GraceAnn Walden, feisty Bay Area food writer and original Inside Scoop columnist, has died. The Solano County Coroner's Office has confirmed her death, though the cause has not yet been determined.
When The San Francisco Chronicle established its first Inside Scoop column in 1991, Walden was the irreverent leader of the San Francisco food writing scene, before irreverent was cool. Through her dedication, humor and razor-sharp wit, she laid the groundwork for the many food- and restaurant-obsessed media outlets like Eater, fearlessly dealing in restaurant gossip and news that couldn't be found anywhere else. And most tellingly, she had an impressive impact on those around her, from chefs, servers and sommeliers to fellow writers looking for guidance.
Lisa Robins, general manager and wine director of Rose Pistola, was the first to pass along the news to Eater. Her wording says it all: "
The original SF scoop has passed away. GraceAnn Walden was doing your job long before the internet was part of food reporting."GraceAnn mentioned me in her column in 2001, and it led to a referral that really launched my career. I will always be grateful to her for that."
As the news spreads, many in the industry are in a state of shock and disbelief at the untimely death of such a figure full of life. And no matter which side of Walden's often controversial writing one found themselves, everyone can admire the heart and soul behind it. Memories and tributes are amassing on her Facebook page, including chef Jeremiah Tower, who expressed his condolences saying "Very saddened to hear this. We were in the middle of storm of emails and raucous gossip."
Most recently, Walden could be found leading food tours around North Beach and sending out her bi-weekly newsletter, The Yummy Report. She is survived by her beloved dogs, Bruno Mars and Tinkerbell, who are now looking for a good home at the Marin Humane Society in Novato.