Later, Dude: Our sappy send-off to Stephanie Breijo
In the early fall of 2014, Richmond Magazine announced a new food editor would be joining the team. Their hire: Stephanie Breijo, LA-born and bred, a DC-based writer and assistant editor, who, I later learned, attended a high school for musical theater and has a deep love for comic books, Billy Joel, and smirking in photos.
Well, guys, she's leaving, headed back to her hometown for the first time in eleven years; and I know I'm not the first to selfishly say that I'm bummed to see her go. Breijo is genuinely curious with an unflappable core of integrity and a razor sharp wit. In the nearly three years she's been with the magazine, she's scooped up awards, inspired healthy (and, ok, unhealthy) jealousy in fellow food writers, and shared the stories of both Richmond's dining darlings and the unsung heroes that make our farms, stores, farmers markets, and restaurants special.
We could go on all day about what she's done for the Richmond food scene (including helping us out at our PR for Food Businesses workshop a couple months back), but instead, we've rounded up our top ten favorite Breijo pieces to dry our tears on (print them out for maximum efficacy).
10. Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em - Breijo is a known Meat Church parishioner, spending her fair share of time in line waiting to worship at the alter of ZZQ. She shared an hour-by-hour breakdown of how Chris Fultz and Alex Graf conjure the spirit of holy 'cue.
9. Going Long - Longoven does something here that is completely unique in this market. Their semi-regular pop-ups at Sub Rosa have earned them a spot on Bon Appetit's Best New Restaurants list for 2016 even though no physical restaurant actually exists. Stephanie put in some time with the trio of chefs to explore who they are and what they're contributing to the #RVAdine scene.
8. Earthlings Rejoice; GWARbar Opens TONIGHT - I've been consistently charmed by Breijo's affection for all things GWAR, and you can hear it any time she writes about the intergalactic jizzlords, including this piece about the opening of GWARbar.
7. Q&A: Alton Brown - We all want to have coffee at Lamplighter with Alton Brown. That's just a fact. Another fact is that, often, Q&A's are lazy throwaways that writers use when they don't want to do the hard work of synthesizing an interview. Not so with this particular Q&A, where it is clear that Breijo has done her research and come up with thoughtful questions that interest the beloved foodie figure enough to get some meaningful and complex answers.
6. Murder by Meal? - As a lover of the horror genre, Breijo's got a flair for the macabre, and her telling of the possible murder of Virginia's George Wythe might be the best example of that. It's a tale of twists, turns, and betrayals--perfect for its Halloween publication.
5. With Liberty and Deliciousness For All - How did a round-up of July 4th food specials end up in here? Just click through and look at that image of Bill Pullman and try your darnedest not to LOL.
4. Shovel and Pick: Travis Milton Leaving Comfort to Open a Restaurant of His Own - Travis Milton may as well have "WRITE ABOUT ME" mixed into the menagerie of tattoos that decorate the Appalachian chef's arms. He is often the subject of food writer's attention, and for good reason--Milton is a nice dude who is committed to telling his authentic story to the eating public. Breijo gets to the heart of this, all the while avoiding the predictable writing that seems to follow Appalachian culinary figures. There's something honest and compelling about Milton's story and the way Breijo tells it.
3. Smoke and No Mirrors - This profile of pitmaster Tuffy Stone won Breijo "Best in Show" for Specialty Food Writing from the Virginia Press Association, and every time I think of Breijo winning "Best in Show," it sends me into giggles, imagining Breij singing "God Loves a Terrier." Also, it's the kind of exceptional writing that inspires me to dig deep and do better, so thanks Steph.
2. A Freezer Full of Memories - There's a warmth to Breijo's treatment of the closing of the Oriental Market & Gift Shop that used to exist on Forest Hill Ave that deserves attention. In a time when restaurants and grocery stores are opening and closing every other day, she put her tender lens on a thirty three year old family business and bid them farewell with the characteristic sweetness that I will so miss.
1. Into the Wild with Walter Bundy - This is it, guys. Thorough, insightful, humorous and evocative. This is the piece I read when I'm scraping the barrel of inspiration in my own writing. Walter Bundy proves a fascinating subject, and Breijo plays out why exactly that is in an honest and sincere way.
So, thanks for the memories, Breijo, and good luck in LA. You will be missed.