Longtime Chronicle writer and former food editor Virginia Wood is retiring from the publication as of this week. Both Brandon Watson, who took over her position in July 2014, and Chronicle cofounder Louis Black penned tributes to their resigned colleague. In his weekly Take Out column (where he also explained that First Plates is being postponed to May), Watson wrote:
It is difficult to think of any person who has been more essential to the story of Austin food. As a writer, she set the tone for not only what food coverage in Austin could be, but also what the restaurant scene could be. As an editor, she made our food coverage an indispensable weekly read.
In a longer memo comparing his paper to the Constitution, Black added:
In every way [Wood’s] writing and career were, even before we came together, at one with the underlying vision of this paper of the importance of local focus, in that the happenings in our community are not just the stories of our lives, but even more meaningful.
In every way her career as a writer, restaurateur, caterer, consultant, coach, cheerleader, mentor, and menu designer profoundly influenced, supported, and advised the overall food community.
Wood has been part of the Chronicle family for 23 years, starting as the restaurant critic in 1993, and became editor in 1997. During Watson's reign, she still reviewed restaurants, as well as kept up with weekly food news round-up.