In celebration of a newly reinvigorated media job market, here’s the first in an occasional series of interviews with people about to jump into an exciting new gig.
Yesterday, Raphael Brion announced that Joshua David Stein, a Gawker vet and OUT editor-at-large, who’s also contributed to The New York Times, New York, The Guardian and The Observer, would be joining his team at Eater National as a senior editor. We chatted with Mr. Stein, who is “out of the country on vacation,” this morning as he was exiting the shower.
Joshua David Stein: yes!
Observer: are you on the lam?
Joshua David Stein: child support.
No just kidding.
Observer: fill me in — how did the job at Eater come about?
Joshua David Stein: i’ve been writing about food and restaurants in one way or another since my Gawker days. I actually moved over to Gawker from Gridskipper, the travel website, because I was writing so much about N.Y.C. restaurants and nightlife.
Even at Page Six Magazine, I ended up writing about restaurants (usually downfall pieces).
I guest edited Eater for a bit and also guest edited Grub Street for a small span so i’ve kind of been a free radical in the food blogosphere.
It’s nice to find safe harbor on a masthead though.
Observer: ok, so this is definitely a job-job
Joshua David Stein: (I am also, to be clear, keeping my position at OUT Magazine as Editor-at-Large.)
Observer: will you continue to write for OUT, New York, The Guardian, T magazine, etc.?
Joshua David Stein: I hope to, yes. Definitely at OUT where I do a lot of FOB stuff as well as head up packages (travel, grooming, gift guide) I don’t see there being much of a change.
Is that too insider baseball/boring? It might be.
Observer: it’s ok.
Joshua David Stein: I do have to say I’m really excited to finally be welcomed into the warm embrace of Lockhart Steele and Raphael Brion.
Observer: I was reading this week about restaurateurs having to deal with people tweeting while they’re eating. Do you think that’s tacky?
Joshua David Stein: I read that too. Well, this is kind of boring but I do think that whipping out ones cell phone is a rather annoying thing to do at a meal. Not as much to the chef or to this idea of the sanctity of a dining space but just to one’s dinner companion. On the other hand, people can document whatever they want.
Additionally, Mauro [Maccioni of Le Cirque]’s greatest fear has happened over and over again and it hasn’t been the kiss of death for anyone so there is a bit of paranoia on the part of chefs/restaurateurs.
Finally, Zeke Turner, I personally find it annoying when people tweet things like, “The Foie at Boulud is AMAZZINGGG!!!” it’s like, what does that add to the world except to let us know you have disposable income.
Observer: is Eater interested in photos of people’s dinner?
Joshua David Stein: Are we interested in photos of people’s dinners? I guess it depends on what they’re eating and how good the photo is. I do not find any intrinsic value in a poorly lit blurry photograph of a burger no.
Observer: what do you see as the blog’s bread and butter? (what do people come to eater for?)
Joshua David Stein: Bread and butter served in a restaurant is the bread and butter of Eater.
Observer: how do you think you’re going to spend most of your time there?
Joshua David Stein: There are some exciting things in the works but I’m not at liberty to discuss them. I’m really excited though to continue with our Eater Interrogations (Eaterrogations?) With chefs.
I did one with Keller that was fun. Not in the least because I got to meet the guy.
I’m not out to cut a bitch but when I see pompous bullshit, obviously i’ll call it out (cf. Alan Richman’s interview)
Observer: Is there anyone you want to interrogate right now?
Joshua David Stein: I would love to chat with Tom Colicchio and that’ll happen at some point but he’s filming Top Chef. I’ll probably eventually end up in a fist fight with Toby Young and I relish that moment.
Observer: also, it sounds like there’s something really big in the works (“not at liberty to discuss”), and the post about your hiring mentioned “top secret” things. Tease us.
Joshua David Stein: you fat fuck. Your mama’s so fat smaller fat women are in orbit around her.
Oh! Sorry. I thought you meant tease in the other way.
Observer: ok you want to stay out of trouble.
Joshua David Stein: i can neither confirm nor deny that I wish to stay out of trouble.
Observer: you are a man of mystery — we can’t talk about [undisclosed location] either
Joshua David Stein: I am cagey. A function of being in the blogosphere so long. I’ve been in the shit, Zeke.
Ok, let’s wrap this up. I have some arms to deal.
Observer: Let’s talk about the shit? Do you think Mr. Steele is making huge moves now?
Joshua David Stein: Huge moves?
Observer: ‘secret plans’
Do you feel like Eater is going to change a lot about food news, or you’re too cynical for that?
Joshua David Stein: Oh, um. There are no plans I am both privy to and free to discuss.
To answer your other question though:
I am cynical in general — Hell is other people — but I think Eater’s model of rendering the restaurant world in a breathlessly excited but nonetheless critical way is, if not game-changing, game expanding.
Certainly this is true and will become even more true as Eater.com, both at a national and local level, expands.
Plus, now that they’ve brought me in, I change shit. My middle middle name is “Game Changer”
Joshua Dav-“Game Changer”-id Stein
Observer: Eater.com, senior editor