Scott VogelFood Criticscott.email@example.com
When I was a kid growing up in Texas, my grandmother would regularly declare to anyone within earshot that I was the greatest living writer she’d ever seen, a claim she supported by handing off all her correspondence to a child of 7 or 8 –notes, letters, Christmas cards. Everything I produced, whether a letter to her sister or lowly note to the milkman, was greeted by the same response. “I’ve never seen such beautiful writing,” she’d say, stoking confidence that a career as a wordsmith would one day be mine. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered she’d been referring only to my penmanship, and by then it was too late. The die was cast.
My early experiences with food were similarly fraught. In a family teeming with terrific appetites and even more terrific cooks, I was a paragon of scrawniness. My eating habits were terrible, among the worst in the annals of child-rearing, and to this day, my mother swears I wouldn’t have survived prior to the invention of peanut butter.
“I’ve felt nothing but love for the Long Islanders who coax some of the country’s best fruits and vegetables from our soil.”
My first and only brush with restaurant ownership started promisingly, after my father opened an establishment known as Vogel’s Family Beer Garden. Sadly, in those benighted days, Texans were not eager to eat barbecue by a Jewish man from New York, and the business soon shuttered. My career as a Red Lobster server, a bit later, was similarly brief and unhappy, though I did distinguish myself by engineering several dramatic collisions among trayfuls of strawberry daiquiris and innocent patrons, and the record I set for most cleaning bills ever paid by a franchisee still stands.
My grandmother is long gone, along with my penmanship, the beer garden, that Red Lobster and, most importantly, all my old attitudes toward food. These days, and especially since coming to Newsday a few years back, I’ve felt nothing but love – for the Long Islanders who coax some of the country’s best fruits and vegetables from our soil, the ranchers and fishermen for their matchless meats and seafood, and the home cooks and classically trained chefs, rebels and traditionalists, out of whose kitchens come some of the finest, most delicious fare anywhere.
And I love Newsday too, for deploying a small army of eating and drinking writers, photographers and filmmakers, all of them committed, like me, to fair and impartial coverage of the Island food scene.