Sharing the (Local) Love

Australian coffee!

Hello dear readers,

Local small business owners, and their creative ideas, have inspired many of my freelance journalism stories over the past 15 years. Specifically, within the small business sector, I’ve had the honor of writing about dozens (likely well over 100) of restaurants. The variety of cuisines, menus, decor, unique locations and owners’ backstories has provided a wellspring of feature stories over the years. The fact that I’ve always loved cooking and learning more about seasonings, techniques and recipes is a win-win for me personally!

But over the years, I’ve also felt conflicted at times. There have been restaurant owners with great ideas who clearly have no business plans in place. Although many chefs are talented, not all are kind. And sometimes the people who display foodie-related passion and talent aren’t affiliated with restaurants many consider top-tier: I’ve written about food truck owners fulfilling their dreams, unexpected foodie gems located in off-the-beated-path locations and many other under-the-radar restaurants.

As a Philadelphia native, I appreciate underdog stories. That’s why unconventional foodie stories have always been my jam.

Approaching the foodie and restaurant beat with more of a feature-style lens became even more essential during the pandemic. Numerous foodie stories I had written, submitted, or had in the works, were either killed or in limbo as restaurants closed, folded or had unknown futures. Then, once the restaurant industry precariously forged ahead amid the pandemic, I didn’t think it was truly fair to be evaluating and writing about restaurants during a time when many weren’t (or still aren’t) able to put their best foot forward, considering staffing issues, ingredient-sourcing headaches and other wrinkles. And as the pandemic wore on, I also felt compelled to show support for small businesses by writing features about restaurants forging ahead with innovative and creative approaches to staying afloat.

I recently listened to a podcast that described and summarized this yin and yang a bit more eloquently. New York Times’ food critic Pete Wells explained why he did away with the newspaper’s iconic star rating system, and how he found great joy in writing about a Puerto Rican food trailer and other establishments he never would have otherwise covered on the traditional food beat in search of five-star restaurants. Tune into this episode of The Daily, one of my favorite podcasts, here.

All this to say, I think the foodie beat has been changed by the pandemic–and for the better. I think what readers really want are the real stories about real people striving to make their small business dreams come true, all while serving up delicious morsels for us to enjoy.

And that leads me to my latest story on the foodie beat: It was truly a treat to visit Hudson Botanical Cafe for Susquehanna Style magazine. In 15 years of foodie writing, I don’t think I have ever written about an Australian-owned restaurant, or one that also featured plants for sale. That alone makes it memorable in my book, but the excellence in flavors, menu and execution, along with the owners’ pure joy and friendliness makes it even more so. I will definitely go back, “off the clock!”

Enjoy reading “Planting (and Plating) their Roots,” published in the April edition of Susquehanna Style, here.

Also published in April:

I explain the story behind a brand new state park.

How to celebrate Earth Day all month long in the Harrisburg area.

And I introduce you to a talented young woodworker with a lineage of craftsmanship.

Plus, in my latest magazine video for Celebrate Gettysburg, I sit down for “10 Minutes with Andrew Dalton,” executive director of the Adams County Historical Society and their brand new, state-of-the-art Gettysburg Beyond the Battle Museum, for a sneak peek. They are destined to become the next crown jewel of Pennsylvania’s museums!

Additionally, I had the honor of hosting an author visit at Harrisburg’s Midtown Scholar Bookstore! Catch the conversation on YouTube, below, with international journalist Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling. His book, “If It Sounds Like a Quack: A Journey to the Fringes of American Medicine” takes the reader on a bizarre, rollicking trip through the world of fringe medicine. It’s no secret that American health care has become costly and politicized. So where do you turn if you can’t afford doctors or don’t trust them? And how do we define “medicine” as a fractured society?

Also “congrats” to everyone at the Midtown Scholar, Pennsylvania’s largest independent book seller, now one of five bookstores in the running for the coveted nationwide Publishers Weekly Bookstore of the Year!

Thank you for subscribing, reading, watching and/or listening–and I wish you a beautiful spring season!

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