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Meet Joshua Lurie of Food GPS in Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joshua Lurie.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Joshua. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I moved to L.A. to contribute to the entertainment industry after graduating from Vanderbilt University with a degree in American Studies. I initially worked as a Paramount Studios page. I led backlot tours and the office leased me out to different production companies as a temp. I learned about a writers’ assistant job and spent seven years doing all of the research for legendary TV producer Don Bellisario and his rotating writing staffs on the TV shows “JAG” and spinoff “NCIS.” I spent my spare time writing spec scripts, which helped improve my writing. I also scoured L.A. for great food, which helped me to get to know the city and build up my culinary knowledge base.

My TV job involved a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. I’d often stand by deep into the night, waiting for writers to finish drafts, which I would then help edit. Instead of eating the food that the show provided for dinner – typically bland food from right in the neighborhood or from a paint-by-numbers chain – I’d sneak out and grab something great from Thai Town, Little Armenia, or Koreatown. I started documenting my favorite restaurant experiences, first in a diary, and later on a public blog called Food GPS, which I launched on Blogger to start 2005.

I actually first started writing about restaurants for my college paper, the Vanderbilt Hustler, but my food writing in L.A. was so much richer given the inspiring breadth and depth of my chosen city’s culinary scene.

I got the name Food GPS from my stepmom, Jane, who called to ask how to find one of my favorite bakeries in Portland, Oregon. After I successfully directed Jane and my Dad to Ken’s Artisan Bakery, she said, “You’re like my Food GPS.” The name stuck. Since then, Food GPS has evolved from blog to website and become so much more rewarding (to me, and hopefully to readers). When it comes to restaurant coverage, I’ve always maintained the same criteria. 1) Would I eat there again? 2) Would I recommend that people spend the time and money to eat there?

By 2007, I’d honed my research and writing abilities and had even started contributing to some local publications as a food writer. Even though I had some entertainment industry writing success, including a produced story credit for “NCIS,” it becomes increasingly clear that I was more interested in, and better suited to, food writing. I left TV to focus on restaurants full-time.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Running my own website and business has posed countless challenges over the years. The market has changed many times since I fully transitioned from TV in 2007. Writing is at the root of Food GPS, and I still love telling stories and crafting sentences, but I have no expectations that any particular gig will last, even if I nail assignment after assignment. After all, publications close and editors leave.

Over the years, I’ve needed to add complementary skills to make myself more marketable and keep earning a living. I’ve had to learn how to take high-quality photos and learn how to navigate social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, none of which existed when I first started Food GPS. I’ve also learned how to produce and promote large-scale food events on limited budgets. I currently lead custom, food-themed tours for companies, which requires the ability to handle complicated logistics. I also work as a consultant in different capacities.

Being able to find good food isn’t enough to succeed anymore, which is fine by me since I enjoy the other aspects of my job. Ultimately, I’ve come to enjoy getting to know the people behind the food just as much as the bites and sips themselves.

Please tell us about Food GPS.
Food GPS has become increasingly multi-faceted. I’ve written for dozens of different print and online publications. Over the years, I’ve gravitated towards covering restaurants that other writers ignore or don’t know about. I prefer writing about family-run, international restaurants on the fringes that don’t get enough love.

I lead custom, private food tours in L.A. and beyond. I consult for different culinary businesses, advising on messaging, menus, and market research. I also help real estate developers find interesting food and drink tenants.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I always plan to tell stories about the people and families driving food culture. I hope to lead more private tours for companies looking to find flavorful inspiration. I also plan to consult on more interesting concepts and projects.

Contact Info:

Image Credit: with all photos except for my headshot by Jane Lurie Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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