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Chey Scott of The Inlander

The Inlander

Young Kwak

Foodie friends, activate! (From left) Kacey Rosauer, Ashley Buckner, Rob Peterson, Erin Peterson and Colby Rosauer.

By Chey Scott of the Inlander

When Erin Peterson realized an important element was missing from the Inland Northwest's culinary scene, she set out to fix it.

In the modern age of online restaurant reviews from predominantly amateur critics, and many more likely to rant than rave, Peterson craved a resource for local diners and travelers alike to find authentic, honest recommendations for where to drink and dine in the region's burgeoning industry.

"Specifically I noted there was, in our area, a lot of excellence hidden in pockets, and the reviews on different websites didn't always reflect what I was able to find," Peterson says. "We really wanted to honor the restaurants and the chefs and the hospitality professionals who were doing excellent work above and beyond what's expected."

So after plenty of planning and reaching out to friends and fellow foodies, Peterson and her husband Rob founded the Spokane Culinary Arts Guild in mid-2017. In the time since, the organization has amassed hundreds of critiques from its resident "tastemakers," a volunteer group consisting of nearly three dozen local food bloggers, food-focused social media influencers and frequent diners chosen by Peterson to provide regular feedback.

"I knew there were so many of us out there doing this same thing, and individually our voices were kind of dispersed," Peterson explains. "Collectively we could come together and showcase restaurants around a common goal, and not as paid content, but authentic content that wasn't compromised."

"We all do this as volunteers because we would do it anyway," Peterson says. "It's almost like a really great supper club; we get together and hang out and we love supporting each other and we've become great friends."

In keeping with traditional food critic practices, tastemakers are not allowed to alert a restaurant that they're coming in, and restaurants can't pay the Guild to be reviewed. The Guild does, however, offer paid services to local hospitality industry clients, such as event coordination and social media consultation.

"We want to get an authentic experience that a diner would get walking in off the street," Peterson emphasizes. "That particular idea of calling ahead and requesting compensation; none of that will ever happen with us."

Read more on the Inlander's website here.

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