With a passion for food writing and surprising readers, Nick Fauchald, Editor-in-Chief of Tasting Table, believes on-the-ground reporting makes all the difference. This former editor of Food & Wine Magazine left the print industry to explore an emerging medium for food lovers – email. Tasting Table is a free daily email for “adventurous eaters everywhere” that serves up what’s new and what’s worth talking about (and tasting!). With their iPhone app and strong social media presence, Tasting Table provides food lovers a recommended road map to choose their own culinary adventures.
What inspired your career path in food?
Like most people who end up in food media, it started with a love of cooking. I love eating; I’ve been a life-long cook. After college, I just happened to be in the right place, at the right time, at the right magazine, and they needed someone to cover restaurants, cooking, and drinks. I found myself at 21 years old writing restaurants reviews when I had no idea what I was talking about, so I learned very quickly on that end. That got me really interested in cooking on a professional level. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go into restaurant cooking to be a chef or write cookbooks or food writing. I cooked in some restaurants, went to culinary school, and in the end I decided to stick with writing.
In the past, you worked at some reputable publications. What inspired you to venture out of the print industry and work at a new online venture?
I loved working in magazines; I got to cover food and drinks from various angles for various types of readers. I was working at Food and Wine Magazine when our investors got in touch with me and we got into a high level of discussion about email as a medium. After a couple of discussions, I figured out they wanted to do a daily email, so the prospect of doing a food publication in a new format was really interesting.
What do you attribute your success to?
On the editorial side, when I was speaking to our investors about what Tasting Table could be, the big differentiator would be to take more of a magazine or newspaper sensibility and apply it to digital. A lot of what’s out there in the digital world, especially with food, is speculation or second-hand reporting. A lot of people don’t have time to get out there and do on-the-ground, in-person reporting. I was telling my writers and reporters that just showing up gives you a huge advantage. We want to make sure our information is correct, and more importantly, what we recommend to our readers is the best possible thing: that it’s met our approval.
What do you think is the future of food culture and the print industry?
I believe food magazines and cookbooks will be around for a long time. Where I think many print magazines have gone wrong is that they’ve forgotten that reading a magazine is a leisure activity. Instead, they’ve tried to become everything to everyone. When you do that you basically try to compete with digital publications that can do the same thing more quickly and effectively. The magazines that thrive will realize they need to add some long-form journalism back into the mix.
What makes a great culinary experience, recipe, or product worthy to be written about?
If an eating experience excites me enough to tell my friends and coworkers about it, I think it’s something our readers will want to try — and hopefully tell their friends about, too.
How do you learn about restaurants, recipes, and products featured on Tasting Table?
Our editors and writers are out every night — we’re a hungry bunch.
We hear about great new spots from our friends. Basically, there are big PR machines in this industry but the things that they are telling us about, they’re also telling everyone else about. So we try to find our own approach and angle and our own way into a lot of these restaurants and products.
What’s your biggest challenge as an editor?
The biggest challenge minute-to-minute, day-by-day, is trying to keep everything feeling very fresh and surprising whenever possible for readers without sensationalizing it. We try to be pretty straightforward with our recommendations; we try to avoid hyperbole, which other food writers can fall into pretty easily.
What makes a food trend a trend?
There are two answers: one is because some writer on deadline told you it was a trend. Unfortunately that’s how it happens. A lot of the trends you read about are probably not actually trends. They’re manufactured trends to fill space. When a trend is actually a trend, they start small and local and then they blow up and become national. I think you have to have fairly close quarters for a food trend to emerge.
Tasting Table also has a food app; what makes it different from the rest?
We were not the first publication to do a food app; we waited until we could make something that could actually be useful. Our app was born out of what would make my life easier when I was out and about trying to figure out where to eat. What I wanted and needed was a map where it would show me where I was and all the restaurants around me that I was meaning to try. Our app allows you to see what we’ve covered and recommended. To take it a step further, you can save any of our recommendations in your email or on your phone, and it will show you your to-do list on a map. Just that to me has been a huge advantage to my dining life.
Do you cook?
A lot. As much as I can. I rarely go out to dinner on the weekends. I try to do all my dining during the week and cook all weekend.
What do you cook?
Never the same thing twice. What I cook at home balances what I’ve been eating the rest of the week. If I’ve been eating over-the-top rich food, I’ll probably cook something very healthy. It’s not conscious, it’s just naturally what you crave.
What next for Tasting Table?
We’ll finish our new kitchen and dining space in April where we’ll host small events, dinners, and classes. We’re launching a cocktail and spirits-focused addition that will also launch in April for the serious drinker who really wants another level of geekiness about their drinks.