Cooking Idols

Some of the chefs I look up to. (Thanks for asking, @daniel!)
  1. I spent many afternoons as a child sitting on the floor of my parents' pantry, reading Mollie's excellent The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. When I taught kindergarten, her book Pretend Soup was a mainstay in my classroom. Her approach to food, the thoughtful way she writes recipes, and her commitment to teaching others how to cook has played a huge part in shaping the way I approach food writing. Plus, she's just the loveliest person.
  2. Didi Emmons
    Didi Emmons is a cookbook author (Vegetarian Planet and Entertaining for a Vegetarian Planet are mainstays in my kitchen), and she was the longtime owner of the Harvard Square restaurant Veggie Planet. Her food is straightforward and the anecdotes in the headers of her recipes give you the feeling that she is right there in the kitchen with you, which is something I strive to emulate in my own food writing.
  3. Anne Burrell
    She is wacky and loud, but as far as I'm concerned, her cooking show "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" is some of the best cooking education currently on the food network.
  4. Julia Child
    Julia taught me (and millions of other people) perhaps one of the most important lessons of the kitchen: making mistakes are part of the process and they're not a big deal. Even if your omelette breaks when you flip it, it's still going to be delicious.
  5. Alex Guarnaschelli
    Her feedback on "Chopped" is honest, but always constructive. She seems like the kind of friend who would be honest with you about whether or not an item of clothing looks good on you. She's also supremely talented, and makes food that is delicious and crave-worthy, but accessible. She occasionally likes and comments on my Instagram posts, and it makes my day every time.
  6. Christopher Kimball
    The man behind the public access show "America's Test Kitchen" and the magazine "Cook's Illustrated," both of which are devoted to testing and retesting recipes until they are perfect. The magazine and show are both the opposite of glitzy, and focus instead on creating very good food.
  7. Michael Chiarello
    Michael Chiarello has made an incredible career by treating fresh food with beautiful simplicity, and teaching others how to do so as well. He is a champion of wine country food and culture and I think he is just brilliant. Two weeks ago, @evan and I saw him at a restaurant in Napa and even though he is friends with my agent and we share a food photographer, I was way too shy to introduce myself.
  8. Alice Waters
    In addition to founding and continuing to helm Chez Panisse, one of the most iconic restaurants in America, helping to make organic food a thing we do here in United States, as well as popularizing the concept of schoolyard gardens, Alice Waters' books The Art of Simple Cooking and The Art of Simple Cooking II are must-haves.