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Your Day at Gourmet


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10 replies to this topic

#1 Lesley C

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 09:21 PM

Hello Ms. Reichl,
I’ve just finished reading all these fascinating posts and so many questions have already been answered.
However, reading about you having to go off for a tasting made me wonder about your day. Can you give us a bit of a breakdown about what your day at Gourmet entails? For instance, if I won some great contest along the lines of “Be Gourmet Editor for a Day!” what exactly would I be doing?
And inquiring minds have to know: is it really the best job in the world? If not, what could be better?

#2 Ruth Reichl

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 06:05 AM

Hello Ms. Reichl,
I’ve just finished reading all these fascinating posts and so many questions have already been answered.
However, reading about you having to go off for a tasting made me wonder about your day. Can you give us a bit of a breakdown about what your day at Gourmet entails? For instance, if I won some great contest along the lines of “Be Gourmet Editor for a Day!” what exactly would I be doing?
And inquiring minds have to know: is it really the best job in the world? If not, what could be better?

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Hi Lesley, I suspect you're the very person I was just discussing on another post about your city. Do you really think Quebec is better than Montreal for food? We had such a terrible time finding anything good to eat there. (Granted, Laurie Raphael was closed at the time...) And Montreal was just one fabulous meal after another.

Anyway, to answer your question backward, yes, it really is the greatest job in the world. I love the people I work with and I love all the possibilities of the job. And I love the fact that the job is different every day.

I can tell you what today will be - but tomorrow will be completely different. Yesterday, for example, bears no resemblance to what today will be. Today I'll pop into the kitchen when I get there, walk around the 8 kitchens, talk to the cooks about what they're doing, stop into the photo studio to see Romulo, look at the props that Julia's collected, then head upstairs for a production meeting. We have them every Wednesday morning, a time when most of us gather to check the progress of the issue we're working on. Afterward Doc and I will have meetings with the art department and the food department, to talk about future issues. Then I'll try to clear off my desk - read manuscripts, read proofs, answer phone messages. And then, today, I've got the annual Conde Nast lunch at the Four Seasons. It's the only time of the year when all the editors and publishers of all the magazines are gathered in one room.

Afterward I have a meeting about travel stories, and a meeting about Good Living. Another tasting in the kitchen. Around 5, when the office empties out, I'll sit down to do serious editing. Then I'll come home, put dinner together for the guys (left over pulled pork and leftover pommes dauphine and salad), and then I have a reading tonight for The Kitchen Sisters new book at the Illy Galleria.

I'm sure this is more than any sane person wanted to know.....

#3 Susan in FL

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 06:54 AM

I'm sure this is more than any sane person wanted to know.....

That was great! Count me among the insane. Thanks, and thanks Lesley for posting the question.
Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

#4 Lesley C

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 09:54 AM

Wow, that does sound like the best job on the planet. Thanks.

As for Quebec City restaurants, interesting topic.

Quebec City was giving “cuisine du terroir” a real go five years ago. We were seeing Ile d'Orleans strawberries, Charlevoix veal, Carignan foie gras, and Luc Mailloux's cheeses on all the top menus. And this was at a time in Montreal that only Normand Laprise was going in that direction and most everyone else was caught up in fusion.
But now, five years later, “cuisine du terroir” is yesterday’s news in Quebec (and maybe everywhere?). Innovation seems to be where it’s at, and that was best epitomized by a meal I had at L'Utopie, where diner was just adventurous enough (without being stupid or feeling like a rip-off of someone else's work) and the wine pairings brought a three-dimensional aspect to the meal that I had never experienced before (so many wine pairings just don't work).
What I wrote in my story for the Montreal Gazette was: “Chef Stephane Modat, formerly of L’Initiale and Le Jardin des Sens, created a faultless meal on the night I dined there; I know of nothing in Montreal right now that can top it.”
So I wasn’t saying Quebec has Montreal beat. But I did say, “While Montreal’s top chefs seem reticent to break out of market cuisine mode or ethnic-accented fusion cooking, Quebec City’s best are exploring food as entertainment.”
Montreal chefs just aren’t going in that direction. You don’t really miss it around here until you see it done properly by fellows like this.
I hope your horrible Quebec City meal wasn’t at L’Utopie. But I have a feeling I know just where that happened. :wink:

Edited by Lesley C, 30 November 2005 - 11:04 AM.


#5 Corinna Dunne

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 11:56 AM

I'm sure this is more than any sane person wanted to know.....

That was great! Count me among the insane. Thanks, and thanks Lesley for posting the question.

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Thank you so much for all of this insight. I think you can safely assume that your audience is riveted, hanging onto your every word and only too eager to suck you dry.

I’d be interested to know what qualitites you look for in a food writer, beyond the obvious deep knowledge of the subject and the ability to write. And do you have any pet peeves?
Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"
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#6 Ruth Reichl

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 03:38 PM

I'm sure this is more than any sane person wanted to know.....

That was great! Count me among the insane. Thanks, and thanks Lesley for posting the question.

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Thank you so much for all of this insight. I think you can safely assume that your audience is riveted, hanging onto your every word and only too eager to suck you dry.

I’d be interested to know what qualitites you look for in a food writer, beyond the obvious deep knowledge of the subject and the ability to write. And do you have any pet peeves?

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I'd certainly settle for knowledge and good writing, but a sense of humor always helps. So many of us are so drearily earnest, it can take all the fun out of the subject.
As for pet peeves, I've got hundreds of them. Which field, in particular, were you looking for? Writers, foods, words....

#7 Corinna Dunne

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 03:47 PM

Writers specifically, and yes, also words... the things that really get up your nose ("timeless elegance" was one of mine in the 80's, and I'm also alergic to penultimate, although admittedly not a foodie word), or things that make your job less enjoyable. Would love you to recount the "hundreds"... but that would be greedy.

And I have to add, I really love the moral of the food warrior.
Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"
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#8 Ruth Reichl

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 04:03 PM

Writers specifically, and yes, also words... the things that really get up your nose ("timeless elegance" was one of mine in the 80's, and I'm also alergic to penultimate, although admittedly not a foodie word), or things that make your job less enjoyable.  Would love you to recount the "hundreds"... but that would be greedy.

And I have to add, I really love the moral of the food warrior.

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Okay, writers. I hate writing that is pretty for its own sake, writers who write to hear their own words. And like all editors, I HATE writers who miss their deadlines (or never turn in their work at all).

Words: Food, in my world, is NEVER divine. Nor is it sinful. I dislike yummy. I loathe eatery.
Actually, I'll ask Larry (our managing editor); he keeps a list of words that drive me crazy.

#9 Corinna Dunne

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 08:47 AM

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Words: Food, in my world, is NEVER divine. Nor is it sinful. I dislike yummy. I loathe eatery.
Actually, I'll ask Larry (our managing editor); he keeps a list of words that drive me crazy.

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Oh yes... please ask your managing editor if you've got a chance (and if he's got a chance!). I'd love to see your list. Thanks again.
Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"
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#10 Ruth Reichl

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 01:19 PM

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Words: Food, in my world, is NEVER divine. Nor is it sinful. I dislike yummy. I loathe eatery.
Actually, I'll ask Larry (our managing editor); he keeps a list of words that drive me crazy.

View Post

Oh yes... please ask your managing editor if you've got a chance (and if he's got a chance!). I'd love to see your list. Thanks again.

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A couple more - more on the way (Larry's at the gym at the moment). I don't like it when food is called "fare." I don't like things that are "atop" or "amidst" in relation to food. Believe me, there are plenty more....

#11 Ruth Reichl

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 12:20 PM

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Words: Food, in my world, is NEVER divine. Nor is it sinful. I dislike yummy. I loathe eatery.
Actually, I'll ask Larry (our managing editor); he keeps a list of words that drive me crazy.

View Post

Oh yes... please ask your managing editor if you've got a chance (and if he's got a chance!). I'd love to see your list. Thanks again.

View Post

A couple more - more on the way (Larry's at the gym at the moment). I don't like it when food is called "fare." I don't like things that are "atop" or "amidst" in relation to food. Believe me, there are plenty more....

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Larry just handed me the list. So here are a few more:

addictive - it's a silly way to say something's good
to perfection
crispy (things are crisp, not crispy)
meltingly (why is meat ALWAYS meltingly tender?)
veggies (so disrespectful to growing things)
yesteryear (like fingernails on chalk to me)
toothsome (ditto)
sumptuous when referring to meals
vibrant (in connection with food)
served up (served is fine all by itself)
tend to be (I prefer "are often")
procuring - such a needlessly pretentious verb