MikeMayo spent more than 30 years at the South Florida Sun Sentinel in a variety of roles before his retirement from daily journalism in early 2020. He spent his final four years as the newspaper’s dining critic and food writer on “The Eat Beat.”
“It was my dream job, because the only thing I love more than writing is eating,” says Mayo, who joined the newspaper in 1989.
He picked up his critic’s fork after 14 years as the paper’s local news columnist. He also spent 13 years as a sports reporter and columnist. Through the decades, Mayo won numerous national, regional and state journalism awards for his plain-spoken restaurant reviews, food features, and sports and news columns. He also co-founded and still administers the 24,000-member “Let’s Eat, South Florida” Facebook group.
In 2018, Mayo contributed to the Sun Sentinel’s extensive team coverage of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and its aftermath, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. It is considered the highest honor in American journalism.
Mayo has covered a Presidential inauguration, the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and nearly every major sporting event, including four Olympics and seven Super Bowls. He was a contributor to numerous sports magazines and websites, and made scores of appearances on radio and television, including the Golf Channel, the Paul Castronovo Radio Show on Big 105.9 FM and “This Week in South Florida” on WPLG-Ch. 10 in Miami.
Mayo began his career at the Boston Globe and Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald Journal. Brooklyn-born, he attended New York City’s Stuyvesant High School and graduated with honors from Tufts University with a degree in Soviet and Eastern European Studies. He also studied at the London School of Economics & Political Science. He was an Eagle Scout as well.
Mayo lives in Dania Beach, has a 14-year-old daughter, and is always on the hunt for good pizza and pastrami.
He is currently at work on several creative endeavors, and recently founded HeyMikeMayo Communications.
Notes from Mike’s talk:
- Recently semi-retired but not yet qualified for Medicare
- He did sports and news for years before becoming a food critic
- Previous food critic left Sun Sentinel, so he volunteered to for the position
- He visited 292 restaurants in 2019!
- But, of course, it all changed during the past year with the pandemic
- During the past two months, he’s visited more restaurants
- He typically goes out with a group of friends – bonding experience
- Lost the communal aspect
- Supported “No mask, no service” (except while eating)
- He always eats outdoors
- Feels for the restaurant owners – terrible situation to try to stay in business
- He’s not a food critic now during the pandemic.
- If you have a bad experience, talk to the owner … don’t post on social media without talking to them.
- His motto during the pandemic: go to a place you know and trust; do take out or eat outdoors
- Realize major delivery services add a lot of fees both to the food and to the delivery, plus then there are tips
- Recommended Luffs on Palmetto Park Road
- He ended up with food sauce all over him [add details]
- If the place isn’t good, he never did a review to hurt the mom and pop restaurant.
- He always showed up unannounced for visits when reviewing. Got recognized often. Go with a group often with a disguise. Didn’t want special treatment. Looking at other tables to see what they were eating for reference.
- Paid his own way; paper would reimburse his expenses.
- Didn’t do a review when he found that an owner had a bad background check
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