No one will ridicule the Orange County Register's food reporting more than us–but no one will praise it more than us, either. And for all the preposterous crap that they publish–dispatches from Little Arabia that sounds like Sir Richard Burton among the Hindoo, Nancy Luna's rewritten press releases, reviews of restaurants by vegetarians who order chicken sandwiches sans the chicken, then complain about the taste–there has long been talent in the paper's food section, talent they long ignored. Talent the new owners now proclaim they want–and that's a good thing.
We broke the news about James Beard-winning Brad A. Johnson coming on board to become the full-time food critic–his first review appears in early December (we hear it's going to be Chapter One: The Modern Local–be on the lookout, fellas!). Yesterday came Phase 2: the relaunching of its food section, and the rehiring of longtime Register food writer Cathy Thomas.
We stopped subscribing to the Reg long ago, so can't remember the last time they had a full food section…if ever, now that I think about it, because they'd combine it under “Life” or “Accent” or whatever the fuck the latest consultants told them to call what the industry once called the women's section. And they're still throwing in comics, crosswords, and entertainment coverage into it, so it's not a full food section. But with six full pages devoted to food, and the promise of more to come, it's a welcome development.
Also included: the writings of Thomas. But she never left, you asked? Kind of. Thomas took a buyout a couple of years ago, but continued writing on a freelance basis. A couple of months back, though, the Reg's new owners approached Thomas to offer her job back; Thomas gladly accepted. She's an Orange County institution, so kudos to the Reg for bringing her back.
Now, we wait for Johnson's first review…