Liz Feltham finally blows her deep cover | Food | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Liz Feltham finally blows her deep cover

Restaurant reviewers like to be anonymous. It's their thing. But even for a reviewer, Liz Feltham guarded her anonymity to legendary lengths. When Liz started writing for The Coast in 2001, little did I guess it would be eight years before I'd meet her face-to-face.

I hired her as an untested reviewer based exclusively on writing samples and ideas we exchanged by email, a common enough way for The Coast to discover new freelancers. After she'd been reviewing regularly for a while, I invited her to lunch so I could thank her in person. She demurred with an appeal to my ego.

"That's just too much pressure for me," she wrote back. "I would be so nervous I wouldn't be able to eat or think of any good ideas." If the brush-off appears obvious in retrospect, such is her skill as a critic that I never minded.

Five other editors worked with Liz during her tenure at The Coast, and none were as keen to meet her as Lynne Patterson. On one occasion when a cookbook publisher sent Liz a review copy to the office, Lynne seized her opportunity: She would drop it off to Liz in person instead of mailing it. She returned from the errand disappointed. Liz's husband accepted the book at the door and did not invite her in. "I bet she was in the living room when I rang the doorbell," Lynne joked.

This incident came up again Monday night at the Best of Food party. Bear Restaurant was packed with a couple hundred local bar and restaurant people ready to receive their awards, and Liz Feltham was the special guest. It was both coming-out and retirement party for her, a chance to take a bow before her unwitting collaborators. I called her to the front to accept a bottled token of thanks from The Coast, and the room burst into applause. She leaves centre stage having made an indelible mark on Halifax's restaurant culture, a legacy as simple and profound as her response to the cookbook delivery: Yes, I was there.

Kyle Shaw

Kyle is the editor of The Coast. He was a founding member of the newspaper in 1993 and was the paper’s first publisher. Kyle occasionally teaches creative nonfiction writing (think magazine-style #longreads) and copy editing at the University of King’s College School of Journalism.
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