When you’re the type of person who visits over 600 restaurants a year (yes, a couple meals out a day is common for me), makes spreadsheets of favorite restaurants, bars, cafes, chocolate, coffee, cocktails, spirits, wine, beer, food/drink highlights in every neighborhood of your home city plus every country and city you travel to, some might call it obsession.
When you skim through Zagat, food guides or best-of lists, and rarely find any places you haven’t been to, you’ve got an addiction. When you add all that with a lifelong passion for writing, eating and exploring the world, you must share it, and that is what I do.
WHERE I WORK & WRITE
I’ve been a San Francisco resident for nearly 15 years, growing up in the New York City and Los Angeles metropolitan areas, though I was born in Oklahoma City and lived a few years in Kansas City, MO. I am the San Francisco/Northern California Editor for Zagat and also freelance at places from Food Republic to 7×7 Magazine. I consult in food, drink, travel and social media on everything from regional, national and international trends, to app and site launches, to providing feedback on menu and theme concepts for restaurants and bars. As editor of Distiller Magazine, I assist the American Distilling Institute (ADI) on their annual spirits judging and conference which draws over 1000 attendees and is held in varying cities.
Coming from 16 years in HR and management working at companies like Genentech, CCA and the Guardian, I am beyond grateful to be living my passion for writing, food, drink, travel. I still consult in HR with an emphasis on employee relations.
I was the San Francisco Bay Guardian food critic, working there nearly 5 years, launching my weekly food/drink column, Appetite, in 2008 and eventually becoming the head food critic with a weekly column in the paper. I left in 2013 not long after the paper was bought and drastically changed. Over the years, I worked at the California Culinary Academy with emerging chefs and hospitality managers.
I’ve been a judge in countless cocktail, spirits and cooking competitions and panels annually. I am Assistant Editor of print quarterly, Distiller Magazine. I’ve filled in as San Francisco editor for both Eater and Grubstreet, am a regular writer at Food Republic, 7×7 Magazine, Distiller Magazine, Blackboard Eats and am a featured writer at Liquor.com. I’ve written articles in London Times, 7×7 Magazine, Drink Me Magazine, WHERE Magazine & Guestbook, Spoonwiz, PureWow, 944 Magazine, and “best of” lists for NBC’s The Feast, Daily Gourmet, and Citysearch.
In 2007, I humbly launched The Perfect Spot after constant demand from (and many hours spent telling) friends of friends for where to go, what to eat and drink at home and around the globe. I have an insatiable hunger to dig deep and go broad, finding the best in every neighborhood and category. I don’t believe in having food prejudices or dislikes (my Zagat essay on that subject here) so my philosophy is not only try anything once, but try it multiple times (and from the right hands) until I convert – and I’ve converted to many a food I once hated.
THE CONVERGING OF LOVES
Though music is one of my greatest loves, you can likewise find me talking books, film, theater, culture, history, religion, and travel for hours on end.
Writing – I’ve been illustrating and writing my own books and poetry since I was a girl, reading day and night (which I still do), taking numerous writing classes and part of SF and Berkeley writing groups over the years.
Food – Part Sicilian, part German, with a little English and Swedish thrown in, I’ve naturally grown up with an appetite. My Sicilian Mama daily cooked me and my three siblings meals. Moving to New Jersey, just outside NYC, at age 14 from Southern California (where I lived age 6 to 14), I grew up bi-coastal (and a bit in Oklahoma and Kansas City, MO) with widely varying foods and cultures. New York City set aflame my love for cities that began as a girl constantly reading books of faraway places.
Family – You’ll hear me mention The Renaissance Man occasionally… my husband and best friend, whom I’ve known for nearly 20 years. He’s truly a renaissance man: a theater acting major, musician (plays three instruments), writer, photographer, woodworker, maker of his own clothing and leather goods. He shares my passion for travel, food, drink, the arts, peoples of the world, so together we’re an inseparable team. He taught me basic photography, created this website, keeps me constantly laughing with his sharp wit, a true partner in life’s adventures.
My love for food evolved when first traveling overseas. In 1998-99 I spent three life-changing months in Vietnam and Thailand working in orphanages and inner city slums, plus three months in San Francisco working with homeless in the Tenderloin. I then traveled alone through 10 countries in Europe and Morocco for three months. When I returned to Southern California after a year away, I would never eat (or live) the same way again. Hunting for “the real”, I avoided chain restaurants like the plague, seeking local and authentic – not an easy feat in Orange County!
Moving to San Francisco soon thereafter rapidly accelerated my knowledge of food, with endless discoveries in this truly unique, pioneering city. I travel with as acute a hunger as I live my day-to-day life (check out my Wandering Traveler section). I’ve…
– roamed the hills and distilleries of the Scottish Highlands and Speyside
– eaten my way through mountain towns, dining on impeccable lake fish and cheeses in multiple trips around Switzerland
– journeyed on a two week BBQ road trip through the South, researching various sauces and styles of ‘que
– drove through the mountains of Oaxaca visiting remote mezcal distilleries and seeing ancient, clay pot distillation
– made pisco in Peru and ate at some of Lima’s greatest restaurants
– evolved my love for classic cocktails (thanks to master barman, Chris McMillian) and the nuances of Creole and Cajun cuisine through annual visits to New Orleans
– chowed down in pho bars and on bahn mi in one month all over Vietnam
– fell in love with the people, cuisine and countryside of Ireland, tasting Irish whiskey straight from barrels
– got hooked on Low Country and Gullah cuisine eating through Charleston and along the S. Carolina coast
– explored all the wine regions of Bordeaux, France, from Medoc to Saint-Emilion
– traversed Chianti and Tuscan hill towns where some of the most beloved Italian wines are made, and have eaten my way through the Emilia-Romagna, Friuli, Tuscany, Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Lake Como/Lombardy, Cinque Terre, Italian Alps and Bassono Del Grappa, visiting some of these areas multiple times as Italia is my favorite country
– ate couscous and lamb with my hands in Morocco
– savored Austrian wines and cuisine in Vienna, Innsbruck and Salzburg, Austria
– watched tequila production amidst agave fields in Jalisco, Mexico
– visited gin distilleries in London, and countless restaurants, markets and food events over multiple visits
– roamed the most incredible seafood markets of my life in northwest Spain (Galicia)
– braved haggis and pubs in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland
– pushed my spice/heat tolerance to regions beyond over two months in Thailand
– sampled beers and sausages in Munich, Mainz and Berlin, Germany
– dove into beach towns and local foods in Oahu, Hawaii the Big Island, Maui & Kauai
– ate the lushest fruits on the Venezuelan coast
– paired sangria with paella in Barcelona and the south of Spain
– sipped champagne with buttery snails or made picnics of baguettes, cheese and wine in Paris
– fell in love with Tyrolian food on the Italian/Austrian border
– scoured genever bars in Amsterdam & hung out with Bols Genever’s international bartender finalists for a week during the Bols Around the World competition
– hunkered down in Belgian beer bars and over moules and frites in Bruges, Belgium
– became a coffee snob and gelato-obsessed all over Italy
… and the list goes on. I consider NY, SF and New Orleans the ‘holy trinity’ of US cities. Besides the Bay Area, NY and LA areas are a huge part of me as I’ve spent a great portion of my life in both. I’m deeply connected in spirit to New Orleans – the music, soul, people and food. But I love the South in general from its soulful food to its music, particularly Charleston, Savannah and Kentucky. England and Italy are my roots and where I always long to return. Never do I feel quite as at bonded with people as I do in Asia.
Though I make a minimal salary as a writer and editor for far more than full time work, I am not (nor have ever been) given any budget to eat out by any media employer or for any freelance assignment. I often spend far more eating out than I make in a month (or break even), typically eating and drinking out a good 10 times a week. While I attend many industry events and press meals, and am sent spirits, wine and food samples, I am not given freebies to write favorable reviews and will not write about any place or product I have not been to or tasted myself.
I’m fiercely devoted to honesty about glaring or subtle missteps, though I tend to not write about a place if it thoroughly disappointed. There are too many great places to focus energy on and I am not in the business of bashing small businesses. I love this industry and the amazing, hardworking people I’ve met worldwide. The goal is constructive honesty and sharing the best of my constant findings with my readers.