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Kim O'Donnel


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Does anyone read her on-line work for the Post? Does she drive anyone else totally crazy?

I don't mean to be overly critical, but it seems she lacks a lot of basic food knowledge, choosing instead to dispense cutesy tips and recipes for not very adventurous dishes.

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Sometimes, she does drive me crazy. I used her recipe for mashed potatoes and it was one of the most poorly written recipes ever. And they turned out awful. But, I don't think she is the worst-- she is not totally over the top, and she seems to have basic food knowledge. Also, she shares my hatred for mayo.

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  • 2 weeks later...


I kinda sorta agree with you. I also think she focuses quite a bit too much on vegetarian issues. Not to say that its bad but many of the questions she picks for the regular chats are vegetarian-related and she already has specially-scheduled hours for "those" people one thursday every month.

Sietsma's chats are always great. I know people often complain about seeing the same questions appear over and over again. I believe the repetitiveness of the chats (eg, what's a great place near the white house for a party of 4?) is because the Live Online features don't have a dedicated search engine for the chats so people have to search each previous chat individually which is very time consuming (or they can use Google but the Post doesn't make that readily available).

By far, the best Live-Online chat is Gene Weingarten's chats on tuesdays!

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  • 1 year later...

Kim O'Donnel drives me nuts. Today, she told someone who was cooking on his birthday dinner for a large group of his friends to make risotto, because it's "so festive". For a main dish. For a lot of people. On his birthday.

As far as I can tell, she routinely misunderstands questions, has no answer to others, misdirects innocents, is downright wrong a lot, and in general bumbles about with little charm or wit to mitigate.

I can't be the only one - anyone else have an opinion on her and her "widsom"? A valuable resource, or a case of knowledge and a wooden spoon being a dangerous thing?

Please note that I'm not intending to start a bash-fest. Just wondering if other people have found her valuable, or if I'm totally missing something.

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The recipes that pop up on her chat can sometimes be interesting, and she's a big proponent of farmers' markets/CSAs/fresh and seasonal ingredients, but overall the chats are more heat than light.

On the other hand, she's perfectly happy to follow up with people who need more information - you see a lot of "email me afterward and I'll look that up." So at least she's willing to try. And there are only so many creative ways you can answer "I hate x vegetable, what else can I try/is there any way I can make it palatable" without starting to sound repetitive. She could do it without being so freakin' perky though.

I haven't been doing her chats as part of the digest because she's not technically part of the Food section - she's washingtonpost.com's food person. I suppose I could if there was interest, but since all the chats are archived anyway it's less important to record the links.

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
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Well, it's an excellent policy to start a nonbash fest with a bash, I guess. Let's look at that post more specifically:

Washington, D.C.: Hi Kim, submitting early. My birthday is coming up in 2

weeks and I thought it would be really nice (and fun) to

make dinner for some friends since I love to cook and

entertain. But the question is...what to cook? I don't want

it to be terribly expensive (like lobster) but I also don't

want it be something regular and boring or do god forbid

a cookout...and I'm having a tough time coming up with

something...any advice you can offer would be


Kim O'Donnel: What do you (and your guests) eat? Is anything fair game? First thought is risotto, which is so festive, but I wanted to hear from you first.


where did you see "large" group in this, or that she was committed to risotto as the best possible solution? I actually agree with her that risotto - something delicious that many people don't have the time to make - as a great dish for a special occasion, especially for a moderate-sized and moderate-priced crowd.

My general point is, I'm a big fan, and if you're going to criticize so thoroughly someone who works as hard as Kim does and consults regularly with professional cooks to get her readers the best possible sources on a tremendously broad range of subjects, you need to make a better case.

As Tom Sietsema regularly reports in his chats, the online forums are not easy for weekly thoroughness and accuracy. Honest mistakes happen all the time. Working with enthusiasm to carefully consider so many questions week after week, that's hard.

Emily Kaiser


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Oh, dear. I just don't think she is all that creative, imaginative, or even barring that, particularly well-practiced at the plainer things. She is dead wrong a lot of the time - if I had time, I'd go back and do an exhaustive little archive review. And maybe I'm just not a good enough cook, but I think making risotto for any size group as the main of a dinner party sounds like a logistical nightmare for one cook trying to pull the other components of dinner together and host a bunch of people, and probably isn't a very good suggestion.

Which brings me (roundabout) to my point - I don't think she's particularly helpful - inoffensive at her best - and is actually a source of misinformation sometimes. No one said she didn't work hard; she certainly makes a huge effort and obviously is well-liked by a dedicated group of chatters. I was trying to find out what other people with other opinions have gained from her. Sorry to have offended.

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While I do not follow her chats, but have read them sometimes, I think the risotto idea is not bad at all. I cannot imagine trying to come up with dishes off the top of my head during an hour online chat. Its different, which is what the poster wanted. Maybe its because I grew up in an Italian kitchen, but risotto is not a difficult dish to make at all so I do not see how this would be a logistical nightmare.

As I mentioned I have read some of her chats and do not recall many glaring errors. I guess I will read more carefully the next time.

On a positive note I have viewed some of her videos and find them to be informative and some are interesting. I think they fit well with her audience.

Wearing jeans to the best restaurants in town.
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She is dead wrong a lot of the time - if I had time, I'd go back and do an exhaustive little archive review.


I think if you're going to make the time to be this aggressive about an individual in an opening posting, you need to find the time to do the exhaustive archive review you mention in order to support your argument. You say she is "dead wrong a lot of the time," but about what?

Kim O'Donnel has been at this for a long time, and there's simply no way you can expect to come in here and write a posting such as this and not be challenged to justify it.

Although I'm not qualified to comment on Kim's work (I'm definitely geared more towards the restaurant end of things, and less towards the cooking end), I know that she's respected and liked. The one time I met her, we chatted for awhile at the bar at Equinox, and I found her to be both charming and knowledgable.

When I read your initial posting, I felt a very real twinge of uneasiness, and so I feel obliged to chime in and suggest a bit more rigor behind the allegations.



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two cents:

I skim through her chats when I am able to. I used to read every single one, but I started to notice that there was a lot of repetition (and not totally her fault, as she and other Live Online hosts are subjected to the same questions often).

I think she's excellent for people who are afraid of cooking, or simply think they don't have the time for it. She tries to calm them down a bit, and get them to feel more laid-back about the whole idea of taking on a meal, or a recipe, or even an (gasp!) exotic vegetable.

I can totally see how this wouldn't be the forum for a lot of eG'ers, but her style seems to work for a lot of people, especially newbies.

(flip side to this: I know she makes mistakes from time to time. Sometimes people ask her about a foreign ingredient, and she isn't always able to answer, or she'll take a stab at it and turn out to be incorrect. I guess I can't feel too much animosity over this, though, as she is doing the chat in the space of an hour, and doesn't exactly have an editor double-checking everything. From what I recall, she is generally good about admitting her errors.)

When it comes down to it, I think this is a similar discussion to some that I have readin the News Forum on eG, re: some Food TV hosts. She is (ideally) serving the purpose of getting people interested in trying out fresh foods and new recipes. If she is succeeding, which it sounds like she is, more power to her. :smile:

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