A food blogger chronicles his rocky road to success.
From childhood, Levine (Pizza: A Slice of Heaven, 2005, etc.) reports in an effusive, often self-deprecating memoir, he gravitated “toward the most delicious food I could find.” He loved to eat, to discover out-of-the-way restaurants, and to recommend hidden gems to friends. After working unhappily in advertising, he finally was able to turn that passion into a career. In the 1990s, his books New York Eats and New York Eats (More) won praise (restaurant critic Ruth Reichl called him the “missionary of the delicious”) and led to a local cable TV show, a short-lived show on public radio, and gigs as a freelancer. But with a wife and son to support, he needed a more secure way of making a living. His first idea was to launch EATv to give him a forum for his many food stories; when he failed to find backing, he came up with the idea of a food blog, Ed Levine Eats, where he could be both editor and star. “I loved everything about blogging,” he writes. “I love the soapbox that it gave me, allowing me to proselytize about the food and the purveyors I felt so passionately about.” He leaped into the blogosphere with high hopes: “Belief, passion, and willful naiveté are the first-time entrepreneur’s best friends.” However, the reality proved to be grueling. Levine recounts in detail the frustrations he faced as he tried to raise money, solicit advertising, and assemble a team of talented, energetic employees for a site he called Serious Eats. Forced into “constant money-raising mode,” he found some support from family and friends but also faced repeated rejections from potential advertisers and, after nearly a decade, when he decided to sell the blog, from would-be buyers. “The day-to-day was exhausting,” he writes, “a never-ending financial crisis.” Finally, he found a buyer, and Serious Eats, he reports delightedly, is thriving.
Recipes for bagels, spiced onion clusters, white clam pizza—and more—add further flavor to an entertaining memoir.