Food writer, early food blogger and Meatopia creator Josh Ozersky died today in Chicago. He was 47.
According to the NY Times' Pete Wells, "He died in Chicago, where he had traveled from his home in NY to attend the James Beard Foundation awards. An autopsy is set for tomorrow." And Kevin Pang added, "Josh Ozersky was found dead at 11:40am at 521 N. Rush St., which is the Conrad Chicago hotel."
So I am in Chicago. Where should I eat?
— Josh Ozersky (@OzerskyTV) May 3, 2015
According to the Times, "Mr. Ozersky’s friends at the ceremony said they had last seen him at a karaoke lounge about 4 a.m."
— Jen Pelka (@jenpelka) May 5, 2015
Ozersky wrote for the West Side Spirit, Newsday and other publications before founding New York Magazine's Grub Street blog. He left to become restaurant editor of Citysearch and also started his own blog, The Feedbag. In the Times obituary, Wells writes, "Mr. Ozersky — he used pseudonyms like Casper Gutman and Mr. Cutlets early in his career — emerged about a decade ago, using his own name, as one of the most forceful food writers in New York." He also wrote a number of books, Meat Me In Manhattan (as Mr. Cutlets), Colonel Sanders and the American Dream and The Hamburger: A History.
When they are done talking shit about Josh Ozersky, I hope they remember he wrote truly beautiful sentences. #RIP
— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) May 5, 2015
If Josh Ozersky had been dropped into any other place & century--Paris in 1890, London in 1750, Beijing in 1480--
— Pete Wells (@pete_wells) May 5, 2015
Within six months he would have been at the center of the food scene, propelled by his opinions and his love of toppling icons.
— Pete Wells (@pete_wells) May 5, 2015
The James Beard Awards were tonight; Pang Tweeted, "My food writing colleagues sitting around the press room in shock over Ozersky. Many aren't staying for party. Not in a celebratory mood."
Josh Ozersky was a lively writer and a great newsroom character. He was also really nice to me when I didn't know anything. I'll miss him.
— Dan Kois (@dankois) May 5, 2015
RIP Josh Ozersky, founding editor of Grub Street. The early days of Eater-Grubz rivalry will live forever in my mind as a high-water mark.
— Lockhart Steele (@Lock) May 5, 2015
Josh Ozersky publicly challenged us to a duel about six years ago and we loved him for it. He'll be missed.
— The Braiser (@TheBraiser) May 5, 2015
Josh Ozersky was a man out of time, a Runyonesque hustler in contemporary, tidied-up NYC—a charmer, sometimes a pain, always soulful. RIP.
— David Kamp (@MrKamp) May 5, 2015
In 2009, Ozersky famously announced he had gout, aka "the disease of kings", but promised, "I won't be altering my lifestyle at all, and that you can continue to expect the up-to-the-minute coverage of the city's dining scene that only total bodily dedication can bring."
And when the Post was outraged about an $18 carrot entree in 2012, Ozersky offered a typically colorful quote, "Such is the perversity of vegetarians — you can’t tell whether it’s a gift or an insult. My favorite meat is lamb fat. My philosophy is that the fat is the meat and the meat is the vegetable."
More recently Ozersky was writing for Esquire. In his last piece, he gives advice about bacon, "Bacon is a weirdly personal taste, possibly more so than any other food... I've eaten bacon from commodity pigs that made me happier than bacon from purebred Duroc or Berkshire hogs. I've eaten jowl bacon that was better than belly bacon. Bacon cares not for your ideals, aspirations, or social standing. It is a straight-up fetish object, and as such not subject to higher brain function."
In an interview with Vice, Ozersky proclaimed, "Every aspect of my life is utterly immersed and overflowing with the juice of literature and the love of food."
A must-read: His 2013 essay for Saveur, about his father's struggles as an artist and his love of food: "My father's paintings of chefs, one of his favorite subjects, hung in our house when I was growing up. They were much happier than his other paintings, whose themes included dead gangsters, the Holocaust, and junkies."