Food Column/Orlando Area [moved from Florida board]
I would love any recomendations of good food writers/columns I can look for and hopefully read regularly in Orlando - any critics to trust/stay away from??
For a city our size, there is a surprising lack of quality food writing. In fact, there's a surprising lack of any food writing.
I don't know if it reflects the current state of print media but it certainly does not reflect the continued strong interest in the subject.
The local daily has two writers -- well three -- dedicated to the subject.
Mark Chediak covers the industry from a business perspective and is knowledgable and thorough, if a bit pedantic. He gives no indication in his writing that he is in any way passionate about the topic.
Heather McPherson edits the paper's food section and has for a long time. She, again, is extremedly knowledgeable and the scope of her limited space is broad. She does an annual list of ethnic grocery stores that is a great resource and she stays current on a wide variety of topics and tastes.
Scott Joseph is the paper's food critic. In the last year or so his work has expanded into the feature sections to write about topics beyond pure critique and much of it is quite a good read.
He has beeen the critic, again, for a long time and that simple fact affects a lot of his work, which can have the occasional "been there, done that" attitude.
I find that he finds himself quite amusing and his attempts at humor oftimes occupy space better served for food writing.
He has predictable likes and dislikes that frequent readers have learned to expect. Hates Italian, loves Asian, for instance.
He does a Friday column called Chowhound which takes note of one or two less important places and frequently contains industry gossip as well.
His regular column runs Sunday and is your traditional review. He does not rank *four stars, forks, etc.).
He does a monthly (I believe) review of a restaurant outside of Orlando, a destination restaurant good for a weekend tip.
He does an annual Foodie Award whcih includes a readers poll and then his decision on the winner in that cateory. Also a good resource.
He has a fetish about his anonimity, which has become a joke because of his length of time in the market. There are photos of him in most of our restaurants and spotting him in a new place has become routine.
Beyond that, the Orlando Weekly has several writers who do a weekly dining column and some sort of sidebar. Not always great, usually good and nice to read another viewpoint.
Orlando magaziine's writer, Rona Gindin, is quite knowledgeable. She also dines anonomously and her monthly column is quite lengthy and detailed. The magazine does a lot with food, including an annual Best Of award and 3-4 area wrap ups (downtown, Restaurant Row) that are extremely well done.
Those are the only regular major players here in town in that area . . .
re: Bob Mervine
I used to find the Weekly's food reviews of variable quality since they tended to have different food writers from week to week. The nadir was when a reviewer went to "Friends" restaurant and ordered a Boca Burger and fries. Twice. That was not a particularly enlightening review.
However Faiyaz Kara seems to have taken over the reigns as the regular reviewer and has done a good job. The writing is thorough and much more reliable now.
re: Bob Mervine
I have personally never found Scott Josephs reviews very helpful or accurate as it applies to my taste. Not sure if it his attitude that seems to shine through on his reviews or if it's just me. Granted I probably am somewhat biased towards the opinions of my fellow chowhounders for guidance as opposed to one mans supposed "expert opinion" since this forum does allow me to explore different peoples tastes and judge for myself as it compares to my views. Personally I never found Mr Josephs opinions to be very accurate as it relates to my dining companions and my favorites. I equate him to the movie critic that hates the very movie the "rest of us" like. They always come across as snobbish!!! I will admit that I find him quite knowledgeable on the subject he reviews and critiques. He is just not one I trust,
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I like Faiyaz Kara of the The Orlando Weekly however you may want to check out whatsforlunchwp.blogspot.com. It's an amateur site put together by a couple of guys who work and lunch in the Orlando/Winter Park area. It's occasionally entertaining and another set of eyes on the scene if nothing else.