New Awards from the San Diego Press Club

The San Diego Press Club held its 38th annual journalism awards in October. I received three awards this year:

First place in the Magazine: Education category for my piece for Edible San Diego called “The Magic of Olivewood Gardens”

Second place in the Magazine: Food & Restaurant category for my piece for Edible San Diego called “Home Cures”

First place in the Website: Blog – Feature Writing category for my pickle-making post in San Diego Foodstuff called “Pickles for Opopie”

“Green Gold” Appears in August/September Issue of Saveur Magazine

I’m happy to say that my first story for Saveur Magazine has just been published. “Green Gold” is the featured “Source” piece and highlights the magnificent avocado oil produced in San Diego County by Cid da Silva under the name Bella Vado Avocado Oil. This has been a very long time coming and it’s so gratifying to finally see it in print.

Meeting with the UCSD Marketing Council

I’ve been consulting with UCSD’s University Communications Office and as part of that project, was asked to give a presentation to the campus’s Marketing Council on guidelines and best practices for social media engagement. The meeting was held this morning and filled with about two dozen of UCSD’s marketing professionals from departments ranging from Athletics and Housing to the Printing Office and Scripps Institute of Oceanography. What they have in common, of course, is communicating with the students, faculty, and alumni, as well as the general public.

I had worked with the University Communications Office to develop initial guidelines and best practices, which they have posted to their website. So, I reviewed these guidelines and resources with them. We then got into a discussion of best practices and some of the issues they run up against, which are in many ways unique to a university setting. The primary issue, of course, is corralling student bloggers who want to participate in writing posts for the university but bristle at being given any kinds of guidelines whatsoever, including language.

I’m curious as to how other universities and colleges are dealing with this. The aunt in me believes that these young people want to be treated like the adults they are and that one of the lessons this gives them for when they enter the professional world is that they have to operate within the structures and values of the organizations they work for. If they want complete freedom, they can start their own personal blog, but if they want to participate in communications under the auspices of the university they have to comply with the university’s guidelines–which by the way, are purposely designed to address values and brand consistency but are not filled with micro-managing edicts.

Another subject that came up had to do with guest bloggers and posters–how do you oversee their contributions to make sure they don’t blow up in your face? My response was to create guidelines that address common issues and style, like most traditional media outlets, and distribute those to the guest blogger. I think people who are hosting blogs, Facebook pages, and other sites do tend to worry that these are somehow special and different from other types of media. And, yes, in many ways they are. However, magazines and newspapers have been accepting contributions from outside writers for generations and this is no different. You are in charge of the content you manage and part of that is making sure that any contribution put up on your page follows the guidelines you establish, whether it’s punctuation style, barring foul or incendiary language, or prohibiting plagerism.

Of course, I’m interested in learning if there are other ways of addressing either of these issues and if you have a different perspective, please leave a comment.

Bragging Rights on Four Awards from the San Diego Press Club

Time for a little bragging! Last night was the San Diego Press Club’s 37th Annual Excellence in Journalism Awards–or J-Awards. It was a great enough evening seeing a wonderful turnout, despite the rain, and having all the guests enjoy the bounty of 15 restaurants and four local purveyors that I recruited and organized.

But, I also took home some awards: First and second place for stories I wrote for the now late SDNN (“The Delights of Air-Chilled Chicken” and “California Modern is Chez Trez”), first place for a magazine feature for Edible San Diego (“Catch of the Day: The Confounding Nature of Sustainable Seafood”), and first place for a post I wrote for San Diego Foodstuff (“Knight Salumi: The Best Cure for Meat”).

It’s truly a thrill to get a little recognition from my peers for work I love doing.

Weblancing: Get the scoop on creating your own website at Oct. 7 SPJ program

Attention freelancers and would-be freelancers!  Looking for new ways to generate leads for freelance jobs and sell your services?  Curious about ways to make money (legally) online?  Go beyond mere marketing and learn useful, money-making tips at SPJ’s “Weblancing: How to Create Content-Driven Websites that Make Money” program, set for Thursday, Oct. 7.

Whether you are a freelance writer or employed journalist, you can use your skills to create websites that generate revenue. By writing original content, freelancers are landing story assignments from top editors, as well as earning income through Google ads, display ads, affiliate links, ebooks, membership sites and other products – all while working at home, without huge investor budgets. Panelists will provide tips on how to set up a content-driven website, how to pick your niche market, what to put on your website, how to write content and blogs that attract readers, how to get advertising, and how to make money in the process.

Seth Hettena, author, blogger ( and former AP reporter, will moderate the discussion.  Panelists include:

  • Anne Wayman, creator of, which features original content about how to make money freelancing and includes regular job postings for freelance writing and editing jobs
  • Caron Golden, freelance writer and editor, blogger, and creator of, which covers all things foodie
  • Helen Chang, freelance writer, editor, ghostwriter and creator of

When: Thursday, Oct. 7, 6:30 p.m.

Where: KGTV Studio, 4600 Air Way, San Diego

Cost: Free for SPJ members, $5 for non-members

Questions: Contact

Local Bounty — My San Diego Magazine Blog & Column — Debuts

Check out the September issue of San Diego Magazine and you’ll find my new Local Bounty column. And, today, the editors launched the weekly blog version on the magazine’s website. Both versions will cover the best of the markets, interesting new cookbooks, and innovative food products produced by our local artisans. Visit often and let others know so we can enjoy our regional bounty together!

San Diego Foodstuff Makes San Diego Mag’s Best of SD Issue

Check out the August 2010 issue of San Diego Magazine. It’s their Best of San Diego issue. Surprise! San Diego Foodstuff is included (on page 71) in their best  local bloggers round-up! I’m in good company with my friends Kirk of mmm-yoso, Katie Dillon of, and Angela Carone of CultureLust.

I’ll be joining San Diego magazine as a regular contributor. My Local Bounty column will debut in the September issue, but my weekly Local Bounty blog posts should start appearing next week.

And, tune in next Tuesday to KPBS’s These Days at 10, where I’ll be in for my monthly appearance to talk about summer foods with The Marine Room’s chef de cuisine Ron Oliver. Call in and let us know how you’re beating the heat in the kitchen!

Stone Brewing, “MustardGate 2010,” and Social Media Crisis Management

Stuff happens. Sometimes it’s major, potentially disastrous stuff that can potentially take an organization down or at least seriously damage its reputation. Sometimes it’s less threatening than it is embarrassing. But when “stuff happens” it requires a response, transparency, and a fix. Social media can be a tremendous salve to the wound by helping to get the message out and keep customers and friends on your side. Want a great example of how it was done recently? Look to Stone Brewing Company.

Stone Brewing Company just discovered that one of their vendors was basically cheating them — and their customers. They’ve been selling their Stone Cali-Belgique IPA Cali-Dijon Mustard and Stone Pale Ale Stone Ground Mustard with Chipotle Peppers, believing that the key ingredient — their beer — was included. And it wasn’t. A local condiments guy, Russ Bruhn, who owns Carlsbad Gourmet, was contracted to supply the mustards. He, in turn, contracts with another company to actually produce them. Despite the fact that Stone was supplying this company with full kegs of the beer — and the kegs were being returned empty — there was no beer in the mustards. Where could it have gone?

CEO Greg Koch was mightily ticked off and I’m sure embarrassed as well. So, he and his merchandise manager sat down in front of a mustard-colored wall and recorded a video public apology that’s on their web site and was posted to Facebook yesterday. As you can see, it was sincere, informative, and humorous. They accepted responsibility for the misleading mustard and are offering a swap for the mustard, exchanging it for a 22-ounce bottle of either Stone Cali-Belgique IPA or Stone Pale Ale or 10 percent discount for online purchases using the coupon code MUSTARDGATE.

A Public Apology: June 24th, 2010 from stonebrew on Vimeo.

This is a terrific demonstration of what to do when stuff happens. Be out there, be forthright, explain the situation, and offer a remedy that’s appropriate to the situation. If, as in “mustardgate,” you can also deal with it with humor, do it. Just be appropriate, authentic, and clear that you’re working on making the situation right.

I’m going to buy some Stone mustard!

“Local Bounty” – My New San Diego Magazine Column

Serendipity is a wonderful thing. Just as the door to SDNN closed for me and many others, new San Diego Magazine senior editor Erin Chambers Smith opened her door. She invited me to write a new column for the magazine and its website called Local Bounty. I’ll be doing weekly posts and a monthly magazine piece that feature the best edibles produced and sold in the region. Sometimes it will be produce, sometimes artisan products. They’ll usually be new but sometimes I’ll just be lifting them from obscurity. And, of course, I’ll let readers in on interesting finds in the ethnic markets. And there may be some recipes as well.

My first posts will appear the third week of July. The first magazine article will be in the September issue, along with my travel story on gastro foot tours in San Francisco.