interests around the world. CXB was the first food blog in Hong Kong, though the vast majority of Josh’s audience is overseas rather than local.

The focus of CXB is on Chinese food and dining culture. Chinese cuisine is one of the most refined cuisines in the world, but I find that Chinese food is rather misunderstood in America. It’s not about eating weird disgusting things just for the fear factor, and not everything is overly greasy, deep-fried or drowned in soy sauce. Chinatown in Manhattan is a universe of its own and I find it hard to relate to most of what I find there — a lot of low quality, dirty, unrefined foods and a lack of service or professionalism, which is not representative of the culture I grew up in. So I’m glad that Josh is writing about Chinese cuisine from Hong Kong, the gastronomic capital of China. A true food-lover with a sophisticated palate, Josh also travels a bit and takes us on his world food journeys, so CXB is not limited to just Chinese food in Hong Kong.

It’s no small feat to cover Chinese cuisine as Josh agrees that Chinese food culture is one of the richest and most dynamic in the world. There are over twenty provinces in China and each region has its own type of cuisine. Whenever he finishes a post, he realizes that the more he knows, the more he doesn’t know, and that there is always so much more to find out — the limit is boundless. But this knowledge helps him to appreciate food as his palate continues to mature. He receives lots of feedback and emails from readers and is constantly being asked what to eat in Hong Kong and China. He welcomes the inquiries but sometimes finds it tedious when people ask general questions like, “If I have three days in Hong Kong, what should I eat?” I relate to Josh very well, as I also always ask people to be more specific when they ask for food advice — without understanding what you like, what you’re interested in trying, who you’re with, what your budget is, etc., it’s hard to make a suggestion. Basically, if you want specific, targeted suggestions, then you have to start by asking specific, targeted questions.

Josh is a sweet guy with a well-rounded personality. He met a girl and fell in love, but because her English wasnít as good as his, for her sake he started WokínRoll, another blog but in Chinese. WokínRoll focuses less on food and more on entertainment and pop culture. The ability to maintain two separate blogs on different topics in different languages, and all the while keeping it undercover from his day job, is beyond me. But I wonít ask any more questions, Iím just glad thereís a good resource online that discusses the truth about Chinese food and dining culture in a fun-loving way.

Food Blogs

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
August 10, 2006

Cheryl Porro - Chockylit


Chocolate Baby Cake
Blue Plate (San Francisco)
Lemon Tarts
Tartine Bakery (San Francisco)
Bar of Milk Chocolate
Scharffen Berger


101 Cookbooks
Chubby Hubby

Cheryl Porro has a blog called Cupcake Bakeshop, and yes, it focuses specifically on cupcakes. As if baking weren’t specific enough, we’ve now entered extreme niche territory. Cupcake Bakeshop is structured as an online interactive cupcake cookbook, with step-by-step photos of Cheryl’s techniques and processes. It’s enticing, extremely helpful and engaging. I personally love to bake but have been in hiatus for quite a while. But when I stumbled upon Cupcake Bakeshop, I was totally inspired and couldn’t wait to try out Cheryl’s recipes. I just wondered if I could make my cupcakes look as beautiful as hers.

Cupcakes have been in vogue for the past decade, with little cupcake bakeries sprouting up in cities like New York and San Francisco in quick succession. Oddly enough, each new bakery that appears on the scene doesn’t eat into the profits of competitors but actually further fuels the cupcake frenzy and brings on more fans who are willing to queue in long lines to buy this simple American treat. The fascination with cupcakes is here to stay. After all, who doesn’t adore the idea of a cupcake? Even if you don’t like to eat them, they are just darling little objects that make the perfect gift to brighten someone’s day. And luckily, cupcakes are relatively easy and fun to make, so it’s a subject matter that is hard to tire of.

Sticking to the single topic of cupcakes has enabled Cheryl to branch out with new flavor combinations, ingredients and techniques. This is what I find fascinating about her blog. I’m tired of the staple cupcake flavors around town, but Cheryl has opened the door to making playful combinations. Some recent posts: Vietnamese coffee cupcake, chocolate cupcakes with chestnut-fromage blanc frosting and Madeira wine glaze, ube cupcake with bubble buttercream and lemongrass cupcake with coconut-lemongrass buttercream. As I’m writing, not only is my mouth watering, but my hands are also itching to stop typing and go play in the kitchen.

She takes photos of her cooking process and intersperses them into the recipes, which is invaluable to the reader — I hate cookbooks without photos because images always inspire me and give me a goal. The other great thing about the blog versus a regular cookbook is that you can write to solicit help, feedback, discussion, etc. Humans are social animals, so the interactive nature of blogs facilitates our need to communicate with one another. For a recipe blog, interactivity is crucial. As Cheryl explains, “So many blogs, food and otherwise, have such great quality posts — great recipes, writing, photos. They may not be as polished as the professional, paid sites, but I find that the perspective is more interesting and you can’t get past the interactive nature of blogs. You would never get the recipe developer responding directly to your question on or”

With a background in Chemical Engineering, Cheryl works as a quality assurance manager for an Internet company in San Francisco. Her work schedule is demanding, but in her spare time, the scientist in her likes to play with the experimental aspects of baking. She seeks inspirations for new recipes in cookbooks, online and by visiting farmer’s markets and The Ferry Building. Cheryl finds that working in the kitchen and trying out different techniques and combinations is relaxing and the end result is satisfying. Her blog has given her a means to reach out to the world, and readers’ positive feedback encourages and motivates her to keep exploring. I love the blog, but I also can’t wait for Cheryl to get a cookbook deal. It would be the perfect coffee table piece and cookbook – great to look at but even better to use!

Food Blogs

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
August 10, 2006

Keiko Oikawa


Good Espresso
Authentic Japanese Food


Chez Pim

Keiko Oikawa is somewhat of a mystery to me. She has one of the most beautiful food sites online, Nordljus. Not only is the design of the site striking, but her photography and culinary concoctions are even more breathtaking; even professional pastry chefs are inspired by her desserts. The focus is on pastries but there are the occasional savory dishes too. She maintains the site primarily in English but also has a Japanese version. Nordljus puts Epicurious and other professional food sites to shame. And yet, with all her accomplishments and a devoted following, she is extremely modest and shy.

Born and raised in Japan, she developed an interest in British culture when she was young so she decided to move to England for her studies. Keiko and her husband, Matt, used to live in London but moved to Suffolk a couple of years ago. Since living in the countryside, Keiko has become much more conscientious of using good quality local ingredients and paying attention to the care given to the livestock to be eaten. Originally a piano tuner, since moving out of London she works part time and has more time to cook and experiment at home. She mentions to me an exchange with another food blogger about how cooking at midnight is therapeutic.

One look at Nordljus and it’s hard to imagine that Keiko doesn’t bake or cook for a career. It almost seems like a waste of talent. Yet, she explains that her main passion is photography, and if the opportunity did arise, she would like to pursue it professionally. She started taking photos just before she started her food blog, and she continues to display some of her non-food-related work in her photo blog.

Nordljus means “northern lights” in Swedish. Though Keiko doesn’t speak the language, she is fascinated with Scandinavian cultures and design. While the word nordljus doesn’t directly relate to food, it does give me some insight into Keiko’s personality. A true perfectionist, she really is a curious and adorable creature with many interests and talents. She says that she struggles to maintain the site because English isn’t her first language but the finished product is always flawless. You can tell that she’s a true perfectionist and masters everything that she puts her heart to.

I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Keiko in person, but I cherish the day that I will. In the meantime, it’s equally rewarding and beguiling to check out her newest weekly creations on Nordljus.

Food Blogs

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
August 10, 2006

Ben Leventhal of Eater


The Experience


Diner’s Journal
Waiter Rant

When you live in New York City, you’re always looking for your own underground path of social activities. This includes restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. Underground doesn’t mean that it has to be beneath the radar, it just means that you want to have your own familiar spots and routine. Some of us prefer lower profile neighborhood joints while others enjoy the energy of the hipster limelight. Either way, everyone’s looking for their own comfort zone.

Ben Leventhal is a New York native and has his preferences down pat. Several years ago, when Ben met Matt, a newbie to the City who didn’t know places to go or things to do, Ben was inspired to start a blog called She Loves New York(SLNY). The concept is basic: Ben addresses you, the reader, as “Matty” and gives you lists of recommendations based on his knowledge about how the City works — what’s hot, what’s not, easiest time to secure a reservation at certain restaurants, etc. It’s a guide geared towards men, with tips on how to impress girls by being “in the know.”

The site is unique in its voice and persona. The design is sparse, using simply a red typewriter typeface on a white background. When you first reach the site, the phrase “SHE LOVES NY” is the only content on the page. To enter the site, you don’t click on the actual words but rather a specific hot spot in the white space just below. Once you enter, the navigation is unique as well — there’s just a list of words, some highlighted (active content) and others not. The site is overall rather cryptic and very intriguing. The design illustrates the concept. There’s an unmarked entrance, and the entire site speaks in the New York nightlife vernacular. There’s not much hand holding going on. You either get it or you don’t.

While Ben still identifies closely with SLNY, he has been working on other projects too. (The content on SLNY has not been updated recently, but the majority of the information is still relevant.) A former television executive for VH1, Ben’s been busy running Eater full time as a business with partner Lockhart Steele (of Gawker). Eater is the food-focused sister site to Curbed, the successful real estate blog. Ben has also acted as a consultant for Urban Daddy, another e-mail magazine that keeps you in the know. It’s all a natural progression as Ben started writing for Daily Candy early on. Naturally, I agree with him that websites that work best are those that reach the point where the line between passion and commercial gets blurred.

In a city where everyone wants to be in the know, there are boundless opportunities to set up online resources, especially when there’s barely any entry cost to speak of. But having been actively involved in online media for the past five years, Ben notes that there’s a lot of competition out there these days and it’s important to keep innovating and creating a viable idea with originality, and to not just regurgitate what’s already out there. His goal is to continue creating web properties of substance, and to make money doing it.

Today, blogs are setting the agenda as a significant piece of the information output puzzle. Eater aggregates what others are saying and brings news to the forefront faster than traditional media like The New York Times can, but Eater is not trying to be The Times. There’s more freedom in the online medium, and the blogosphere plays by a different set of rules. The two types of media are already coming together, but it will be even more interesting to see where this fusion is headed.

Food Blogs

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
August 10, 2006

Adam Kuban of A Hamburger Today


White Castle
Artichoke Slice
Di Fara
Lamb on Pita
Kwik Meal


The Delicious Life

Despite being slightly shy, Adam Kuban has a lot of friends, being the editor and publisher of two popular blogs on the topics of pizza and burgers. Thousands of people are reading Slice and AHT ( A Hamburger Today) every day to find out what Adam’s been up to lately and which pizza or burger he’s tried. You might think that, by choosing such specific topics, Adam would run out of writing material quickly, but on the contrary, in New York, let alone in the whole world, these two subject matters never grow old — there is almost too much to explore and discuss.

A genuinely nice and easygoing guy, Adam’s originally from the Midwest but has been living in New York for the past six years. When he’s not his alter ego, the mastermind behind Slice and AHT, he’s the copy chief at Martha Stewart Online. So needless to say, Adam writes well. But through the phenomenon of blogging, Adam has been able to transcribe his two passions and share them with the world, all with a good sense of humor too. He is constantly exploring, and as one of the most tech-savvy bloggers I’ve met, he uses new technology to reach out to the cyber community. Another thing worthy of mention is his fanaticism with Flickr. I think the folks at Flickr should be aware that they won’t find a more loyal fan or better spokesperson who is constantly promoting them.

Adam started Slice three years ago, but he conceived of the idea in the form of a zine while living in Oregon. Once he moved to NYC, he started collecting names of much-discussed pizza joints and decided to dedicate time to try them all. While working on his quest, he realized that there’s a site for everything but not one for pizzas, and hence Slice was born in October 2003. Last year, he launched A Hamburger Today to give his diet a little variety. Pizza remains his first love, but he’s also a sucker for sliders and burgers. Considering his repertoire, I’m amazed that Adam’s in such good health.

The interactivity of blogs is the reason why they have become so popular — one can instantly post responses to give praise or start wars. Adam is not a fan of Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas and is open about it. The topic has riled up many readers and started some strings of battle, but that’s also part of the fun. Blogging can be like a healthy relationship — you discuss things and you can disagree, as long as it doesn’t become abusive.

While Slice and AHT remain recreational pastimes for Adam (how in the world he keeps a full-time job and two blogs, I don’t know), and though he keeps his hobby separate from his career, it has earned him much respect not only in the online community but also in the “real world.” His personal online success has secured his status as a forerunner in the field, and at work he is asked to contribute based on his expertise. So who says that hobbies don’t pay off?!

Food Blogs

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
August 10, 2006

josh friedland of The Food Section


Bamboo Steamed Chinese Sausage & Taro Rice
Focaccia col Formaggio
Dining in the town of Camogli in Liguria on the Italian Riviera
Sesame bagels
St. Viateur Bagels (Montreal)

Josh Friedland is organized to an extent I find mind-boggling. The Food Section is a monster of a blog with a wealth of information but structured in a way that’s easy to manage and navigate. As its sub-header states, The Food Section publishes “All the news that’s fit to eat.” Josh’s blog is a hybrid of links and essays. He’ll comb through all his resources to post news linking to other sources and at the same time maintains the editorial side of his blog that talks more personally about his own experiences.

As the Director of Communications at The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, Josh has definitely mastered good communication skills. The web allows you to play around and not be serious, and that’s how Josh started The Food Section. As time went on, he wanted to build on it and developed a more systematic way to update content. The setup now is very clear: On the right side of the page, “appetizers” are links to recent food-related tidbits. In the center of the page are recent essays. The latest addition is “shopping list” on the left of the page, which is a list of interesting food-related shopping items &mdash a very welcome addition to the site.

Josh explains that what’s missing in magazines and newspapers are links to competitors. People who are interested in a certain subject matter want to learn everything about it, so why not give them all the information? This is exactly what Josh does. He’s taking full advantage of the technology of blogging and gives people all the information he can get his hands on. And people love it. In fact, the site is so well set up now that he doesn’t need to spend more than two to three hours a day on it to keep up. Guest editors who contribute posts to the site also help ease his workload. His hard work on the setup of the blog has paid off, especially now that he needs more time at home since Josh has recently become a dad.

The variety of subject matter within the realm of food on The Food Section gives it a lot of flexibility. If Josh is tired, and doesn’t have time to cook and the take-out wasn’t that good, he can always link to someone else’s interesting article. By not limiting himself to one topic, he can always find something to post. There are so many different ways to talk about food, so why limit yourself? If his blog had just focused on one aspect of food, whether on dining out or cooking, Josh might have had more trouble staying afloat in the blogging world. Pete Wells mentions in his Food & Wine article this March, “ In the Belly of the Blog,” that he finds blogs that bundle worthwhile food writing a truly valuable service. He also points out that The Food Section does a great job at this. Sites that bundle information are considered aggregators or filters. They are popular because they do a much better job than search engines do at finding relevant information on specific topics. I stand with his other fans and thank God for Josh and The Food Section — a tremendous undertaking and a truly worthwhile resource for all food lovers!

Food Blogs

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
August 10, 2006

Famous Fat Dave the Hungry Cabbie


New Pickles
Guss’ Pickles
Pistachio Soft Serve Ice Cream
Ray’s Deli (Ave A & 7th St)
Sicilian Rice Ball


The Paupered Chef

When I first learned of The Hungry Cabbie, a.k.a. Famous Fat Dave, I just knew I had to meet him. The premise? 27 year-old, New York City cab driver provides eating tours around the five boroughs of New York. What? Come again? It’s like I just said, Dave offers different food tours that he will take you on in his yellow cab at $100 per hour, minimum four hours, maximum of four people, within the five boroughs of New York City.

Dave Freedenberg is one of those individuals with no boundaries. I don’t mean that he’s intrusive; I mean that he sees no limits to life. He’s bright, outgoing and open-minded. He wants to take advantage of every moment and explore different things in life, and so he does. I admire him because he doesn’t just talk about things, but he actually takes action and does them.

He loves pickles and always wanted to be a pickle man, so he worked at Guss’ Pickles. He wanted to learn more about cheese, so he became a cheesemonger at Murray’s Cheese. He’s interested in different peoples and cultures and so he’s driving a cab — He sees this as the best gateway to meeting people, learning and making a living at the same time. Dave’s interests lie in international relations and he’s seeing the world through a different lens while deferring from two of the nation’s top IR graduate programs, SIPA (Columbia University) and SAIS (Johns Hopkins University). He resents it when people ask him snootily why he’s driving a cab because he finds it to be a perfectly noble profession. And this is what I mean when I say he has no boundaries. It’s absolutely delightful and refreshing to meet someone like this.

On a trip to Cairo, a cab driver took Dave on a tour of the 22 pyramids of the lower Nile region, including a stop for some amazing kebab and humus. The experience confirmed to Dave that cabbies make the best tour guides. As a cab driver himself, he frequently asks passengers for food recommendations. If he has time, as soon as he drops off his fare he’ll drive to try the tip, or else he’ll take notes for a future adventure. By doing this, he’s been able to amass his own database of food knowledge. Initially, his food tours were just for friends and family, but they urged him to offer the tours to the public.

I requested a mini-tour from Dave to get an idea of the full experience. Our time was limited at less than an hour, but he did manage to take me to Brooklyn Heights to try the fried pickles at Henry St. Ale House and the Sicilian rice ball from Ferdinando’s before dropping me back off in Manhattan. Both dishes have now become part of my personal cravings. So here’s my conclusion: Famous Fat Dave’s Five Borough Eating Tour on The Wheels of Steel is totally worth experiencing. With Dave as your guide, not only will you find some good eats at great bargains, but you’ll also get lots of entertainment along the way.

Dave is currently working on a pilot episode of the tour to pitch to the Food Network, so catch him now in person before you see him on TV.

Food Blogs

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
August 10, 2006

blake royer & nick kindelsperger


A slice from Di Fara‘s in Midwood, Brooklyn.  Start simply with the cheese (regular or Sicilian).

Roast chicken from La Taza de Oro, with black beans and yellow rice.  Be sure to splash some white vinegar on the beans and rice.  Dark meat recommended.

Lamb Shank with White Bean Salad, from Casa Mono.  Taste it first and be amazed, then notice the roasted half lemon on the side.  Squeeze it over the lamb, and taste again.


The Amateur Gourmet
The Girl Who Ate Everything
Chocolate & Zucchini

Blake Royer and Nick Kindelsperger are like the brothers I never had. The two are college buddies who moved to New York after graduation, which was only a year ago. In the expensive city of New York, they found themselves cooking more frequently than eating out and so they wanted to set up an online resource, a place with good recipes to share with others. The result is The Paupered Chef, a blog that chronicles Nick and Blake’s culinary adventures, step by step with photos, including mistakes and what they’ve learned. It’s loveable because it’s honest and earnest. They show their failures as well as successes, which is where it differs from most other sites, which usually by editorial choice decide to present only the best end products. Blake and Nick find that they get more feedback and responses on the failure posts than on the success stories because readers find the stories endearing and can relate to them.

When the two started the blog, they were living together, and they merely recorded what they were doing for dinners. The process was somewhat rigid: they’d pick an ingredient and then scour through all their cookbooks for recipes to find one to use. Then it was just a matter of teamwork and experimentation to see if it came out okay based on the resources available. Nick and Blake now live separately but have continued The Paupered Chef as a team. Not living together hasn’t deterred them from wreaking havoc in each other’s kitchens.

I had the pleasure of watching the dynamic duo in action in my kitchen. They graciously offered to cook fish and steak tacos. Let me tell you, the tacos were great but watching them work together was the real treat. My kitchen is tiny! T-I-N-Y! I have everything a girl needs to cook for one and do the occasional baking, but that’s about it. They came in and acquainted themselves with my kitchen, cookware and ingredients and then used anything and everything they could get their hands on. I was fascinated by how resourceful they were and how well they worked together. Working in an unfamiliar kitchen presents a real challenge, even when you know the recipe well.

The first two attempts at deep-frying the fish were unsuccessful. They would discuss and try to figure out why it didn’t work and then use different methods and tools. On the third go, after carefully assessing what went wrong during the first two tries, they got it. Bingo! Even when one of my ceramic cook tops caught on fire, they worked together to put it out. The process was stressful and a little tedious, but you could tell that when they figured it out, it was so rewarding that it was all worth it.

What I find most impressive is that they are willing to experiment, problem-solve and learn from their mistakes and keep trying. And the best part is that they are having fun! The Paupered Chef is a young blog that only started this year, but the future is bright for Blake and Nick, for they are rich in imagination and two very good souls.

Food Blogs

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
August 10, 2006

Andrea Strong of The Strong Buzz


Chargrilled Burger
The Spotted Pig
Patatas Bravas
Tia Pol
Jalapeño & Grapefruit Margarita
Barrio Chino


The Food Section
Diner’s Journal

Andrea Strong seems to be a controversial name in the food blogosphere. A corporate lawyer turned food writer, Andrea started The Strong Buzz as a portfolio site for editors to see samples of her writing. She loves to eat and share her stories with friends, so she started writing what has become The Strong Buzz e-newsletter, which is published weekly on Mondays. As she has seized upon the freedom to speak in her own voice in her blog — as opposed to when writing for other publications — her pieces touch upon her personal life and opinions more than other food reviews. This has drawn some criticism within the field. Andrea’s a bit baffled by attacks from other journalists and bloggers, but even if she has received some bad publicity, it’s clear that people are reading what she’s delivering.

Andrea doesn’t consider her site a traditional blog. Her writing is based more on stream of consciousness. She writes a full restaurant review per week, not just a snippet of things here and there. Having worked in the industry after leaving her career in law, Andrea has kept close ties with many top restaurateurs in the City. So much like Florence Fabricant’s coverage of Off the Menu in The New York Times, Andrea always starts her newsletters with the latest news. In fact, these days it’s not uncommon that Eater or The Strong Buzz will publish news before The Times.

News, reviews and her writing aside, I think most worthy of mention is that the woman behind The Strong Buzz is also using her network and skills to do good. Dining for Darfur is a vision Andrea has carried out to help raise awareness about the genocide and brutality taking place in Darfur, Sudan. Based on her personal interest in helping those caught in the downward spiraling political situation, she has organized a series of Dining for Darfur events. The first event took place in April this year, with the participation of over 60 restaurants (primarily in New York, but some participants were as far-reaching as Hawaii and beyond). The event raised close to $30,000, which was contributed to the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian organization giving aid to people affected by the ethnic and political conflict in Darfur.  Participating restaurants agreed to donate 5% of their gross sales on the day of the event. Andrea has also reached out to the wine community and organized some upcoming events to further Dining for Darfur.

Andrea’s well aware that in our society it’s easy to become narcissistic. It’s easy to lose sight of things and only focus on one’s self, one’s writing, one’s blog. So it’s important to keep things in perspective and remember generosity of spirit. Her advocacy for Darfur was the missing piece of the puzzle and she’s glad that she can do something to benefit someone else. At the end of the day, personal attacks may be hard to take, but in the bigger scheme of things, it must feel pretty good to know that you are doing something above and beyond just writing about dining at restaurants in New York City.

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Oregon: Wines on the Frontier

Not What We Expected, Per Se

Cru Beaujolais at Union Square Cafe

Beaujolais Retailers

Beaujolais with a Backbone

Summer Cocktails?

What is Bubbling in Champagne?

Tight Little Island: Islay Scotch

French Wine Finds

Alto Adige

Back to Restaurant Season in Paris

Cyn's Favorite Champagnes in 2006

Sparkles Everywhere

Discovering Jura Gems

A Taste of North Fork

Milou en mai: My Month of May

Parisian Bistrots à Vin

A Wine Story About Bees (Buzzed by Older Wines)

Gaia: Deconstructing a Wine List

Robert Pepi Makes New Waves Under the Eponymous Label

Holiday Toasting!

Parker on Champagne: What's in a Vintage?

Pascale Rousseau

Ed McCarthy

Terry Theise

Sean Crowley

The World of Champagne Seen from the Inside Out

Lieb Cellars - Recipe 2

Lieb Cellars - Recipe 1

Lieb Cellars - Retailers

Family Cellars' Pinot Blanc: Flat or Fizz?

Rosé - Related Websites

Cyn's Rosé Recs - Retailer

Cyn's Rosé Recs - By The Glass

Jancis Robinson, Rosé & I

Pearl - Champagne

Danube - Grüner Veltliner

Esca - Bellini

Prune - Bloody Mary

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