In what surely must be a crushing blow to the Austin Chronicle, their food editor and restaurant critic Brandon Watson has left their employ to join the vastly superior CultureMap, where he will serve as food editor for both Austin and San Antonio.
His tenure begins September 18.
Watson, who has lived in Austin for 14 years, was an assistant news editor at the Chronicle when he became food editor in 2014; he replaced Virginia Wood, who'd held the position since 1993. He reviewed restaurants and also wrote features and news stories.
He ruffled his share of feathers in reviews such as DK Maria's, a Tex-Mex restaurant he called out for appropriation.
"I don't agree with the notion that one has to be from a particular ethnicity to cook that group's cuisine," he wrote in the review. "But a restaurateur should not profit from a culture while disrespecting its people."
He also wrote essays on other topics, such as his departure column recalling his high school days outside Waco and the spiritual influence of Linda Evangelista.
In a statement to Eater, he said that working for the Chronicle had been one of the best experiences of his life, before adding the best part, "but I am stoked to be joining CultureMap, a dynamic site that I have always frequently read."
Watson says he looks forward to the quicker pace of online reporting, and is "over the moon" about covering San Antonio as well.
CultureMap doesn't feature traditional restaurant reviews like the ones Watson did for the Chronicle, and that's fine by Watson.
"I think reviews are still important from a cultural standpoint, but they never really determined where I want to eat and I am happy to take a break," he says. "I won't miss the negative feedback that reviews bring, and it'll be nice to curate from a different perspective.
"My priorities here are to increase food coverage for both markets, Austin and San Antonio," he says. "I would like to keep our readers up to date on the latest places to eat without losing sight of the many great restaurants that have some years on them."
Watson will hit the ground running. His first story for CultureMap will be a peek at five new hot spots for breakfast. Stand by!