Jason Russo doesn't want eaters who don't like a product he sells through Texasfood.com to just tell him about it -- he's looking for them to share their opinions on his website.
Russo took to Twitter yesterday to recruit writers for a new review blog, which will be linked to his e-commerce site devoted to foods made in Texas. Russo is shipping free samples to reviewers but requires their honest assessments in return.
"Honesty is the most important part of this," Russo says. "I want bad reviews too."
Russo sells nearly 400 products made by 40 different in-state producers, all of whom he claims have been remarkably amenable to the review concept.
"Most of our vendors are more than willing to put their product out there because they're proud of it," Russo says. "They want the feedback."
Russo believes his blog will be the first featuring reviews of all food items made in Texas; while a few "niche sites" regularly evaluate new hot sauces and barbecue rubs, Russo doesn't know of any Texas-centric site running reviews of quail eggs and spaghetti sauce.
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"If I had enough money and time to open a grocery store, I could do it with just Texas food," Russo says of the diversity he's discovered since launching Texasfood.com in 2008.
"I've lived here all my life, and I learn about a new city every week," Russo adds. "There's a large community of moms and pops with family recipes and people telling them to sell their product."
Russo says an increasing number of home cooks are joining the ranks of commercial producers and helping to grow the Texas food scene. He hopes his new blog will further contribute to its development.
"I want to create a whole community around Texas food," he says.