Author Michael Ruhlman begins this fascinating mini-memoir with the words "I never intended to be a food writer." But a food writer he is, after following a very rocky road to success, being on the verge of bankruptcy several times while struggling to stay afloat and keep his marriage alive.
Today it's hard to remember when Food Network, the Cooking Channel, and cooking shows all across cable TV weren't so wildly popular. But Ruhlman began his writing career before all this, when it wasn't so easy to sell another cooking show on TV, much less a book about cooking. Trying to get permission to attend the Culinary Institute of America school in New York, and his harrowing drives through winter blizzards to get there were excruciatingly painful. Fortunately for all the foodies out there, he persevered and made it, with first The Making of a Chef (the CIA book that began as a book about cooking and morphed into the story of what you had to know to become a chef), followed by The French Laundry Cookbook, about cooking at a famous Napa Valley restaurant.
Along the way, Ruhlman left intriguing little tidbits about his life:
* At Duke University, in a writing course under celebrated author Reynolds Price, he learned about the key to home security systems (and no, I can't repeat it here!).
* As a 16-year-old, food had everything to do with losing his virginity.
* The part of a tuna you absolutely don't want to eat.
Today, with more than a dozen books about food to his credit, Ruhlman is at the top of his game, one of the best known food writers in the world, and it's hard to believe that he never intended to be a food writer.
Kudos for a fascinating account of a food writer's long journey.