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UP NOW Wouldn't you like the Zagats telling you where they ate, what they thought, and their views of the restaurant business -- in their own, clearly pithy and witty voices, but not involving any quotation marks? I sure would, because I know how smart and trenchant they are, and what close observers of the restaurant business and economy.

I've been lucky enough to know firsthand, since I was first assigned to write a piece about them in the days when they still had a hand-scored, mimeographed restaurant survey only a select group got and filled in. One of that select group was my editor, and she sent me to talk to them for a short profile I called "The Man Who Would Be Michelin." Several decades and millions of sales afterward, Tim Zagat became that and more for the United States and many parts of the gastronomic world. And joined by his accomplished lawyer wife, Nina (they're both lawyers, as you can see in their impressive biographies), they expanded their reach, their data-collecting sophistication, and the range of subjects they cover.

I'll be counting on The Zagats to tell us what the next horizon holds -- and, when the spirit moves them, to tell us what they think about the restaurant business in these Interesting Times, as our current cover story would have it, and a very interesting trip they're taking very soon. And I couldn't be more pleased that we'll get to hear from them right here.

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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.
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