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Dishing It

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Seven months after axing Chatto’s Digest (not to mention all their other blogs), Toronto Life has launched a new food blog. Daily Dish promises to “[serve] up the latest gossip from the city’s restaurant scene, from openings and closings to celeb-sightings and food trends.” As Online Editor Matthew Fox explains in the blog’s inaugural post:

Daily Dish—Toronto Life’s new eating and drinking news feed—is here to report on the drama that plays out in our restaurants and food shops. We will be tireless in seeking up-to-the-minute gossip, news and trends that shape what and where we eat. We will track the rise and fall of our local culinary superheroes (and superheroes-in-the-making), as well as the movers and shakers of the industry.

Since a list of the most popular topics on the sidebar of the site includes Brad Pitt, Lindsay Lohan, and the Park Hyatt, we can understand the need to tittilate readers with “gossip” and “celeb-sightings,” but aren’t sure how much the average foodie cares which headline-grabbing A-lister dined at Thuet this week. And the idea of restaurant “drama” is funny. Ooh, which chef made a nasty comment about another chef’s beaujolais sauce?
The site is still in its infancy (the Fox post went up on January 26), so there’s nothing terribly controversial yet. The “Read All About It” feature is a roundup of food-related news in the local press and beyond. There are, predictably, several posts about Winterlicious. The only barely detectable smattering of “drama” is a recounting of a legal quibble over the logo for the recently-opened White Squirrel Cafe (with nary a mention of the actual food served there). Today’s post about Susur Lee’s Manhattan restaurant Shang focuses on its negative reviews, in true snarky celeb-blogger form.
Toronto Life readers genuinely care about dining out, and this attempt at tabloid-style, barely tenuously-food related blogging seems like a miss. Publisher Sharon McAuley cited low advertising revenue and a failure to attract a wide audience as reasons for scrapping the old blogs, and Daily Dish is part of the magazine’s rethought approach to online content. But, unfortunately, this new approach, rather than slowly building up a devoted readership of the kind of true gourmands whom Chatto’s blog catered to, seems intent on luring a dumbed-down mainstream audience with advertiser-friendly pablum. We’re sure we can look forward to lots of Perez-style reporting, attempts to paint minor scuffles among the culinary set as major hair-pulling fiascos, and, of course, up-to-the-minute updates on who ate what where, because, you know, there just isn’t enough celeb gossip out there already.

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