Telling Food Stories from Three Perspectives: Culinary Memoir, Biographical Cookbook, and Family Tribute

Cookbooks & Recipes On Writing

Stories that artfully capture the flavors and aromas of a dish, whether stewing on the stovetop or sizzling in a market-stall wok, have the ability to transport us elsewhere. The power of such personal stories lies not only in descriptive talent but in the approach the writer takes — the voice, the scope, the point of view all contribute to the impact on the reader. Editor Lia Ronnen moderates this conversation with Madhur Jaffrey, author of the classic culinary memoir “Climbing the Mango Tree,” Emily Kaiser Thelin, whose biographical cookbook “Unforgettable” shares the renegade life of Paula Wolfert, and Grace Young, whose “Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen” is a traditional memoir cookbook honoring her family’s cooking.

Listen to this outstanding recording on our conference resource site, here. 

Madhur Jaffrey is the author of 15 award-winning cookbooks and has appeared in over 20 films as well as scores of TV programs, TV series, and stage plays. Her first cookbook,  An Invitation to Indian Cooking, was recently inducted into the Cookery Hall of Fame in the US. Queen Elizabeth II has honored her with a CBE, Commander of the British Empire, for her contributions to the worlds of acting and cookery. Her latest book, a memoir of her childhood in India, is Climbing the Mango Trees.

Emily Kaiser Thelin is a writer, editor, former restaurant cook, and author of Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life. A two-time finalist for James Beard awards, and a former editor at Food & Wine, her work has also appeared in Oprah, Dwell, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

Lia Ronnen is the publisher and editorial director of Artisan Books, whose cookbook authors include Thomas Keller, Sean Brock, Edward Lee, David Tanis, Lucinda Scala Quinn, and Naomi Duguid among many others. Lia guides all aspects of the Artisan publishing program, working to apply a visual lens to subjects ranging from food and design to lifestyle, fashion, history, and the unexpected. Currently, she is directing a new publishing program for René Redzepi and his team at noma, with the first book to be launched in October 2018.

Grace Young began her career at the age of 15, with an internship in the Dole Test Kitchen. She was named the “Poet Laureate of the Wok” by the food historian Betty Fussell, and has devoted much of her career to celebrating wok cookery. She is a proud wokaholic.


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