I began writing about food what seems like an eternity ago now, right around the time that Eater and Grub Street were born, back in 2005. It was a foodie free for all, food writers like me launching blogs to wax rhapsodic about last night’s dinner, dishing on the hottest chefs and restaurants. We’d race to restaurant openings as if it was opening night on Broadway and try to beat each other to the punch. Me, I was inspired to create Restaurant Girl out of my own need for a young, passionate critic to identify with instead of some anonymous columnist sitting behind a computer. (I know. I’m not so young anymore, but I still have good taste!)
Fast forward to 2007, I was hired as the chief Restaurant Critic for the New York Daily News, becoming the first non-anonymous critic in the country as well as the first blogger-cum-official-critic for a national newspaper. (Thankfully these days, everyone’s non-anonymous.)
In June 2011, I wrote my first book, Try This: Traveling the Globe Without Leaving The Table, published by Harper Collins. Try This is a modern day guide to dining out — a cheat sheet to everything from British to Thai, Vietnamese, and everything in between. Hopefully, my book empowers readers to navigate any menu, cuisine, or circumstance they encounter at the dinner table. Try This has been featured in everything from The Wall Street Journal to US Weekly and Fox’s Good Day New York.
I’m also a regular food expert for several publications and media outlets, including Dr. Oz, Food Network’s Unique Eats, and People Style Watch. A guest judge on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters Season Three, Food Network’s Iron Chef America and NBC’s The Chopping Block, I’ve also appeared as an expert on the Food Network’s Heavyweights,Alex’s Day Off, and Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Just recently, I served as a judge on Food Network’s Kitchen Casino, hosted by Bill Rancic, which premieres Monday, April 7th, at 9 pm.
Over the years, I’ve gotten shout outs in various print and online publications, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the New York Post and New York Observer, Real Simple, Lucky, Oprah.com, Everyday with Rachael Ray, US Weekly, and Where to Dine. (Though some were nicer than others.)
My Culinary Confession
After years of getting more excited about the perfect steak than the perfect man, I had to read the writing on the wall: I was in love with food. I judged my dates by what restaurants they chose, what they ordered, and how they ate it. I eliminated potential mates on the basis of dietary restrictions. I was on a mission to try anything and everything. With so little time and so much to eat, who has time to cook or take-out? In this foodie Graceland we call New York, not a single restaurant must go uneaten, no dish untasted. The city is my oyster, every plate my playground, oral adventure around every corner. I just can’t seem to keep my mouth shut – literally.
Not everyone lives in New York or in a major city, of course. But no matter where you live, there are dishes to discover, exciting and unfamiliar foods to sample. There’s killer Korean in Los Angeles, great Vietnamese in Houston, Texas, and outstanding Chinese in San Francisco. We speak a whole new language of food today. You may not have been to Korea, but you can get Korean barbecue right here, and it’s as different from Turkish barbecue as Turkish barbecue is from Texas barbecue.
Think of me as your culinary concierge, here to guide you to the hottest menus and chefs in town and the best restaurant for every occasion. I unconditionally volunteer my taste buds, so you won’t have to waste time on a mediocre meal ever again. Eating out is a little like sex. Once you get the hang of it, you can’t get enough. You want to try everything on every menu. That’s why I can’t be monogamous to a restaurant or even a chef. I’m always hungry for something new. Life is a feast. Devour it!
Until we eat again,
Danyelle Freeman Aka Restaurant Girl
First and foremost: If you are open for business and charging your clientele full price, you are open for review. I stand firmly and fully behind my position. With the advent of blogs and real time news, there has been much controversy over the fairness of such practices. There will always be service kinks, kitchen backups and other issues to tweak when a restaurant opens. We understand those factors and will certainly take them into consideration when passing judgement. But ultimately, my responsibility remains exclusivity to the reader.
Like it or not, there’s a new generation of eater that dines out nearly five nights a week, actively and vigorously searching for guidance to an exciting new dish or chef. We rely on food-obsessed writers to filter through the good, bad and the ugly. We count on like-minded foodies to share delicious new discoveries and warn us to avoid the miserable ones. After all, it’s your money and you should know where to best spend your hard-earned cash and time.
In fact, this was my exact motivation for launching Restaurant Girl. My blog was born out of a void: a food critic to identify with, someone I could truly relate to. A critic who could truly understand the crucial balance between delicious food and overall pleasurable experience: a navigational and decipherable menu, a warm atmosphere, an enthusiastic staff, a passionate chef, whose vision is conveyed via the plates that arrive on the table. I actively sought out someone to guide me to both the restaurants and dishes that are worth investing in, and those that aren’t. Every evening, I venture out with optimism, the hope of uncovering a splendid and the discovery of a chef worth stumbling upon.
Why a blog? We are all seasoned diners with valuable opinions. Like it or not, the blog is unequivocally the most indispensable tool to relay news to the public.
Why not conceal my identity: That would go against everything Restaurant Girl has stood for since the inception of my blog. I have no reason to hide behind a false identity, hats, sunglasses and any other disguise. Besides, no one does that anymore. I aspire to be as personable as possible to my reader as well as to chefs & restaurateurs alike. I’m passionate about chefs and their art. I hope to understand their vision, even peek in their kitchens, all in the pursuit of getting a truer picture of the dynamic in both in the front of the house as well as behind kitchen doors. I want to learn the chef’s vision and evaluate whether that makes its way to the table. This will not in any way cloud my judgement as my ultimate and exclusive responsibility is to the reader.