Dinner Partners 

Style Weekly has the largest team of food reviewers in Richmond. Here are the award-winning writers and diners who share the table with you.

Ellie Basch is an award-winning chef with Indonesian roots who's been catering and dining out in Richmond for a dozen years. As she watches Richmond's culinary bar rise higher, especially in the past four years, she appreciates the level of creativity and authenticity that Richmond tastemakers strive for. Properly roasted coffee, artisanal bakeries and pizzerias, fresh pasta, house charcuterie, nose-to-tail eating, and artfully sinful desserts all make her taste buds wag happily.

Matthew Freeman has worked in restaurants, but his real food education comes from his travels to five continents, 47 states and eight Canadian provinces, always in search of new food to try. He prefers a hole-in-the-wall serving authentic international food to fine dining with linens and crystal. He's glad the Richmond dining scene continues to embrace seasonal and local products while pushing the boundaries of what Southern food can be.

Robey Martin grew up in a restaurant family and is a former server. She maintains that a staff meal often is the best meal. She thinks Richmond is one of the better places to eat in the nation and will argue the point; also that there's nothing better to her than a good cup of coffee. When she isn't eating, she is thinking about eating. She's happiest with a good sazerac, a briny raw oyster or hand-cut french fries, stellar examples of which can be found in the capital city.

Karen Newton is trying to break the Richmond record for most meals eaten out, no easy task because she set a personal best in 2012. Her fondness for the local food scene can be attributed to offal's finally arriving, its dedication to pricing that even a poor free-lancer can afford, and enough restaurateurs who realize the importance of well-chosen music to aid in digestion. It doesn't hurt that local chefs seem to be a competitive bunch always trying to creatively outdo each other, a boon for those who eat out almost daily.

Genevelyn Steele has worked 20 years in the restaurant industry and studied culinary arts at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and the Culinary Institute of America. She completed guild level training with the Court of Master Sommeliers and is a certified specialist of wine from the Society of Wine Educators. After winning a you-be-the-critic contest in Washingtonian Magazine, beating veteran critic Phyllis Richman, she studied food writing at the Smithsonian Institute. She loves ripe organic raspberries, Utz potato chips, Mozartkugeln candy and squid any way she can get it.

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