Moment in Time: The Thinking Man’s Profession?

A Lightbulb Moment as Some Woodworkers Learn About Ghostwriting

[This is my second post from Italy, where I’m traveling with Michael White, researching our upcoming book, along with Evan Sung, who’s shooting photographs for us. (First post is here.) I’ll be abroad through Thursday, July 19, so check back for further posts here in the Toqueland Wire.]

Michael White (second from right) and Evan Sung (far right) greet some craftsmen in Imola, Italy, July 12, 2012

While walking to our car in Imola yesterday, Michael, Evan, and I passed by a woodworking shop situated, rather charmingly, in the former home of a small church. Some of the craftsmen there fashioned the original woodwork for San Domenico restaurant when it opened way back in 1970, and they were old friends of Michael, who introduced Evan to the guys. They had no problem understanding when he told them that Evan was photographing his cookbook.

But when he introduced me and told them that I was writing his cookbook, he was met with quizzical glances. How could I be writing his book?

Michael explained, in Italian, the nature of our working relationship. The quizzical looks continued, so he kept explaining, until finally one of them got it. I only know a few words of Italian, but I understood perfectly what the concept-grasper said next:

“Ah,” he exclaimed.  “Tu pense e lui scrive!” You think and he writes!

Everybody cracked up, and after a second, so did I: It was the perfect, five-word explanation that eluded the food-writing world a few months back.

Esatto,” I said. Exactly!

- Andrew

 

PS If you worked in a major American restaurant in the 1970s or 1980s (kitchen or front of house), I'd love to hear from you and possibly interview you for my forthcoming oral history of that era. Please reach me at andrew@toqueland.com.

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About the Author

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ANDREW FRIEDMAN has collaborated on more than 25 cookbooks and other projects with some of America’s finest and most well-known chefs including Michael White, Paul Liebrandt, Alfred Portale, and former White House Chef Walter Scheib. He co-edited the popular anthology Don’t Try This at Home and is a two-time winner of the IACP Award for Best Chef or Restaurant Cookbook. Andrew is an editor at large for TENNIS Magazine and the coauthor of American tennis star James Blake’s New York Times bestselling memoir Breaking Back. In 2009, he published his first nonfiction book, Knives at Dawn: America’s Quest for Culinary Glory at the Bocuse d’Or, the World’s Most Prestigious Cooking Competition. He is currently working on a cookbook with chefs Walker Stern and Joseph Ogrodnek of Brooklyn's Battersby restaurant, and is writing an oral history of the American chefs of the 1970s and 1980s, to be published by Ecco Press in 2015.