's Sites We Love Saveur Magazine has listed The Skinny Gourmet among its "Sites We Love"

I've been having a great time checking out Nashville's high end dining on the cheap thanks to Groupon. Have you tried it yet? Its awesome. I don't know why I ever hesitated.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Saveur's Food Blog Awards

Saveur's first annual Food Blog Awards are here. These awards seem to be filling the vaccuum left by the Wellfed Network's Food Blog Awards which were among the first of their kind, and enjoyed a huge degree of insider status, though for perhaps the same reason (that they were run by food blogging insiders) they seemed to suffer by being held at dissimilar times each year, without a ton of advance warning or publicity. And the Saveur awards are considerably classier and less overtly promotional than the all-purpose juggernaut that is Bloggers Choice Awards (where this year's food blog category is currently lead by "a non-profit blog, dedicated to the BEST HAZELNUTS in the UNIVERSE!!!").

So what will food bloggers make of the Saveur awards? Will they have the organizational panache and staying power that Wellfed's version seemed to lack? Will they have insider support and popular acceptance that Blogger's Choice lacks? What meaning will food bloggers make of this new set of awards: Does this signal a certain coming of age of the domain of food blogging? or is it an attempt by established media to cash in on a potentially constructed relationship between "old" and "new" media producers?

The list of picks strikes me as intuitively correct at least half of the time, which is a sloppy, subjective, but perhaps apt measure of whether this honor granting institution has its pulse on the domain of food blogs. Did the list contain some of your favorites? Where there notables that you found missing? I certainly raised eyebrows at a few that made the list, given some that were left off...

My first reaction was that even the selection of the categories reflected the inherited institutional logic of the magazine, rather than the emergent logic of blogging. If I remember correctly, the only two categories that Saveur's awards share with wellfed network's were "best food photography" and "best individual post." Linking to their own existing themes, Saveur included best food travel blog and best wine blog, both of which make sense. They included one category that I thought was particularly forward-looking, the award for "Most Innovative Video Content." I'd say that right now the majority of high-end food bloggers do not use video content on their sites, but even five years from now I suspect that will have changed.

Following those traditional and innovative picks, they included categories that were more specialized subsets of food blogs, but I'm not convinced the categorization is spot on: "Best Baking and Desserts," "Best Regional Cuisine," "Best Kitchen Tools and Hardware Coverage," and "Best Special Interest." So right away I'm thinking: isn't that last one a catch-all? isn't food travel a special interest? isn't regional cuisine a special interest? I have to believe the inference is that those other kinds of special culinary interests have a larger proportional representation within the food blogging universe.

I'm tempted to scroll through some blog indexing sites to see if those truly represent the more dominant subsets of food blogging. But instead of spoiling the debate with all those inconvenient facts. So speak up all ye: do you think those categories capture the food blogging world well? Which others would you like to have seen included?

Speaking of intuitively correct, the baking and dessert category included powerhouse David Lebovitz but I was mostly unfamiliar with the rest of the candidates. I suppose that is in part because I probably dont need more baked temptation in my life, so I shy away from baking-heavy blogs. David was joined by Visions of Sugarplum (some awesome cupcake photos on there!), the well thought-out photographic stylings of Dessert First, the homey and approachable Cake Spy and Technicolor Kitchen. I can no longer remember when Technicolor Kitchen came onto my radar, but the food and photography is so tasty that she totally deserves an awesome site design (she's still rocking the old dots template). There ought to be some cool home-makeover reality online thing that runs around giving deserving folks awesome site make-overs.

Conspicuously absent from the best food photography category was the stunning world-class food photography of blogger Lara Ferroni of Cook and Eat, who has long been the gold standard that I miserably fail to imitate. But otherwise a number of favorite heavy hitters appear there. Moreso than any other, this category was the proxy for the absent "Best Overall Food Blog." It was stacked with food blogging heavy hitters. Nominees include the ethereal, delightful cannelle et vanille, the thoughtful, creative, earthy 101cookbooks, quirky and fun White on Rice Couple, and how could I even describe the all around excellent goodness that is smitten kitchen except to say that if after reading you dont want to be her best friend and eat at her table regularly, I can't understand you. There were also two blogs in that category that were previously unknown to me, including Bitchincamero and the starkly beautiful, almost modernist photography of Sprouted Kitchen.

So what will the future of this newest set of food blog awards be? Still to be determined I suppose. I'd like to see more active and democratic nomination system coupled with the thoughtful, tasteful selection of professional editors (this was, by the way, how Wellfed ran things). I'd like to see categories that can pick out up and coming bloggers or undiscovered gems and give them the sort of publicity lift that can elevate casual blogging to professional success. If I had to bet, one way or another, I'd say the awards will be back next year. And perhaps we are all better off for it. The primary thing it has going for it is that it Saveur is in a position to pay the primary coin of the realm: high profile links. Links from an established, respected source like Saveur both directly raise your profile by providing publicity to their site's viewers, and indirectly improve your blog's lot in life by raising your google rank. Its not a cash prize, but it seems to me like on the whole, they are probably giving as much as they are getting out of it.


Jennifer Stanton Chapman said...

As a mom, I miss the family/ mom blog category. I need food to feed my family. I cook for love and passion but in real time I am nourishing my family. Where is this subset met with the new awards?

Erin said...

Good pick Jennifer. I suppose under the present scheme it would fit under "special focus" blogs? Though I know a fair number of the family-friendly food blogs intersect with budget friendly cooking. Though I suspect neither are considered a core demographic of the magazine.

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Food Travel said...

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