Foodie Top 100 Restaurants

Lenkert Gives Food Lovers Trustworthy Guide-2014

January 2014 — An Exclusive Authorlink Interview

By Columnist Doreen Akiyo Yomoah

Foodie Top 100 Restuarants
Edited by Erika Lenkert

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AUTHORLINK: Can you tell me a about your background and how that prepared you for this project?

LENKERT: I’ve been a food and travel journalist and editor for 20 years. I’m a native San Franciscan and was born to a food loving mother, so I infiltrated the food scene early. I started my career as an editor for Access Travel Guides published by HarperCollins. I went on to write for the Food Network, Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, and In Style. I also had restaurant columns in both Los Angeles Magazine and San Francisco Magazine, and I was a food critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. I’ve also written cookbooks and developed over 100 recipes for Rachel Ray, and I do a lot of cooking generally.

AUTHORLINK: How did the idea for this book come about?

LENKERT: The founder of GLAM Media, [Samir Arora], also owns Foodie, [a social media platform for sharing recipes, restaurants, and more], and it was his idea. He thought it would be amazing to bring together the knowledge of the world’s top food critics – when there are so many voices, it’s hard to know who to trust. Also, the lists out there are based on restaurants having things like crystal stemware and elaborate wine lists. We really wanted to provide food lovers with a trustworthy guide to restaurants that are truly exceptional, with the primary quality being outstanding food.

“My job was about meeting with and recruiting the critics.”

AUTHORLINK: How was the book researched?

LENKERT: My job included meeting with and recruiting the critics. We have four critics in Japan, and you can’t e-mail someone and say “Can you do this?” There’s a lot of formality, introducing yourself, getting to know them – it’s very important to have face-to-face conversations. I didn’t eat at every single restaurant – my job included that I go meet critics around the world. We identified the critics and then had them fill out elaborate surveys.

The book has detailed information about each restaurant, not things like opening hours or if they take credit cards, but more inside perspectives and critic tips, and really how to make the best of the restaurant. The critics give recommendations on things like where to be seated, or what to order that’s not on the menu, and secrets about chefs or owners. The book was produced was very quickly. Books normally take between 9 months to 18 months to publish, but if this went that long the information would become out-of-date, so book was cranked out in 2.5 months and we released the top-100 list before we released the book because printing and production take time.

“The wonderful thing about restaurants today is that they really cater to a lot of different restrictions and desires . . .”

AUTHORLINK: What would you recommend for people who are hesitant to try foods outside their personal and geographic comfort zone?

LENKERT: The wonderful thing about restaurants today is that they really cater to a lot of different restrictions and desires now. For example, you can go somewhere that serves a lot of meat and get a fantastic vegetarian meal, or go somewhere and tell them you’re gluten free and they take care of that. My answer is it depends where you are. If you’re in Japan there will be different options than if you’re in the States. The answer is to communicate really well with your server and tell them the things that you like.

“We’re about to start researching for the next edition of the Top 100 in the US.”

AUTHORLINK: What’s coming up next?

LENKERT: We’re about to start researching for the next edition of the Top 100 in the US, a more elaborate version, for next year. The book is an offshoot of Foodie, where we’re connecting people and the food-loving community with all things food online. It’s for anyone from the average diner to Gael Greene. If you go now you’ll see there’s a really elaborate recipe side of the site – Foodie is the only site that has both restaurants and recipes in the same spot, and it makes perfect sense. Over the next year we’ll continue to roll out new features.

About the Author:

Researched, compiled and edited by Erika Lenkert.

About Doreen Akiyo Yomoah:

Doreen Akiyo Yomoah is a nomadic freelance writer, currently living in London, England.