Chowhound Closes Immediately after 25 Many years of Food Obsession, Knowledge and Discussion


Chowhound, the web-site that started 25 several years ago as a electronic accumulating place for obsessive food stuff fans, will near down on March 21, the internet site introduced on Monday.

“This amazingly complicated final decision is because of to limitations in the abilities and resources expected to manage the site on an ongoing basis,” its moderators said. Purple Ventures, the media corporation that owns Chowhound, declined to comment further more.

Chowhound was launched in 1997 by Jim Leff, a jazz trombonist and author whose working day jobs financed his fervid quest for deliciousness, alongside with a somewhat far more silent partner, Bob Okumura.

In its heady early days it was a house to find suggestions for the most effective barbecue, arepas or Albanian bureks in New York, together with passionate rants and relentless arguments about kimchi, lengua tacos and lahmacun.

“Chowhound wasn’t just foods chat, it was by and for extremist folks who’ve attempted each and every quesadilla in Sunset Park,” Mr. Leff stated Wednesday.

The ’90s had been thrilling for meals-loving New Yorkers. A tiny pack of appetite-driven writers was prowling the again alleys of all 5 boroughs, implementing to eating places of every single form the classes figured out from countrywide writers like Calvin Trillin and Jane and Michael Stern, whose mouthwatering odes to burgoo, chess pie and mind sandwiches (a St. Louis specialty) revived curiosity in regional American cooking.

Among the them were Robert Sietsema, who wrote a newsletter, “Down the Hatch,” just before joining The Village Voice and sooner or later Eater New York and Sylvia Carter, who wrote an fantastic column for New York Newsday ahead of it shut down in 1995. I joined this group in early 1992, initiating the $25 and Less than column for The New York Occasions.

Perhaps the most obsessive of all was Mr. Leff, who, when I first satisfied him in 1993, was crafting a restaurant column for New York Push, an choice newspaper full of intriguing creating.

Mr. Leff, it appeared, was constantly obtaining the greatest imaginable Fujianese noodle dish in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, cooked by a female who appeared on a road corner, but only on Thursdays, until it was raining, in which scenario she’d come on Tuesdays in between midday and 1 p.m.

These had been also the early days of the world-wide-web, when plodding phone modems could shorter-circuit brains with their connecting screeches. Chowhound was the merger of these two worlds, a community hangout for food adventurers — chowhounds, Mr. Leff named them, distinguishing them from dilettantish foodies — to indulge their opinionated obsessions amid a like-minded neighborhood.

The web-site, while offering Mr. Leff a substantial, immediate discussion board, was plain and unadorned, completed on the low-cost, like the duct-taped Naugahyde seats in Mr. Leff’s beloved kind of dining places. But for these of us who cared, it was an oasis in which the city’s multitude of cultures — the Gorgeous Mosaic, in the previous Mayor David N. Dinkins’s unforgettable phrase — appeared in delectable element.

The conversations influenced the imagination and an insatiable hunger. I was not an avid participant. I experienced much more as a lurker. For all those of us on the restaurant prowl, Chowhound was like a day by day idea services. A barbecue joint with no a cellular phone close to Kennedy Intercontinental Airport? A jerk shop on Gun Hill Street in the Bronx? Noodles in Flushing? I’m on my way.

Chowhound before long expanded over and above New York to other towns. Combative people being what they are, animosities and rivalries blossomed and splinter websites shaped, like egullet and mouthfulsfood. None quite captured the ornery compulsion that animated Chowhound in its key yrs.

Weary of managing the web page on a shoestring, in 2006 Mr. Leff and Mr. Okumura bought Chowhound to CNET, which was acquired by Pink Ventures in 2020. By then, the world-wide-web and the foodstuff globe had modified. Initially blogs and then social media experienced presented anyone the suggests to bypass village accumulating places like Chowhound.

I commenced crafting total-time about wine in 2004 and missing the thread of Chowhound. But other folks did not. In the very last few of days, Twitter was whole of reminiscences about inspirations, arguments and friendships birthed on that amazing site.

I questioned Mr. Leff no matter whether a internet site like Chowhound was required any lengthier.

“These times there are myriad locations to chat about meals, and everyone’s received an belief, but it will by no means be economically feasible to constrain ambition and purpose for a limited, skilled group,” he explained. “But one particular working day some other true believer might give it a shot, not for glory or financial gain, but just the sheer usefulness of it.”

Internet site or not, Mr. Leff is continue to carrying out what he’s always carried out.

“Before I wrote about food, I was generating finds and no a single cared,” he claimed. “Then I became a author, and folks cared. Then Chowhound, and they cared a ton. Now I keep on to make wonderful finds and nobody cares. From my standpoint, it is all been a comfy straight line. I’m a chowhound to my main.”

Correction: March, 10, 2022

Because of an editing error, an earlier variation of this story misstated that the web-site egullet experienced shut. It is nevertheless in procedure.

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