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Thursday, April 11, 2013

RFT Alum Mike Seely Wins IACP Food Journalism Award

Posted By on Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 8:00 AM


Gut Check extends a hearty congratulations to former Riverfront Times staff writer Mike Seely, who on Tuesday shared first-place honors in the "Writing about Beverages" category of the prestigious Bert Greene Awards, the journalism branch of the International Association of Culinary Professionals' annual awards extravaganza.

Seely won the award for a January 2012 article in the Seattle Weekly titled "Murray Stenson's Accidental Tourists." (At the time he wrote the article, Seely was the editor of the Seattle Weekly; he stepped down from that position earlier this year.) The eponymous Stenson is a legend of the Seattle bar scene -- a scene, by the way, that Seely knows better than most; he literally wrote the book on the city's dive bars -- a bartender with incredible skills and an unbelievable memory.

Here's the lede of Seely's story, which you really should read in full:

Everybody has a Murray Stenson story. Robert Hess' goes like this:

A self-proclaimed "cocktail evangelist" who works for Microsoft, Hess had been prodded by his drinking buddies to visit Il Bistro, a restaurant in Pike Place Market. In particular, they wanted Hess to test the wiles of a bartender named Murray Stenson.

"I finally got around to ordering an Old Fashioned from Murray," says Hess of the experience, which occurred in the mid-'90s. "I'm halfway through my drink and my phone rings, and I have to leave. I didn't get the chance to tell Murray my name or talk to him at all. I didn't get back to Il Bistro for another year. When I ordered my second drink, Murray said, 'You must like that seat. That's the same seat you sat in last time.' He was right: It was the exact same seat. I could remember that, but to have a bartender remember that after thousands of customers, that's what Murray does."

Seely shared first place in the "Writing about Beverages" category with Kara Newman of

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