The Seattle Times has won three national Excellence in Features Journalism awards in the 2021 Society for Features Journalism contest.

Competing in Division 3, the largest division that showcases publications with a circulation of 200,000 and up, food critic Tan Vinh was awarded first place in the food writing portfolio category for his body of work in 2020.

Food writer Jackie Varriano took third place in the food feature category. Vinh also combined with food critic Bethany Jean Clement to garner an honorable mention in food criticism, for the duo’s taste test debate over Seattle’s best chicken wings.

“These awards are a testament to the hard work, creativity and ingenuity our reporting staff showed in their coverage during the challenging pandemic year of 2020,” said Seattle Times Features Editor Stefanie Loh. “We’re proud and grateful to have been recognized by our peers.”

Vinh’s entry in the food writing portfolio included his story about the best bánh mis in the Seattle area, an essay about the versatility of tinned sardines and a look at what pandemic reopening was like in Skamania County in spring 2020.

“This is exactly what a portfolio winner should demonstrate: a broad, skilled and engaging command of the subject,” the judge wrote about Vinh’s winning entry. “The bánh mi deep dive shows an appreciation and knowledge of the subject and finds a broad vocabulary to describe it. We love the line ‘I bleed Team Seattle Deli.’


“The sardine piece shows a well-rounded food writer who’s comfortable making something unusual seem relatable. The pandemic reopening is an example of on-the-ground reporting that unearths details and personalities you could never get by simply calling around.”

Varriano earned her third-place finish in the food feature category for a story on the mystery woman who co-founded Krusteaz, and whose name had been lost to history.

“This deeply researched read shines a bright and overdue spotlight on an unsung innovator and her contributions to a historic American brand,” the judge wrote.