'writing' on Serious Eats

Critic-Turned-Cook Reflects on Past Reviews

Critic Turned Cook follows former Seattle Post-Intelligencer food critic Leslie Kelly on her journey away from the keyboard and into the kitchen. Take it away, Leslie! ©iStockphoto.com/joanek At a recent family cookout, my Uncle Hugh asked how work in the kitchen was going. "It's hard—exhausting, really," I said. "I have a new understanding for what goes in to feeding a bunch of demanding diners." "Well, maybe you owe some of those restaurants you reviewed an apology," he teased. Uncle Hugh loved yanking my chain, but weeks later, I was still thinking about what he said. From the other side of the counter, I can certainly see how a critic would drive a cook crazy. Myself, I wasn't the kind of... More

Michael Ruhlman on Food Writing

In his latest blog post writer Michael Ruhlman gives advice for those pursuing a career in food writing. His final message: "Read continually, look outward rather than inward, and do all you can to convey your own passions directly and honestly and completely to strangers."... More

How to Become a Restaurant Reviewer

It's a popular question for San Francisco Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer, who says people should "follow their passion and write, whether on a blog or on established websites. The unique, interesting and trusted voices will rise to the top.” Or you could just join Yelp.... More

The Trials and Tribulations of a Restaurant Critic

Alison Arnett has left her job as the Boston Globe's restaurant critic after an incredible fifteen year run and over 700 reviews tucked under her belt. Her farewell post on the trial tribulations of a restaurant critic is a fantastic read, but here's my favorite part of it, what she says is a critic's job requirement: A thick skin. Early in my reviewing career (I had a respectable editing job at the Globe before this), I overheard a woman at the table next to ours discussing me. "You know, she's a vegetarian. Isn't that awful? How can she write about meat when she doesn't even eat it? That's so dishonest." Of course, I wanted to jump up and throttle her.... More

What's Your Favorite Food Glossy?

Food Glossies Trumped by a "T" I'm a compulsive reader of the food glossies: Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Saveur. Aren't you? Each has its virtues, though I can't say that any one of them really speaks to me. I like Gourmet's food politics stories and some of its writers (Jane and Michael Stern, John T. Edge, Calvin Trillin), but I don't share Ruth Reichl's enthusiasm for hiring as many novelists as she can to write stories for her. I used to look forward to reading Pete Wells' column in Food & Wine, but now that he's gone I'm sure I'm going to find Food & Wine's penchant for celebritizing everything (It's the In Style of food magazines)... More


KEEP THE FAVORITE FOOD WRITER ENTRIES COMING I've been blown away by the quality of the entries for the Win A Dinner with Jeffrey Steingarten and Me contest. The breadth of candidates offered up by entrants (To enter you have to tell me in a hundred words or less who your favorite food critic is and why) has been impressive indeed: Frank Bruni, John T. Edge of Oxford, Mississippi, Robb Walsh of Houston, Texas, Calvin Trillin, the late R.W. Apple, Ruth Reichl, Peter Meehan (current $25 and under critic at the NY Times, Jonathan Kauffman (formerly of the East Bay Express), blogger Clotide Dusoulier, Roy Andries de Groot, A.A. Gill, Anthony Bourdain, and Jane and Michael Stern. But we still... More

How Do You Know Who to Believe?

I devour writing about food much the same way a rescued frostbitten mountainclimber tears into his first meal on terra firma. And because I read many of the same publications over and over again I've come to know which writers I can trust about food. Adam Platt, Frank Bruni, Gael Greene, Ruth Reichl, and Alan Richman are all writers I read or have read regularly over the last ten years, so I know where they are coming from. I don't always agree with them, but I have come to know where they stand vis a vis my own point of view about food. I read the Times Travel Section with relish this past Sunday from cover to cover. Mark Bittman... More

Is Nora Ephron a National Treasure?

To me, there are two national treasures in the world of writers who sometimes write about food, and then there are the rest of us. I'm not going to talk about food's poet laureate Calvin Trillin, though I hope Gourmet's new Restaurant issue will have something by him. No, I'm here to celebrate Nora Ephron. She may be best known to some people as a screenwriter (Silkwood) and director (Sleepless in Seattle), but anyone who doesn't know that Nora Ephron is a seemingless effortless, inordinately graceful, and laugh-out-loud-funny essayist should not only read her current best-seller, "I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts About Being a Woman, but also seek out Crazy Salad, a much earlier but just... More

Quote of the Day: Is It True?

"Cooking is the most massive rush. It's like having the most amazing hard on, with Viagra sprinkled on top of it, and it's still there twelve hours later." From Bill Buford's brilliant, enormously entertaining book Heat, a quote from the irrepressible Gordon Ramsay.... More

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