Rachel: Good morning, @JoelECarlson! Ready for your questions!
Good morning! To start off with, share a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up and go to school?
Rachel: I grew up in the Twin Cities, went to college at Stanford, and then spent a couple years in New York before returning to Minnesota.
What did you study in school, and what helped develop your interest in writing about food?
Rachel: Well, I’m the only food critic I know with an engineering degree, which sounds a little less weird than it sounds if I explain
My degree is in product design, and I found that the first part of that phase–the design research, to understand the product’s user
was my favorite. Turns out that such ethnographic research and hanging out with subjects, understanding their world
isn’t so different from reporting. So after a couple years at a design consultancy I got into magazine writing @MnMomag
I started out as a general interest writer–business, arts, travel, profiles–but I always liked cooking, had served at restaurants
Long story short, the previous critic left, all the other staff were doing @weightwatchers, so I volunteered myself for the food gig.
How did your experience as a server go?
Rachel: Long story short, the previous critic left, all the other staff were doing @weightwatchers, so I volunteered myself for the food gig
In fact, the three restaurants that employed me all shuttered within a year or so of my tenure there…hoping I wasn’t the cause!
How long did you handle the @MNMOmag food writing responsibilities? What were some of the things you wrote then?
Rachel: A couple years, doing reviews and features, including one on @SlowFoodMN back before, well @MnMoMag had online archives
i.e. before I felt like I wrote the words “local” and “sustainable” every other sentence–I consider this repetition a good problem
After @MNMOmag, where did you go, and has your writing style and food critiquing changed at all over the years?
Rachel: I was at City Pages for about four years between my first stint at MnMo and my current one. At the weekly, I had more space
for writing “scenes” into my reviews, which I think can give a piece more energy. The more I learn about who’s doing what in the
local food arena, the more I have a sense of what’s truly interesting. More than writing change, I’d say my idea curation is pickier.
I also understand that you’ve branched out into bathroom decorating for restaurants. Care to elaborate?
Rachel: Ha! Yes, I did buy a new toilet seat for the Nicollet Ave Barrio—theirs was “worn”—but I’d consider that less decor than function!
Here’s further explanation: Article
I see. To close, what can we expect from you over the next few months, topic wise?
Rachel: More reviews, both brief and extensive, of new or changed restaurants, including a couple of great destination spots near Brainerd.
plus trends in food and beverage… Two art directors just walked into my office so I had better skedaddle, but thanks very much!
Joel: Thanks for you time and comments today. Welcome back to @MNMOmag!
Rachel: Enjoyed our coversation, @JoelECarlson!