The well-loved food writer Josh Ozersky, food editor of Esquire magazine, was found dead in his Chicago hotel room Monday morning.
He had written about restaurants under the byline Mr. Cutlets for the New York Daily News, pioneered food blogging at New York magazine’s Grub Street, written about food for Time, and founded Meatopia, a riotous celebration of carnivorousness that popped up in New York, London, Florida and Pebble Beach.
His books included a biography of Col. Sanders and a social history of hamburgers. He was in Chicago to cover the James Beard Foundation restaurant awards ceremony for Esquire. Ozersky was 47.
Ozersky — New York magazine critic Adam Platt used to call him the Grand Mullah of Ozerkistan — was nothing more or less than the sum of his appetites; pure id. He was always getting into the kind of jams that would have ended anybody else's career, most notably the time he got a who's who of New York chefs to cater his wedding reception for free, then wrote about it in Time magazine.
He always sided with chefs against writers — recently with the jihad of Texas chef John Tesar against Dallas Morning News critic Leslie Brenner. Chef David Chang famously banned him from his restaurants after he prematurely leaked a menu to Grub Street. Anthony Bourdain wrote of the incident in his book Medium Raw: "There is no question in my mind that buffalo will graze in Times Square — and pink macaroons will fall from the sky — before Josh Ozersky ever makes it through the door of a Momofuku.''
Ozersky was reliably snide in print to vegans and the gluten-free nation — nobody has ever trolled PETA quite so relentlessly. But you never got the feeling he was giving less than all of himself to anything he did, and that may have been what mattered in the end. The food world is stunned.