If you like food (umm, who doesn’t?), you know this name.
Lauren Saria, food editor of the Phoenix New Times, is on top of all the Valley’s hottest food, drink and snack trends 24/7.
But lucky for us, she took time out from her busy reporting schedule to share a little more about the journey that brought her to the New Times with this #MediaMonday.
So, Lauren, time to share!
What do you want to tell the blogosphere about yourself today?
To be honest, I never thought I’d be writing about food professionally. In fact, when I moved to Arizona in 2009 to attend the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, it was because I wanted to cover sports. I did that for a while during college; I was lucky enough to find a great mentor early on, and got to cover the Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training and some Cardinals games (are those clips still online? I hope not.) Eventually though I realized I didn’t want to spend my life lurking around locker rooms and clubhouses. It’s still a pretty tough world our there for female print reporters in sports.
So, sports was out.
And I remember asking myself, “What do you want to think about every day, all day? What do you want to immerse yourself in completely?” I’d always liked baking. I think I even had the Food Network on in the background that day, and just like that I decided I’d pursue writing about food.
I had no idea what I was doing. I showed up for an interview for a food blogging internship with New Times and....well, I won’t go into the embarrassing details, but suffice it to say I will be forever indebted to Amy Silverman for giving me a shot despite my lackluster first impression. I got the internship, and my first assignment was to file a three-part chef interview every week, which I did for the entirety of the fall 2011 semester.
It was a tedious assignment, but going out every week to talk to a different Valley chef was possibly the best way to learn about the local scene and the world of food and beverage. And when my internship ended, I continued to write the weekly chef interview as a freelancer. I got paid $35, I think, which at the time seemed like good money to me.
I graduated in 2013 with concurrent bachelors and master’s degrees in journalism and mass communication, respectively, and I started my job as editorial assistant for the New Times the day after classes ended. It was technically a part-time job (benefitted though!) and I couldn’t have been happier to have it. Most of my fellow graduates would spend the next few months scrambling to find work, and few would actually find a job doing journalism.
I fetched mail, sent faxes, and ordered office supplies (all while continuing to freelance for the paper’s food section) for almost a year and then the opportunity arose for me to become a full-time food writer for the paper. I took it, obviously. Getting to spend all my time writing about local chefs and restaurants was probably the best job ever, and after another year or so, I took over the entire food section, which is what I do now and is also probably the best job ever.
So, now you know how I got here. A few more fun facts about me: I will eat almost anything, but I dislike maple syrup and ketchup. Public speaking is one of my biggest fears. I’m absolutely obsessed with my shiba inu, Enzo, and my favorite day of the year is Christmas. Usually, when I’m not working, you can find me running, hiking, or doing yoga, but I broke my leg and ankle a few weeks ago and will be recovering from surgery for the next few months. If you see me hobbling around town, that’s why, and I’d probably love a hand getting the door.
If you follow me on social media, you might know some of these things. I don’t believe in having separate personal and professional accounts, which will probably cost me a job some day, but feel free to find me on Facebook or Instagram. You can also reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.