I was delighted to attend last week's Association of Food Journalists conference in Park City, Utah, with two fellow PGPlate contributors -- my Post-Gazette food writer colleague Gretchen McKay and Bloomfield freelancer Hal B. Klein.
And I was delighted that the PG won three national awards at last Thursday night's fancy awards banquet at about 8,200 feet above sea level at the five-star/five-diamond Stein Eriksen Lodge.
That's where the PG won a second place for Best Newspaper Food Coverage in our circulation division, tied for first-place for Best Newspaper Special Food Project for our occasional series This is Pittsburgh Food, and a first-place for Best Food Multimedia Presentation for one video installment of that series -- by Gretchen McKay and videographer-photographer Steve Mellon -- "Making sausage: Local Italians gather to preserve meat as well as traditions from the Old Country."
We celebrated afterwards with some drinks and karaoke with the locals in the basement at Cisero's, where Mr. Klein tore it up with a few numbers, including "Mack the Knife."
The conference, attended by some 40 journalists from a wide variety of outlets around the country, was a great combination of fun, food and drink, and seminars, including one led by excellent coach-in-residence Monica Bhide (you can check out the full agenda here). Attendees will be writing articles about each seminar for upcoming issues of the AFJ newsletter.
During the conference, Chicago Tribune food editor Bill Daley shot and posted several videos, including this one of Mr. Klein about attending his first conference, and this one of me, the PG food editor and AFJ vice president, inviting more people to join the group and join us for next year's conference in Memphis.
The Post-Gazette has won numerous AFJ awards over the years, including first place for Best Newspaper Food Coverage in 2009 and 2011. Ms. McKay is on a four-year streak of winning first- or second-place awards and says she intends to make it five.
For next year's awards competition, we hope to once again enter The Forks for Best Food Blog.
Meanwhile, here's the full AFJ press release about this year's contest, which made news earlier than intended when Jim Romenesko accidentally broke the embargo and posted it Thursday morning on his site:
PRESS RELEASE For release 11 p.m. EDT, Thursday, September 19, 2013
AFJ NAMES WINNERS IN 2013 FOOD JOURNALISM COMPETITION
The Association of Food Journalists announced 53 winners in its 2013 awards competition at a dinner in Park City, Utah, on September 19. The awards, which recognized excellence in 16 categories of food writing and editing, received 290 entries worldwide.
The 2013 competition reflected changes in journalism as a whole, and food journalism in particular, by adding new awards categories. New this year were awards for best writing on beer, wine and/or spirits; best story on food policy or food issues; best student writing on food; best non-newspaper food feature; best food blog, multiple writers; and best food multimedia presentation.
Nancy J. Stohs, food editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, chaired the 2013 competition. Greg Morago, food editor at the Houston Chronicle, managed the judging process.
The recently added categories “created new energy this year,” Morago said. “Going through all the entries, I was able to see that food writers continue to tackle a wide variety of issues from news (food safety, food politics, local food concerns) to entertainment (restaurant criticism, dining guides, pop culture and trend stories) to the bread and butter of food sections (recipes, chef profiles, local consumer pieces). Special projects, which require enormous editorial work, were especially impressive this year, with dozens of sophisticated sections that served local readers well.
“Overall, it was beyond encouraging to see food editors and writers continue to feed their audiences — whether in print or online — an abundance of well-reported, entertaining and inventive work.”
The Association of Food Journalists, now in its 39th year, encourages communication among professional writers specializing in all aspects of food and food-related journalism. It has sponsored the awards competition since 1986.
For more information about AFJ and the professional standards it fosters and upholds, visit afjonline.com [where there are links to many of the award-winning pieces].
Best Newspaper Food Coverage above 200,000 circulation (tie for third place) FIRST: The San Francisco Chronicle, Miriam Morgan, Food Editor SECOND: The Boston Globe, Sheryl Julian, Food Editor THIRD: The Washington Post, Joe Yonan, Food Editor and Bonnie Benwickr, Deputy Editor THIRD: Philadelphia Daily News, Laurie T. Conrad, Food Editor
Best Newspaper Food Coverage below 200,000 circulation FIRST: San Antonio Express-News, Karen Haram, Food Editor SECOND: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Bob Batz Jr., Food Editor THIRD: The Advocate, Baton Rouge, LA, Cheramie Sonnier, Food Editor
Best Newspaper Special Food Project (tie for first and second place) FIRST: The Kansas City Star, “Edge City,” Jill Silva, Food Editor FIRST: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “This Is Pittsburgh Food,” Bob Batz Jr., Food Editor SECOND: Steve Hoffman, Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Letters from France” SECOND: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “On Our Plate,” Nancy Stohs, Food Editor THIRD: Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Taste 50,” Lee Dean, Food Editor
Best Newspaper Food Feature above 220,000 circulation FIRST: Andrea Adleman, The Washington Post, “The Psychology of Cupcakes” SECOND: Katy McLaughlin, The Wall Street Journal, “Get Your Goat On” THIRD: Greg Morago, The Houston Chronicle, “Barbecue Nerds”
Best Newspaper Food Feature 125,000-220,000 circulation FIRST: Cindy Hoedel, The Kansas City Star, “Rabbit Revival” SECOND: The late Jackie Loohauis-Bennett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Creating More Than a Stir” THIRD: Jill Silva, The Kansas City Star, “Growing Change”
Best Newspaper Food Feature below 125,000 circulation FIRST: Drew Lazor, Philadelphia City Paper, “Acts of Will" SECOND: Stacy Schultz, Sauce Magazine, “A Second Shot” THIRD: Katharine Shilcutt, Houston Press, “Chef Endures Cancer, Loss of Sense and Taste”
Best Non-newspaper Food Feature FIRST: Todd Kliman, Washingtonian, “Everywhere at Once” SECOND: Nadia Arumugam, The Atlantic, “Expired” THIRD: Chad Robertson, Food Arts, “Baker in the Rye
Best Restaurant Criticism (tie for third) FIRST: Laura Reiley, Tampa Bay Times SECOND: Tejal Rao, The Village Voice THIRD: Bobby Ampezzan, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette THIRD: Ian Froeb, RiverfrontTimes
Best Food Visual (tie for second) FIRST: James Nielsen, The Houston Chronicle, “The Great State of Barbecue” SECOND: Joaquin Herrera, The San Antonio Express-News, “S.A. Food Savvy?” SECOND: Richard Stokes, Reno Magazine, “Savor Summer” THIRD: Francisco Kjolseth, Salt Lake Tribune, “Winged Salute to July 4”
Best Food Essay FIRST: Marge Perry, Newsday, “Cupcakes That Say Love” SECOND: Darra Goldstein, The Wall Street Journal, “A Bribe-Worthy Chicken Dish” THIRD: Todd Kliman, Washingtonian, “Champagne & Sippy Cups”
Best Writing on Beer, Wine and/or Spirits FIRST: Wendy Goldman Rohm, Playboy, “The Talented Mr. K” SECOND: Jason Wilson, TableMatters.com, “When Wine Talk Gets Weird” THIRD: Jon Bonne, San Francisco Chronicle, “Restoring a Napa Legend”
Best Story on Food Policy or Food Issues FIRST: Andy Mannix and Mike Mullen, City Pages, “Milk Money” SECOND: Hanna Raskin, Seattle Weekly, “Peaches and Dreams” THIRD: Carolyn Jung, Food Arts, “Foie and Its Discontents”
Best Food Column FIRST: Kellie Hynes, Sauce Magazine SECOND: Martha J. Miller, EthnoTraveler Magazine THIRD: Hanna Raskin and Dan Person, Seattle Weekly
Best Food Blog, Multiple Writers FIRST: The Salt, NPR SECOND: Inside Scoop, San Francisco Chronicle THIRD: Phoenix New Times
Best Food Multimedia Presentation FIRST: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Gretchen McKay and Steve Mellon SECOND: Feast magazine, Hannah Radcliff THIRD: Indy Week, D.L. Anderson and Victoria Bouloubasis
Best Student Writing on Food FIRST: Shelby Vittek, Drexel University writing for TableMatters.com, “My Endangered Dinner” SECOND: Shelby Vittek, Drexel University writing for TableMatters.com, “Old Nordic” THIRD: Stephanie Parker, University of Montana writing for The Kaimin, “Investing in a Little Produce”
Top: Gretchen McKay photo of the first course at the AFJ awards banquet, Lobster Mushroom Three Sister Succotash made with heirloom beans and other vegetables from Northeast Ohio.
Karaoke photo by Nancy Leson