The 2020 Emerging Voice: L.A. TacoJournalism Awards Committee
September 24, 2020
The Emerging Voice Award is given by the Journalism Committee of the James Beard Foundation to recognize work of lasting significance by an individual or media outlet that has been contributing to food journalism for no more than three years.
L.A. Taco is proof that a food publication can reinvent itself to match the needs of the community it serves while never losing sight of its mission to tell readers where—and how—to eat.
Founded in 2006 by Alex Bloomingdale as a group blog to document street food, art, and music in Los Angeles, L.A. Taco didn’t take off initially, despite the energy of its first dispatches. Everything changed at the end of 2017, when the city saw the shutdown of beloved website LAist and the evisceration of venerated alt-weekly L.A. Weekly. Bloomingdale sensed an incipient news desert and hired former VICE correspondent and editor Daniel Hernandez to press the reset button. The publication has crackled with lively, essential writing and videos ever since.
L.A. Taco articles always consider food in terms of its intersection with inequality, racial justice, history, and more. It captures the proverbial pulse of Los Angeles, finding unique angles to big topics and commissioning trenchant personal essays to uncover sections of the Southland long neglected by the mainstream media.
More importantly, the roster of writers looks like L.A.—not just Mexican-American, but Central American and Armenian and Black and Asian and queer, to name just a few. And under current editor Javier Cabral—an L.A. native who never trained formally in journalism yet ended up becoming a food scout for the late Jonathan Gold—L.A. Taco has also fostered voices far removed from the typical food-writer’s circuit.
L.A. Taco has also run successful food festivals and live-video sessions, establishing itself as a community presence.
The publication shows daily that the finest food writing cannot exist in a bubble, and it reads best when it comes from the communities it covers. If more food publications followed L.A. Taco’s lead, food journalism would be among the most equitable genres of writing around.
—The JBF Journalism Awards Committee