Dorie Greenspan Discusses Around My French Table and Why She Got Fired From Her Early Jobs

Alan Richardson
Be like Dorie Greenspan and fear not if you fuss with frosting.

Dorie Greenspan is the ultimate baking guru, having written classics like Baking: From My Home to Yours and Paris Sweets. And now she shows readers her savory side with her new cookbook, Around My French Table. She gives us the lowdown on her shaky beginnings as a professional baker and why French food has a special place in her heart.

You studied gerontology in grad school and didn't begin your food-writing career until fairly late. What made you switch over?

Yes, I was all but dissertation. I took all that coursework but didn't finish. I say it's the one deadline that I didn't make. I got married as a child and I started cooking and baking at home, and it was after I looked at my dissertation that I realized I wasn't ever going to finish it. So I thought about what I wanted to do. My husband said, "You like to bake, so why don't you do that?" But it was different back then. At my first job interview the chef kept saying that he wanted a boy employee. And that wasn't me!

So where did you end up working?

Well, I got fired from my first job at SoHo Charcuterie, and then I worked at Sarabeth's for a bit but I wasn't very good at it! I was slow and would be fussing with the frosting while everyone would be waiting for me. Then I quit Sarabeth's before she could fire me. But then a friend said, "You know a lot about food. Why don't you write about it?" Which was just not something that I grew up with. If I had told people I wanted to be a food writer, they wouldn't have known what that was.

Around My French Table has a more personal feeling than some of your other books. Was it more fun to write?

To be given the chance to write something about something I love -- France and its food -- was a dream project. I'm not organized enough to keep notebooks and journals, but Baking would have been my kitchen journal. I think of Around My French Table as the companion book representing the salty, savory part of my life. You put the two together and you have my culinary biography!

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