What does a cookbook collaborator do? Meet J.J. Goode. He’s become the go-to guy for chefs who want to write cookbooks with panache. He’s collaborated with April Bloomfield on “A Girl and Her Pig,” Morimoto on the Morimoto Cookbook, and–most recently–Andy Ricker on the Pok Pok Cookbook, which is already having quite a debut. A curious fact is that J.J. does all of this with radial aplasia which, for all intents and purposes, means he tests all of these recipes with one arm. How does he do it? And how does one get a career like J.J.’s? Listen in and find out.
When I had the opportunity to interview New York Times writer Alex Witchel about her beautiful new memoir All Gone, I spent a whole day reading the book and I positively tore through it, I found it so moving and powerful. The book details Witchel’s mother’s decline into dementia and Witchel’s struggle to recreate the recipes she knew and loved from her mother’s kitchen. What’s so original about the book is that, unlike so many food memoirs, it doesn’t pretend that food can cure all ills–in many ways, as Witchel discovers over the course of the book’s journey, it simply distracts us from our harsh reality. But it’s not all bleak: there are bright spots, including bits about Witchell’s marriage to columnist (and former theater critic) Frank Rich, how she became a writer for The New York Times, and–most amusing to me–her lunch with Elaine Stritch.
So as many of you know, I spent a year hosting a web show for the Food Network that brought me face-to-face with some of its biggest stars: Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, Alton Brown. I haven’t really talked about what I saw behind the scenes but in this week’s podcast, I open up with journalist Allen Salkin who just released a fascinating book called From Scratch: Inside The Food Network. Listen in and learn what Food Network culture’s really like, why their ratings are going down, how they handled the Paula Deen crisis and what they could do to save themselves. You can also listen in iTunes by clicking here.
We’ve got two internet luminaries on our show this week: the first, Rebecca Lando, is co-creator of Working Class Foodies, the viral web show with a devoted following that’s recently become a handsome and useful cookbook from Gotham Books. Our other guest, Jeffery Self, played Liz Lemon’s nephew, Randy Lemon, on 30 Rock and co-starred with Cole Escola on Logo’s Jeffery and Cole Casserole. He’s also the author of Straight People: A Spotter’s Guide and 50 Shades of Gay. ALSO: he’s doing a live show tonight (October 23rd) here in L.A. at the Neon Venus Theater on Melrose at 8 PM (tickets $10). Go see him!
Dinner was five-hour meat ragu (recipe to come next week) and chocolate pear cake. Click ahead to see a picture of everyone at the table, a list of all the things we talk about, and some clips of Rebecca’s and Jeffery’s work.
You have to be pretty charming to convince David Sedaris to let you turn one of his stories into a movie. But that’s precisely the quality that allowed filmmaker Kyle Patrick Alvarez to adapt the short story C.O.G. into a terrific film starring Jonathan Groff. Kyle’s our guest this week along with L.A. Weekly food writer Tien Nguyen, who not only helps compose the annual Best of L.A. issue but also just co-authored a cookbook with celebrated chef Roy Choi. Here’s a picture of everyone at the table with their artichokes.
Almost a decade ago, when I started my scrappy little food blog, an e-mail arrived all the way from Paris, France from a young woman named Clotilde Dusoulier who had her own food blog called Chocolate & Zucchini. She told me that she liked what I was doing; I checked out her site and I liked what she was doing. We became fast friends–digital pen pals, you might say. We had a dinner at Babbo in New York (documented here with pictures erased, sadly), a dinner in Paris at Ze Kitchen Galerie (those pictures work!). She went on to write several books, including Chocolate & Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen, Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris, and–most recently–a book so gorgeous I have to show you a picture of it.
I was positively giddy about this week’s Clean Plate Club guests: Barrett Foa, who first entered my consciousness as the star of Avenue Q on Broadway and who’s now a regular on one of the most popular shows in the country (NCIS: Los Angeles) and Top Chef Master and culinary legend Suzanne Tracht, chef/owner of Jar. With these guests, we got to talk about two of my favorite subjects: cooking and musical theater! Oh and deforestation. Just kidding, we didn’t talk about deforestation. But here’s some other stuff that’s covered…
Our new neighbor here in Atwater Village is the illustrious and delightful Kyle Buchanan who is the movies editor of New York Magazine, the kind of guy who, when you’re talking about Miley Cyrus, is able to say: “I interviewed her for the cover of Cosmo last month.” (Ya, but did he make cookies based on her tongue? I don’t think so!). He joins us for this week’s Clean Plate Club along with another illustrious person: sommelier Whitney Adams, who I met last year at a dinner party, and who–in addition to working at Domaine L.A. and Terroni–runs the blog Brunellos Have More Fun. Whitney teaches us terms like “tertiary vapors” and “natural yeast,” while also gossiping about her time as hostess at Wolfgang Puck’s Cut.