RIP Steven Shaw
The food world is in a state of shock after learning of the death of Steven Shaw, a trailblazing foodblogger who founded the website e-Gullet. Steven, who went by the screen name “The Fat Guy” online as well as in print in publications such as Elle magazine, left our world much too soon.
He died of an apparent heart attack on April 8, at age 44, and leaves behind his wife Ellen Shapiro, and son Peter “PJ.” But he also leaves behind a legacy as one of the internet’s first foodbloggers, inspiring millions of people to converse about, analyze, and simply appreciate good food and the chefs and home cooks who make it.
Steven and Jason Perlow started the food-based chatboard e-gullet in 2001. During its heyday it was a fun place where regular people like myself could talk with others from around the world about food and drink, and hobnob with celeb posters like Anthony Bourdain and Dorie Greenspan.
But there were management problems and numerous feuds among numerous people. I don’t even know half the issues. But around 2005, a lot of people left e-gullet after it became a non-profit organization with Steven Shaw as its executive director. Eventually both Steven and Jason Perlow would leave e-gullet too.
Looking back on everything e-gullet, it was like childbirth. There was a lot of pain, a lot of blood, a lot of mess. But in the end, there was also great joy at giving birth to something beautiful.
I am very appreciative to Steven Shaw and e-gullet for helping me establish my professional writing career. In 2002, Steven encouraged me to write pieces for The Daily Gullet, e-gullet’s webzine (although at the time there was no such word as “webzine”).
So, to paraphrase Steven, with “great relish” I wrote a series of articles for The Daily Gullet about the reality TV show The Restaurant, starring Rocco DiSpirito. That show was a hot mess, so there were many tales to tell. Through e-gullet I got access to Anthony Bourdain who gave me some great quotes and profanity-laden criticisms about his friend Rocco who wasn’t paying his staff.
I also wrote a cool story for The Daily Gullet about a brand new Iron Chef America special, with photos contributed by the amazing Chris Cognac, a police detective, foodblogger and TV personality (YES all those things) who was allowed to attend the taping of the special. Those were the good days at e-gullet, so that is what I am going to choose to remember. Thank you Steven!
When Steven published his book Turning the Tables in 2005, he invited me to his grand book release party which was being held at Tavern on the Green in New York City (miss that place a lot too). Unfortunately, I could not go, so I sent my nervous teenage daughter Katie and her friend Andrea to stand in for me. Katie was afraid of being a fish out of water, but agreed to go. They had a wonderful time. Great food, drink, and conversation — particularly with members of Ellen Shapiro’s family. They made Katie and Andrea feel very comfortable in what could have been an awkward situation.
In addition to being a journalist and assistant editor of The Weston Forum, I am now the host of a Food Chat radio webcast show for Hersam Acorn Newspapers. So thank you Steven, for giving me my break in food writing and reporting. I’ll be remembering you on the air next week.