Andrea Weigl has a great in-depth story on The Pit’s Ed Mitchell in today’s News & Observer. Weigl pulls no punches, digging into Mitchell’s background, his lawsuit with the bank that foreclosed on his Wilson barbecue restaurant, and his ultimate conviction for tax evasion. Ed Mitchell, like all of us, is a flawed human being. He has made a number of mistakes and lost control of the industry built around his “Pitmaster” persona. But give him credit: he landed on his feet, found a solid business partner in Greg Hatem, and has put together an incredible barbecue restaurant. In some ways, Mitchell’s failings make him a much more intriguing character, and when you get right down to it, a little notoriety probably ain’t too bad for business. Frankly, I like Ed Mitchell — he’s got a personality that will win you over the moment you talk to him. You may feel like you’re talking to a snake oil salesman, but Mitchell ultimately convinces you that not only should you buy that snake oil, but it really does the body good. He’s a salesman. He’s a personality. He’s a barbecue icon. While you’re at it, check out the multimedia presentation on Mitchell on the N&O’s website.
Weigl did a great job in getting to what drives Mitchell. This was by no means a fluff piece — it was solid journalism, which you often don’t see on the pages of the Life section.
Of course, that shouldn’t be a surprise, as Weigl is not your typical food writer. She spent a number of years covering death penalty issues for the N&O, and when she decided to head in a new direction in the world of food, she brought her journalist edge with her (interestingly, the Charlotte Observer’s food editor, Kathi Purvis, also covered the crime beat before heading over to food). Weigl and her editor Amber Nimocks are ruthlessly thorough, making sure that facts check out before going to press. This story would have been published weeks ago but for some difficult fact checking. Weigl isn’t afraid to pursue a story with an edge. Yeah, she still has to write about cooking for the 4th of July picnics, but she likes to focus on the human side of food. And with her feature on Ed Mitchell, you see how lucky we are to have her write for us.