Chow Bella

Nikki Buchanan resurfaces

By Michele Laudig

In a small pond like Phoenix, there are only so many places for the big fish to swim.

The news of former Phoenix Magazine restaurant reviewer Nikki Buchanan landing at the Arizona Republic is an interesting study in the feng shui of local food critics.

As you may recall, it was quite a shocker when the local monthly booted its longtime critic, who seemed to be a reader favorite. Say what you want about Buchanan and her apparent preference for hoity-toity Scottsdale restaurants, but I thought her columns justified the cost of a subscription. Somewhat ironically, her new weekly beat at the daily paper is budget-conscious "everyday dining." (Talk about yin and yang.)

Three ladies filled Buchanan's shoes at Phoenix Magazine -- Carey Sweet, Geri Koeppel, and Gwen Ashley Walters -- as of last month. (That metaphor creates a weird visual, I realize.) As I mentioned in an earlier post, those same writers also contribute to the Republic.

The intriguing backstory to this grand switcheroo is that Buchanan used to be the New Times food critic back in the '80s. As was lead Republic critic Howard Seftel, in the '90s. As was Sweet, in the early Aughts. (When I was a New Times newbie, I had fun joining Sweet on some of her restaurant visits, and got a kick out of reading about it.)

What does it all mean in the grand scheme of the universe? Who knows. I guess that's something readers will have to decide.

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Michele Laudig
Contact: Michele Laudig