In the classic spirit of “sad for us, good for her,” Toque announces that West Coast editor Elina Shatkin has accepted the senior editor post at Los Angeles magazine. She will be handling the magazine’s Do section, including the Guide, Nightlife, and Travel coverage both in-book and online. It also means she won’t be around the Toque water cooler much anymore.
Elina was one of the first on board as a Toque contributor and quickly became indispensable as the voice of LA’s unstoppable food scene. She convinced Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo to take a loco moco crawl with her through the suburban hardscapes of Little Tokyo and Gardena. Her reporting on the food truck phenomenon went well beyond which truck had the best tacos (although she knew the answer to that). Instead she took a dive underneath the hood, checking out the growing pains of mobile foodservice in its struggle for the right to exist.
“In a 24-hour news cycle–sometimes a 24-second news cycle–I think the world needs more long-format writing,” Elina says. “That’s why I loved Toque and wanted to be a part of it.”
A former LA Times reporter and most recently restaurant critic for LA Weekly, Elina knows everyone and everyone looks to her for her well-formed, unvarnished observations. She champions the little guy who is making great food. She doesn’t pander to the celebrity chef but acknowledges freely the talents and innovation that turned him or her into one. She’ll take on the “fluff piece,” but somehow it’s a lot more than fluff when she’s done with it.
It is a literal truth that Elina Shatkin has eaten her way through Southern California. If you don’t believe it, visit her Guzzle & Nosh photostream on Flickr. That visual theme park has saved many a Toque story from unembellished bleakness. She seems to be everywhere, whether it’s a pie judging or a methodical 30-day quest for the best burger. Her ubiquity contributes mightily to her skills as a culinary story teller.
It’s shocking to think that Elina’s days will no longer be spent thinking entirely about food and drink, but she hints that it won’t disappear entirely from her, um, plate. “I’m looking forward to writing about all sorts of things: books, events, people, places, esoterica, pop culture and, yes, even food.”
Elina singlehandedly gave Toque a slightly West Coast slant (although longtime contributor Amy Zavatto is great at keeping the balance from her perch in New York–her report on Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood was ahead of its time), letting readers know that the LA Basin wasn’t shaped like a bowl for nothing. Toque was originally headquartered in New Jersey and ended up in Orange County last year. We’ve gained some amazing contributors in this area and they no doubt will help fill the void that Elina leaves.
Still, in the words of The Devil Wears Prada character Emily Charlton, we “have some very large shoes to fill.” We know that.
Thanks, Elina. We’re gonna miss you like hell.