Does garlic have anything to do with this post? No, I just like it./Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

I’ve been fascinated by the digital world and the way it’s shaping not only the way content is spread through our culture but the content itself. I was eager to embrace blogging, thanks to Meg Hourihan and her husband. I’ve created two innovative cooking apps for smart phones, Ratio and Bread Baking Basics, with the hopes of making cooking easier and more fun for people—and there’s more to come, thanks to Will Turnage. I hope to introduce a top-secret “e-project” in the fall.

One of the things I’m most excited about is the fact that the new media gives more control to the people who make things and takes away some of the power from the companies that once managed and distributed what other people made. This has beneficial and also dangerous repercussions, but I look at it as an opportunity.

One of the new forms of content that has proven to be especially successful on the new digital devices is midsized narratives—writing that’s longer than magazine pieces but shorter than a book. Amazon has created a whole division devoted to these, called Kindle Singles, headed by journalist David Blum. (I read and wrote about Ann Patchett’s The Getaway Car, a lovely, short memoir on becoming a writer.)

I could self-publish directly to Amazon, but Kindle Singles is a curated operation, meaning Blum and his colleagues serve as old-fashioned gatekeepers (they edit, copyedit, create cover art, and, yes, decline submissions), but it seems to me a much more flexible (and successful) form of gatekeeping.

OK, my question to readers: I’m considering writing a memoir of my journey as a food writer, something I never set out to become. If you were to be interested in reading a short memoir on this subject, becoming a food writer, what would you be most interested in?

I know what I want to write about, but I’ve also found that part of my love of this new media world is an interaction with readers, whether here, on Twitter, or privately via email (I really do try to respond to everyone; please forgive me if you’ve written and fallen through the cracks—it’s nothing personal, I get a lot of email), and this is a new way of doing it.

Again, in a food memoir, what would you most like to hear: more about writing, about chefs, about food, about cooking, how-to information . . . what else? Please let me know!

 

If you liked this post on a question to readers, check out these other links:

© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.

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99 Wonderful responses to “Question to Readers: Your Help Please”

  • Bob Adams

    Stories – plain and simple. They can be about any of the topics you mentioned, but nothing connects me to the sights, sounds, smells, etc. of the kitchen like your stories. As the parent of 2 kids in the industry (one a kitchen manager, one a student at JWU) and a foodie myself, I enjoy immensely your first-person accounts of your journeys. Keep it up!

  • Cecilia

    Love the idea of a food memoir! I’d be interested on the little unexpected things that happen, about the process of doing it all, and about food, of course!

  • Jessica

    I really liked your book “The making of a chef”, and would most certainly read a book starting at the beginning and moving forward.

    • Michael Ruhlman

      One of my concerns here is that I will merely retread over old material rather than making the old new and useful from my current vantage point.

      • Jessica

        What kind of book would YOU like to write? A memoir can be so many things. I’d read whichever as long as its on cooking and your experience of it. What influenced you the most in terms of knowledge. I read your cooking prep from Floria (?) with great interest. How to cook dinner in a home kitchen for 9 people without keeling over. I’m sure you have plenty of things to tell.

  • Nina

    I’m a media whore so I would like to know more about chefs – what makes them tick, how they survive, etc. I’d be particularly interested in how they decide to, and then later manage the transition from a single or maybe two-store owner to being an “institution.” Symon is of course a good example of this but I’m thinking even more institution type people with the name as a brand like Batali, Flay, even Emeril, who was once (and still is by some) SUCH a majorly respected chef and now has somewhat inadvertently ended up as a jarred sauce brand name and not much more. And the failures, like Rocco DiSpirito, who was lauded so young and then ended up a QVC-seller. How does it go right, and when, and what’s the key to managing it all and yet keeping yourself personally tied to the brand? We all know Tony has nothing to do with Les Halles anymore, but I think you can still occasionally find Symon at Lola (but doubt you would ever see him, say, at Roast or a B-spot). And the expansion continues – how does a chef/owner decide to branch out, how do they decide what’s a good gamble, and more on that process.

    I am always also interested in your books about cooking and technique. I can’t imagine the balls it took to approach the CIA and start that journey. How have you managed to afford the upkeep of life and a family on a writer’s salary – particularly at the beginning? With neither you nor Donna having what most people would term a “regular job,” how did you assuage family fears, pay for childcare and vacations, deal with insurance, and have a social life at all for yourselves and for your kids? DId you ever make a break/transition from a “real” job to going 100% to writing, and how did you take that leap of faith and struggle through the lean years?

    • Michael Ruhlman

      those are two different books, and much of the first part of your question I’ve told in reach of a chef (which you know i know you have!).

      The second part will def be covered; it was difficult.

      • Nina

        True enough, but I can’t get enough of part 1 of my response, across a broader subject group than 3 or 4 folks. Looking forward to the answers to part 2 (oh, and I’ve given Reach et al. as gifts several times! That I bought and sent to friends!)

  • bob del Grosso

    Write about how Pardus and I forced you to write only about food and cooking so that we would know a great writer through whom we could channel our lies to the public. Nahhh! ;-)

  • Paula

    I read your stuff now because you’re an interesting writer as is. But since you asked, I think I’d like to know more about what you and other chefs do on your time off. I’d like to know if you and other chefs ever make mistakes and what you do about them. I’d like to know more about how-to, because you always explain things so well that anyone can do it or attempt to do it. And last but not least, because I’m a girl, I’d like some gossipy stuff.

  • Bob Lai

    I would be interested in equal parts how you started writing and how food writing transformed your craft or took you to unexpected places. How has it changed you – not only from your perspective, but from someone like Chef Pardus or Bob del Grosso’s POV. (I would even suggest Donna, but I don’t know if that’s too true-confessiony for you.)

    However, I don’t use a Kindle (nor am I planning to), so KindleSingles is irrelevant.

  • Saads12

    I like your writing style, so for a food writing memoir, I would like to read more about your interactions with chefs and other foodie people, which I know is pretty wide-ranging. So, what is your relationship with people like Tony Bourdain to Thomas Keller, for example and how their ideas about food helped to shape/influence your own, if they did.

    • Michael Ruhlman

      Keller shaped my thinking in almost too many ways to count. Bourdain only shaped a variety of hangovers.

  • DMT

    I was intrigued by your writing about what attending cooking school meant to the way you approached life (Soul of a Chef), that you were more conscious of time and timeliness, and your finding the book But Beautiful. Writing about food is interesting in itself, but I find more intriguing the role of food and writing and making choices about elemental things in our lives and how this changes you, or has the power of changing you. Diving deep into something like writing, or cooking (or music) changes a person; do we ever really understand or know what these changes are, are we ready to embrace them, both good and bad? How do you handle the risks, rewards, fear and exhilaration that comes with the deep dive and the way it will unalterably change our lives.

  • Natalie Luffer Sztern

    1.Where would your life have taken you if you could not have attended culinary school and why you chose food as your focus?
    2.Does never having cooked in a kitchen affect your writings?
    3.While in cooking school was it solely for the purpose of writing about Food or did you ever actually cook in a kitchen or aspire to do that?
    4.Did you feel attending cooking school make you a more competent writer of the subject? As opposed to food critics many of whom never attended cooking school.
    5. Who paid your tuition as you have said you were already married with a baby. It meant no salary coming in.
    6.Why have you not followed further into food career-wise as opposed to just writing about it i.e. Do you ever regret not having put your skills to use in a kitchen or in the retail end of it or was it purely for the ability to write having been schooled in Journalism…..

  • Michael

    While I have learned a lot from Ratio, It’s the stories and the great “pictures” you present with words that I like the best. That’s something you do amazingly well and I’m always hoping for more. I’m a lot more interested in what you write than why or how you write it.

  • Lon

    Pick one book project and give us details of how the idea came up, how it evolved, etc. Always fascinating to me.

  • Michael

    How does your journey relate yo your family? Take us into the conversations with Donna about your career evolution and the implications for her and your children. How is your family dynamic different because of your chosen career? (Better food and attention to the act of eating and the importance of doing so as a family, I’ll wager.)

  • Noel

    If I may–the interaction through social media highlights one of your particular, if unplanned, strengths: teaching. I think it’s no coincidence that your first “cook” book involved schooling, and now your use of twitter/blogs/friday cocktails allows you to continue that loose concept of “school” for so many more of us than traditional media/publishing. I’d love to read about how you specifically set out to use new media…and the ways you didn’t set out to use it, but it worked for you.
    (Lacking that rather high concept–a series of Kindle singles whereby you shop/prep/cook/eat with some of the great chefs in your world would sell by the digital bucketload).

  • Bill Martin

    Michael
    How does your journey relate yo your family? Take us into the conversations with Donna about your career evolution and the implications for her and your children. How is your family dynamic different because of your chosen career? (Better food and attention to the act of eating and the importance of doing so as a family, I’ll wager.)

    I’d like to second this – It seems that a lot of the food/cooking industry keeps people away from their families due to crazy schedules, and limited time off. I’d love to hear more about dealing with that (not out of morbid curiosity, but in case my wife and I decide to take that route!).

  • Keith Hiszem

    I’m interested in the how to information. I’m very passionate about the idea that I am capable of making anything I can buy in a store; whether it be charcuterie, sauces, breads and that I can do it better. Your books like Charcuterie and Ratio make that goal more attainable along with your blog posts. You’re also accessible, I can ask you questions on twitter and you always have an answer. For myself; sharing the knowledge is how I am able to tackle the idea that making everything from scratch is much better than relying on a big box store.

  • Victoria

    I think it should be a memoir about YOU. You are a writer, not a “food” writer. I am interested in ALL your writing, EVERYTHING about you – which led to where you are today.

    You don’t consider Nora Ephron a “food” writer, do you? Yet I keep Heartburn with my cookbooks for the recipes.

    And could we please discuss grown-up margaritas sometime soon?

    • Eric

      I will have to second this. If this is to be a memoir of sorts, then more about yourself would be more interesting.

      With a bit about food, of course!

    • Michael Ruhlman

      thanks vic, and yes, that margarita post is on the sked!

  • Pat

    I find the Venus pop up advertisements on your blog site to be too AGGRESSIVE and irritating, and there’s no way to click them OFF. I actually had to leave your page and come back in order to read the rest of your article. And Venus is a subject completely unrelated to cooking. I realize you need to support yourself, but can’t you control the ad content by opting for food-related ads only?

    • Michael Ruhlman

      i dont even know what this is, could you tell me more? last thing I want to do is irritate readers or make it HARD to read a post. how awful.

      • Pat

        Hello Michael, I enjoy your column and have many of your books, but this huge “BlogHer” sponsored advertising that appears to the right of your portrait seems inappropriate and not related to your content. It appears to be cosmetics. Not classy. Do you have any control over the kinds of merchandise that pop up involuntarily on your page?

  • Kate Hoffman

    I would like to read about choosing quality ingredients and the fostering of your relationship with the purveyors who provide these ingredients.

  • Kathy

    I would love to hear more about the writing part of it … what made you decide (or did you?) on writing as a career, how you started out as a writer, the type of writing that you did or that appealed to you then, how you were pulled over to the food side of things (what attracted you about that?), how you’ve found food writing to be different from other types of writing you’ve done, how writing a book like House or The Making of a Chef is different from the more recipe/technique cookbook-type books you’ve written. And if it’s not too personal or off-topic, I’d love to hear a bit about how you and Donna, who have your own separate careers, are able to come together professionally and collaborate on various projects from time to time, whether all of those amazing food photos inspire or change the way you write about food.

  • Kevin

    Michael, I was drawn to your writing because of how easily you can make food and the craft of cooking understandable, but also because you are a self-made person that has crafted his career out of a personal desire. You are a great story teller. You’ve told Keller’s and Symon’s. Why not tell your own?

  • Ron

    I loved Making of a Chef and read it (along with Bourdain) around the same time. It was a point in my life at which I was considering making a switch to cooking as a trade. The two books made me re-think that path and I am happy for it.

    What I have always wondered was how and why the transition in your career happened. I can understand the lure of the food world, as that is a Siren easily lead to, but you went to the CIA (not because you wanted to, but because of a different passion) and it seemed to change your life.

    I chose the other path and did not pursue a life in the kitchen. I would love to hear some more in-depth introspection on how and why you immersed yourself so deep in this world. Your career has, kind of, fascinated me and would love some insights as to your choices.

  • John K.

    Last Sunday, while putting jars of beef stock I had just made on a shelf, I saw two quarts of turkey stock made the day after Thanksgiving. I thought about you, Michael. I smiled at those quarts of stock, thinking about the braised/roasted turkey I had made. Best turkey my family has ever eaten. Stock from the remains. All, mostly, thanks to you. As I smiled I heard myself thinking – “does Michael have any clue of the influence he has had on me and my family, and I’m sure many, many others?” Maybe my journey started before finding your writing, but you have been a big influence on getting me to make real food for my family. To cooking with my nine year old daughter and teaching her how to cook. And yet it’s about so much more than the food (although that is certainly a big part). It’s about love and connection and community and family. It’s about what makes us human (as you have helped me learn), and what gives us something life giving and nourishing of the body and soul to pass on to others.

    So I say write about your journey, and weave throughout the stories, and the narratives that describe the human element – stories of people (you, your family, readers, etc.). One of the things I just love about “Live to Cook” are the essays throughout the book. Love the recipes and techniques, but those short stories and such are what I really find myself drawn to.

    Long “comment”, I know. I felt moved….. Thanks Michael!

    John K.
    Akron, OH

    • Michael Ruhlman

      wow, thx most humbly. is there an emoticon for pretending to not be wiping tears out of your eyes?

      • bob del Grosso

        I agree, that comment was really lovely. You are so fortunate to have the skill, the will and the drive to create prose capable of arousing that in others. Respect.

  • Zak Kuczynski

    Many of the other posts got it, but stories, travels and the view of food and culture before and after what you have done. In 5 years I flew 560k miles, in 16 countries absorbing anything I could, and the experiences of yours I read mirror, enhance an introduce new perspective for me. The places you have been, people you have worked with and the food/life lessons learned is what I grab from reading like this. As a culinary student reading ‘Soul of a Chef’, one of the points that still sticks with me is the chefs picking up cigarette butts on their way into the French Laundry. Some of the finest food out there, mirrored by such a pride in presentation and surroundings is a great lesson to introduce to people, that food is much more than technique. It’s background, creativity, respect, culture, life and love. Thanks for what has been, and look forward to what will be!-z

  • Camusman

    You need to start by identifying what purpose would be most meaningful to you, personally.
    If you want to maximize readership, nothing interests people more than reading about other people. Focus on interesting people you’ve met over the years, etc.

  • john v phipps

    It all comes back to the stories and how you tell them.

    I feel that if we were to meet in person, I would feel comfortable just talking, like talking to a friend that I have not seen for a while.

    I would like to know about your childhood, how did you develop the passion for the written word? Who taught you your craft? How did that passion get channeled into understanding food seemingly as well as you understand words? How has your work developed changes within your relationship with your family? From your travels around the world, what influences did you bring into what you do, and why? What were the epiphany moments in this journey?

  • Brisingr

    Stories and lots of them. How did your childhood shape you to become a chef. If you can summarize the people, food, places, events, milestones in your life so far, it pretty much sums up a memoir.

  • Sam

    I can only reference my favorite food-related memoirs: I thoroughly enjoyed Tender to the Bone by Reichl and The Art of Eating by Fisher. I like the eclecticism, food-orientedness, and travelogue aspects of these books. A few recipes here and there are a nice touch. The thing I like most about your blog is when you post strong opinions. Strong opinions from people who know what they are talking about are good.

    • Sam

      I should add that I am less drawn to the writing of Bourdain, even though he exhibits much of the same eclecticism, food-orientedness, travelogue, and opinionated features I just praised. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he is such an in-your-face presence in the culinary zeigeist, so I already knew from his TV show (which I saw before reading any of his writing) what sort of thing to expect. This made his writing, for me, just an inferior media vehicle for the same type of content.

      Another comment: my experience with the Kindle Single-type article format has been that its best feature is its length. You can read one in one sitting, and when it is well-written, that’s exactly what I as a reader want to do. A memoir is often structured as a series of vignettes, and I find that when I read a good one I tend to savor it more slowly. Maybe reading the one by Patchett you recommended would change my mind, though.

  • Epicuranoid

    After being a cook for 30 years and operating BBQ restaurants for 15 (at the time) I stumbled on to your book Charcuterie. I was trying to work out some gaps in my knowledge base (how toos), but I got something entirely different. I got reconnected to my personal and professional culinary tradition. This did not come from recipes. You are not just a guy who puts ‘writer’ under you tag, so I don’t think it matters what you write about as long as you feel it inside and project it on the page through the filter of your craft. You have a gift for being honest and even ballsy sometimes, which keeps it real. So just keep it real :)

  • Michael Ruhlman

    Thank you all so much for these comments. Of all the things I’m grateful for in this digital high among them is all of you. How did I get such a thoughtful, helpful, articulate readership (and in a blogosphere that is rife with stupid meanness)? Tell me that! Again, thank you.

  • Laura @MotherWouldKnow

    I’m late to the party – spent the morning writing my own blogpost :). I’d like to hear about the detours and the ways that you kept yourself motivated. Even the most successful of writers and other professionals have setbacks. How you dealt with them would be much more interesting and instructive than a stories that focus simply on (your many) successes.

  • Michael Ruhlman

    Just got this email from Mike Pardus, one the instrumental chefs in my career and dear friend. Thought it was worth posting.

    “I’m often struck by interconnections in my life and the food business and how there seem to be only 1 or 2 degrees of separation between any of us. You, me, DelGrosso, Bourdain, and on and on…I was selling wild mushrooms to Sally and Don Schmidt and then to Keller years before we met – stuff like that.

    “I sometimes wonder if other loosely knit but tightly connected communities are/were similar. When I start thinking like this I wonder if Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsburg, William Burroughs, et al. thought there was anything special about the gang they hung out with or if it seemed as organic to them as it does to us. I don’t mean the talents, just the social circumstances. That might be an interesting premise.”

    Indeed.

    • Nina

      That’s an interesting concept. I know that my theater “family” feels like that – it seems we’ve all known each other or know somebody who knows someone else we worked with and the more people I meet in theater, the more connected we are. In my “work life,” a salesperson for a NY hotel came to visit people in his sales territory, which included me, a few years ago, and when we went to lunch we got to talking and discovered we were both in theater and immediately ran down a list of “do you know so and so’s” in our respective towns and found two connections! There is definitely a feeling of, how to describe it, like being introduced to someone else in the Mafia if you are in – like someone saying, “this is a friend of ours” – the person is immediately in “the family” and a friend, as theater people share a particular type of crazy that others don’t necessarily have. I think of the food world as much the same, and the more I make those connections, I find the same thing happening there too. But with that, I am only a visitor, not a member. Working in the FOH of restaurants for 10 years only gets you a visitors’ badge :)

    • Penny

      It is how you made the connections and how you sustain them that I would like to hear about. I’m a fan of you writing and love your approach to cooking and the message you send out to the world through your blogs and videos. I consider myself a foodie and a darn good cook, but my life is focused on my family and work and its hard to keep up with what is going on outside of that realm. I know that food writing is your work and passion, but how do you do it?

  • Wilma de Soto

    I should like to see a book that delineates how you fostered your relationship with food as pleasurable and healthy.

    Americans need to relax about food and learn to eat well. A book that will influence the culture of eating in America is wanted. We eat too fast, too often, do not vary our diets enough and obsess about food.

    We need someone like you who relates to food and eating properly to tell their story about how they got there. Something the average schlep like me can appreciate without thinking one has to have a private purveyor or personal farm garden to eat well and healthily. The culture of eating in this country is seriously bereft.-Thank you.

  • Jon Bedford

    If your story is to be “a memoir of my journey as a food writer,” then the interesting parts would seemingly be the non-linear aspects of the journey. Said differently, how you got from point A to point B when the path was not as expected by you, or a standard path by which most would travel. That’s interesting stuff! Plus, ‘seat-of-your-pants’ stories or ‘skin-of-your-teeth’ stories always make for good reading.

  • Michael Storey

    Technical Technique – any cookbook can tell me to set the oven to X deg and leave for X minutes. Instead I want to hear how, when making a stock for example, you set the temperature to 220 because water boils at 212 and you want the water as hot as possible with as little bubbling and disturbance as possible because it helps with a stocks clarity. I want even more though, like why when the stock boils the clarity is disturbed (proteins break up, etc), or why 220 instead of 210 because of the evaporative cooling that is keeping the stock temperature below the temperature of the oven. I want to know all the details behind the science, chemistry, and technique to a simple recipe like stock because I can then translate it across the board to similar projects and experiments in the kitchen.

  • David

    There is an ancient principle, verging on paranormal, about how the mind-state and emotionality in food preparation is communicated on through to the eater.
    I know my Mom really didn’t like cooking, and dinners were tense affairs.
    I recall with delight in your CIA book; the ex-Marine chef and his charged enthusiasm for what he was doing.
    Given the media emphasis that is put on pressures and tensions in the professional kitchen, it would be interesting to hear how chefs relate to this idea.
    I’m sure that although the level of discipline in Thomas Keller’s kitchens is very high, that people who work there enjoy the experience, and that this carries through to the plate in one way or another.
    Meanwhile, it has been a longstanding deterrent for me with restaurants, to imagine that the kitchen staff are in some kind of wretched bondage – I don’t want to eat food made by people in wretched bondage.

    • Michael Ruhlman

      I wouldn’t feel right taking advantage of such an old and defenseless man…

  • Austin Val

    It doesn’t matter what you write–I’ll buy it and read it.

  • Matt

    I’m not sure I’d limit yourself to something small. You have my order regardless. Think memoir that can be taken partially as instructional a la Neil Strauss’ ‘the game’ or more obviously, ‘kitchen confidential.’. I’m a long time reader, ratio app user, book buyer, and we be even corresponded a few times. Just let me know when I can pre-order! In terms of publishing, u may also wish to look to Louis CK for some trail-blazing. Second half if this podcast may help a great deal, about fifty minutes in. This guy is changing entertainment and various forms of publishing as we speak!!?, brilliant!!! http://cdn16.castfire.com/audio/303/2889/15637/1042550/bsreport_2012-06-26-235950-6427-0-0-0.128.mp3?cdn_id=33&uuid=ef65e4ff2e8ee4c17b898d77f64b7b29&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.grantland.com%2Fpodcasts

  • A.S.

    For a memoir, I’d be most interested in the most important (or interesting or funny or whatever is important to you) episodes in your life that led you to today. A how-to guide, or info about cooking, or the like, doesn’t really seem to me to fit that bill.

    Have you read the writer Michael Lewis’s commencement address at Princeton? He talked about the role of serendipity in his journey as a writer – he happened to get seated at a dinner next to the wife of a big shot at Salomon Brothers who then gave him a job, which led to his writing Liar’s Poker (he was making the point that we ought not forget that luck plays an incredibly important role in all of our lives). I’d be interested in those episodes in your own life like this.

  • Sandy

    What compels you to write. Your gift as a food writer is your ability to delve into the theoretical and apply it to the practical (brilliantly in Twenty). I’m struck with your seemingly endless drive to investigate, unearth and deliver food-based knowledge to your readers. I love that your journey is your story. Tell us more!

  • Scott Raymond

    I’d like to hear about when you had your epiphany. When you suddenly realized that this was what you were meant to be doing, even though you had never originally intended it.

  • Witloof

    I enjoyed “The Soul of a Chef” and “The Making of a Chef” so much that I would read any food related memoir you write.

  • Jamie

    The social dynamic angle you mentioned in the comments could really elevate the memoir genre. If an account, on the one hand, offered all the fascinating details of what it’s like to think and work as Ruhlman (Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up is a great example of this), and, on the other hand, connected this story to the questions, concerns, and ambitions that your colleagues were working with at the same time: well, that would be a a history of a culture.

  • Charlotte

    While I too appreciate the urge to get around the gatekeepers, John Tayman @ co are doing some interesting work over at Byliner. Just a thought …
    I suppose my 2 cents content-wise would be how your career in many ways parallels the rise of food writing as a genre even as the magazine industry that had supported it in the past collapsed. You seem to be making a living, which is more than just about all of my other writing friends are doing these days (and I’m in Livingston MT, where you can’t swing a cat for hitting a writer). The entire landscape has changed out from under the profession … how you’ve navigated that might be one arc to consider … and the ways in which you’ve incorporated blogging, social media, television, etc as income streams.

  • karen downie makley

    I second the above comment. Write what YOU want, don’t play to the audience. If it’s compelling and well-written, the audience will be there.

  • Jon in Albany

    You have made references to working the line in a handful of restaurants. Unless I’ve missed it in some of your previous work, I don’t think you have ever really written about those experiences in depth.

  • kelly bailey

    i love the thought of the shorts available on amazon, downloadable on my kindle if i have some time to kill. perfect (non )guilty pleasure. also would love to have another ruhlman book in my hands that i save for when i have time to sit down and snuggle with it. content – probably all the stuff everyone else talks about. gossip, learnings, inspirations, photos, etc. i would be particularly interested in your travels and what made them special to you, and photos, similar to what you’ve recently posted on facebook.

  • Paul C

    I think a series of narratives based on ‘the making of’ each book would be fascinating, especially the collaborative ones with Keller, but also just as fascinating to me would be the stories to Charcuterie and the upcoming Salume. The other thing I’d love to read about, is all the people out there that have left their job as a chef or accountant and taken up some obscure artisinal craft ( preferably food related, but not necesarrily ) and done amazing things … Reading that sort of stuff is massively inspirational.

  • Kathryn

    I would love to hear more about your career strategy as a writer. How do you recognize opportunities and take advantage of them? In other words, you’re career has taken a turn you didn’t expect — when did you notice the curve in the road, so to speak? Have their been similar moments within your career as a food writer?

  • Ashley

    Stories & anecdotes would be awesome – little insights into the world you found yourself in that lend a different dimension to the greats you have come in contact with over the years. That and the specific effects this unintended journey has had on shaping the person you are today.

  • Marilyn Seay

    A good friend is allergic to onion, leeks, all fresh aliums. How do I cook for her when onion is an early ingredient in most recipes Thanks, Marilyn

  • Pam

    I’ve gotten a greater sense of who you are through this blog than through any of your (fine) books. Writed what YOU want to write. If you’re interested, we’ll be interested as well.

  • Carri

    All these comments are great and I get why you would ask such a question, but you know that it isn’t until you start to write that the stories you need to tell will reveal themselves, surprising you as much as the rest of us. It’s one of the great things about memoir…it’s one crazy ride. I can say for sure we are all excited to tag along!

    • ruhlman

      very true. i love the dorothy parker line “how do i know what I think till I read what I write?”

  • Natalie Luffer Sztern

    …“Thank you all so much for these comments. Of all the things I’m grateful for in this digital high among them is all of you. How did I get such a thoughtful, helpful, articulate readership (and in a blogosphere that is rife with stupid meanness)? Tell me that! Again, thank you.”…

    Michael, I don’t know the answer to this because my first foray into the blogosphere was entirely rifled with stupid meanness which extended way past acceptable barriers with my children. Even with those who you often mention with kudos. You have no idea how long I have waited to be able to say this. I know Bob knows exactly of whom and who I speak. Then again your reputation was regarded with high quality before the blogosphere ever reached these heights anyway.

  • Mary

    I would love to hear about your journey through life. I very much enjoy reading about how things unfold for people who are doing things I think are way cool. Like you. Thanks for your great site. Love reading your blog.

  • Carolyn Z

    Isn’t the journey how we find where we end up? Most people don’t find this trip to be a straight line, as someone already said. I admire your focus on making these outlets of yours pay the bills. Writing is not an easy occupation, and you seem quite successful at it. You are in an enviable position to be able to write the story that many of us are interested in, no, fascinated by. I wish you the best of luck in this whatever you decide to include.

  • Matthew

    I would like to read about the less glamorous side of the food world. Not the drugs, booze, sex a la Bourdain. I want to read stories about what it’s like to be making $12 and hour as a line cook while trying to pay off $60,000 in student load debt only to realize that you don’t want to be a chef. (I’ve know quite a few of them.) Or how you rarely get to eat dinner with your family because you have to be at work when paying customers want to eat, dinner time. Forget about having holidays and weekends off. It really is a tough business to be in. I have done some talks at middle and high schools about being in the food service industry and I am amazed at the number of kids who want to be chefs. When I got into the business it was by mistake and nobody I knew wanted to be doing it for the rest of their lives. They think that what the see on food television is real. I hate to burst their bubbles, but I feel I must be honest with them and tell them that they most likely will never be famous, never make a lot of money . I feel it’s my duty to tell them that the work hours suck and the working conditions can be very harsh. Take today for example, it was a hundred degrees outside today in Ohio, what do you think it was like in a restaurant kitchen? You really have to love the food business to be in it. That’s what I tell them. If they can think of a anything else that would rather be doing they should do that instead. I love it that’s why I’m still in it, but it’s rough sometimes.

    Sorry for the rant. I’m not sure how it will help with your memoir. I think Ratio, Ruhlman’s Twenty and Charcuterie are three of the best “cookbooks” of our time. Keep up the great work.

  • AntoniaJames

    Why a memoir now? You appear to be so right-smack-dab in the middle of living your life. Isn’t the purpose of a memoir to put people and events in perspective? It seems rather odd that someone so young would want to embark on such a journey. That said, your “Making of a Chef” revealed that you have quite a knack for storytelling. I liked how you interspersed the stories with brief but important insights. Anything written in that style — provided that you avoid the tiresome “all about me” and “my wonderful life” themes so prevalent in food blogging — would interest me. ;o)

  • J.T.

    Nothing personal, Ruhlman, but I could care less about the process of food writing or the food writer themselves. Just keep the stories, pictures, and thoughts coming. I’m not too interested in your motivations beyond how they come across in your blog. I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh, but you asked. Cheers.

  • Jesse

    Just earlier today I was in a store and they had a small book section. One of them was a certain book on wooden boats. Definitely it would be interesting to consider including a discussion of what moved you to write on each topic, and why food because the one you are most known for?

  • carrie

    Michael, first and foremost, I’ll read anything you write because I admire your work and your work ethic (I’m finishing up _Making of a Chef_, working my scattershot way through your oeuvre). Late to posting because I was on vacation. I have stumbled into food writing in the past 3-4 years, and happily, crazily, see no way of going back. Make it about writing and about yourself. I don’t want industry gossip (unless it comes about organically in a story); I don’t want a technique, how-to, or other methodology-oriented tome (you rock it, we all know it and love it, and you’ve covered it well). I may want personal recipes here and there, things with meaning, but with stories attached to them. I may want advice (hell, who doesn’t!); I look up to people like you in terms of writers who damn well know their way around the kitchen, the hardscrabble, accidental but nonetheless passionate way. And I agree with other comments here, and it’s something I used to tell my college students when I used to work as an adjunct English prof: sometimes you have to just start writing and see what comes out. See where it takes you. Trust the process. I also like something that Dave Joachim recently told me when we were talking about writing: If I didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen. What’s not been recorded, or told, before? You’ll naturally probably want to give us “moments” that pushed you in this direction, but perhaps those dots will connect, or take shape into a line of some sort (even a zigzagging one is good!–and often better, especially in deft hands!), that provides narrative. If the time feels right–you probably wouldn’t be asking all of us if it didn’t–then I suspect something’s simmering that will soon surface. Can’t wait to see how it takes shape.

  • Kevin Locke

    Michael – I’d be interested in and hope that a memoir about your journey to becoming a “food writer” would include some of your journey to becoming a good writer and a good story teller. When did you decide to become a writer, who were your earliest influences, was there an event that sparked your passion for writing? How did you come up with the idea of going to the CIA and who thought it was interesting enough to send you there? Cheers.

  • Michelle

    I would love to hear more about writing and the beginnings of your writing career. I find it fascinating how many books I have read that have such a strong food narrative. I am curious, could there be a link in the brain between food and writing, similar to the link between music and math. My theory is, you could write an entire chapter on chickpeas and lettuce, and I would probably find it entertaining and informative. You mentioned food memoir, and this conjured up images of early childhood food experiences along with other food writing experiences as well. I am interested in what makes a person write about food. We are all eaters, however, we are not all writers. And to write and eat, well, that’s a whole other thing. I once turned in a written assignment to my 11th grade English teacher titled “I Ate My First Draft.” I am curious, what were some of your earliest writing assignments and did they entail the subject of food?

  • Zalbar

    The best part of reading anything I’m interested in are the stories and seeing the progression from the author’s point of view. I much prefer to read about thing, how they happened, the why. I don’t read cookbooks for the recipes, but the story. Books such as King’s On Writing were much more informative and readable than others where they would outline form, story structure, antagonist and protagonist interrelations. Pepin’s The Apprentice is much the same where the telling of the story from boyhood apprentice to the present is so gripping it’s really hard to put down. The same for your Making of a Chef. It let us experience, through you, what it was to learn to become a cook. That is what is compelling, living through others and experiencing things most of us never have the courage to do for ourselves.

  • susan

    i love regional writing…what you learned and where you were when you learned it. mistakes are also fascinating.

  • Darcy

    I would love to hear about how you didn’t intend to become a food writer but became one anyhow. What did you think you were going to do? How did you wind up doing this instead? What do you love about what you do now? And I *really* hope that your memoir is *also* published somewhere other than Kindle so that I can buy and read it (no Amazon for me).

  • Sue

    How has being a Clevelander shaped what you do, and your worldview? I am a long-time East Coast transplant from northeast Ohio and still feel fiercely loyal to where I came from. I am oddly proud that people like you and Michael Symon (and Chrissie Hynde and LeBron James–well, not LeBron) live there, and wonder how your hometown identity has informed your work. How did a guy from Cleveland start hanging around with Thomas Keller? And if you left Cleveland to get your start, why did you go back–because Cleveland is such a great food town? (because it is)

  • BJ

    I want to know your “aha!” moment in food writing. Before you enrolled at CIA….vs. what you know now-what is a message you would like to share, an experience, or previous conviction you had about food, restaurants, home cooks, etc., now that you are neck deep in the food industry?