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Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Year in Food: Local Media Explodes

Posted By on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 4:04 PM

Twelve months, ten storylines: It's SFoodie's annual look back at the year in food.

click to enlarge San Franciscans have always liked to read about food. What happened in 2010 made food media pretty much impossible to avoid. - STEVEOA3D/FLICKR
  • steveoa3d/Flickr
  • San Franciscans have always liked to read about food. What happened in 2010 made food media pretty much impossible to avoid.

San Franciscans have always loved to read about restaurants, from the days of Herb Caen sputtering outrage about the $1 cup of coffee at the Washbag to the Chron's pre-Bauer critic Patty Unterman cooing over her latest Cantonese find in the Richmond. The Internet only magnified what print publications had wrought, launching scores of local amateur food blogs and review sites, later joined by slick startups like Eater. But something happened in 2010, a rolling tsunami of professional food media washing over San Francisco and the Bay Area that ― unlike an actual tsunami ― doesn't show any signs of receding.

E-mail newsletter Tasting Table hit "send" on its San Francisco edition at the end of 2009, while 1n 2010 Tablehopper added a Friday review spinoff. In May, the San Francisco Chronicle applied its media muscle to turning a relatively minimal blog presence (single daily posts by executive food editor Michael Bauer and wine editor Jon Bonné) into Inside Scoop, adding Eater heavyweight Paolo Lucchesi to the payroll. Carolyn Alburger slid into the vacant chair at Eater, and Jay Barmann stepped up coverage at the local Grub Street franchise.

It was a year in which national media giants sniffed gold in the keyboard clicks of San Francisco foodies. Gannett's The Bold Italic (which launched in 2009) ramped up its food features. And just last month NBC served up a Bay Area edition of The Feast, under the editorship of SFoodie contributor Tamara Palmer.

In July, 7x7 food editor Sara Deseran waded into the crowded, sweaty purgatory of professional food media, looked around, and asked, "What the hell?" Deseran's essay "The Feed Frenzy: Is SF Suffering from a Gluttony of Food Information?" did a good job describing the scope of the food media in this town (and offering a bilious taste of an online food editor's daily agita), but her efforts weren't universally appreciated. Deseran's semi-tacit thesis: Like Darwin's lizards of Galapagos, only the fittest will survive. And anyway, all this coverage is sucking the joy out of food. Dude: Toss me the Softchews.

Other 2010 trends:
- Filipino Finds Its Voice
- Big-Ticket Dining Surges

- Pizza Pizza Pizza Pizza

- Vegan Goes Mainstream

- Cocktails Get More Respect

- DIY Revolution

- Coffee Seeps Farther

- Street Food Gets Serious

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com

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