Food writers play a legendary role in defining the culinary landscape for chefs and the public alike. They draw attention to techniques, trends and traditions that shape our appetites and the role of food in our lives. Keeping up with contemporary food writing is one of the best ways to build your foundation as an industry professional. These are three writers whose work you should get to know, as they set the bar for what you read about food.
Known as the rebel of the food world, Anthony Bourdain's memoir "Kitchen Confidential" broke the formality of high cuisine with a wild tale of his rise to culinary fame. His book contrasts the decadence and order of some of the world's finest restaurants with his own debauchery and brute. But under the glare of these outrageous anecdotes lies a genuine and true appreciation for the culinary arts that he shares with his readers. Bourdain has also written about food for a number of other publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker and Gourmet.
Reichl's food writing should be required reading for every food lover or aspiring chef. As the magazine's last editor-in-chief, Reichl led Gourmet, the first national magazine devoted to food and wine, through its final chapter. She also served as a food critic for The New York Times, where she sought to challenge public notions of fine cuisine. Her memoirs, especially "Tender at the Bone," pay homage to a lifelong devotion to the kitchen with a wry sense of humor and remarkable warmth.
"The Omnivore's Dilemma," Michael Pollan's book about the history of food production, challenged the public's consumption habits. In an age where obesity, poverty and disordered eating are the norm, Pollan looks back at inspiring alternatives that can be found from human history to encourage better eating habits. Pollan speaks from primarily nutritional, economic and environmental perspectives, and his findings can be summed up simply. He begins the book, and a New York Times article on the subject, with the same advice: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
Contemporary food writing is not just something to explore as a hobby — it can truly impact your work in the kitchen. To learn more about these writers and others, follow them on social media or browse the food writing section of your local library. You may find a kindred spirit in the pages.
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