About Michael Ruhlman
I was born in 1963 in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from Duke University in 1985 with a BA in English Literature, I worked for The New York Times as a newsroom copyboy. I left before two years had passed to pursue a desultory life of travel, writing, and odd jobs, returning to Cleveland in 1991. Here I found work as an editor at a local magazine that covered Cleveland's cultural scene, for which I wrote an article about the man who had become headmaster of my high school, a private boys' school. This article began my first book, Boys Themselves (1996)
A devoted amateur cook since fourth grade, I proposed to the Culinary Institute of America, the oldest and most influential professional cooking school in the country, that I be allowed into its kitchen classrooms in order to write a narrative of how the school trains professional chefs. The school agreed, and I wrote The Making of a Chef (1997).
I became so fascinated by the work of the professional cook and the culture of the restaurant kitchen that I continued to pursue the work, punching a clock briefly as a line cook, then writing a book about chefs and cooking, The Soul of a Chef (2000). I co-wrote The French Laundry Cookbook (2000) with Thomas Keller at the same time, and he and I subsequently wrote a food column for the Los Angeles Times for two years.
In February 1999, I moved with my family to Martha's Vineyard to research and report on life at a yard making plank-on-frame boats for the book Wooden Boats (2001). In October 2000, I began work at the Cleveland Clinic's Children's Hospital for the book Walk on Water (2003), which I wrote concurrently with A Return to Cooking (2002), with Eric Ripert, chef-owner of Le Bernardin, the Manhattan four-star restaurant.
I continue to live in Cleveland and am currently working on another book with Keller and the others from the French Laundry Cookbook team, about French comfort food, as well as a cookbook with Brian Polcyn on charcuterie for the home cook--a love song to the pig, to animal fat and salt, sausages, confits, pates, terrines. I'm also writing a non-fiction narrative about house and home. When this work is done, I hope to return to the chef world for more reportage on the work of professional cooking.
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