All good things must come to an end and for me, that was Zagat. My job at Zagat arrived at a time when I needed it the most. In 2013, I was laid off from my full-time job. As a perk of not having a schedule, we went on a dream cross-country road trip to Maine and back. The next order of business was looking for a new job. Suddenly, the opportunity came like wish fulfillment. After years of food blogging as a hobby, someone contacted me from Google to launch Zagat San Diego and I become the editor.
There were of course ups and downs working for Zagat. The pay was fine and I got to eat and drink a lot but I had no stipend. I’d supplement it with restaurant invitations, always tipping generously. Although sometimes when I invited people to join me, they naturally assumed I was reimbursed, not bothering to offer to help tip.
What initially started as two posts a day, five days a week turned into a manageable one post a day, five days a week — all with no change in pay. During my time with the organization, I went through a slew of editors that was troublesome and I began to create a backup plan.
Having also run the food channel at Tree.com a few years earlier and witnessing its short five-month run, I knew that there was slim chance this would last. But Zagat lasted for five years and as suddenly as it started, it also ended.
All the city editors were told the company was doing a security check and would lock us out on Friday for maintenance. We discovered via news reports the following week that Google sold Zagat to The Infatuation. The news came as a shock as well as a relief. When I got the news, we were scheduled to leave for Sweden a week later and I didn’t have to work on advance posts. There was also worry. How was I going to pay for all the indulgences during the trip?
It worked out in the end because a year before I got the news, I reentered the workforce as a part-time contractor working for the Federal government in a desktop publishing capacity — back to my page designer roots! Although I was only a seasonal contractor, the pay was amazing — almost double than I made when in the newspaper business. And though not high-profile like Zagat, I really loved the work and even gained a few skills that made me competitive in the workforce. I still do that in some capacity and I absolutely love it. Added bonus, my gained experience has lead me to working as a contractor for the state of California on urgent COVID-19 needs. And people, I know how to desktop publish in a variety of languages including Arabic and Hmong, as a few examples.
What comes around goes around because I was eventually contacted by Eater San Diego to help contribute in early 2020. I jumped at the chance because while not as demanding as Zagat, it brought me back to my love of writing about the food scene — and really what’s not to love about that? And about the new name, I’m using my full name too!
As a formal goodbye to my tenure at Zagat, here are my favorite moments. I still miss being constantly in the know, meeting new friends, but I love my life now.
Wearing a GoPro on my head for a day to film Binge Day.
Being a judge for the inaugural chef’s competition at KAABOO.