Food Reporting Syllabus
Assignments 79 through 84

Caprial's Soup & Sandwiches
by Caprial Pence and Mark Dowers
Writing Assistance by Jennifer Morrison
Photography by Edward Gowans
Ten Speed Press
© 1988

Page 29, Mark's gumbo is a recipe gleaned from a summer in New Orleans, home stockpot for anything edible seasoned with rendered bacon or duck fat, cayenne sauce, Worcestershire, peppers, garlic, andouille, chicken, tomato puree, tasso, dry red wine, flour and slices of okra. Chef Dowers passed the authenticity test. He included the must ingredient, okra, otherwise he would be doing what so many Big Easy copycats do...pass on the okra because they read or heard that many people do not care for those slimey (once cooked) substances that serve as a thickener. (*)

(*) This website's okra authority: Chef Henry Butcher,, does not follow Dowers procedure of using a saute pan for a one-step combination of onions, peppers, sausage, tasso and okra. Butcher fries his okra slices over a quick high heat, then dumps into the pot.

For startup writers actually reading recipes, this is a fine text. Anyone with a limited knowledge of cooking with exacting recipes, this book's collection has been tested. That makes for debate by a writer wanting to fuss...his or her knowledge against the Pence-Dowers inclusions.

Soup and a sandwich? There's a start when writing about comfort foods. There is a detailed five-page index proving there is more to this title than a simple tomato soup and two slices of bread held together with mayo and some nitrate-loaded meat.


Bonus 113:
The Little Book of Healthy Teas
by Erika Dillman
Grand Central Publishing
© 2001

Review Pending

Bonus 114:
Tea Chings: The Tea and Herb Companion:
Appreciating the Varietals and Virtues of Fine Tea and Herbs
by The Republic of Tea
Newmarket Press
© 2002; Second Edition

Review Pending

The Cooking of Provincial France
Welcome To the Country Kitchens of France
by M. F. K. Fisher
Photography by Mark Kauffman
Time Life Books
© 1968

This was my initial study course for food writing.
-- Doral Chenoweth



Bonus 115:
The Suitors
by Cecile David-Weill
Other Press
© 2013

Review Pending

California Dish
What I Saw (and Cooked) at the
American Culinary Revolution
by Jeremiah Tower
Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster
© 2003

At some long ago moment before he was a star attraction, working the early afternoon shift for Alice Waters' Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Chef Tower was pivoting in the small open kitchen. Before splashing a bit of wine over his skillet-of-the moment, he would test vintage with a sip from the bottle. Once he looked at me, sitting at a nearby counter-side table, and returned my salute to him. He raised the bottle to me as if to infer, good spirits. I have been his fan since.

-- Doral Chenoweth


Bonus 116:
The New California Cook Book for Casual Living All Over the World
by Genevieve A. Callahan
M. Barrows
© 1955; 2nd edition

Review Pending

American Brasserie:
180 Simple, Robust Recipes Inspired by the Rustic Foods of France, Italy, and America
by Rick Tramonto, Gale Gand with Julia Moskin
Photography by Mark Kauffman
Time Life Books
© 1968

Review Pending


Bonus 117:
COOK FIGHT: 2 Cooks, 12 Challenges, 125 Recipes
An Epic Battle for Kitchen Dominance
by Julia Moskin and Kim Severson
© 2012

Review Pending

Little Bites of Delight Before the Meal Begins
by Rick Tramonto and Mary Goodbody
Photography by Tim Turner
Random House, Inc., New York and Random House Ltd., Canada
© 2002

Here's a story book read with top shelf writing, but not for cooking.

Having your first introduction to commercial food by working at Wendy's can lead to great things. Rick Tramonto's first pay job was flipping those little four-ounce squares of fresh beef. Once stepping away from Wendy's grill he cooked in New York City and London restaurants. Returning to Chicago he rose to culinary fame at Trio in nearby Evanston, Illinois. By 1994 his first big publicity came when Food & Wine Magazine named him one of the nation's Top Ten Best New Chefs. By 1999 Tramonto was opening partner of Chicago's acclaimed Tru.

Let this be your introduction to the making of a star chef. Emphasis on star.

In Chicago it helps when you partner with Rich Melman, the nation's most successful creator of multiple restaurant themes. Melman brings money, management and marketing to any eatery with his name on a partnership agreement. By 2002 the Melman powerhouse brought about one of the decades cookbook heavies, 2.6 pounds of what was a tony coffee table book, not to be read but to Impress. Not the case. Amuse-Bouche has study value, mostly to be credited to food photographer Tim Turner and the real writer, Mary Goodbody. The Melman machine put together more than 100 recipes supported with 52 full pages of some of the finest full-color food images ever. Their production using slick and heavy ivory paper stock makes it a so-called coffee table book. The Goodbody style of telling a food story is the lesson for student writers.

The book becomes a food writing text by detailing meanings... amuse to entertain... bouche for the little bites of food described in tested recipes. There is the fantastic fine Goodbody writing for study purposes. As would any professional ghost writer, Goodbody is careful to stick with first person writing in the name of the man with his name in the largest typeface. Example: "When I wanted to create a small, sophisticated club sandwich to serve as an amuse, I turned to foie gras and rich, buttery homemade brioche." (Page 146)

Tramonto's little bites of delight do just that. Each recipe seems to offer a challenge. That, at least in my visits to a thousand or so kitchens, both commercial and for Homemakers, has at least one called-for ingredient not readily available. It may not be handy when the inspirational moment to cook surfaces. (Page 89, 2.5 cups of grapeseed oil to go with the wasabi tobika (*) caviar in the smoked salmon parfait, serving six.)

(*) Obscure? Sharon Tyler Herbst never mentioned Tobiko in her accurate 770 pages. Google does Tobiko with an o. Tobiko comes in red and black, should you find it on IGA shelves. Tobiko is harvested from flyng fish. Flavor reports on Tobiko caviar range from ginger to mild salty. Suggesting Tobiko caviar begs the question: Why not the finest and most expensive sturgeon premium roe... beluga, osetra or sevruga?

Wasabi tobika caviar? Yes, the Tru kitchen would have a pantry with every known and in-season caviar. So, too, at the run for Tru, now closed and relegated to culinary memories, could fill a guest's order for chilled and grilled black mission figs with mascarpone foam and prosciutto di Parma. (Page 141) Again, that is for reading and to savor.

Tramonto departed Tru in 2010, but not before he became a famous culinary centerpiece in the growing debate between meat eaters and that other side. At Tru he became embroiled in a public debate because he refused to take foie gras off his menu. That pitted him against his cross town rival, Charlie Trotter, a peace advocate for oppressed ducks and other producers of marketable livers and sweetbreads. At one point in the tabloids anti-foie gras chef Trotter suggested eating Tramonto's liver.

Who won or lost depends. Chicago City Council did pass an ordinance banning foie gras. It lasted for two years, just long enough to educate the public on what is foie gras and a thymus gland.

Who won or lost in the foie gras fuss? For sure the fine dining chefs across the nation enjoyed the publicity. In Columbus two top chefs reaped menu rewards. One, Dale Gusset, then chef-owner of small and intimate L'Antibes with foie gras as a menu stable, doubled and tripled his nightly cover count. Charles Langstaff, executive chef for Bexley Monk, read the morning news and quickly added foie gras to his menu. Again, he served new guests and tipped his toque to Tramonto. While not confirmed, Langstaff's foie gras was thinly sliced and served on brioche with pesto aioli, somewhat similar to Tramonto. (Page 146)

Study advice: Buy this book for reference, that is, should you pass on a writing career and find a rewarding life with long hours in a restaurant kitchen. Small plates? Yes, but in those Tramonto recipes, there is guidance for enlarged portions... or offer a menu loaded only with little bites of delight. What a concept.

Career lesson: Late in the last decade, Tramonto became spokesman for the U. S. Duck Council.

+ + + + +

A question about social correctness: The publisher's advisory staff permitted scores of names to be thanked by the writer, seemingly everyone in all his kitchens and cousins thrice removed. Also, the Lord in his heavens is credited for guidance. If, and it should be, this book is reissued, start with page X1 and drop the personal credits for family and faith. Let the student assume such.

--- Doral Chenoweth

  Deers Hunting
Venison will not be on the menu tonight.
However, for Alferd E. Packer fans...
Lessons Learned at One of the Oldest Cooking Schools in America
by Lisa Abraham with Catherine St. John
University of Akron Press
© 2011

Why this late entry upon a cookbook syllabus dating back to Ancestral Appetites (Bonus 2 Book 2) of prehistoric people and their food? Two reasons: The chefs selected by author Lisa Abraham, food writer for Akron Beacon Journal, tooled their talents in one of the nation's oldest cooking schools; and secondly...the Anthony-Bourdain-of-cookbook-reviewing, former Ohio official state chef, Tom Johnson, requested that it be included.

A unique factor in this cookbook is how the many star chefs are tied together in the 225 pages. All were either students, invited chef instructors or faculty at Western Reserve School of Cooking, founded 1971/ It is now located in Hudson, Ohio. The Abraham book is the story of one of America's highly rated schools training chefs.

Ms. Abraham up front is a pen-and pencil reporter. She is food editor of the Columbus Dispatch. Prior to her present assignment, she was food editor and lifestyle columnist for The Akron Beacon-Journal. In that assignment, she was recipient of the Association of Food Journalists' first place award for Best Newspaper Food Coverage, 2012; and Best Newspaper Food Column Writing 2009.

Read her Beacon-Journal columns here.


Bonus 118:
The Hunter's Table:
The Countrysport Book of Wild Game Cuisine
by Terry Ward Libby
Recipes of Chef Richard Blondin
Photography by Paul Poplis
Countrysport Press
© 1999

This is a cook book. This is a textbook on how to write about food. This is a collection of recipes created by one of the nation's most experienced French chefs. This book is a lesson in food photography performed by a photographer who exclusively works with food. For reporters of all stripes this is a writer with a specialty content in mind and no place to get it published.

This book is something of a routing trip to bring related and needed professional forces together to get a book to market. In the minds of many novices with a swirling storyline they always plan to put-pen-to-paper, to steal an aging phrase, this is a writer's success story. This writer did not keyboard a line in some coffee shop. Restaurant reviewer Terry Ward Libby had the educational horses, a masters in English, The Ohio State University, to approach such a deep-research topic as wild game cookery. She was a secondary stop on the route to a hard cover.

The Hunter's Table is the result of diverse media forces. An Alabama publisher of outdoor books contacted an Ohio food writer. The deal to cooperate with the publisher was this: The reporter would suggest a team, writer-chef-photographer, provided they were all involved... and no substitutions of any perceived talents by the publisher. Agreed. Deal done.

The reporter had just been involved in advising a reader on where to find a chef professional to prepare a load of wild game brought in from a Canadian hunting trip. The reader wanted the table set in the finest restaurant and presided over by a true French chef, if possible. That would be Richard Blondin, Chef de Cuisine, The Refectory, Columbus, Ohio.

For any such serious work as this book with more than a hundred slick pages of game recipe cookery and excellent French nuances, only the finest color photography had to be called upon. The in-studio work: Paul Poplis, working in his studio equipped only for food photography. It took two years, each recipe was tested before reaching ink.

The published result of the team, Blondin, Libby, Poplis, today is a keeper. The recipes are timeless. Amazon offers the book, but a price listed in 2011 may be a bit steep, $175. That tab suggests some publisher's opportunity... buy the rights and market a reprint. Journalism schools, please copy...

Paul Poplis Photography

The Hunter's Table

Bonus 119:
The Best in American Cooking
by Clementine Paddleford
Charles Scribner's Sons; Book Club (BCE/BOMC) edition
© 1970

Review Pending