Meet the next generation food critic


In this week's cover story, I look at Manitou Springs School District's newly created culinary program, also examining what's needed to raise the next generation of chefs and culinarians. 

Ella goes all in on ice cream at Rizuto's. - COURTESY TERRENCE BATSON
  • Courtesy Terrence Batson
  • Ella goes all in on ice cream at Rizuto's.
One faculty member cited in the story is D14 Spanish and German teacher Terrence Batson, who started a baking club as well as the new Muffin Topz nonprofit. 

While interviewing with me for the story, Mr. Batson mentioned his daughter's food blog, called Ella's Fork and Spoon, and billed as "candid reviews of local eateries from the tastebuds of a 10 year old." 

Indeed, Ella calls it like she sees it, with colorful descriptions, humor, and detailed tasting notes and anecdotes. Seriously, I'm a bit worried she's gonna take my job some day. 

Check out some snippets of her personality:

Hi from your local food blogger, Ella Batson! Today I will be reviewing a restraunt called Coal Mine Dragon. Right, here goes.

It was a dark and stormy night, with ghouls and zombi……Wait, no it wasn’t. I did learn however that I am a dog and my dad is a monkey on the Chinese zodiac calendar. (February 8th-happy new year!)

While we awaited the arrival of the main course, I will draw your attention to a few things. Number one, the bathroom inspection. I try to do this every time I review, because restaurants are required by law to have a bathroom. The bathroom at Wild Ginger is clean, somewhat well decorated, and well stocked. The second thing I want to draw your attention to is a second one of my phrases of praise for the atmosphere of Asian restaurants. I really like the lighting of most Asian places – dim and in the form of colored lamps hanging from the ceiling. Some restaurants even have central lighting as well. 

Up next [at Amy's Donuts] is the pistachio cake donut. This donut is special because it has a cake donut instead of a glazed one. There is a mystery, because the toppings are blended so they camouflage together and you can’t tell what they are. As soon as you bite into it, you realize that there are tons of ingredients, but they aren’t overpowering. At the end, when you swallow your last bite, you can make out a gentle hint of lemon, which is the frosting. This is good with milk. This donut is a great, an honor.
The young critic taking notes at Wild Ginger. - COURTESY TERRENCE BATSON
  • Courtesy Terrence Batson
  • The young critic taking notes at Wild Ginger.

I wish Ella many happy meals (no, not the ones at McDonald's) and fruitful reporting ahead. Do take a stroll through her past posts to see what she has to say about many beloved local eateries

People often ask me, "What does it take to become a food critic." 

In the past I've rambled on about my own restaurant and writing experience and thrown the word "luck" in there somewhere.

Now, I have a new answer. I'm just going to say, "I don't know. Ask Ella." 

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