In a very Obama-esque move, the SF Chronicle's critic and food editor Michael Bauer is bringing Eater editor Paolo Lucchesi to work for him. Hillary (ahem) … Lucchesi, who has infused Eater with a good sense of fun since it launched in San Francisco, will be missed, but he certainly will spice up the paper's online presence—something it could definitely use. Bauer is a smart man. The biggest question though is what should we call Mr. Lucchesi now? The Paolorizer? The Big Easy? The Italian Job? Let me know.
What exactly will you be doing at the Chronicle and when are you starting?
We're going to be launching a new restaurant-centric site and blog, hopefully with some fun bells and whistles. Since the Scoop only runs once a week, the Chron hasn't really had a dedicated outlet for breaking restaurant news (not to mention digesting other media sources), so this new platform should be pretty exciting. Technically I'm staring March 8th [although the site's launch date is TBD].
What did you learn about the SF restaurant industry while working at Eater?
Well, I'm definitely still learning, but I've continually been amazed at how small and intertwined the industry here is. And also, that people get testy about figs.
You worked in New York before this. What's the difference between SF and NY?
New York is just such a different beast. There are so many differences—more money is spent on restaurants there so they look better, can woo top chefs, etc.—but here's one: Since the SF restaurant community is so much smaller, I get a feeling of more unity here. NYC restaurants seem to be more competitive, though that's obviously a huge generalization. Don't get me wrong: People hate each other here too, but for the most part, there's a feeling of "we're all in this together so let's figure this out."
Biggest restaurant scandal in your Eater time?
I think that in many ways, the whole Yelp backlash really started rolling when Eater SF launched in fall 2007, so the timing of the Yelp lawsuit this week is somewhat fitting. In terms of restaurant news, the Rubicon closure was pretty monumental, and the Copia meltdown was a trainwreck of a shitshow. In the true tabloid scandal category, SF is pretty tame compared to NYC. But then again, we've been through the Nate [Appleman] and [Jeremy] Fox situations, so I guess every once in a while there's some fodder beneath the surface. Then there were the whimsy items like rotting crabs, Valentine's Day triscuits and Alice Waters wanting to hire someone to kill sharks off the California coast for her soup.
Trend you hope to see?
Smart people should do more stuff and dumb people should do less stuff.
Most shocking comment you received on Eater?
You know, for the most part, the comments on Eater SF weren't that bad, which I think is a testament to the readership. Sure there are some anonymous wackjobs every once in a while, but they're nothing compared to other sites. The most awe-inspiring comment thread was probably from the story about Kozy Kar's war with a Yelper. That thing snowballed to insanity.
Will you continue to poke fun at Michael Bauer?
At the end of the day, there's a difference between being playful and being mean. People read Eater, the Chron, 7x7 and the rest not only to be informed about the dining scene, but also to be entertained, so it's good to make people smile when they take a moment out of their day to read us. I mean, sometimes, the nectarine is on the plate.