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Interview With Grant Goggans From "Marie, Let's Eat!"

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August 25, 2014 / American / By
ETG - Food For Thought

When we first came across Marie, Let's Eat, we were instantly mesmerized. This is the type of blog that everyone should follow if interested in learning about various restaurants and what one can expect to find before a visit. A simple glance at the About section and you know that you are in for an interesting experience. 

Marie and Grant covered over 1000 dining locations in US, with a main focus on the Atlanta area (over 600 restaurants). That is one of the reasons why they are ranked number 1 on Urbanspoon but we have to say that the way in which experiences are showcased is the main draw. Every single post is a delight to read and you can tell that a lot of effort is put into maintaining a high quality standard. 

We were delighted to be able to get in touch with Grant and ask him some questions about the blog and his experience so far as there are so many that want to do exactly what he is doing. Below you can find the whole interview. We hope it inspires aspiring food bloggers to start writing about what they love. It is a great example that it can be done and you can have a lot of fun in the process. 

1. Please tell Eat the Globe readers some things about yourself, maybe something that they cannot already learn from the About section on the blog.

We're Grant and Marie, and we specialize in eating.  We love to travel and try to get out of town at least once a month to explore and find new places to eat and share reports with our readers.  We think of our blog as not only a place to share stories about food, but to keep a little history preserved.

We started our blog in February 2010 and have shared more than one thousand chapters, including visits to almost 300 barbecue restaurants in seven states. Urbanspoon ranks us as one of the top ten food blogs on the planet.  Our blog is scruffy and silly and the photos often aren't very good, but we've been having a ball learning about regional food and sharing with our readers.

2. How did you come up with the idea to open the blog?

We're happy to credit some older inspirations.  We'd already been looking for interesting regional eats whenever we traveled, using Roadfood.com for suggestions and finding some great, out-of-the-way places, and an excellent community on their forum that is full of knowledgeable travelers with the right mindset and a lot of terrific ideas.  But then I read The Tummy Trilogy, an omnibus edition of three 1970s books by Calvin Trillin, and decided that I wanted to begin sharing our experiences.

I was already quasi-blogging (on LiveJournal, for my sins) and had a captive audience of more than a hundred readers, so for the first couple of months, I looked for a voice and worked out the kinks in how I wanted the chapters to look and feel for those friends, before we started formally blogging.

Trillin, incidentally, gets my vote for the best writing about food, ever.  Anybody who wants to do this, as a hobby or as a career, should read him as soon as they can.

3. What do you enjoy the most in being a food blogger?

Oh, the glamour, the bright lights, the book deals... no, it's probably the fun feedback that we get from our readers and from other hobbyists.  We love sharing stories and hearing back that readers chose to take the same detour that we did to sample someplace neat.

But more than that, I love how the need for new content forces us to always look for something new.  We certainly have found restaurants in other cities that we like to revisit, but we also don't want to just keep writing about the same places.  Knoxville TN for example is home to Marie's favorite breakfast spot (The French Market Creperie) and her favorite pizza restaurant (Pizza Palace), and about ten miles away, in Maryville, we found what might be the best banana pudding on the planet (Full Service BBQ).  We're resolved, however, that any future trips to that area will see us returning to just one of those places each time.

We have so many other places to try!

4. What is important for you when you are dining at a restaurant?

We always want to go into a place with an open mind and a kind heart. Everything boils down to that.

5. How important is restaurant atmosphere for you?

Well, it's critically important, but what I love the most may not be what anybody else likes.  You can't please everybody.  I like spaces that are simple and are quiet, and I'm starting to think that some places deliberately make their space loud and frustrating so they can drive out the guests and turn the table over quickly!

I really love visiting much older restaurants - from the 1950s and earlier - that have held onto their look and invested in maintenance rather than redesign.  There's a terrific hot dog joint in Columbus GA called Cook's Place and the interiors are a museum of showbills from 1960s rock and roll acts that played in Columbus or Phoenix City, and memorabilia from one of the area high schools.  An alumni group holds regular mini-reunions there.  I could spend forever in a place like that, while a joint that tries to fake the nostalgia with some posters of Marilyn Monroe that they bought from Amazon last week just looks embarrassing.

6. What is the best restaurant you had an opportunity of visiting and writing about on "Marie, Let's Eat"?

So far this year, it's probably Acre in Auburn AL, a downright astonishing place that grows almost all of its vegetables out back. Look for a story about that in early September.  We also really enjoyed City Hardware in Florence AL a whole lot.

I have a soft spot for Scott's BBQ in Hemingway SC.  The restaurant has a huge reputation among barbecue lovers, and the owner and pitmaster Rodney Scott has been celebrated and feted by many southeastern writers, but darned if that meal didn't live up to every bit of the hype.  I absolutely loved that experience.

7. Many aspire to do exactly what you do at the moment but have problems in being able to deal with costs. How do you manage to pay for all the meals? Do you find that difficult?

Not at all.  If you're interested in writing about food, I would suggest that the main thing is simply to make a budget and stick to it.  If you are aspiring to write about travel or local history or dining, but can only justify a single meal out a week, then make that meal count, and let that be your content.  If you are principally interested in writing about meals that you've prepared yourself, plan ahead, shop sensibly, and take a million photographs during the process.

8. Tell us a memory that you will always cherish connected to "Marie, Let's Eat!".

I had been saving a barbecue place in Watkinsville GA called Hot Thomas for a rainy day, and that finally came about a week and a half after our baby was born.  We drove to Athens to visit friends, including someone who had her baby three days after us, and stopped by Hot Thomas for lunch.  While I thought Marie wasn't looking, I put a single drop of Brunswick stew on my fingertip for our son to try.  The poor kid had nothing but milk for ten whole days, so I had to give him something to eat.  I got an earful for that, but I think the boy really appreciated it!

Follow Marie, Let's Eat and you will not regret it. We are sure you already like Grant and want to see more of his writing :D


Marie, Let's Eat

Country: United States

Province/State: Georgia

City: N/A

Address: N/A

Zip/Post Code: N/A

Location Tips: N/A

Phone: N/A

Website:http://marieletseat.com/...

Price Guide:N/A (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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