Tag Archives: Ruth Reichl

Going from LA and UG to SF: My Goodbye

1 Jun

For the last two years, Uncouth Gourmands has been my life. For the last year and a half, I have shared my Uncouth Gourmand adventures with you. Josie and I were inseparable and I still cannot go to any event in LA without people asking where my other half or partner is. It is  a role that I have loved because I have met so many great people in the food, restaurant, PR, blogosphere and Twitterazzi worlds. I have lived in LA for the last 6 years, long enough for me to attend both college and grad school and really only since my time as a UG did this monstrosity of a city, LA, feel like a home to me. I felt as though I knew all 88 cities and the food and the culture belonged to me. However, my problem is that I love getting lost and the idea of being a Foursquare Mayor of anywhere frightens me. I want to explore something new and am moving on to a new chapter. There are three people in the food world that I have met or digitally talked to that have greatly changed my direction in the last few months. They are my idols and I am going to share what I learned from them and how they shaped my new San Francisco life.

Photo Credit to NY Magazine

1. Gael Greene is a woman who I greatly admire. At one point, Josie and I were getting a comic book made called “The Insatiables” and it wasn’t til a few months later that I realized that Gael Greene already authored a book called “Insatiable.” She embraced her sexuality along with her insatiable appetite for food. As someone who is a die-hard feminist and foodie, I appreciate her on a very personal level. Her chapter on having sex with Elvis Presley in the 50’s was the most exciting thing I have ever read. While all of the girl’s were down below on the street level of his hotel screaming his name she was actually getting him although she has a better memory of the exact sandwich she ordered him after the deed. I remember writing something to her on Twitter saying how much I admire her and Ruth Reichl and she responded to me saying, “Perhaps you are becoming a more couth gourmand.” I didn’t believe it then but it is true. The way Josie and I branded this company was she was the more uncouth and I was the more gourmand one. I am champagne and Josie is beer. I really want to learn more about the food and shed some of my uncouth ways. I will probably always sit with my leg up at any restaurant and not hold a knife and fork correctly but I want to learn wine and cooking and the process. That is where my new interest lies.

2. Thomas Keller is considered one of the best chefs in this country and when I met him a few months ago at a book signing he wrote something very profound on the inscription. I am sure he wrote this to everyone but this had particular resonance with me. It IS all about family. My family is small and exceptionally tight and for the last 6 years I have lived away from them. I always stayed in the same state but I want to be closer to my Santa Cruz roots and my family tree branches. San Francisco is a 70 mile drive to my mom’s home in Santa Cruz where my 9 year old brother and my 90 year old grandfather are and I want to be near both of those gentlemen and my mama. I think my friend Hanh said it best, “You will never regret a decision that favors on the side of family”

3. Ruth Reichl: I met Ruth at a celebration for Gourmet Magazine in January and I really felt as though she changed my life. I come from a family of writers and was always under the impression that I wanted something much more serious for my life. After all, I just got an MBA and business was my form of rebelling. I learned from her that writing, even writing about food, is extremely serious and she really made me want to be a much better food writer. I realized at this point that writing for the rest of my life would make me the happiest person in the world. Prior to this, I used writing more as a means to promote the brand that was Uncouth Gourmands. I wanted to head a lifestyle brand and, in order for people to understand that lifestyle, I shared my life. This became my favorite part of UG and through this I ended up finding my voice and what is that I want to do. In April, I headed up north to see my family and spend some time in San Francisco. The first night of this trip, my mom bought me Garlic & Sapphires after I heard from Gastronomyblog and Glutser that it changed their lives. I devoured the book by Ruth Reichl during the trip and while driving into San Francisco I did that trick that I sometimes do on dates where I say “Please don’t let me fall in love. Please don’t let me fall in love” I tend to have some restraint on dates but on this trip I fell in love. I knew driving back to LA that I would end up moving to SF and even wrote a post entitled, “I left my footprint in San Francisco” What I learned from Ruth and her book is that there is a certain inspiration that can only come when you are discovering a new city. She was from NYC but after years in LA she was in no rush to return. LA is cozy and beautiful and at one point in the book she describes it as the silk coffin because it is hard to escape. However, rediscovering NYC provided her with some great writing and especially when you write about restaurants half the fun is the first second you walk in to a new place and your first bite.

It’s official, sometime this month I will be moving to San Francisco and I will be leaving UG behind. I will always be an Uncouth Gourmand, after all I added the “Gourmand” part to the name but I don’t know how well I fit the brand anymore. It is LA based and that is where the UG Global Headquarters is and where the “magic” happens. Have no fear, Josie and I are still friends but our identities aren’t as enmeshed as they once were. People change, businesses grow, and as Josie and I (perpetual singletons) know all too well relationships don’t end up being what you imagine them to be in the beginning. The picture above was us volunteering at our favorite LA food event, Taste of the Nation LA, and we will be doing it again this year. It features some of the best food, the who’s who of the LA food world, and it all goes to help a great cause. If you are sad about this news and wanna see the OG UG girls together again then buy your tickets ASAP and we will see you on Sunday! If you can’t make it you can still find Josie on @UncouthGourmand and you can follow me @CarinaOst on Twitter.

Thank you all for everything and I hope to see you in SF or in my second home LA. Spork on, Uncouthies!

A Gourmet Celebration: Ruth Reichl and the Legacy

24 Jan

I came back from my trip to NorCal on Tuesday. I drove in a storm and followed a police car that went 5 mph through a giant puddle. The reason for my return in this storm was the talk at Skirball with Ruth Reichl, Jonathan Gold, and Laurie Ochoa. I had a food filled weekend with the Tasty Awards and the Fancy Food Fest that the storm kept me away from in SF, but it was LA that had the real food event I was looking forward to. I greatly admire all three of these people. I made it off the 405, an hour before the event. I changed my shirt in the car and met up with our friend, Kane, before Josie arrived straight from work. When the event started was when I knew that Evan Kleiman would be the moderator for the evening. I was thrilled. I met Evan when Josie and I volunteered to work the cookbook table at Taste of the Nation LA, she said one of the wisest comments I’ve ever heard. Josie and I gave her our business cards and she said, “Why does a blog need a President and a Chief Creative Officer?” Josie responded, “Well, it’s kind of a launchpad to something bigger” Evan didn’t skip a beat and said, “Honey, life is a launchpad to something bigger.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Evan put everyone at ease and the conversation flowed beautifully. Ruth, Jonathan, and Laurie came into Gourmet Magazine as renegades. They brought the idea of conscious food to the forefront, branched food out of the high-end restaurant/hotel world, and kept the literary excellence and journalistic integrity that Gourmet Magazine has always been famous for possessing. The night was inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time. The magazine that had contributions from such writers as Maya Angelou,  David Foster Wallace, and F. Scott Fitzgerald closed with no dignity. Ruth had the December issue all ready to go with January, February, and most of March completed. These issues never saw the light of day and the magazine was closed with zero warning. However, this night was a celebration but the loss in all of our food lives could not be ignored. The video below was one of my favorite moments of the evening and the whole night can be seen and heard on Zocalo.

For me, the most uplifting part of the night was when an audience member asked what the legacy of Gourmet Magazine will be. Laurie Ochoa responded by saying that they never talked down to their readers. I loved that. In a world of oversimplifying and 30-minutes meals, it is nice that integrity is still held. Jonathan Gold made a joke about “Paula Deen’s Gourmet,” which gave everyone a chuckle and a genuine worry. I loved that neither Jonathan Gold nor Gourmet magazine ever gave restaurants a star rating. It is so much more than that; it’s a story. Pulitzer Prize winning Jonathan Gold loved being able to write 3,000 words on a single restaurant review in the magazine. He even told this great story about how at Gourmet you had to visit more than 8 times to write a review and at one of the later visits at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant in NYC he had an worm in his salad. He played with it. The staff went crazy and someone tipped off the NY Post but he shrugged it off saying, “Look, I am from California, I understand. It means it’s organic.” This story was the perfect example of an Uncouth Gourmand and got me thinking a lot about Josie and myself. As most of you know, Josie and I bonded during a trip to Europe where the idea of the UGs was born. We spent more money than we spent on all of our hostels for 3 weeks on a $500 lunch at Le Louis XV in Monaco, also an Alain Ducasse restaurant. It was at this time when we put together the words uncouth and gourmand. We realized that sometimes a Doner kabob at 5am is just as good as a 5 star meal and that the dining experience must be a fun one.  The first time we met Jonathan Gold and said that we were the Uncouth Gourmands, he said that is who he has been his entire career. It is true, he is an idol of ours.

As much as we love him, it was Ruth that was the star of the evening. What a career and what a genuinely thoughtful woman. She sat on the floor and spoke with everyone afterward. We were waiting in line next to Teenage Glutster and Gastronomy Blog (photographed with us) and it was nice to see how excited they were to meet her. I know some people believe it is the fast paced blogging world and tweets that are putting an end to the print business but that doesn’t make the two things enemies. Bloggers are also thoughtful and have ethics, integrity, and “intellectual rigor” that the WSJ tributes to Gourmet Magazine. At the same point, Ruth talked about how much she was looking forward to the future technology for Gourmet magazine and enjoys reading blogs. In fact, when I met her I told her that I live in Pasadena, which was home to what she claimed was the best egg salad (the place was Euro Pane and I totally agree). I knew this information from her Twitter and I also read on her Twitter about the end of Gourmet magazine from the source. What I am trying to say is that clearly the medium has changed but the legacy that Gourmet pioneered lives on and I am thrilled it is so prevalent in my fellow LA bloggers.

I knew I wanted to write this post today, but there was one problem. I was hungover and starving. I remembered that Ruth said that the recipe collection is still on the Gourmet site and I felt compelled to make something. I woke up this morning dreaming of perfectly roasted chicken and found a recipe on their sadly no longer updated site. Even better it was in the easy to make category. I made the Chicken and Parsnip “Fries” with Spicy Vinegar recipe from the Gourmet site and I photographed it with my new camera. Look at that, I am upgrading my photo equipment. I am really not trying to use a Melvin Udall line but Gourmet Magazine and Ruth Reichl make me want to be a better Uncouth Gourmand, writer, cook, food photographer, and person.