Restaurants: Hire a Publicist or If You Want to Get Into Food & Wine

The magazine’s lazy new Philly travel feature is full of the usual suspects.

questlove-spread-marquee

I’m finally getting around to reading Food & Wine‘s Philly food scene travel feature that’s in the November issue of the magazine (as Foobooz noted earlier this month). And I’m not the least bit impressed.

On Tuesday night, I met a friend for happy hour at Davio’s, where they do great (free) appetizers for the after work crowd. She whipped out her copy of the mag. In the six-page piece contained therein, F&W restaurant editor Kate Krader eats her way through our city, with “celebrity guide” and Philadelphia native Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, who has relocated to New York. The expat “visits often,” notes Krader.


I'm all for positive national press for our awesome city and its awesome food scene, but Krader's article is a lazy, missed opportunity to dig a little deeper. Oh, I'm not saying that the restaurants she features don't deserve a visit. Many of them do, as I know from the great meals I've had at most of them.

Here are the restaurants included in the F&W feature:

Talula's Garden
Vedge
Pizzeria Vetri
Le Virtu
Serpico
Talula's Garden
Vernick Food and Drink
The Brig (Marc Vetri's Navy Yard restaurant that won't open until 2014)
Alla Spina

And then there's a sidebar mentioning the restaurants that Krader wants to visit on her next trip here:

Ela
The Farm and Fisherman
Federal Donuts
Sbraga
Will BYOB
Zahav

Again, some great restaurants. But where are the hidden gems? Nearly all of the restaurants in the piece are represented by pricey publicists, who seem to have done their jobs well in this instance.

And for the two that don't have a publicist on speed dial, well, Krader didn't exactly have to search far and wide. Maybe she picked up the last installment of Philadelphia magazine's Best of Philly, where those two restaurants were honored with two of the biggest awards: Vedge's Rich Landau for Best Chef and Will's Chris Kearse for Best New Chef.

"Magazines don't pay my bills, local consumers do," Kearse told me when I asked him if he employs a publicist. "I am not gonna pay a PR firm for national press when all I want to really do is take care of my customers." (Bravo to him for that and for making the list without representation.)

If I were visiting Philadelphia, the Food & Wine list would make for a pretty decent start. But a savvy traveler doesn't just want to visit places that have received the local tourism board's seal of approval. They want to find the nooks, the crannies, the out-of-the-way spots that only those truly in the know know about.

"Did you actually expect more from Food & Wine?" one of my colleagues asked me when I expressed my dissatisfaction with the article. Yes, I guess I did.

  • hotasice

    you mad bro?? you mad????

  • MT

    Reading Food & Wine for best restaurant picks in a city is like reading Philly Mag and expecting to know pressing social issues the city of Philadelphia is facing.

  • so bored

    To borrow a line from Reality Bites, “your bravado is embarrassing.”

  • really

    This blog is a slave to pr firms u guys write anything profile tells u to. So I don’t get why you wrote this article

  • HomerJay

    “Restaurants: Hire a Publicist or If You Want to Get Into Food & Wine”

    working title: Victor Learns What “Publicist” Means

  • Keith M. Taylor

    Preach on Victor!

  • rk

    pot, meet kettle. NO HIS NAME ISN’T BLACK!

    (also, note how you just bitched about not highlighting local gems and then went on to not highlight any local gems. nice work. LMAO)

    • HomerJay

      Well, we all know no visit to Philly is complete without a stop at Davio’s. Or a visit to the Davio’s in Boston, or Atlanta, or…

  • Joanne

    I think you raise a good point – however, publicists perform a vital function serving as the resourceful conduit for brands, restaurants, etc that want/need to grow as well as the press that filters that useful info to their reader/viewership/audience. We are not pricey – in fact we are sorely underpaid in many cases considering. Good ones are not flacks who beg, bribe and endless annoy but help cultivate relationships and facilitate a necessary process that all (client, media and reader) can benefit from and feel good about. Kate does not live here she should not be punished for that. My only gripe is she should have visited sooner and more national media should take note of a city that shouldn’t be viewed as an insulting cheese steak, Rocky-obsessed mecca wedged between DC and NY. But then again, perhaps those national media aren’t being reached out to because more businesses in this town actually need more talented representation so they CAN focus on their customers, products, etc.

    • Dan

      Publicists, like all advertising, are merely barriers to entry. They add no value to the consumer, but they keep competitors to
      established brands (Garces, Starr, Vetri, Solo, etc.) out or in
      a position of perceived inferiority. By pumping these brands publicists
      create perceived
      differences to the uniformed (read: suburbanites and visitors), but add no value to the product itself.

  • The Food Lass

    Actually, Chris has a publicist, so your whole point is moot. She’s a sweet girl and good at her job (and maybe a one person firm), but she most certainly does his PR.
    Also, Foobooz criticizing PR firm-using restaurants? Half of their posts come from press releases (that we receive, too), and the best way to make it on their Top 50 Restaurants list is to advertise with them.
    And as a former employee of the magazine being criticized, while F&W has plenty of contact with publicists, they mostly do their own leg work, or in this case (if you actually read the article), source their suggestions from local experts, in this case Adam Erace and Joy Maning.

  • Alimentarian

    You might have at least praised Food & Wine for not stopping at Wholefoods for a steak.

  • alex

    Obviously you guys have a post a week about Citron & Rose because you are there constantly getting scoops, and not because they have PR hacks that send you press releases.