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Give PR guru and radio host David Craig the credit for this little nugget.
During his Food Talk STL radio broadcast this morning (Saturdays from 11 am - noon on KFNS), Craig, in an otherwise breezy food and dining segment with freelance writer Matt Sorrell and local beer columnist Evan Benn (at left), the host casually asked the latter about his new position at the Post-Dispatch, a question Benn was not anticipating, as the neither the P-D nor Benn had as yet made this news public...
Evan Benn will be the new Dining Critic at the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Benn will retain his position as the paper's beer columnist (HipHops) while also assuming the duties of restaurant critic, a position Joe Bonwich has held for (and I'm guessing) at least a dozen years. Bonwich will remain at the P-D but will shift gears, focusing more on "Let's Eat," a section published every Wednesday. Benn admitted to Relish that he "had very big shoes to fill," and that Bonwich is an accomplished food writer who knows better than anyone the deep roots of the St. Louis dining scene, anecdotes and obscure factoids he would never know.
Benn's arrival in StL three years ago is an interesting one: in the same week he was hired as an editor at the P-D, the existing beer columnist (Adam Jadhav), quit writing for the paper. As Benn tells it, completely out of the blue he was asked by then Food Editor Judy Evans if he wanted that job as well, and "I was handed the keys to HipHops, too, before I'd been there a week." Despite having little knowledge or experience with beer, Benn accepted the offer. Little did the P-D know, but the timing and positioning was perfect and Benn took off running like a humbler version of Usain Bolt.
Benn would never admit this, but a longstanding observer of the local food scene can: Evan Benn has been as instrumental in putting St. Louis on the national beer map as the preponderance and quality of the local microbreweries he writes about. His comprehensive book, Brew in the Lou, his occasional byline on Esquire.com, and his informative and pretty damn clever tweets on @EvanBenn, bear this out.
No doubt the P-D is hoping he will do for the paper's restaurant and food readership what he did to stimulate our interest in the beer scene.
Look for Benn's first restaurant review to appear in print (and online at stltoday.com) on September 7.
It goes without saying that I wish my friend the best of luck and I offer him but one piece of advice: Sansabelt, dude. It's a godsend...