The Side Dish: A Daily Blender Year In Review

I always find myself so reflective this time of year – a glance over my shoulder perusing all that has happened since last holiday season, a stare into the distance wondering what will become of the new year. 2010 was an amazing time for Daily Blender, with new connections made and old ideologies honored. As any restaurateur knows, evolution is the key to success, and the path of DB is no different.

The year started off with perhaps my favorite event coverage of 2010, the amazing Cayman Cookout. A weekend of events with a handful of my most favorite chefs, the experience of the trip ignited both personal and professional growth. In addition to photos, notes, and memories of the weekend, conversations before and after initiated the development of the Daily Blender Manifesto (Or, WWTD?), resulting in a defined voice that took the site to new heights this year – and I couldn’t be more proud.

Two key interviews happened while I was in the islands: one with the revered Eric Ripert, and one – the most commented post of the year – with the surprisingly affable Anthony Bourdain. As a fan of both gentlemen, it was a dream come true to have the chance to speak with them during the trip – and an honor to profile both on Daily Blender early in the year.

Leading into the spring, I was starstruck during the incredible James Beard Foundation Awards at Lincoln Center in New York City. Taking notes and updating the masses while bumping into culinary elite in the packed backstage area, I met a bevy of admirable people within the industry – writers, chefs, restaurateurs, wine masters. As a cherry on the top of the evening’s ice cream, I was thrilled to congratulate the marvelous Tom Colicchio on his Outstanding Chef award win – only a day after sitting down with him to talk business in the dining room of Colicchio & Sons.

As the year progressed, there was the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, just to name a few. Food and beverage news rocked back and forth, as it does each year, from the impact of the oil spill on the Gulf Coast restaurant community to the concerted push by industry leaders to support better food service in schools. The love for all things food carts/trucks seemed to sway just as much.

Here on the business side of Daily Blender, our nearly forgotten Short Buzz column was resurrected by Portland bar man Brandon Wise, successfully bringing spirits back to DB. Coverage of Pacific Northwest events, like Portland Cocktail Week, Eat Mobile, and Foodportunity helped to shine a spotlight on local food and beverage masters. And the new Daily Blender Ethics and Editorial policy isn’t too shabby either.

As we enter our third year, what can you expect from Daily Blender? With tickets in hand for the upcoming Beaver Creek Master Chef Classic and the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, you can expect more great event coverage to kick off 2011, as well as a full calendar of exclusive interviews with local and national kitchen stars, food/beverage producers, and favorite culinary personalities. Respected, exclusive content coupled with food and beverage newsbits from around the world – and maybe even a few surprises up my sleeve.

Be sure to follow DB on Twitter (Did you catch the most tweeted post of the year – my roundup of favorite chefs on Twitter?) and become a fan on Facebook. Also – if you have a member of the culinary community or a fabulous food & wine event that you’d like to see on DB, let me know.

Otherwise, get yourself a drink and settle in. It looks like 2011 is going to be a great one.

~Jennifer Heigl

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