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‘Chronicle’ Food Editor Jessi Cape Steps Down

After four years in the food role — and fifteen total at the Austin alt-weekly —the editor, writer, and critic is moving on from journalism

A woman sitting at a restaurant table with hands on her face
Jessi Cape
Courtesy of Jessi Cape
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

Jessi Cape has left her position as the food editor of the local alt-weekly Austin Chronicle. Her last day was on Friday, August 27.

“I realized a little while ago that, like many people who have been on this planet during the pandemic, it was time for a change,” Cape tells Eater. “I needed to shake things up a little bit.”

Next up for Cape is an entirely different industry. She is taking a position at a software company in the public relations and communications department. Despite that, she still plans on writing articles for Chronicle in the food and other sections.

During Cape’s time as Chronicle’s food editor, she reviewed restaurants, profiled local food businesses, shared recipes from chefs and home cooks, and extensively covered the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on the restaurant industry. As part of her role, she helmed the publication’s annual best restaurant roundup First Plates; the most recent edition was just published in late July.

In September 2017, then-Chronicle food editor Brandon Watson decamped for lifestyle website CultureMap to oversee the food sections for Austin and San Antonio. (Since then, he has left for nonprofit Texas Food & Wine Alliance in January 2020; the site still hasn’t filled the position.) Cape — who had been at the publication for the past 15 years working in various departments and positions, and, at that time, as the office manager and a writer — took over his position.

Before leading the food section, Cape first wrote for the food section under the late longtime restaurant critic, food editor, and writer Virginia B. Wood, who became her mentor, “I got to hear her thoughts and learn a lot of institutional knowledge from her,” Cape says. Wood became Chronicle’s food critic in 1993, and her role expanded to food editor in 1997. She stepped down from the editor position in 2014 and retired completely in 2016. She passed away in 2018

In the past year, several Austin food and drinks writers and editors have left local publications. Food writer Addie Broyles left Statesmen in June. Fellow Statesman drinks writer Arianna Auber was laid off in April 2020. Restaurant review site the Infatuation shuttered several city sites in January, including Austin.

Chronicle is now hiring for the vacated food editor position.