No way he will only eat if it's free. I worked at a place he used to visit and he refused anything free..But this one time someone else at the restaurant bought his dinner and he gave me a 50% tip!!..He's quirkey, but hey most of the people on this board are.
I believe this. He also brings quite a few bottles of his own wine to his eat club dinners.
But who cares really? It's his business to promote New Orleans food and restaurants. If he says something good about one of his sponsors is he the only one to do this? Everyone does it. If a vendor gives him a few bottles of wine and says "try these and take a few to an eat club" and he does is that a big deal? Or "hey Tom try this new appetizer I'm thinking about putting on the menu and tell me what you think." Is that bad?
I would do it and everyone elso would also. It is his job and he doesn't shy away from it.
Don't get me wrong, he can be a pretentious prick but I can guarantee this board is full of pretentious pricks calling him a pretentious prick.
I don't think a younger person could do it at his level but it's not to say someone shouldn't try. I think his medium is not looked favorably upon by younger generations. Radio isn't where young people want to be so I don't believe you will find someone to replace him. On social media certainly but not radio.
And what the hell, I like the roast beef poorboy voice of Tom Fitzmorris. He's gotten me interested in some restaurants over the years that I would have been hard pressed to find or know about before this internet thingy.