Food fans and radio listeners are likely familiar with the voice of Joel Riddell, the award winning host and producer of Dining Around on Talk 910—-a show that is considered the Bay Area place for chefs and notable personalities to dish on food, wine, event and travel. Thought leaders like Lidia Bastianich Felidia, Michael Pollan, Hubert Keller, Margrit Mondavi and Joanne Weir hit the airwaves for interviews with Riddell, and he is often at food and fundraising events with his partner, Robert Moon. The couple is based in San Francisco and Moon, who works for Google, is an apt sidekick for his ability to photograph and document (in witty fashion) the details of their restaurant and home-cooked feasts from hole-in-the-wall Korean to white tablecloth joints. Chef Emily Luchetti enjoys checking out Moon’s social media to guess what Riddell may discuss on air the following weekend—the descriptions always make me hungry, too.
Riddell’s earlier career revolved around theatre, hospitality (he co-owned and operated a bed & breakfast) and internet publishing before he landed in San Francisco at KGO Radio where he was the Producer of the Gene Burns Programs for coverage in Israel, Cyprus, Tuscany, Vatican City, and French Polynesia. I first met Riddell over a decade ago via a local chef who was friendly with the radio broadcaster Gene Burns, who recently passed away and was a professional mentor to Riddell. I have catered for Riddell and Burns and spent time carousing with Riddell and Moon at media events including “pinch-me-now” dinner moments at Incanto Restaurant with Marco Pierre White and a fundraiser at E&O Trading Company in San Francisco with Anthony Bourdain.
June is LGBT Pride Month and there is so much energy focused on equal rights for the LGBT community right now, especially in California. The Supreme Court is set to rule on Prop 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban today as well as DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. Regarding employment, professions that have been slow to open the closet doors are gradually yielding to the pressure and challenging homophobia within their systems. With that in mind, I asked Riddell about his personal and professional experiences being an out gay man in the food media world. His comments have been edited for length and clarity.
Bay Area Bites: How long have you and Robert been together? You did a No H8 photo, share the same shoe size, and are pretty open about your love for each other. Tell us more.
Ridell: Robert and I have been together for over 17 years. He is my bright and shining star and at times my knight in shining armor, too. We do try to be a team. The night that we did our No H8 Adam Bouska photo, we went to Alexander’s Steakhouse and still had the tattoos on. We were wearing suits and ties but couldn’t wash off the tattoos. We were having dinner and the waiter said, "What’s with the tattoos? Six or seven waitstaff came by and said, 'look at these two guys.' Robert and I always try to walk hand in hand, and just let people know we’re a couple and that it’s totally normal.