Former Tribune writer takes bite out of new A.V. Club site


Kevin Pang

Former Tribune food critic Kevin Pang will be the new food editor for The A.V. Club, an entertainment site that has had limited food coverage in the past. 


Kevin Pang is the kind of person who travels to Japan to try fried chicken. While Pang was a food critic for the Chicago Tribune, he became an expert on ethnic cuisines despite no previous background in food journalism.

In an Aug. 17 post on Medium, an online publishing platform, Pang announced he would be the new food editor for The A.V. Club—a site known for its coverage of TV, music and film—after the site reached out to him with the idea of starting a food section.

Pang left the Tribune in 2015 after 11 years, when 7 percent of staff at the Tribune Publishing Company—now known as tronc, Inc.—were offered employment buyouts, as reported Nov. 12, 2015, by the Tribune.

“I worked with Kevin directly on some terrific stories very early in his time [at the Tribune] and watched as he grew. He is what I admiringly call a newsroom entrepreneur,” said Peter Kendall, managing editor at the Tribune, in an Aug. 30 emailed interview.

Pang, who said he left the Tribune because he says he was not  being challenged enough, has been The A.V. Club’s food editor since August.  

Pang said in his Medium post that his section is open to writers without previous food or entertainment journalism experience.

“The thing that’s different about food compared to other beats is that we all contribute,” said Kimberly Voss, associate professor of Journalism at the University of Central Florida and a member of the Association of Food Journalists. “We are all used to eating and questioning where our food comes from.”

Upcoming coverage from The A.V. Club will include the Canadian phenomenon of ketchup-flavored potato chips, and the lack of attention it gets in the U.S., according to Pang. 

With a “pop culture lens,” Pang said he plans to incorporate well-loved aspects of The A.V. Club, such as film into food journalism.

“Food is pop culture,” said Dennis Lee, a freelance food writer at Serious Eats and creator of the website The Pizzle. “Chefs are now considered entertainers.”

Voss said Food Network and TV shows such as “Top Chef” have mixed pop culture and food journalism for decades. Food critics have been around for longer. 

“For a long time, food journalism was considered soft news and lesser in the world of journalism,” Voss said. 

Voss added that food journalists have fought hard to be taken seriously, and society has seen an encouraging shift.

According to Pang’s Medium post, The A.V. Club will maintain its “smart, geeky, fun-loving ethos.”

Despite being under the same corporate umbrella as satirical news site The Onion, Pang thinks a comparison between the two is not accurate.

“For those of us living in this Onion Inc. world, we know that The Onion does their own stuff, and we do ours,” Pang said.

The new section is set to launch this week, according to Lauren Pulte, P.R. and Communications Manager for Onion, Inc.

Pang said he hopes his section will be the most interesting in its new coverage.

“I think living [and] keeping our eyes open and constantly asking, ‘Why is this the way it is?’ [is] where you get the stories from,” Pang said.