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For the past year and a half, something has felt off with my beloved Los Angeles Times Food section. I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
Since its relaunch, the Food section has struggled to find its voice. While a few stories, especially by Patricia Escarcega, have stuck in my memory, I have yet to feel compelled to save or share a recipe from the Food section.
Something about many of the stories and the recipes published in the LA Times Food section felt like an outsider’s generalization of what Los Angeles food is or isn’t. Searching for a voice, experimenting with humor, but trying too hard. The example I think of most prominently are the Christmas cookies they published in 2019, which had an air of West LA, Goop-y ingredients like maca and golden milk.
I have drafts of essays in my Google Drive comparing the LA Times Food Instagram to other major publications’ food accounts, but it feels petty to have written something along the lines of, “The LA Times Food Instagram is visually inconsistent.” I even have a half-baked analysis of the traffic patterns to the digital platforms of several major food publishers – NYT Cooking, LA Times Food, Serious Eats, and Food52 – sitting in my drafts, as I tried to understand what it is about LA Times Food that felt incomplete.
Were the types of recipes being produced not nationally of interest? Did they invest in a Pinterest strategy? Are there limitations with their Instagram resourcing, resulting in iPhone pics with yellow backdrops? Is there not enough budget for food stylists, freelancers, and contributors, the way NYT Cooking has consistent visual language, and features a bevy of names and faces on their social platforms and in their cooking database?
I couldn’t quite place the root of my dissatisfaction with the new LA Times Food. It felt…overarching.
After all this backseat quarterbacking, wondering and trying to connect any and all dots, the truth was there all along: It was the person at the top.
TO CONTINUE READING THIS STORY HEAD OVER TO MY SUBSTACK1