Last Friday, Atlanta Food Bloggers’ Society President, Denise Romeo, was interviewed on the inaugural episode of Georgia Business Radio X along with Atlanta Food Industry Leaders: Matt Andrew of Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint; Jim Silverman of Vienna Beef Ltd.; and, Melissa Bunnen and Helen Cleveland of Piece Of Cake Inc. Below is the excerpted segment with Denise Romeo.
Ryan McPherson: Welcome to another special episode of Atlanta's only pro-business radio talk show broadcasting live from the heart of Buckhead inside the Business Radio X. studio. Hello everyone it's Friday April 3rd a this is the inaugural episode of Georgia Business Radio. You can tune in on businessradiox.com and follow us on Twitter at Buckhead Radio X or GA biz Radio. So first I'd like to thank Mr. Rich Casanova, studio owner and operator here for making this possible. And he's the engineer, coffee maker and does it all for us here in the studio so, again thanks Rich for putting this up for making this happen; making some broadcasting dreams come true.
Rich Cassanova: Well absolutely, Ryan “Redhawk” McPherson here in the studio, and we didn't tell our guests but we've been doing tons of shows here in the studio; the network's been around for many, many years and many episodes with different shows, but surprise, you guys are on the inaugural episode, first ever, of Georgia Business Radio. All right so let's introduce our next guest here joining us in the studio: Rich Casanova introducing Denise Romeo, we were having fun with that one.
Denise Romeo: And, we have a Maddio, so it's Italian day on business radio.
Rich: Denise is the founder editor and primary author of the award winning blog: We Like To Cook! Five years ago, Denise and her husband started chronicling the recipes and tricks they used in their home kitchen for their boys to have when they were growing up. Making memories and creating traditions with their own families, needless to say her project snowballed. Known in Atlanta for her communication skills, Denise has turned her attention to the Atlanta Food Bloggers’ Society for whom you serve as the president with a goal of promoting all things food in the city Atlanta. Welcome to the show.
Denise: Thank you, it is great to be here. Thank you so much for including us.
Ryan: Absolutely proud to do that and it's an honor to have you here discussing the Atlanta Food Bloggers' Society. I think it's interesting that you got it started in your kitchen cooking for your boys. Tell us a little about that.
Denise: Well, in order to be the president of a food blogger society, it stands to reason that I would have food blog. My husband and I would be cooking in the kitchen and our guys would be sitting at the counter with pens and paper trying to write down everything that my husband was doing. Because he wings it a lot, they weren't getting complete recipes. We decided to put the recipes on the computer, and then family and friends would say, “Hey, I want that recipe too,” and the blog platform seem to be the perfect way to share them. Of course that was back in two 2008, when food blogging wasn't the explosion that it is now. Like you said, the project snowballed.
Ryan: So no food industry background at all or writing background, and no professional training - you started doing on a whim - for fun? Friends are catching on and then five years ago you started blogging professionally?
Denise: Well, I still want to professionally! It's a hobby and I think that's a common misconception. Most food bloggers out there have day jobs. This is a hobby for a lot of us because blogging is not a big money making career. It’s a passion.
Rich: Right! That was one of the original questions I had when looking at your website, was what is the format for the food blogger society? How do you guys integrate your blog with the other blogs and bloggers?
Denise: The Atlanta Food Bloggers’ Society is a group of 46 curated blogs. We have an application process that our members go through, and we basically work together to promote Atlanta is the gateway to Southern food. We all share that passion for good food and for our great city. And so we're all in this group together trying to promote and nurture each other, and get the word out about all the fantastic food that Atlanta has to offer.
Ryan: Would you describe yourself as a foodie?
Denise: Oh absolutely, absolutely. I think everybody is these days!
Ryan: I could care less where I go for lunch. Rich takes me to lunch all the time and whether it's Chinese, Mexican or pizza, it doesn’t matter me, I'll eat it. I don't really seek certain restaurants or go to such extremes maybe as some people, so I'm glad there are folks taking the lead like yourself.
What makes the Atlanta Food Blogger Society different than other blog groups out there?
Denise: Basically, I think it's our reputation, our diversity, and our nurturing of one another. Our reputation; we have bloggers who have contributed to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Fox5 News, Thrillist, Eater Atlanta, Atlanta Eats, HuffPo, (and Radio X). We've had members that have been featured in Best Self Atlanta Magazine, Jezebel Magazine, interviewed on NPR and our Twitter handle (@AtlFBS) was named Best Atlanta Food Tweeter by Creative Loafing readers for 2014.
Ryan: Will you and your bloggers write about any restaurant from the local, small-village-type restaurant to the big chain restaurants?
Denise: If it's food in Atlanta, we write about it. I mentioned our diversity; we have an amazing cacophony of writers with gluten-free bloggers, vegetarian, pescatarian, and lactose intolerant bloggers. We have recipe developers, food stylists, and professional food photographers. We cover every ethnicity and we have a Certified Specialist of Wine. We have lifestyle bloggers and have some of the city's top restaurant reviewers. Our membership runs the gamut, and the fun thing is we have a wide age range of our members, both men and women, so it's not just a girls' club. We have some college- aged bloggers and some of us have college-age kids. So, you name it, and we have it in terms of our members.
Ryan: Do you normally just blog about the food or do you do posts about the entire restaurant from everything from service to atmosphere and all that kind of packed it all together?
Denise: We cover absolutely every angle and the wonderful thing about having a group of this nature is; let's say ten of us go to the same restaurant together. When each of us writes about that experience, we all are coming at it from a completely different angle. So you may have someone who focuses on the ambiance, or somebody who focuses on the service. You'll have those that focus on the beer pairings or the plating of the dishes, or the local sourcing, because of course farm-to-table is really important to a lot of our diners, and so that's something that a lot of our writers focus on.
Rich: Are there any new restaurants you want to blog about?
Denise: All of them. All of them. The interesting thing is, it's not just new restaurants. We have so many fantastic restaurants that have been here for forever that I want to revisit. We have Murphy's in Virginia-Highland that has been around for about the same thirty years as Piece of Cake. Bones Restaurant, of course…
Rich: Buckhead tradition…
Denise: Buckhead tradition, just named as Zagat’s number one restaurant in Atlanta. And you know that's that's old school that's not a new restaurant. So yeah I absolutely want to be at Ponce City Market trying new restaurants that are opening and Krog Street, and the new Avalon. But, you’ve got to stick with the classics; you just can't go wrong with the Varsity.
Ryan: Has your feedback from these restaurants been positive overall?
Denise: Always. As a matter of fact, we did an event recently with the fine ladies from Piece Of Cake that are with us in the studio and it one of the events that that our members still talk about. We did cupcake decorating, and we had a cake decorating contest that is something that takes our readers outside of the normal “OK, here's a piece of cake, here's what it tasted like, here's what it looked like on the plate.” We were able to say this is what it's like to decorate a cake and here's what it's like to to see their Piece Of Cake the facility on Collier Road. Those are the types of experiences we like.
Rich: Very hands on….. So talk to us about what you attribute the growth in the food scene here in Atlanta?
Denise: We went through the whole market slump when everyone stayed indoors, and saved money by making their own meals. Once the market picked up and construction started to build again, everybody started building new restaurants, opening restaurants, and trying new concepts. I think Atlanta is now completely open to trying new things. I think our reputation has been that of being fickle, but I think as millennials come of age, we're definitely, definitely seeing a trend towards new and exciting cuisine.
Rich: Yeah, I was watching a news piece last night and they were interviewing the Atlanta Apartment Association president who said that it's a record year; they're building more apartments than they have in the last ten years in just this last year. It's astounding the numbers they are building and they said the size of the units is actually is much smaller because the most popular is the one bedroom because millennials want to be out in the scene and that probably plays into it as well. So tell our listeners how would they reach out to you; either from the perspective of following you all and tuning into the blog as well as people that may want to write a blog. What would be the reach points to contact you?
Denise: Folks can reach us on our website at atlantafoodbloggersociety.com. We also have a Facebook page and again that that award-winning Twitter handle is @AtlFBS. Which is the same for Instagram @AtlFBS. You can send us an email, and we have an online application. We're always open to talking to people about starting a blog if you haven't started one or if you have one and you’re trying to build up to that that six-month-old criteria for becoming a member.
Ryan: All right, I think we’re good to go. We are thankful for all of our guests for joining us in the studio today for a show number one of Georgia Business Radio. Thank you also to Mr. Rich Casanova for making this happen. We will see you on the radio…