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Food in the Media

Meet Your Food Blogger: Adam Roberts of The Amateur Gourmet

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Mon, Jan 9, 2012 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge Adam Roberts, "The Amateur Gourmet" - ELIZABETH LEITZELL
  • Elizabeth Leitzell
  • Adam Roberts, "The Amateur Gourmet"

Adam Roberts is one of those food blogger-turned-published authors whose success makes the rest of us drool. He created his blog, "The Amateur Gourmet," in 2004 while studying law at Emory University. "I'd come home from a long day of law school, my brain would be fried, and the only thing I could tolerate on TV was Food Network," Roberts explains in a post. Determined to learn about food and cooking, he began blogging to document his education. In 2007, Roberts published The Amateur Gourmet: How To Shop, Chop & Table-Hop Like A Pro (Almost). The Food Network took note and hired Roberts to host online shows. Salon.com, The Huffington Post, The Epicurious EpiLog and Food & Wine solicited articles. And another cookbook is due in the fall.

What else is on the horizon? Adjusting to life in Los Angeles after a recent move from New York. In an email-interview we asked Roberts about L.A. dining experiences, plans for eating here, and the craft of food writing.

click to enlarge melons at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market - ADAM ROBERTS
  • Adam Roberts
  • melons at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market

Squid Ink: Welcome to L.A., Adam! When did you move here; where do you live?

Adam Roberts: Thanks Daina! I moved to L.A. on September 1st to join my boyfriend, who moved here in July to start a screenwriting job at 20th Century Fox. We live in Franklin Village, which may or may not be an actual place (when I tell L.A. people that I live in "Franklin Village" they give me a funny look); I usually clear it up by saying I live right near the Upright Citizens Brigade.

SI: Where are you from?

AR: I grew up in Oceanside, New York (on Long Island) and then, when I was 11, my parents moved us to Boca Raton, Florida, where we we were the youngest people there by 70 years. (I exaggerate, but only slightly.)

SI: What are you looking forward to about living in L.A.?

AR: In random order: Mexican food, wonderful produce all year long, Thai food, seeing Tim Curry at my local supermarket (it happened once!), burgers and donuts (there are lots of those here), meeting a whole new slew of west coast food writers and bloggers, superior sushi, drinking coffee outdoors in winter (see: Intelligentsia, Silverlake) and going on driving adventures.

SI: What resources are you using to navigate L.A.'s food scene?

AR: LA Weekly. Specifically, Jonathan Gold's column. Seven years ago I lived in L.A. for a summer (I worked for a law firm downtown) and, while here, I discovered Jonathan Gold's book "Counter Intelligence." It became my Bible; now that I'm here, I'm a bit overwhelmed by how much catching up I have to do. There are so many lists that I have bookmarked, I don't know where to begin. Luckily, I also have my friend Zach Brooks (of Midtown Lunch) as a terrific resource; and a few new friends, like Kat Odell from Eater LA and Matt from Matatouille.

SI: How is dining and eating in L.A. unique from New York? For example, you mentioned in a post that food shopping is different -- here, you can load up your grocery cart without worrying about carrying it home on the subway. Can you share other examples?

AR: New York food people treat restaurants and chefs like baseball cards: they collect them. "Have you been to Ko? Have you been to The Dutch? What do you think of the new Jean-Georges place on the Upper East Side?" L.A. seems more low-key about its restaurants; people here still love good food, it's just not as competitive. Plus, what I really appreciate, you can eat amazing food here for not a lot of money: Spice Table, Loteria, Gjelina-To-Go, Forage, Jitlada, Pa-Ord and Short Cake are just a few examples of places I'll go back to again and again because they don't break the bank.

click to enlarge papaya salad at Pa-Ord - ADAM ROBERTS
SI: What has been your best L.A. food or dining experience so far?

AR: For New Year's Eve, we joined our friends Mark and Diana (who also just moved here) for dinner at Osteria Mozza. We were all set to do the pasta tasting menu, in fact I'd exercised extra hard that day to prepare for it (side note: L.A. has forced me to join a gym because everyone here is so damn attractive; in New York we cover our bodies in puffy coats) but our waiter gently steered us away from it so we could experience all of Mozza's other delights, in particular Nancy Silverton's mozzarella bar creations. Needless to say, we ate like kings and had plenty of pasta without having to have six courses of it. By the end of the night, as our fellow patrons were ringing the bells the staff gave every table, I knew we'd picked the right spot.

SI: How do you choose which topics to write about?

AR: I've developed a system, after eight years of food blogging, that works really well for me: I carry a camera everywhere. I take pictures of everything new that I eat. (If it's something I've written about before, I don't take pictures.) By Thursday, if I haven't eaten enough new food, I force myself to either cook up something bloggable or to journey somewhere I can write about. The point is, by Sunday night, my camera (both my SLR and the one on my phone) should be so loaded with pictures that, come Monday morning, I'll have plenty of material to write about for both my newsletter and my blog. The pictures trigger the writing.

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