I had the pleasure of spending last Thursday night with a group of women who happen to write about food in New York City.
I was there to speak at a cookbook conference, and a friend had connected me with Rachel Wharton, the Edible Manhattan editor who, along with Amanda Kludt of Eater New York and Alyssa Shelasky from Grub Street, coordinates this casual happy hour. We met up at a newish bar on Bowery called the Wren, which was my first real outing on a three-day trip to the Big Apple.
This was their third get-together, so I wasn’t the only new face in the crowd. Some of them, like the go-team of Kat Kinsman and Sarah LeTrent of Eatocracy, I’d met at South by Southwest. I even persuaded the elusive-yet-everywhere-at-once Penny De Los Santos to join us for a New York minute. But most of them were talented, driven women who were the driving force behind online food journalism in one of the biggest food cities in the world.
I couldn’t help but bring up the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, a group that I’ve been involved with since its inception in late 2010 that brings together food bloggers of all stripes. “That could never happen in New York,” a number of them said. “New York food bloggers are too competitive. They are just doing their own thing.”
But as I looked around, I realized that they were already building such a group. When the Austin bloggers first started getting together, it was an attempt to set aside the competition part of what we do to focus on the connecting part of it that, thanks to social media, happens far more than it used to.
If there ever was a word that was more overused than “sustainable,” it’s “community,” but the cliched term doesn’t make you cringe so much when you’re smack dab in the middle of it, drinking cocktails with people you previously only associated with a screen name and realizing that we’re all just trying to do a good job.
It also makes you think a little harder before you spew some negativity out in the vast Interweb and think that it won’t come back to you.
Who knows if the group of a dozen or so female writers — yes, it’s a no-guys-allowed group at this point, or at least that’s the impassion I got — will move beyond a string of emails and on to a Facebook group, which is what several of them were talking about at the end of the night. I hope it does. There was a lot of goodwill being passed around, and the more of that in this big wide food world, the better.