Amanda Kludt: She's America's Top Tastemaker

March 2 - On The Dot
 
FIRST THOUGHT: Variety is the Spice of Life

There’s something so magical about food, with many a recipe conjuring up well-loved memories and personal stories. The spices and textures of any given dish can vary wildly, alluding to destinations all over the world. The perfect plate can act as a time machine, sending us back to a cherished recollection or sending us forward into mystical, unmarked territory.

Today, spend some time in the kitchen whipping up your go-to dish, but add a little something different to make it shine even more. One little ingredient can change a dish completely, and—who knows?—your new concoction might just become the new cream of the crop!

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 5

Like many women I know, I am absolutely an amateur food critic. There are so many talented female chefs out there that you might imagine female food critics would be commonplace. But in Ranker’s recent list of the top 26 food and restaurant critics, there are only five women. That’ll leave a sour taste in your mouth. But let’s give a shout out to those pioneering critics who did make the list: Katie Lee, Ruth Reichl, Ree Drummond, Judith Huxley and my personal favorite, the luminous Gail Simmons.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Amanda Kludt, First-ever Editor-in-Chief of Eater

Let’s continue the celebration of women in the food biz with Today’s Woman to Watch. Amanda Kludt is America’s top tastemaker, a bona fide food authority and the first-ever editor-in-chief of ubiquitous food-focused web publication Eater.

As you might guess, given her position, Amanda is addicted to adventurous food. And you might think someone with a wealth of knowledge of the fine-dining world grew up on gourmet bites of caviar, lobster and truffles. But that’s not the case for Amanda. It wasn’t until a special birthday dinner at age 20 that she tried some of the more luxurious bites in life, like foie gras and raw oysters.

After waitressing during college, this journalism grad interned at New York’s free newspaper, Metro, and later worked as an office manager, all while pitching a variety of food stories. But unhappy with her daily chores of simply answering the phones and managing office details, Amanda made a choice that shifted her life entirely. She forked over $500 and enrolled in a food-writing course.

Gawker’s travel blog hired her on full time when she was just 22. A year later, when a position opened up at Eater, of which Amanda had been an avid reader since the site’s launch in 2005, she was ecstatic when she was hired on. For five years, she pumped out 12 food-focused blog posts a day, and though it was exhilarating, naturally, she got a little burnt out.

But Amanda knew exactly what to do next. She asked her boss to make her editorial director, a position that would have her overseeing all the site’s editorial content, a job that, by the way, did not even exist when she applied for it. Initially, her boss turned her down, but a few months later, after Amanda received a job offer from another web publication, he agreed. By 2014, she was promoted to Eater’s editor-in-chief.

Amanda has rebranded Eater from a hotbed of snarky food commentary into something much more valuable: a site featuring long-form journalism stories that not only offer tips on where to eat, but that provide in-depth coverage of some of the most pressing issues facing the food industry, from fair treatment of restaurant workers to the gender wage gap. Recent posts have included a glimpse into what it’s really like to work a bar on New Year’s Eve (Spoiler: One bartender walked the equivalent of 11 miles in steps!) and one particularly jarring story about female restaurant workers and sexual harassment.

Moving forward, Amanda is focused on covering the food industry in a way that’s “really smart,” as well as increasing the diversity of her staff and making Eater more valuable so readers deem the content worthy of gobbling up!

QUITE THE QUOTE

Today’s sweet and savory quote comes from the ultimate foodie, Julia Child. She said:

“Life itself is the proper binge.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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