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.
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.
Before I tell you all about this week’s Clean Plate Club guests, I need to tell you something important: this week’s episode features a voicemail from Martha Stewart. I repeat: towards the end, you get to hear an actual voicemail from Martha Stewart.
Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me introduce you to Jim Cantiello and Kat Odell (though I think you may already know them). Jim is the charismatic MTV host–he tells great stories about his time there in the podcast–who is now Co-Executive Producer for The X Factor USA’s website; Kat is the editor of Eater LA and the star of the new Bravo show Eat, Drink, Love. That’s right: I cooked dinner for a Bravolebrity.
Our two guests at this week’s Clean Plate Club have a lot in common, though–as required by The Clean Plate Club manifesto–one is a food professional, one is not. Our food professional is Noah Galuten, who runs the kitchen at Bludso’s BBQ and hosts a terrific web show on YouTube called “The Food Feeder” (embedded below); he’s also been a food blogger (Man Bites World) and a writer for L.A. Weekly. Our other guest is the hilarious Billy Scafuri who you’ve probably seen in the viral videos he’s made with his comedy troupe The Harvard Sailing Team (I’ll embed “Boys Will Be Girls” below; it’s been viewed over 5 million times!).
Hey there! So guess what? A few weeks ago I had an idea for a podcast: what if I host a dinner party where I invite one food world guest and one non-food world guest over for dinner with me and Craig and I record the conversation? Wouldn’t that be fun to listen to? Well, after a trip to the Apple Store (where I procured a large, round microphone called a Snowball) I decided to put my plan into action. The result is what you see/hear below: The Clean Plate Club, a brand-spanking-new podcast that may become a regular feature here on the blog.
Our debut episode features two EXTRAORDINARY guests. The first is the celebrated food critic from L.A. Weekly, who stepped into Jonathan Gold’s shoes when he moved to the L.A. Times: Besha Rodell. The other guest is a hilarious author and playwright who took the world by storm with her brilliant Smash-recaps for New York Magazine’s Vulture site: Rachel Shukert. Her Kindle single about that experience is climbing up the Amazon charts.
So sit back, relax, click play and join us as fellow members of The Clean Plate Club. Then let me know what you think in the comments!
P.S. If you want recipes for the meal that I cooked for a famous food critic and a famous Smash critic, here’s my Caesar salad and here’s my chicken with cous cous and salsa verde. The plum cake is coming later this week.