We're thrilled to announce that prolific writer Joshua David Stein—whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, Eater, New York Magazine, Esquire and many others—is joining Tasting Table as editor-at-large and bringing his thoughtful perspective on food, dining and culture to our proverbial table. Get to know him below, then check back for his first feature later this month. —Karen Palmer, editorial director
For the last decade, in one way or another with varying levels of professionalism, I've been writing about food. Over that time, but preceding it too obviously, the culinary scene has metastasized. Not just the culinary side of things, which is certainly true and a very good thing, but the scene-y side, too, which is equally true but ambiguously good. You can eat better now than ever before, but it's nearly impossible to eat unmolested by blinding displays of stars, endless and recursive lists, the superlatives that attach themselves like lampreys to fast-moving chefs.
As restaurant critic for the New York Observer for the last three years—you can read here why I stepped down—I saw firsthand how critical acclaim or savaging affected restaurants, in particular, and our conversations about food, in general. The discourse either elevated chefs and their work beyond the reach of mere mortals or it dampened whatever direct experience of that joy could be by quantitative meta-analysis. But what about joy?
That's one reason I'm so thrilled to be joining Tasting Table as the editor-at-large. Without slavering and without slamming, with neither pride nor prejudice, Tasting Table has consistently focused on telling stories about food and the people who make it and the people who eat it, and where they eat and how they eat, and what they eat and how they make what they eat in ways that are accessible, compelling and, finally, joyful.
And those are the stories I want to tell, too. Our heroes are chefs, suppliers, diners, artists, farmers, producers, designers, champions of micro cress, rice whisperers, fork specialists. The focus isn't on restaurants, empty dining rooms, flawless plating and disembodied philosophy. It is on how a restaurant forms a nexus of a neighborhood—the subject of my first piece, which will be published later this month—because, in the end, that's what brings us to the table.
This doesn't mean it's all rainbow sorbet and angel food cake. (Even joy has a darkness.) But my goal is to help deepen the conversation we have at the table, whether one is in the cramped confines of a city apartment or in the most refined dining room in the world.
Joshua David Stein is the author of Can I Eat That?, a children's book about food, and coauthor of Food & Beer, an adult cookbook about food and beer. He was the restaurant critic for the New York Observer from 2013 to April 2016, when he resigned in protest over the paper's endorsement of Donald Trump. He was formerly an editor at Gawker; the editor of Gridskipper, Gawker's travel site; the senior editor of Eater and later of luxury travel magazine Departures. For a spell, Joshua was editor in chief of BlackBook Magazine, editor of Fashion Rocks and then features director at InStyle. Currently, he is creative director for Stitch Creative, the in-house content studio for TIME magazine. He is a frequent contributor to The Guardian, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire and the Financial Times. He lives in Park Slope with his wife, Ana, and two children, Achilles and Augustus. Follow Joshua on Twitter and Instagram.
Please check your inbox to verify your email address.