This month, Jersey Bites proudly celebrates its 15th anniversary. Since 2007, we’ve been digging into everything delicious about New Jersey and sharing our favorite finds from restaurants and the flourishing beer scene, to hunger relief initiatives, food events, and so much more.

The Story

It was the day after Labor Day in 2007 when I decided to create a blog to post my recipes and restaurant adventures. I didn’t have a plan or even a name for it. I really didn’t think much of it at the time. In fact, during my first few years of blogging, I didn’t even announce it to many people.

Jersey Bites contributors
The Jersey Bites team, back in 2010

After about two years of creating content on my own, I realized that if I was ever going to keep blogging I needed help. I reached out to the public. I put the word out to find contributors and began building a team of writers from all over the state. It turned out to be the most rewarding part of my blogging venture, meeting and becoming friends with so many fellow food lovers throughout New Jersey.

Deborah Smith on QVC
Deborah Smith on QVC with David Venable to promote The Jersey Shore Cookbook.

Eventually, my humble little blog led to a contract for The Jersey Shore Cookbook (with Quirk Books), and to my business Foxtrot Media, a restaurant marketing agency.

Key Moments

Dueling Cameras: photographer from the New York Times and Deborah Smith
Dueling cameras: A photographer from the New York Times and Deborah Smith.

Because of Jersey Bites, the past 15 years have included some truly exciting experiences. A photographer from the NY Times shadowed me for an article. I’ve had the opportunity to interview several top Food Network stars, and I’ve judged dozens of food competitions.

Deborah Smith judging a martini contest
Deborah Smith judging a martini contest.

Members of our team have covered numerous tourist destinations and have enjoyed dining at—and telling the world about—so many of the state’s wonderful restaurants. For several years, Jersey Bites even hosted the cooking stage at the New Jersey Home Show

JB cooking stage
Josh Gryvatz, from Deliboy Delivery, and Deborah Smith on the Jersey Bites Cooking Stage at the New Jersey Home Show.

Perspectives from the Team

“Most blogs that were around in 2007 are long gone,” said Rachel Bozek, longtime Jersey Bites writer and editor of the site. “It takes a lot to keep a blog going year after year, but Deb has kept at it, and in the process she’s built not only a great team, but a true community.”

“To have the opportunity to meet and interview so many of the talented brewers in our state is one of the joys I have had as a contributor to Jersey Bites over the years.” added Pete Culos, resident Jersey Bites beer writer. “We started covering the craft beer boom from the beginning, and it continues to be a fun ride.”

Peter Culos with Carton Brewing’s Augie Carton.

Michael C. Gabriele, another longtime writer for Jersey Bites, has been a “Biter” since June 2015. “It’s been a pleasure to be part of the Jersey Bites team, said the author of The History of Diners in New Jersey and Stories from New Jersey Diners — Monuments to Community. “Writing for Jersey Bites has been a perfect complement to my work as an author. My diner articles keep me active and in touch with the Garden State diner circuit. I enjoy writing ‘slice of life’ stories, and there are many slices of life when it comes to a Jersey diner.”

Adventures in Food Blogging

Over the years, I’ve always found exciting opportunities, like serving as a guest restaurant critic on the Food Network’s Restaurant Stakeout.
screenshot of Deborah Smith on tv show
Guest appearance on Restaurant Stakeout
people around a table with food
Judging the Beer, BBQ and Bacon Fest in 2015. From left: Pete Genovese, of the Star Ledger, Michael Arp, Deborah Smith, and Chef Tim Schafer

I honestly don’t know what my life would be like if I had never started my “blog with no plan.” When newer writers ask me for advice about blogging, I tell them, “Don’t do it to get rich. That’s a rarity.” Still, if you want to open up your life to meeting great people and to experiences you probably would never have otherwise tried, then blog away. Keep at it and keep improving. I’m looking forward to getting to year 20 and beyond. 

chefs on the dock in Pt Pleasant Beach
Some of the chefs featured in The Jersey Shore Cookbook, from left: Daniel Palsi, from Waypoint 622; Deb Smith, Andy Maglione, from Waypoint 622 (back); Jerry Rotunno, from The Committed Pig (front); Joe Leone, from Joe Leone’s; Richard Brecka, from Shore Fresh; and Chris DeCresce, from Fratello’s.

And to all of you who subscribe to Jersey Bites, thank you. You are why we keep doing what we do. We love your feedback, too. If you’d like to share your tips on places we should visit, don’t hesitate to reach out

Cheers to the next 15 years!