Trailblazing Texas food stuff journalist Dotty Griffith dies at 71

Dotty Griffith, trailblazing Texas foodstuff journalist, Every day Texan Corridor of Fame honoree, cookbook author and longtime cafe critic at The Dallas Morning Information, died Sept. 13 of pancreatic most cancers at household in Dallas, surrounded by loved ones. She was 71. She wrote a weekly restaurant and foodstuff column […]

Dotty Griffith, trailblazing Texas foodstuff journalist, Every day Texan Corridor of Fame honoree, cookbook author and longtime cafe critic at The Dallas Morning Information, died Sept. 13 of pancreatic most cancers at household in Dallas, surrounded by loved ones. She was 71.

She wrote a weekly restaurant and foodstuff column for Katy Trail Weekly until finally soon prior to her death. As an adjunct professor, she taught a course in foods composing at the Mayborn University of Journalism at the University of North Texas for 5 many years till this spring semester. Les Dames d’Escoffier, an group of gals committed to food and wine company, named a journalism scholarship for UNT students in her honor before this year.

A 5th technology Texan, Griffith was a Texas primary, remembered by buddies and colleagues alike as intense and fearless, intelligent and loyal, and a lot quicker-witted than any individual they’d ever met.

Griffith was a trailblazing journalist who took recipes out of newspaper “womens’ sections” and integrated them into critical conversations of cuisines and restaurant tendencies. Yet she was additional than a foodstuff journalist. She was as comfy speaking about how to discipline-costume a deer as she was synthesizing advanced political policy. All delivered with her signature rapier wit.

The writer of 12 cookbooks and a prolific freelance writer for publications like The New York Periods and Southern Living magazine, Griffith served as the to start with director of communications for the ACLU of Texas and was generally found on television and highlighted at major functions as the significant Texas “personality” that she was.

“Dotty had that excellent Texas dry sense of humor,” suggests Dallas chef Dean Fearing, longtime mate and cookbook collaborator.

She didn’t play favorites, even while she was good friends with every person, he states, and she held cooks accountable in a tricky restaurant town.

“I just cannot always say that when she reviewed me at the Mansion [restaurant] that I usually cherished her evaluations,” Fearing says. “She bounced me all over, and I essential to be bounced around. At that time I was a ton on the street and not in the restaurant. It wasn’t up to par. And it was since of her that I certainly reported, ‘If I’m going to be a chef at the Mansion, I will need to remain at the Mansion. She really assisted me come back to planet earth and do what I want to be executing: currently being a chef, and not getting a huge chef star.”

A big element of Griffith’s legacy in meals journalism is her role in the beginning of modern Texas cuisine and Southwest cuisine, which Fearing led together with cooks Stephan Pyles of Dallas and Robert Del Grande of Houston.

“Dotty steered Dallas into the modern foods earth,” Fearing states. For the duration of the early ‘80s, Dallas was typically French, Italian and continental eating places, and “you really had to be a rebel,” he provides. “I like the reality that she supported us and what we had been accomplishing [with Southwest cuisine]. It’s quick not to guidance if you did not get it or didn’t like it or didn’t consider it was necessary. … Dotty assisted build a standing for Texas meals, supporting that and producing certain we stayed with it.”

Her influence all through her time on the James Beard Basis Cafe Awards Committee did a great deal to establish Texas as a major food items region. She also was the writer of cookbooks these as Wild About Chili, 1985 Celebrating Barbecue, 2010 The Texas Holiday Cookbook, 1997 and 2013, and The Top Tortilla Press Cookbook, 2018.

Griffith commenced her career at the College of Texas at Austin, where she held many roles at the school’s newspaper, The Daily Texan, including masking legislature and state politics, and graduated with a bachelor in journalism in 1972.

The Texas Getaway Cookbook by Dotty Griffith.(Evans Caglage – Staff Photographer)

‘More persons eat than vote’

“She was genuinely a pioneer,” suggests Bob Mong, current president at the College of North Texas at Dallas and previous editor at The Dallas Early morning Information.

Griffith commenced her 36-12 months tenure at The Information in 1972 as a common assignments reporter. Mong remembers her as powerful, good and decided.

“She was section of a group of definitely wise ladies from UT,” he states. “It would seem peculiar to say it now, but they needed women of all ages to be represented in the newsroom.”

Terri Burke, longtime good friend and Griffith’s editor at The News and afterwards her boss at the ACLU of Texas, claims Dotty confirmed any doubters in these early days that she had a depth of contemplating and a brief, analytical head.

“I’m privileged to have a good deal of buddies who are intelligent and witty, and I do not feel I have any mate who is wittier or faster than Dotty,” Burke states. Griffith when participated in a tasting at a Dallas lodge in which Burke’s spouse labored. “She informed him, ‘You need to have to just drop some of this food.’ It’s develop into a catchphrase in our spouse and children. She did not mince text, but she gave excellent tips.”

Griffith turned food editor in 1977. In 1996, Griffith grew to become the newspaper’s restaurant critic, a posture she held for 10 a long time. She retired from The Information in 2006.

“She represented formidable women of all ages journalists,” Mong says. “I considered she was fearless in the way she handled herself. She always experienced a place of look at.”

“The eating critic purpose alone, that is normally a rough position, and she brought her solid reporting expertise to it,” Mong adds. “And she did not just want the critic position, she desired to make it into a little something. She actually paved the way for potential critics.”

Burke recounts just one of Dotty’s well-known phrases: “When I requested her why she moved to meals, she mentioned, ‘I discovered that more folks consume than vote.’”

Dotty Griffith cooks blue corn tortillas in the photo studio at The Dallas Morning News in Dallas on Sept. 14, 2018.
Dotty Griffith cooks blue corn tortillas in the picture studio at The Dallas Morning Information in Dallas on Sept. 14, 2018. (Nathan Hunsinger / Workers Photographer)

A food evolution

Griffith’s time covering foodstuff in Dallas was actually a renaissance and a time of evolution. Moments have been changing. Food stuff sections have been going from catering entirely to homemakers to protection that took into account women of all ages in the place of work, and tales had broader enchantment and deeper reporting. The restaurant earth in Dallas was also evolving, from French and Italian dining establishments to extra imaginative and rebellious, chef-pushed fare that sourced from neighborhood farms.

“She was there at a pivotal moment as our modern society modified,” Burke suggests. “I don’t know if she recognized it at the time, but she was at the forefront.”

Mong echoes that she was a single of the very first people who really picked up on the Southwest delicacies motion in Dallas and Houston. “She really understood what was likely on,” he claims.

Griffith appreciated and recognized Texas meals, from chili to Southwest delicacies to Tex-Mex. She even performed a pivotal part in the placement of the original frozen margarita device, a Dallas creation, in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Historical past. The device was invented by Mariano Martinez of Martinez Mexican Cuisine restaurant in 1970, when, inspired by Slurpees, he adapted a tender-provide ice cream machine to develop margaritas.

Griffith talked to her colleague at the Smithsonian, Dallasite Rayna Inexperienced, who was the curator of the American Food and Wine Record Undertaking. “They did their study and the rest is background,” states Griffith’s longtime good friend Dedie Leahy. “It was evidently Dotty’s recognition of the historic significance and price of that invention, which is so significantly a section of Texas background, and however a signature, wildly common beverage right now, that it deserved getting in the Smithsonian together with Julia Child’s kitchen.”

Just after ‘The News’

In 2008, Griffith turned general public training director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, first in Austin and later in Houston, operating with her former boss Burke.

“I became government director in January of ‘08, and I right away referred to as Dotty and reported, ‘This is a mess and I have to have support,’” Burke suggests. “She arrived to just pitch in, to figure out what a communications division need to glimpse like, and she stayed five several years.”

Burke states folks assumed she was mad bringing on an individual who experienced been a food editor, but, “She swiftly showed them her analytical brain.”

She was fast-witted but in a way that truly cut to the heart of the difficulty, which built her a exciting close friend and a excellent journalist.

Burke remembers a time when she experienced to immerse herself in the matter of drone use in law enforcement. She studied for months.

“On my way to an interview, I ran into Dotty, and right after a quick rationalization, she reported, ‘Oh boy, so you are going to go chat about small boys and their toys, huh.’ So I said that line in the job interview, and it grew to become a clip on the Jay Leno display. … It’s just a great instance of how she could genuinely boil down an difficulty.”

Griffith returned to Dallas in 2013 as govt director of the Larger Dallas Restaurant Affiliation, but afterwards still left that placement to return to entire-time food stuff composing and training.

She became an adjunct professor of journalism at UNT, developing and training a system in culinary journalism.

In extra modern yrs, Griffith was identified for her contributions to food items journalism. In 2018, Griffith was named as a University of Texas at Austin Every day Texas Hall of Fame Honoree, and she also obtained the Legends Award from the Press Club of Dallas.

And even though she had a long and trailblazing vocation, she is remembered by her beloved ones as a happy mother, grandmother and pal.

Her two developed youngsters are legal professionals: Kelly Griffith Stephenson is an Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Antonio, and Caitlin Stephenson Porto is a litigation and felony defense legal professional in Kansas Town, Mo.

“She’s a quite faithful mate,” Burke states. The variety of pal who will phase in and assistance on a moment’s discover. “Dotty is the unique bionic female. She has two synthetic knees, two synthetic hips and an artificial ankle,” Burke says. So when Burke’s elderly mother had her knee replaced and was out for 6 months in Houston, Griffith went down to enable consider care of her since “she understood best” about knee replacements. “She reported ‘Here, I can assistance. I can do this.’”

“She’s as close to a sister as I could’ve experienced.”

Griffith was born to Edward M. and Dorothy Koch Griffith in 1949 in Terrell, Texas. She is preceded in death by her dad and mom. She is survived by her son, Kelly Griffith Stephenson and his wife, Jessica (Jess) Gilles of San Antonio and their son, Griffith Philip Stephenson daughter, Caitlin Stephenson Porto of Kansas Town and her partner, Tom Porto, and granddaughters Isabelle Mary Porto and Genevieve Lee Porto as effectively as Tom Stephenson and Sally Giddens Stephenson and their son, Jack, of Dallas.

Dotty Griffith talks with Gary Cogill on the set of Good Morning Texas in 1999.
Dotty Griffith talks with Gary Cogill on the set of Superior Morning Texas in 1999.(Natalie Caudill / 135805)

Traci J. Lewis

Next Post

Planet Gadget Store

Thu Oct 14 , 2021
TiVo owners could record exhibits picked from a digital menu and pause or rewind stay television. Much to TV execs’ consternation, the TiVo let viewers of recorded programming breeze previous commercials. That the TiVo made it simpler than ever to record a TV present gave rise to “time-shifting,” or the […]