About Sam

After graduating from The Restaurant School in Philadelphia in 1976, I was the chef and manager of two critically acclaimed restaurants in Philadelphia (Vincenzo’s and Avanti). Following stints as a hotel food and beverage director and hospital food service administrator, I became restaurant critic at the Philadelphia Daily News in 1986. From the very beginning, writing about food and wine was great fun–and a lot easier than standing in front of a stove for 12 hours a day.

Two years later, I was named food editor of the San Jose Mercury News, where my columns were voted best among all major newspapers in the nation by the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ). While in San Jose I was a frequent guest host on radio, first on Narsai David’s food show on KCBS-AM and later on “In the Kitchen with Harvey” on KNBR-AM.

In 1994, my wife Mary Lee Keane and I moved to New York, where I began writing for Wine Spectator magazine. (I continued writing for the magazine for 20 years as a columnist and contributing editor.) The following year I began a weekly wine column for the Star Ledger newspaper in Newark, NJ. That column was a runner-up in the AFJ Best Column category in 1999. After leaving the Star Ledger, I wrote a wine column for Specialty Food magazine for nine years. I’ve also written for Cigar Aficionado, Women’s Day, and Cooking Light magazines as well as The New York Times.

One of my Times’ stories, Beat the Clock: Inspired Meals in 10 Minutes, was nominated for a James Beard Journalism Award in 1997 and became a book, Cooking to Beat the Clock (Chronicle), the following year. Cooking to Beat the Clock was named one of the 10 best cookbooks of the year by Amazon.com. My other books are Eat Fresh, Stay Healthy, (Macmillan), Matthew Kenney’s Mediterranean Cooking, co-authored with Matthew Kenney (Chronicle), and Low-Fat Cooking to Beat the Clock (Chronicle), which was a finalist for the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) Cookbook Award in the Health and Special Diet Category.

I’m a former member of AFJ, the IACP, and the National Writers Union.

While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed four decades as a food professional, I’m also gratified by how I’ve been able to educate and entertain people.

Though I’m now retired, I still keep a hand in food, wine and writing. I write restaurant reviews with wine recommendations for a local weekly newspaper. I give occasional wine tasting classes, mostly for charity. And I still do a lot of cooking.

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