As my profile mentions, the seeds of my food writing were germinated on Yelp.com. My friend Dave first told me about the site in November of 2006; I signed up right away and have since written 519 reviews of restaurants and other businesses on the site. It's been a terrific outlet for sharing my passion for food - and, as it turns out, the Austin Yelp community is full of fun, hilarious, like-minded people with whom I thoroughly enjoy spending time. Needless to say, the site and its community have been a big part of my life for the last couple of years.
Austin is one of I think 24 cities that has its very own Yelp community manager, the one and only Kevin N. Besides handling a busload of details behind the scenes, part of Kevin's job is to throw fabulous parties for the Austin Yelp community. Many of these parties are open to all registered Yelp members (or "Yelpers," as we are wont to call ourselves), but the large majority of them are only open to Elite Yelp members and their guests. I tend to enjoy those parties the most; the smaller scale makes it easier to find and visit with your favorite Yelpers, and the larger shindigs have become so crowded that it can get a little overwhelming.
The most recent Yelp Elite event, this past Tuesday, celebrated the two(ish) year mark of our existence as an "official" Yelp community (as defined by our having our own community manager). Kevin pulled out all the stops for this one; it was the best Yelp party yet. Hosted at Finn & Porter's in the Hilton downtown, it featured a smorgasbord of absolutely fantastic food; Maker's Mark cocktails and wine; spa treatments by the Hilton spa staff; and live music by the Dime Store Poets. All free! Everyone got all gussied up and had a wonderful time...I know I certainly did. Below are a few shots from the event.
Yelpers decked out in their finest
Hello, copious amounts of free sushi.
Shrimp bathing in tomato bisque
Lobster salad on fried pasta sheets
Some of the most melt-in-your-mouth beef tenderloin
I have ever tasted
Amazing free food & drink and the delightful company of some of the coolest people I've had the great fortune to meet...this is why I Yelp.