Steven Shaw (Courtesy of EGullet)
There are plenty of serious foodies in Big Law, stoking their passion with client lunches, business travel to food meccas and takeout from top restaurants during late nights at the office. Sometimes such chowhounds go pro—as we were reminded with the passing of eGullet founder Steven Shaw, who died April 8, reportedly from a heart attack. A former Cravath, Swaine & Moore associate, Shaw was one of a long line of lawyers who turned eating well at their clients’ expense into a new career.
Shaw got a first taste of his true calling in 1994, when, as a first-year associate, he spent months in Wilmington for a trial. He took charge of making sure the Cravath team on the case was well fed, scouting out the best of Wilmington’s restaurant scene. Afterward he wrote a short Wil­mington restaurant survival guide, “which became a bit of a cult classic around the New York law firm scene,” as he later wrote in his book “Turning the Tables: Restaurants from the Inside Out.”
Shaw left Cravath in 1998 to pursue writing full-time, chiefly through his Fat-Guy.com blog and articles for publications such as Food & Wine and Saveur. In 2001 he teamed with tech writer Jason Perlow to found eGullet, whose forums attract restaurant recommendations, cooking tips and thoughts on all sorts of other food-related topics from amateurs and experts alike. In 2002 Shaw won a food journalism award from the James Beard Foundation for his article “A Week in the Gramercy Tavern Kitchen,” which documented a stint alongside celebrity chef Tom Colicchio.
Other Am Law 200 alums have made similar career moves. Tim and Nina Zagat, for instance, famously produced the first versions of what would become their eponymous restaurant guides during a year spent in Paris as associates at Hughes, Hubbard & Reed (Tim) and Shearman & Sterling (Nina). Online food-ordering service Seamless was founded by two former attorneys with Am Law 200 ties: Cofounder Jason Finger—a onetime associate at New York litigation boutique O’Sullivan Graev & Karabell, which merged with O’Melveny & Myers in 2002—has said that ordering late-night meals at the office inspired him to start a website to make that process more efficient. Mark Kuller, who owns three restaurants in Washington, D.C., is a former McKee Nelson tax partner; D.C.–based Sidley Austin associate Julia Mirabella is also a food blogger who recently produced a cookbook on mason jar salads; and Eddie Huang, a former Chadbourne & Parke associate who became a chef, is now a popular blogger, author and television host.