I grew up in a liberal Mennonite family who had ditched headcheese and dumplings in favor of lentil casseroles and tofu stir-fries. After college, I cooked in San Francisco restaurants for several years before leaving the kitchen to pursue riches in the fields of nonprofit editing and journalism.
I reviewed restaurants in the Bay Area and Seattle for more than a decade as the staff critic at the East Bay Express, the Seattle Weekly, and SF Weekly. From 2014 to 2019, I joined the staff of the San Francisco Chronicle to cover the intersection of food and culture, with a particular focus on small and immigrant-owned restaurants — labor abuses in taquerias, 50-year-old neighborhood bistros, pho shops and Korean delis struggling with gentrification. Now I live in Portland, Oregon, where my newsletter A Place Is a Gift chronicles my quest to eat the neighborhood.
As a journalist, I have contributed to Bon Appetit, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Eating Well, The New Yorker, Hazlitt, Food & Wine, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco, Eater, Wine & Spirits, and Lucky Peach (RIP), among many others. My first book, Hippie Food, came out in 2018. I also consult with non-food-related nonprofits and social-impact enterprises, maintaining a strict firewall between my journalism and my consulting work.
My reporting and criticism have won awards from the James Beard Foundation, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the Association of Food Journalists, and the California Newspaper Publishers Association, and my articles have been anthologized in several editions of Best Food Writing.