Name: Andrew Coppolino
Blog name and URL: Waterloo Region Eats … with Andrew Coppolino;
Where were you born?
Ha. That’s a tough one, actually: Topeka, Kansas, USA. It gets a laugh every time I tell someone.
Where are you living now?
In the heart of beautiful, bustling downtown Kitchener, Ontario’s fourth largest metropolitan centre and Canada’s tenth largest. And the home of Chef Jonathan Gushue’s new restaurant! My neighbourhood is about 80 years old and it’s well-treed with the urban forest. Love it!
Why did you start your blog?
I love food and love writing about food and telling people from all over about what is happening with food in Waterloo Region. More specifically, it grew out of my time as restaurant reviewer for the Waterloo Region Record (a Torstar daily newspaper): I wanted to share with more of the region’s food lovers my experiences with food, chefs and restaurants. I wanted to capture as many of those experiences as I could and give readers educated insight into, and a frame of reference for, food and dining here. Of course, that was before there was Yelp and Restaurantica, and such.
How did you decide on your blog name?
On the one hand, the name Waterloo Region Eats is simply geographically derived: in writing about food and the food business in Waterloo Region, I focus on the municipalities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo and our great farming townships of Wellesley, Woolwich, North Dumfries and Wilmot. We’re unique in the geography. On the other hand, the “Eats” is a play on the word as a noun and verb: it captures the idea of things to eat and asks readers to join me vicariously as I eat throughout the region. That was the original – and perhaps too cute – intent, anyway.
What do you blog about?
I write about food from several angles. I do a daily, short food-tidbit on something topical, a tip or technique, maybe a recipe. I post a “Restaurant Report” that reviews a restaurant in Waterloo Region each Friday. I profile chefs and local food businesses, and I use the website and attendant social media to help promote food events that are taking place in the region. Recently, I’ve been exploring my Italian roots through cooking: I have been re-creating Sicilian dishes in my home – it’s fascinating to learn more about your own culture through its food – and sharing them in a section called “Sicilian Kitchen.” You should try pasta with anchovy sauce and breadcrumbs. Delicious!
What post on your blog most encapsulates you?
Hmmm. Difficult one. I work hard to feature and promote local chefs, restaurants and producers, and that would include some of Waterloo Region’s unique farmers and businesses. Eby Manor Golden Guernsey Milk is a favourite story of mine. And the milk is too.
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
On occasion, I do satiric, and sometimes sarcastic, spoof pieces just for fun. I did a piece on cell phone bans in Waterloo Region restaurants that got a good response and punked a lot of people. However, a recent April Fool’s joke on “free will” chickens as the newest humanely raised food trend kind of fell flat. Food writing is easy; humour is hard.
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
Well, any post that mentions a food truck always gets a significant response that never fails to surprise me! But there was a good response to an article I wrote calling for more tasting menus in Waterloo Region. I love tasting menus and wish there were more here.
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
Being a better photog. And finding enough time to do more robust, journalistic-style pieces.
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
Not sure if it counts as a blog but Chef Steps: Cook Smarter has lots of great information. Good Food Revolution because it has a nice blend of interviews, articles and media – and is what I’d like WREats to be.
Favourite food - care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
Just about impossible to say! During my stint as a newspaper restaurant reviewer, I calculated eating something like 2000 meals. I have loved many, from the bibimbap at Korean BBQ Kitchener to the tasting menus at Langdon Hall Cambridge. So let’s saw it off at bread, a true favourite food of mine. I use this recipe weekly; it’s based on Leahy’s 18-hour no-knead bread.
What are you working on next for your blog?
Probably a piece saying that we need a more unified and powerful voice for restaurants in downtown Kitchener (and the other businesses too) -- and especially in light of the next couple of years while our new light rail transit is being built.
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
That I have coached youth soccer as a volunteer at the Kitchener Soccer Club for a long, long time. Teaching the game is a passion second only to my sincere love of food.
What makes your blog unique?
I think that is it regionally focussed and tries to approach food from a journalistic grounding. And that I spent a few years cooking professionally that gives it some authority.
What’s your Favourite FBC Feature?
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