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I am a communicator. That’s what I do for a living. So it’s only natural for me to create a web site that gives a brief portrait of my careers in the professional kitchen and journalism world with their many twists and turns. To accomplish that objective I must also provide a sense of my ideas about food, food preparation and how my values have directed my career. The various links give examples of my writing, editing and a look at a book review for one of the three books that I have written. First, about the twists and turns…
Where to begin? Graduation from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) is probably the best place. It was right after graduation that I got my first job cooking at Jasper’s, the premier fish and seafood restaurant of Boston. Chef-owner Jasper White was not only a wonderful mentor, honing skills that I learned at the CIA, but he taught me to be respectful of how food was produced and delivered. Although I was raised to be an ethical individual, Jasper helped transfer those values to the food world and cooking in particular.
After three years at Jasper's, I moved on to cook at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston, then returned to New York and worked in a number of fine restaurants including Le Bernardin and Orso. My objective in changing jobs was usually to increase my knowledge of food and cooking in both variety and style. At one point I had to make a decision about what my future in the food industry would be. Restaurant life is a very tough one and I had to decide if I would be willing to give up friendships and many of my various interests in order to continue on an upward path. After much soul searching and consultation with family and friends I decided to alter my career path in a way that I could still maintain my interest and involvement with food preparation. I decided to study journalism so that I could write about food from a unique perspective.
I received a BA in journalism from NYU and started my freelance career writing about all manner of things. Naturally, I wrote about food. My first paid publication was a story about an Asian spice, galangal, which was published in The New York Times (NYT) in August 1996. But, I also wrote about education, finance, travel and contributed people profiles among others. But, by far the food and cooking articles predominate.
Publications that I have written for besides the New York Times include Newsday, Newark Star Ledger and The New York Sun in the New York area and others throughout the country. Magazines include Time Out New York, Travel and Leisure, United Airlines Hemispheres, TWA Ambassador, Veggie Life, Global Finance and many others. Along the way I wrote three cookbooks, starting with The Everything Vegetarian Cookbook and the Cup of Comfort Cookbook published by Adams Media 2002. The most recent is The Ethical Gourmet published in 2006 by Broadway Books, a division of Random House.
One thing leads to another, and since publication of articles and books I have done radio reports for National Public Radio (NPR), television cooking demonstrations, been a featured speaker at numerous food related events, done cooking videos for Sprig.com (a subsidiary of the Washington Post), blogged for Forecast Earth (a subsidiary of the Weather Channel), and at the end of 2008 was the keynote speaker at Saint Benedict College, Saint John’s University in Minneapolis, MN. (See also event feedback.)
One of the most interesting activities that I’ve had during the past five years has been as the editor of a newsletter published for the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). I helped the publisher develop the concept for the magazine and sell the idea to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). In addition to editing the newsletter and contributing articles, I did all of the cooking for photos that illustrated the various stories. Beside the fun of cooking the dishes that we used, I learned a great deal about different kinds of food. Unfortunately, the publisher was not able to make money on the newsletter even though it had a fairly large subscription base. After three fun years the newsletter came to an end. (Click here to see a sample issue.) More recently I was the editor of a coffee-table book about Asian cuisine. That book, Southeast Asian Flavors by Robert Danhi, was published in October 2008 and was nominated for a James Beard award in 2009.
Another development in my culinary career is in my role as a teacher. I currently teach at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York. I teach courses in both the Chef Training Program and in the public classes. One of my favorite one-day classes is “Market Menus,” wherein we go shopping for ingredients at the Union Square Farmers’ Market, return to the school, plan a menu, and cook what we’ve just purchased. I enjoy teaching, and all of the classes are fun and different.
I still cook special events for my private clients. And I continue to write articles for publication. I am currently working on a proposal for my next book. When I am not doing any of the above I enjoy bicycling along the Hudson river on Manhattan’s west side, travel, my weekly game of chess, good music, reading and, of course, discovering new foods.
© 2009 Jay Weinstein - All Rights Reserved