Food writer Andrea Weigl sends virtual goodbye hug to readers

Often in the last few years when a reader has approached me to talk about a story, or their favorite restaurant, or to argue about critic Greg Cox’s latest restaurant review, they will mention that they are a subscriber.

I always feel like giving them a hug. If not for our subscribers, I likely wouldn’t have a job – let alone the enviable job of food writer.

Now, I have to give a collective goodbye hug to our readers.

I have accepted a position as a writer and researcher with Markay Media, a Durham-based documentary film and television production company that produces the award-winning PBS show, “A Chef’s Life.”

The series explores eastern North Carolina food traditions and documents the life of Kinston chef Vivian Howard who, along with her artist husband, Ben Knight, owns Chef & the Farmer and Boiler Room restaurants.

I will be working with Howard and as well as Emmy Award-winning director Cynthia Hill and her team on a documentary that requires tracking down people and sifting through police records. As a courts-reporter-turned-food-writer, it turns out that I possess a strange set of skills that are beneficial to both Howard and Hill. I’m excited to see where it takes me.

But I cannot help but be sad about leaving The News & Observer. I’ve grown up in this newsroom. For almost 17 years, I’ve only ever driven to one place to work. For almost 20 years, this is the only work I’ve ever known.

I want to thank all the judges and lawyers, chefs and home cooks, farmers and shoppers, diners and foodies who I have interviewed, corresponded with or otherwise made myself a nuisance to over the years. In large and small ways, you have let me into your lives to tell stories, shared your wisdom or graciously given me your time.

As readers, you have born witness to my father’s death, my child’s birth and my food obsessions. You have sent kind notes when you liked something I wrote. You have chastened me when I have failed you. By very early on Wednesday mornings, I would know if I had left an ingredient out of a recipe. I always vowed to do better and didn’t always succeed.

If I’ve tried to convey anything via these columns it is to treat yourself and others kindly. Cook for your family and friends and neighbors. Don’t beat yourself up for not living up to the standards set by other people’s Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram feeds. A takeout meal around the dinner table or in the car on the way to soccer practice is still a family dinner. Life is messy, chaotic and daunting but also lovely for all of that.

Please get in the kitchen when life allows, keep reading the paper and subscribe if you can.

N&O employee or not, I’ll still give you a hug.

Keep up with Andrea Weigl on Twitter @andreaweigl.