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For Sue Kidd, strip mall diners and fancy bistros held equal merit

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An empty plate and a full glass of beer sit on the bar Tacoma's "The Red Hot" restaurant, in memory of Sue Kidd, a longtime food critic who died March 1.
Kari Plog
/
KNKX
When Kidd died March 1, restaurants around Pierce County set a place at the table in her memory. She was widely loved, even though sometimes her job required her to point out a restaurant's flaws.

The longtime Pierce County food journalist was fearless in her reviews, but also kind and professional — earning the trust of area restaurateurs.

When the food writer Sue Kidd died on March 1, at age 52, news of her passing came as a shock to readers of her popular Dine Pierce County blog, as well as those in the South Sound’s food community.

Close friends of Kidd knew that she was fighting an aggressive form of cancer. But she was otherwise fairly private about it.

In the days that followed her passing, there were tributes – including dozens of restaurants that reserved a place setting for her.

Kidd’s career spanned decades, including many years as food writer and critic for The News Tribune in Tacoma. And while she was revered and trusted by many in Pierce County’s food scene, she was also discreet, dining anonymously when out for a review. Chris Miller, co-owner of The Red Hot, said he’d had countless conversations with Kidd over the years, but didn’t know what she looked like until recently.

And Miller was also glad to hear that his hot dog restaurant on 6th Avenue in Tacoma was one of Kidd’s favorite places – something she wouldn’t have divulged to him while she was covering the beat.

Her friend Craig Sailor, a reporter at The News Tribune who worked with her for years, says she approached the job with care and professionalism.

Kidd would never review a place until she’d been more than once – a best practice in professional food criticism. She also believed in letting a restaurant get a good 30 days under its belt before trying it out, or at least before forming an opinion. And she admonished her listeners to do the same, and at least try the place again before pulling out a phone and thumbing out an angry Yelp review from the parking lot.

Sailor wrote a remembrance of Kidd in The News Tribune. And for this episode of FOOD, he joined KNKX’s Ed Ronco on a walk along 6th Avenue in Tacoma to talk about his friend Sue, and discuss her legacy.

Ed Ronco came to KNKX in October 2013 as producer and reporter for KNKX’s Morning Edition. Ed started in public radio in 2009 at KCAW in Sitka, Alaska, where he covered everything from city government, to education, crime, science, the arts and more. Prior to public radio, Ed worked in newspapers, including four years at the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, where he covered business, then politics and government.
Posey produces, reports, and edits stories for Sound Effect. Before joining the Sound Effect team, Posey worked as a producer at KUOW and WNYC. She has also worked for The Moth and StoryCorps. She holds a certificate in documentary audio production from Duke's Center for Documentary Studies and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. She lives in Seattle with her wife, her daughter, and a fluffy dog.