The Deacon Blog

A magazine staff blog with news of alumni and the WFU community

Florida

Joni James (’89), a Pulitzer finalist

The 2012 Pulitzer Prizes announced this week failed to include a prize for fiction or editorial writing, but for finalists in those categories there is still cause for celebration to be named among the top three contenders for the awards.A Wake Forest alumna was among them. The Pulitzer board cited the work of Tim Nickens, Joni James (’89), John Hill and Robyn Blumner of the Tampa Bay Times as an award finalist “for editorials that examined the policies of a new, inexperienced governor and their impact on the state, using techniques that stretched the typical editorial format and caused the governor to mend some of his ways.”

Here’s an excerpt from an editorial critical of Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s record on open government: “The reality is that the administration has a high number of public records requests from the public and the media because it is so secretive in the way it conducts public business. This is not about newspapers. This is about the public’s right to be informed about the business of the state and the importance of transparency as a check on government.”

Joni James ('89)

A native of North Carolina, James is deputy editorial page editor of the Tampa Bay Times. Her list of newspaper stops along her career path includes the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel and The Wall Street Journal. She joined the Tampa Bay Times in 2003 and its editorial board in 2008.

The other Pulitzer finalists in the editorial writing category: journalists from Bloomberg News, who wrote about the European financial crisis, and the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press for an editorial campaign that resulted in the state’s first reform of open government laws in 35 years.

Delicacies, deliciousness, perchance danger

Is this the start of Demon Deacon foodie nation? WFU students await a visit by “Ace of Cakes” co-star Geof Manthorne at 7 p.m. Wednesday night at Brendle Recital Hall and occasionally they line up for sushi-making lessons. Off-campus a couple of Wake Forest alums have a decidedly different notion of sushi capped by a sweet concoction.

‘Iron Chef’ meets ‘Survivor!’ ‘The Crocodile Hunter’ meets ‘Hell’s Kitchen.’ That’s how Dr. Terry Cronin Jr. (’86, MD ’92) touts his latest creation on iTunes. The dermatologist in Melbourne, Fla., (whose medical degree is also from Wake Forest), is the producer and host of a competitive cooking video blog called “Adventure Chefs,” in which two contestants “hunt, forage, cook, compete, survive.” They have 24 hours to collect enough wild food ingredients to prepare a three-course meal for three judges. The bass entrée sounds pretty good, but cattail roots, anyone?

“Live off the land in style!” Cronin told me.

He teamed up with Poteat Dorm roommate Frank Scibelli (’86, MBA ’88), who knows a thing or two about food, having established the highly regarded Mama Ricotta’s in 1992 as the first restaurant in his empire. Charlotte Magazine awarded him the 2008 title of Restaurateur of the Year. He has six restaurants and reportedly another on the way. Cronin said Scibelli is an executive producer of “Adventure Chefs.” He agreed to be a competitor in the first episode and a judge in the second. (“Be passionate about what you do, or do something else,” Scibelli told a “Restaurant Hospitality” reporter in the fall.)

Cronin calls himself a “student of the unusual (with) a keen appetite for delicious food and great fun.” His children love “Survivor,” and “I was taken by shows like ‘Hell’s Kitchen’” on the Food Network, he said. “We’re chasing down every lead we can” to market the concept, possibly abroad.

Cronin helped found the Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival; wrote a crime novel “The Skinvestigator: Tramp Stamp,” whose hero is conveniently a sleuthing dermatologist; and published a horror adventure comic series. You can check out the recipe for Coconut Panna Catta and more here.