HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >

Discussion

New Food Critic Chronicle

"The Chronicle announced that Jonathan Kauffman, .... will be joining their food and wine section. His work ... will center around feature reporting and coverage of offbeat and hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and his work will appear both online and in the Sunday print section."

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9241...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Well at least the Tower of Bauer had enough sense to hire for his lacking. Decent writing and hole-in-the-wall are things that MB can't or won't do.

    Hmm...so it sounds like the Tower reads CH.

    1. Given how prominently his picture was displayed on Inside Scoop, at least there is no false pretense of anonymity.

      1. Those words "offbeat and hole-in-the-wall" from Kitty Morgan are a symptom of the Chronicle's problem that Kauffman will hopefully be a solution to. Can you say "ethnic and small, family-run restaurants," Kitty?

        Kauffman (I'm calling him "Jonathan II" now) knows how to approach food from the ground up, as well as from the top down like the Bauer types do.

        29 Replies
        1. re: soupçon

          Probably she can't; I suspect the grand plan here is to grab younger readers, e.g., "This place is offbeat, for hip people like you!" Not sure how that's gonna work out, but I'm glad he's at the Chron now.

          Although if everything people have been saying about Bauer's megalomania at the paper is true, I don't see him lasting long.

          1. re: dunstable

            He has not written any reviews so far, just news / feature posts for the Inside Scoop blog.

            http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

          2. re: soupçon

            I find "coverage of offbeat and hole-in-the-wall restaurants" only in the Eater post. I don't think the Chron would have published his photo if he had been hired as a reviewer.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Yes, but it's reported as a direct quote from Kitty Morgan.

              1. re: soupçon

                It's not in quotation marks. Eater didn't talk to Kitty Morgan, they just cut and pasted part of the quote from her in the Chron's blog post, which says nothing about "offbeat and hole-in-the-wall restaurants." I think Eater probably stuck that in based on what Kauffman did at SF Weekly and Tasting Table, trying to make their rehash look more like actual reporting.

                http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

                http://sf.eater.com/archives/2014/04/...

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  My mistake, I didn't notice they had closed the quotes. The awkward phraseology belongs to Eater.

            2. re: soupçon

              Maybe Eater did get that from Kitty Morgan. Kauffman's first review for the Chron is a Bargain Bite on Ran Kanom:

              http://www.sfgate.com/restaurants/bar...

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                So the Chronicle is paying the salary of a high-caliber food writer to do a write-up about a place that sells $5 porridges in San Pablo. And then publishes the review on the web for anyone to see for free. Great business model while it lasts!

                1. re: nocharge

                  ...hmm.

                  The piece has a very disjointed structure. It sorta reads like he actually submitted something much longer, and then got it hacked down to a few sentences. "Tapas noodle Niman porridge ample bites!" I think... hmm. Reserving judgment until I read more...

                  1. re: dunstable

                    Kauffman's a seasoned pro, he would not turn in 650 words when the spec is 375.

                  2. re: nocharge

                    It's the same business model as any ad-supported free publication, and is likely to outlive the print edition.

                    1. re: nocharge

                      What's the logic there? Do you think food writers should be paid in proportion to the tabs they run up? I'm a paid subscriber to the Chron and to me Jonathan Kaufmann's insights are infinitely more relevant than the Grand Poobah Bauer's.

                      I only hope that he's not there just for window dressing (Jonathan Gold sensibilities without Jonathan Gold responsibilities).

                      1. re: soupçon

                        I have no problem with Kaufmann doing reviews of places serving porridge in San Pablo. I just wonder if that's a good business proposition for the Chronicle. Not exactly a general-interest story compared to a new high-profile restaurant opening up in SF. I would never go to San Pablo if my life depended on it, porridge or not, and I cancelled my Chronicle subscription half a decade ago after having been a subscriber since the 1980s.

                        1. re: nocharge

                          I think hiring Kauffman away from one of sfgate.com's competitors was smart. They now have the best food news guy in SF (Paolo Lucchesi) and the best restaurant critic in the Bay Area.

                          Ran Kanom sparked more reports and excitement on this board than most of the recent high-profile openings in SF have so far.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            "Ran Kanom sparked more reports and excitement on this board than most of the recent high-profile openings in SF have so far."

                            So if you can read all these reports on this board for free, why spend 400 bucks per year on a Chronicle subscription just to read a brief Kaufmann write-up?

                            When I subscribed to the Chronicle, they used get those 400 bucks out of me. Since then, much less so since I never click on any of their online ads. Maybe they make a tiny amount from me just based on my page views, but hardly enough to have a high-caliber food writer review porridge places in San Pablo.

                            1. re: nocharge

                              "Maybe they make a tiny amount from me just based on my page views, but hardly enough to have a high-caliber food writer review porridge places in San Pablo."

                              I think he's pointing out that you are dismissing Ran Kanom Thai Noodle too quickly, and based on your dismissive "porridge place" comment, I would agree. For me personally, I already regard the place so highly that the review did more to legitimize Kauffman's new position than it did to legitimize the restaurant. I bet I am not the only one on this board to feel that way.

                              1. re: dunstable

                                I have no opinion about that place since I've never been there and probably will never go there. What I question is whether a place in San Pablo that sells $5 porridge dishes is of enough general interest that it makes economic sense for the Chronicle to pay a high-caliber food writer to review it, especially since there are free sites, like this one, that will provide you with plenty of information and opinions and probably go into more detail than a short Kaufmann write-up.

                                1. re: nocharge

                                  sfgate.com is a free site. Its food section's major competitors include Yelp, CBS (Chow), Vox Media (Eater), Village Voice Media (SF Weekly), and TDT Media (Tasting Table).

                                  There's more detail about Ran Kanom here, but nobody had yet posted about the tapas-size option Kauffman reported.

                                  1. re: nocharge

                                    "What I question is whether a place in San Pablo that sells $5 porridge dishes is of enough general interest for the Chronicle to pay a high-caliber food writer to review it,"

                                    ...and the answer is yes, because that place is no mere hole-in-the-wall. It might already be the most highly-regarded Thai noodle place in the entire Bay, at least on Chowhound. My coworkers and I drove to San Pablo from El Cerrito several times specifically to grab lunch there. I believe there was already a Chowdown there, with people coming from who knows where.

                                    Besides, isn't this why we all read Kauffman in the first place? I'm thinking back to that thread about discoverers vs. validators. Kauffman is a decent discoverer, in that sense.

                                    In any event, I'm not going to question it. If it doesn't work, oh well, but in the meantime, Kauffman at the Chronicle is hardly a bad thing.

                                2. re: nocharge

                                  It's something like $50 per year for a Sunday-only subscription to the (hard copy) Chronicle. With that, you also get the full edition (not SFGate) online (and downloadable) 7 days a week.

                                  1. re: soupçon

                                    All SF Gate articles are available free online. If you run into a remnant of the old paywall, just Google the headline and click the link.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      I am aware of that. I was referring to the full editions, of which SF Gate is merely a subset., and the fact that it doesn't cost $400/yr to access all of the Chronicle's resources.

                                      1. re: soupçon

                                        It doesn't cost $0.01 a year to access all of the Chronicle's resources.

                                        I believe it's the print edition that's a subset of sfgate.com, not the other way around.

                      2. re: soupçon

                        "Can you say "ethnic and small, family-run restaurants," Kitty?"

                        What for?

                        "Offbeat and hole in the wall" is far more inclusive without equating family run restaurants with being small or ethnic.

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          Offbeat and hole-in-the-wall are dismissive terms. Is Ran Kanom "offbeat" because it serves food that's unfamiliar to the average diner? Only to a xenophobe.

                          Supper Club, now that's "offbeat."

                          1. re: soupçon

                            Ran Kanom serves dishes that are unfamiliar to anyone who has learned about Thai food from what 99% of the other Thai restaurants around here serve.

                            Eater's fast and loose prose style is not very relevant.

                            1. re: soupçon

                              I don't consider either of those terms dismissive or otherwise pejorative. "Offbeat" just means unusual or unconventional, according to Oxford. A "hole-in-the-wall" restaurant is small. That's useful information if you are looking for a place which can accomodate a large group.

                              1. re: soupçon

                                So using the term offbeat is xenophobic because they didn't classify it as "ethnic, small, and family run" instead? You might want to reconsider how very counterproductive and dismissive that thinking is in and of itself. Hate to tell you, but tagging something as "ethnic" isn't exactly progressive or meaningful in 2014.

                                Offbeat is a broad, yet often positive descriptive for most Chowhounders.

                                1. re: sugartoof

                                  I would agree. Most people on this site would be more interested in "offbeat" than "touristy".