Called the nation's preeminent food journalist, Mississippi-born Craig Claiborne trained in Switzerland as a chef on the GI bill after World War II. On his return to the United States, he began writing articles for Gourmet and became an editor at the magazine.
His career skyrocketed when The New York Times hired him as its first food columnist in 1957. Claiborne's columns, reviews and cookbooks introduced Americans to a wide range of international and ethnic food. Other newspapers followed The New York Times's lead, and soon a cadre of authoritative newspaper food writers helped attune millions of Americans to the finer points of good food and cooking.
The panel explores Claiborne's life, work, and his seminal influence on food journalism in America.
John T. Edge
John T. Edge is Director of Southern Foodways Alliance, University of Mississippi, a contributing editor to Gourmet magazine and author of Southern Belly.
Betty Fussell is the author of ten previous books, including The Story of Corn and My Kitchen Wars.
A contributor to the New York Times, The New Yorker, Saveur, Food & Wine, Gastronomica, and other publications, she has also lectured widely on food history. Western born, she lives in New York City.
David Leite is the publisher/editor-in-chief of Leite's Culinaria, and author of The New Portuguese Table.
Anne Mendelson is the author of Stand Facing the Stove, and Milk: the Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages as well as a contributing editor to Gourmet magazine.
Molly O'Neill is the food columnist for the New York Times Sunday Magazine and a reporter for the "Style" section of the New York Times.
She grew up in Columbus, Ohio as the oldest child, and only daughter, of five children. For ten years she worked as a chef and studied cooking at La Verenne in Paris.
Twelve years ago she began writing for a living, first as a columnist at Boston Magazine, then at Food and Wine Magazine. In 1984, she became the restaurant critic for New York Newsday and moved to the New York Times in 1989.
She has been nominated for Pulitzer Prize two times. Her first book, The New York Cookbook, won both the Julia Child/IACP and James Beard Awards.
Andrew F. Smith
Andrew Smith is a writer and lecturer on food and culinary history. He serves as the general editor for the University of Illinois Press Food Series, and is past Chair of The Culinary Trust, the philanthropic partner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
He also teaches Culinary History at the New School in Manhattan.
Molly O'Neill argues that New York Times food editor Craig Claiborne achieved so much partly due to his gender and expense account. "He was able to bring...rigorous discipline and enterprise that the New York Time’s was building its reputation on," she says.