As the Argus-Courier’s Food & Drink section crests its two-year anniversary, I reflect back on what we have done in these pages.
Without the help of you, the reader, I would be hard pressed to stay on top of all the local food news, so for that, I thank you. Additionally, your positive feedback allows me to have such a great forum to follow my passion, which along with eating great food, is helping to support and promote some of the people that help make our community great.
I got started in writing back in 2001, when I wrote Amazon customer reviews. I was not much of a reader or writer as a kid, but as an adult I have developed a healthy appetite for both. Even though I was an Amazon shopper, I chose to purchase from local shops whenever possible, even if prices were higher, because I recognized that Petaluma’s personality would be lost if we lose our small mom-and-pop shops.
My first Amazon write-ups were for products that had yet to be reviewed by an authenticated buyer. As my Amazon ranking went up, I was encouraged to write reviews on everything I purchased.
Then in the 2007, I discovered Yelp. Although I am not a fan of their business model, it did give me a platform to try to help inform visiting diners about the Petaluma dining scene from a local’s perspective. My first review culminated with my move back to Petaluma. I had just discovered Sugo Trattoria, and after returning several nights in a row, I wanted to tell people about what I had discovered. Sugo is still one of our favorite restaurants — in the world.
Within weeks of my return to Petaluma, I also attended the 2007 Taste of Petaluma. Based on my background in logistics and resource management, I emailed the organizer with a few suggestions on how the event might be run more efficiently. That sparked a beautiful relationship I maintain to this day with the Queen of Cuisine, the Petaluma Chili Empress, Laura Sunday.
In an effort to raise funds for Cinnabar Theater, where her children attended, Laura developed and grew the Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff, the Taste of Petaluma and the Lagunitas Crab Feed. Thanks to all the contacts I made with local restaurateurs and food purveyors through this work, I ended up learning a lot more about the people behind the food than one normally would. This knowledge helped me round out my Yelp reviews, making them as much about the hardworking folks behind the counter as the food we were lucky enough to be tasting.
Above the Brim
In 2010, I was invited to write a blog for Petaluma360, the Argus-Courier’s website. Titled “Above the Brim – Rivertown rants, raves, and reviews from a man of many hats,” I wrote about everything from local museums to decorating our Christmas tree with locally made ornaments. I also blogged about food whenever something caught my attention, which happens a lot around Petaluma. A blog about the Wine Country Baseball League was turned into a feature article, which was my first published piece in the Argus.
My blog was sprinkled with food related postings, and I started blogging expanded versions of my Yelp restaurant previews. That’s when I was asked to write food articles for the Argus. My first food article was an edited version of my Yelp and blog review of Secret Kitchen, which appeared in September 2014.