Feuds come and go, but some feuds never die. Such is the case between CultureMap and Houston Chronicle's restaurant critic Alison Cook it would appear.
In January, the two publications butted heads over credit rights regarding a restaurant-related story, which CultureMap's chief food writer, Eric Sandler, published first. All seemed to be quiet on the food writer front until yesterday's James Beard Awards finalists announcement.
While reporting on the Houston nods and snubs, Sandler made mention of Cook's absence on the shortlist for all journalism categories. Apparently Cook took the observation as a dig. It didn't help the piece was titled "Food Oscars bring pride and pain to Houston: James Beard finalists show city's star power, but snubs sting," a headline that Sandler's editor crafted. Cook took to Twitter:
Here's a new one: got dinged by competitor for not being named a finalist in a contest I didn't enter. Heads you lose; tails I win.— Alison Cook (@alisoncook) March 24, 2015
Some of Cook's online followers piled on:
@alisoncook Someone owes you an apology (and probably a beer, too).— dwight silverman (@dsilverman) March 24, 2015
@alisoncook it's like @esandler went out of his way to take a shot at you. A good editor would have asked why it was relevant.— John Davis (@MrSnarkyPants) March 24, 2015
Cook went on to offer a bit more of an explanation along with a correction:
CultureMap has since modified the math. And Sandler responded, "I thought it was worth noting your absence from the nominees."
It didn't take long for Chris Baldwin, CultureMap's network news director/managing editor and the one who first ignited the feud, to chime in:
Paper critic blows a deadline, then gets outraged @esandler for merely mentioning she's no longer James Beard nominated. #HerHoliness— Chris Baldwin (@ChrisYBaldwin) March 24, 2015
Anyone looking for a little extra background should know that Cook has received her fair share of writerly accolades: MFK Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing (1995, Houston Press); Newspaper Restaurant Review or Critique (1995, Houston Press); Newspaper Restaurant Review or Critique (2004, Houston Chronicle); Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award nominee (2012, Houston Chronicle), Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award nominee (2013, Houston Chronicle) and Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award (2014, Houston Chronicle).
CultureMap has never received a James Beard award.