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Steve Klc

Food writers and the internet

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Paula--I wonder if you'd be willing to address what role you see the internet, especially new media and an online community like eGullet, playing in the lives of food writers and cookbook authors who don't live in the middle of a culinary hub like a NYC or Paris or SF? I remember the day you first posted on eGullet and said to myself, aren't we lucky! I wonder if you've ever had occasion to say the same thing and if you find you're able to feel more connected to what is going on around the world as a result?

On the flip side, I wonder if the internet hasn't also made it easier for some food writers to use it as a crutch--for story ideas--to rely on others to do what their bosses are supposedly paying them to do--to come up with fresh creative ideas on their own.

Any thoughts?

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: I smiled at your phrase "culinary hub." Certainly there's a lot of "hubbub" about chefs in New York these days, but the last time I recall a hub of food writers and cookbook authors that had any

affect on my work was in the late 1970's when I lived in New York

and the nouvelle cuisine was in full swing. On Saturday

afternoons food writers such as James Beard, James Villas, Arthur Schwartz, Barbara Kafka, Suzanne Hamlin, Gael Greene, myself and others would congregate at the restaurant Le Plaisir on Lexington Avenue to talk endlessly about food. Masa was the chef there; he would create all sorts of exciting new dishes for us to taste. (He went on to make a huge name in San Francisco in the 80's, and then to be tragically and horrifically murdered.) The 70's was a wonderful time in the food trenches and as far as I'm concerned, the last time there was a real "hub" of food writers and cookbook authors.

As to the internet, it's a great resource and I adore egullet. I really enjoy the smarts and enthusiasm of so many of the members and enjoy participating here when I have time.

As to whether food writers now use the internet as a crutch...certainly some do. It's almost too easy now to research something without really experiencing it. I know of some food writers who never travel, who more or less "fake it" by doing diligent research, but they did that before the internet as well. I still believe in field work, and still immensely enjoy it. Field work will always be the basis of my research. But there are times when the internet has served me very well. For example, I have been able to follow the fascinating saga of Heston Blumenthal for the

past six years without ever having been to his restaurant. In my last column (October) for F&W, I quoted a statement he made on the BBC, which I only became aware of through internet research.

Egullet has been particularly helpful to me. Here's a recent example: ever since I wrote "The Cooking Of SouthWest France," I've wanted to add something about gateau a la broche, a cake from the pyrenees. Thanks to an egulleteer, I was able to find

a source, order it and serve it here in Sonoma to friends last week! BRAVO FOR EGULLET!

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