These days, everyone's a foodie. We're not talking about people who are food snobs, sheeple, or gourmet wannabes who just eat where they're told. We mean foodie in the best sense of the word. People who love all kinds of food and want to know everything about it, who celebrate the best ingredients – as well as the most ordinary of pleasures.
And no one knows that world better than Ed Levine, food writer, book author and founder of Serious Eats. Serious Eats is one of the Web's premier food sites and communities with the mission of making great food accessible to everyone. It's also a recent addition to the SAY Media Food channel. Ed's stories on iconic American foods such as hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream and cheesecake are classics that have appeared in countless publications including the New York Times.
We asked Ed about the next generation of food media, what food sites he admires, where to find the best burger in the U.S. – and what surprising things he's learned from his readers.
Mediashift called Serious Eats the "next generation in food media." What does that mean to you? We combine the best aspects of old media, like the sense of authority we convey and how carefully edited and reported our posts are; alongside the best aspects of new media, meaning the sense of community, the interactivity, and the conversational nature of what we do.
What's your advice for marketer's when pitching food writers? Understand that the trust our community places in us is of paramount importance. Without that trust, and the implied credibility that comes with it, serious eats would not have become so popular.
What's your philosophy about advertising on Serious Eats? What works for your readers? No hype, our best marketing partners respect the boundaries between editorial and advertising. That said, we have so many existing columns that are already made to order for advertisers to sponsor. Our readers are ready to embrace brands that advertise on the site, but our community knows when advertisers are being disingenuous. Our community is made up of food enthusiasts who are discerning and are disposed to liking stuff both high and low on the food totem pole, from hot dogs to foie gras.
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Why are you excited to work with SAY? Because SAY understands that communities on the Web come together to share their passions, in a completely new and unique way, and that sites like Serious Eats are perfect vehicles to get the word out about brands in the new world of digital media.
Ruth Reichl calls you "a missionary of the delicious … on a crusade to see that the people who make food get the recognition they deserve …" Why is that your passion? My mission, and the mission of Serious Eats, is to tell people how to fill their lives with seriously delicious food out of the house or in their homes. I love turning people on to a great restaurant, a great recipe, or a great greenmarket farmer. Ruth was right. I do want to see the people that make the food get the recognition they deserve. That's the missionary in me.
What interesting food trends and ideas are you excited about right now? Handmade food, artisanal pizza, greenmarkets, and sustainably raised and grown food.
Slice, Serious Eats' sister site about pizza, is hugely popular. Why are Americans obsessed with pizza? Because it's relatively inexpensive, easy to share, and it can be seriously delicious.
Tell us some cool or surprising things you've learned from your readers. Well, we've learned that Columbus, Ohio has a major taco scene with over 40 trucks. We've learned about how to make great pizza at home. We've learned about valuable shortcuts to take without sacrificing quality. We learned where to find some of the best Korean BBQ in Queens (not to mention some great Thai and Sichuan restaurants). We've learned that if he's got his mind set on it, a career IT guy can open a world-class pizzeria. We've learned where to find great French pastries in Salt Lake City. Finally, we've learned where to get a great corned beef sandwich in Milwaukee.
Best Burger in America – where can we get it? Impossible question to answer. There are so many great burgers in America, in all price ranges. I love the burger at Minetta Tavern in New York, which is a cheffy fancypants burger. I love the burger at Top Notch in Chicago, and we love In 'n Out Burger. In the Serious Eats book, which is coming out November 1st, we write about 25 burgers we love all over the country.