Sometime in the next two hours, I’m going to give away five signed copies of SECRETS OF THE BEST CHEFS on Twitter. All you have to do is follow me over there, and you may win the perfect holiday gift for friends or loved ones or frenemies who are tired of drab, boring, repetitive recipes and want to step up their kitchen game. 150 exciting dishes! Gorgeous full-color photography! Sidebars full of helpful information! Just think of how happy they’ll be to find this under the tree this year. Or screw those loved ones and win a copy for yourself. Or just buy one by clicking right here. I mean, you deserve it, right? [UPDATE: Contest is now closed!]
A few months ago–what seems like an eternity ago–Craig’s mom, Julee, asked if I’d be willing to donate a cookbook dinner for a charity auction to benefit the Whatcom Center for Early Learning in Bellingham, Washington, where she and Craig’s dad, Steve, live. I said, “Sure” and didn’t think twice about it. Of course I’d be happy to cook a dinner for charity, no biggie. Then I forgot all about it. Months passed and then Julee reached back out: the auction item was a big hit. Two couples had paid money (real money) for a meal that would be cooked by yours truly for them and four other people (they could each bring two more people) based on recipes from my cookbook SECRETS OF THE BEST CHEFS. This was really happening. Holy crap, what was I going to cook?
The other day I was in Atwater Village driving past a large Indian grocery store called India Sweets and Spices. I decided to do a very sensible thing: I parked my car and went inside. In the front, there’s an actual restaurant where you get food from a counter and the food looked pretty good. Then, behind all that, is a large supermarket-sized store with aisles and aisles of food from India. In my mind, I was seeking out something very specific, something that I first encountered in Elberton, Georgia when I cooked with my friend Shirin’s Pakistani family; it’s also something I re-encountered in Georgia, a few years later, when I cooked with Cardamom Hill’s Asha Gomez for my cookbook. I’m talking about curry leaves.
The green room was filled with male models who do construction, the actor Alden Ehrenreich (star of “Beautiful Creatures”), a mob of make-up people, hair people, managers and agents all hovering around a plate of half-doughnuts, half-bagels and half-muffins. I hovered on the sidelines with my book publicist, Molly, and didn’t allow myself to feel nervous. That, I knew, was the trick.
If you’re anything like me, you leave things until the last minute. And presumably many of you will be doing some last minute holiday shopping this weekend, scrambling through malls, climbing over parked cars, desperate to find gifts for the food lover in your life. Allow me to help! Here are 10 things that I think any food lover would be glad to get under the tree on Tuesday morning.
[All of the pictures in this post by the brilliant Elizabeth Leitzell]
It’s rare that life offers you a reason to pinch yourself. That reason came on Friday when my cookbook publicists Allison and Molly presented me with the full breakdown of my SECRETS OF THE BEST CHEFS book tour. There’s a dinner at Eataly hosted by Lidia Bastianich (which is almost totally sold out already, that’s why you should follow me on Twitter!), a conversation about recipes (what are they? who owns them?) with Amanda Hesser and Jonathan Waxman at the Greenlight book store in Brooklyn, a dinner at Nancy Silverton’s Mozza in L.A., an afterhours dinner at Tartine in San Francisco prepared by the extraordinary chef Samin Nosrat, a dinner at Hugh Acheson’s Empire State South in Atlanta and a dinner at Renee Erickson’s widely praised Walrus and the Carpenter in Seattle. Do you see why I’m pinching myself? What follows is the full tour breakdown with dates and links and phone numbers so you can make your reservations. To be honest, I’m most excited to meet all of you nice people out there who read what I write every day… so please come out and say hi!
[For more cookbook info, click here!]