After intellectualizing the cupcake, the Atlantic and Corby Kummer launch a new food site today, the “Food Channel.” That’s all so convenient considering Kummer appeared as the guest critic on The Chopping Block earlier this week, but we didn’t really like the show and unfortunately Kummer is a bit swept up in the bad aftertaste at the moment.
But we digress. The new site has assembled an impressive list of bloggers working in the industry from chef Grant Achatz to ranchers Bill Niman and Nicolette Hahn Niman to restauranteur/author Ari Weinzweig. From the outset, Kummer defines the new site as different from (but not in opposition to) other food site like Serious Eats, Grub Street, and, presumably us (though he neglects to mention us specifically by name). While it certainly makes sense for the Atlantic‘s site not to be a Grub Street, I’m not sure that what their new “Food Channel” actually makes sense either.
The piece that gets the best placement on the homepage is Weinzweig’s “Grits Bits Waffle, Dixieland Delight.” Weinzweig gives us a bit of history about the Dutch bringing over waffle irons and later incorporating grits into their leftover waffles (interesting). What’s less interesting is when he tells us how the chef at one of his restaurants recently began using rice flour instead of wheat in his waffle batter. It starts to feel a bit self-promotional, and later, such suspicions are fully confirmed when Weinzweig writes “I’ve got a recipe for Carolina Red Rice (with tomato and bacon) in Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon, which comes out in May. But this dish uses the rice in the form of flour — all of the good stuff I’ve just mentioned cold milled into a silkily textured rice flour that tastes…amazingly good.” Huh? I’m interested in the history of rice waffles, but can’t Weinzweig save his cookbook pitching for his bio, not the body of the piece?
Elsewhere, Grant Achatz writes about Madrid Fusion 2009, calling it the “G8 Summit for Chefs” (actually, that was in the title, so we’re guessing an Atlantic staffer came up with that cuteness). Sadly, Achatz doesn’t really tell us anything about this year’s Madrid Fusion; he just pens some abstract thoughts on how his feelings about the gastronomic congress have changed over the years.
One of the better pieces up on the site is by (thankfully) less of a foodie name. Maggie Schmitt, a freelance writer living in Madrid, writes a short, enjoyable little piece on tapas in Tangier. Terrence Henry, a “former journalist” in “temporary retirement” will be writing dispatches, which seem promising at the start, from Buenos Aires where he’s fled with his wife to eat steak and not work.
It’s exciting to see a publication like the Atlantic stepping up its food coverage, but it will also be interesting to see, as the site develops, what works and doesn’t work in their chef/restauranteur/farmer-as-blogger model.