Escape your cluttered news feed! Wander aimlessly through the interwebs no more. The most compelling food news -- and conversation -- will all be in one place: right here!
You've seen us dipping into food news curation in our weekly Feed52 round-ups. Now, we're thrilled to be rolling out a living, breathing News Section on Food52, powered by the brilliant women behind Food News Journal, Fran Brennan and Shelly Peppel. (We've long been fans -- read our interview with them below and you'll see why.)
Please join us in welcoming Fran and Shelly to the fold -- then head over to the News Section to stir up more of that lively, thoughtful dialogue that abounds on Food52.
Before launching Food News Journal, you came from publishing (Shelly) and journalism (Fran) -- what made you want to shift from producing content toward curating it?
Fran Brennan: I can't speak for Shelly here, but I know I needed something to inspire me. She came up with the idea for a food news site; and I jumped on board the minute she asked me. Food was such a shared interest of ours -- we love making it, sharing it, talking about it, reading about it. This seemed like the perfect way to combine work and play.
Shelly Peppel: With the sheer volume of food writing on the web, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find quality reading. Our goal has been to gather only the best of it in one place and present it as our editorial viewpoint. We still love creating original content -- it's just that we also like organizing it. Hopefully we'll continue to do both.
What do you love most about curating food news?
Shelly: Discovering hundreds of fantastic food voices out there! Bloggers, chefs, publishers, critics -- we're connected to all these people now and we get to dip into their (often compelling) lives, "visit" their kitchens, farms, and restaurants every day. Armchair cooking and eating at its finest!
Fran: I get to read amazing food writing every day -- as a job. I'm still in awe of the seemingly endless stream of food and wine news, not to mention the wonderful feature stories and blog posts. I'm not sure I would have believed two years ago that we could find enough content to fill a site every day; but finding stories has never been a problem. Now many of them even find us.
What's the most interesting story you've ever worked on?
Shelly: For me it's been teen bloggers. I spend a good amount of time around teenagers, and it's terrifically inspiring to see the focus and passion coming from these kids. The idea that they can share that passion with people anywhere in the world, and at such a young age, is pretty powerful stuff.
Fran: It's a toss up. Getting the first interview with Twitter celeb mashup Ruth Bourdain was fun and energizing and brought me back to my days as a reporter trying to get a scoop. But I've also loved writing the year-end wrap-ups we've published for the past two years. Sifting through my notes (and my brain) to find the most compelling stories of the year -- and pulling them together into a fun narrative -- was a highlight for me.
Fran's in D.C., Shelly's in San Francisco. How does your cross-country workflow work, exactly?
Shelly: We skype over coffee. We email each other like banshees. And both of us are up early and work late -- I doubt many people who share office space have as much as daily contact as we do!
Fran: It works incredibly well, in fact. Because of the time difference, we manage to cover the news day in a fairly extensive way -- starting at about 6:30 a.m. on the East Coast and wrapping up at around 9:30 p.m. or so on the West Coast. We definitely overutilize our unlimited texting (I'm sure our phone company regrets ever offering us that feature). Still, I have to admit that when I'm up and working early, I find myself watching the clock, wishing for 6:30 a.m. in the Bay Area so I can see that first e-mail from Shelly drop into my in-box.
In the almost 2 years since you started canvassing news for FNJ, what are the top 3 things you've noticed about trends in food news coverage these days?
Shelly: The crazy rapid increase in food sites and blogs, the rise of celebrity and shock headlines to drive page views, and the trend of established national news and magazine sites toward aggregating content. The online food world feels like the Wild West right now. We have our own predictions, but it's going to be interesting to see where the online food frenzy goes in the next couple of years.
Fran: That there's so much more of it, and from highly respected news sources as well as indie sources and online startups. The politics of food has become big business. Food safety, agribusiness, eating local, childhood obesity -- when I was a kid, these were not the things covered in my local newspaper or talked about at my parents' cocktail parties. Now, I can't go to a news source -- or a dinner party -- without at least one of these topics making an appearance. It's a lot more fun. The rise in locavore eating, artisanal food production, gourmet food trucks -- what's not to like here? There is just so much fun, exciting stuff going on in food right now that it makes reading food media incredibly enjoyable.
What's the single most fascinating thing you've read about food this year, from any source?
Fran: I loved Christine Muhlke's piece about food communities in last October's New York Times Magazine food issue. She crystallized so many of the thoughts I've had about food since starting FNJ with Shelly: People love to eat; they love to talk about what they eat; they love to share food and recipes. It's just an amazing means of pulling people together, whether for social reasons or even economic ones, like urban farms and community gardens. Unlike politics or religion, food is generally a topic where people -- and their appetites -- can find common ground.
Shelly: Fran's interview with Ruth Bourdain. I love the idea that someone clever and anonymous can captivate the food world so completely. We all need a bit more mystery in our lives!
What do you hope to do with the News Section on Food52?
Fran: I think we're both excited to dive into the Food52 community. At Food News Journal, we got a lot of feedback about stories from our Twitter followers, and readers often commented on features we'd written. But we didn't have the level of interaction with readers that you have on Food52. We're looking forward to having a dialogue about the most compelling -- or sometimes just craziest -- stories.
Shelly: Create the 'go to' place online for the best food news, writing, and recipes, and underline it all with lively discussions. Let's all talk about what we're reading and what we think about it. Lucky for us Food52 is the perfect spot to foster a food news community.
Go explore the Food52 News section here (or at any time from the main navigation bar) and let us know what you think!