Wow, look at the date. December 13, 2022.
The last post I made on this site was on March 21, 2022. That was the burger recap of 2021.
I haven’t posted in nine months, but this site’s numbers have remained (mostly) steady. People have been at least looking at stuff here.
People have asked where I am, if I am going to do more podcasts, and so on and so on.
Let me address that here, now.
I have been right here. In Winston-Salem. I moved into a new office and podcast studio. I am downtown in the city I love. I am on the seventh floor of the Liberty Plaza building with a fantastic view of the western horizon. I also get a less-than-fantastic view of the construction of the new Kaleidium, but I have to say, once it’s done and the construction stops, it will be a great addition to the area. I’m not mad at it. I want it to be done.
When you have an audio recording business, hearing metal hammering metal and construction vehicles and backup alarms going off constantly, it’s a bit of a task.
With that, let me speak on the whole of my business.
Back in March, when I made that post about burgers, it was just before I found out that I had to move out of the location I was in. The building was going to be gutted (it was expensive to maintain and wasn’t worth it to the owners). I get it. I had to find a new place. I had to put most of my stuff to the side. I had to concentrate on money-making endeavors because I had to really start paying rent (I had already been paying rent). So, I took on more clients in-studio and had less time to do my “for fun” projects. I say that tongue-in-cheek because everything I do is “for fun.” Just some of those also pay me.
Let me back up a bit. When the pandemic hit, I busted my arse to ensure everyone around town knew where to find food, be it takeout, dine-in, delivery, outside dining, etc. I (along with some help from former podcast co-host Lea Metz) curated a list for over a year. That meant, in the beginning, 5-7 days a week of looking up social media accounts, making phone calls, updating a master list, blogging about it, podcasting about it, and making sure you knew where to go. It went down to three days a week and then to one as things started opening back up. That was a job in and of itself. But, again, I don’t do anything if I’m not enjoying it.
Another thing happened at that time. The influx of “food bloggers” rose to ridiculous proportions. I have been lucky enough to serve this town as a food ambassador for over a decade, so I get it. My problem is that the over-saturation of hobbyists diluted the usefulness of true “food journalists,” which is a moniker I prefer for myself and a few others. I’m not bad-mouthing those people. In fact, I’m doing exactly the opposite. They tend to tell you all the things you really want to know. They tell you when they like things and are very quick to tell you what they don’t. Some consumers want that.
I committed to myself and my food community back in 2016 that I would be a different kind of food journalist. I would do everything I can to build up the food community here in WSNC while doing as little as possible to tear it down. Some want to regard me as a “food critic,” and I cringe at that. I may critique, but I try not to criticize. So, unless I’ve privately conversed with a restaurant, restaurateur, executive chef, etc., about what was wrong, I won’t write about it here or on social media. Even then, it’s generally a “what was wrong and how it’s now better” kind of deal. Local food businesses know me as a voice for them, but the consumers know me as an advocate for them. I observe the bad things people are saying. I do my best to convey that to the businesses. Chances are, these days, they already know about it.
I also don’t really want to compete with Michael Hastings at the journal. I certainly don’t want to compete with the “word on the street” scoopers who want to tell everyone’s business before they’re ready to hear it. More than one person does that, but one, in particular, is cringingly consistent.
So, with both the ones telling what is wrong with food establishments and scooping official pressers and people wanting their business told, what is the win? What good does it do for the food establishments themselves? To me, that answer is not very much good at all.
I have gained my reputation as a confidant for many a place, and when they tell me, I don’t run and scream it from the rooftops until they give the go-ahead. In journalism, that’s called “embargo” and means that while we may have privileged information, we wait until we’re given the green light to run it. Any journalist worth their salt, integrity, and self-respect does it right.
I get it, though. Some people just can’t help themselves. They need to get the jump. They need to try places as soon as they open and tell about all the reasons that place let them down. Please stop doing that, at least. I attend openings and may report on the opening and how it went. Generally, I reserve full judgment until they’ve had their feet under them and have had time to work out the kinks.
Some may say that I’m not doing the consumers any good by only telling the good things and not the bad things. I don’t leave the bad things to fester. I may say how I would have liked it differently or say they had trouble with this or that. But, really, here’s the thing. I’m here to build up the establishments and businesses. You don’t see me doing a “list of worst burgers.” Boy, I could have, but that’s not my style. I have had plenty of things that weren’t great. I just don’t report on those things. I’m not omitting the truth. I just don’t think pushing the bad helps the establishment. I’ll leave that to the Facebook groups. Have at it.
I kind of got side-tracked (you think!?). The point is, I was tired, had little want to talk about food, wanted to do something different, had other things come up (did I mention I now own a radio station?), and didn’t feel like I was giving my readers and listeners the best I was capable of.
2023 will be different. I have begun some partnerships with other promotional entities, and we will collaborate on a few things in the new year. The podcast will return. It won’t be the same podcast you were used to. Some of the elements will return, some will not. A new podcast will come along with that. I want to do things with Street Team Steve and grow my “Street Team.” When the time is right to talk about all of that, I will (see how that works?).
Truth is, I have missed you all. I have missed reviewing food. I have missed podcasting about it. I haven’t really missed most of the writing about it, though. Considering this post is just under 1300 words, you wouldn’t know it. I just had some stuff built up, I guess.
Have you missed your verbose food guide? Bon appetite, WSNC!!
(the picture is of a sunset but is NOT a metaphor for this blog… I’m not going away)