I started blogging as a challenge, really. I knew that I couldn’t simply continue to churn out three or more stories a week for ABC 7 News, and expect to be read/viewed/followed in the new media landscape. As much as I love food reporting for TV and radio, I started noticing that younger bloggers were already referring to me as an old school relic; a legacy media throwback from an “appointment viewing” era before DVRs and Twitter links. I knew I had to get involved somehow, to be a part of the conversation, but didn’t really know how, and had blogged only intermittently at best (without the possibility of an RSS feed subscription to boot! old-timer, indeed).
So when my good friend and WBEZ colleague Justin Kaufmann called me up in the winter of 2009 to ask if I would be a part of his new Vocalo.org blog, I was thrilled. Justin and I had worked together for years on “Metropolis” and “848.” We even won a couple of Beard Awards together for our work there, but it had been awhile since I had felt right about returning in even a part-time capacity. His pitch was simple: Cover the food scene in Chicago, and try to post frequently.
We started off slow, but fortunately people were patient. I implemented some regular features, like “Something You Should Eat” (my homage to Harry Porterfield) and a Thursday “Top 5” list that really helped put us (and me) on the map. I started messing with my iPhone 4 and shooting video, then editing it on my laptop. By the beginning of 2011, I was posting five times per week (with the help of some incredible interns, by the way) but not really sure if I wanted to continue the daily grind along with my regular job at ABC 7 and the media training/consulting business I have outside of Chicago. When, in the same week this past spring, my 10 year-old son’s repeated requests to play catch had to be postponed due to a self-imposed deadline, and my dermatologist called to tell me she found two malignant melanomas that would require surgery, I knew I was done.
But I also knew my website, like a giant slice of tiramisu, was already far out-of-date. The colors, the interface, the content…I needed a facelift. So for the past few weeks, my team and I have been working on the new stevedolinsky.com, and after a lot of instructive feedback (thanks, Sari) we think we’ve struck the right balance; offering original, informative content that is filtered, or rather, curated, by me.
I’m not going to dwell on how many chefs Tribute has burned through (unless it’s part of a story I write based on a meal I had there) or tell you about some chef’s plan for opening a restaurant next year, or gush about a new place that hasn’t even opened yet, because a) there are plenty of people doing that already, and b) it doesn’t interest me. What you will see are more videos, showing processes, techniques, recipes and behind-the-scenes interviews. You’re also going to get more help with a number of possible Chicago dining scenarios, plus my own recommendations for restaurants all over the country, as well as the world. Headed to New Orleans for the weekend? Need a suggestion for great Chinese food in New York City? It’s all here. I’m sure some of you will disagree with my opinions from time to time, but I look forward to the journey and the lively conversation that is sure to follow. Make every meal count.