You might know Scott Reitz as the guy who sussed out the key flavor in jerk chicken. Or as the guy who loves watery American lager. Or, at the very least, as the guy who busted Taylor Gourmet on its bogus bread.
Pretty soon all locals will have of Reitz are memories. The D.C. food writer was recently hired as the new food critic for the Dallas Observer, replacing Hanna Raskin, who took her palate and her allergies to the ragweed-free environment of Seattle.
All We Can Eat asked Reitz, 34, who grew up on the Eastern Shore, to answer a few e-mail questions before he departs for the Big D.
All We Can Eat: Congratulations on the new job at the Observer, Scott. When do you start in Dallas?
Scott Reitz: I’m excited to get down there but logistics are a [pain]. I should start writing for them in mid July at the latest.
AWCE: So what exactly did you do before making the jump to full-time food writing? No one seems to understand what it is.
SR: People don’t understand it because I’m not good at explaining it. The official title was Solutions Architect. I sold expensive computer and software systems, but I always found freelancing more rewarding.
AWCE: And what compelled you, in this economy, to give up a comfortable, good-paying job for the high-stress, high-workload, low-paying, everybody-hates-you, everyone-thinks-they-can-do-it-better gig as a food critic? (Not that I have any opinions on this.)
SR: It’s funny. That was one of my interview questions. Thing is, my day job is far from stress free. I’ve been freelancing, growing my clips and finding my voice for six years now. I want to write for a living. I’m ready to make the jump.
AWCE: Have you spent much time in Dallas, and, if not, what were your first impressions when you went there for the interview?
SR: I’d never been to Dallas, and the city handed it to me during my interview. I spent seven hours on a plane that went nowhere, caught a second flight with more delays, lost my luggage and spent three days in three-digit heat wearing a blue wool suit. With all these challenges, I didn’t have as much time to eat as I wanted, but I met some warm, great people and felt like I could make a home out of the city. I’m excited to get back and devour Dallas.
AWCE: Do you have an allergy to Texas ragweed?
SR: That’s a salad green, right?
AWCE: Do you have a car with a good air conditioner?
SR: I have a bicycle. I have to work off those calories somehow. I’m not too bad at flagging a cab either. I think my new officemates have a pool going to see how long I last without buying a car.
AWCE: Will you be able to cover the entire Dallas-Fort Worth metro area as part of your beat?
SR: I have open reign. I’m supposed to focus on Dallas and her immediate suburbs, but the size of my beat is a function of interestingness. As long as I can get there and the story doesn’t suck, I’m free to roam.
AWCE: Will you just review restaurants or do more reported columns?
SR: The job description is Food Critic, but I’ve got a great editor. If I dig up something good, I’ll get to write about it. The taquerias better not lie about their tortilla sourcing.
AWCE: What will you miss most about the D.C. area?
SR: So much. Tiny and briny oysters late night at Old Ebbitt. Fried chicken at Bar Pilar. A juicy burger during happy hour at Chef Geoff’s. Picking crabs with cold beer outside in the summer. Wings at Duffy’s. I’m going to miss D.C. a lot. Leaving home was the only hard part of this decision.
AWCE: Do you know what kind of barbecue sauce they favor in Texas?
SR: I hear KC Masterpiece is big in Dallas. I like my brisket naked though. [Editor’s note: Reitz earns extra points for seeing right through our trick question.]
AWCE: And, finally, do you know who shot J.R.?
SR: Most definitely, it was Colonel Mustard. In the Study. With a revolver.