November 28, 2021

Sunday in the Kitchen with Dorie Greenspan

Dorie Greenspan at the podium during her presentation at Congregation Beth Shalom in Chester.

Rachel Berliner, who is an intern with Shoreline Web News LLC from Old Saybrook High School, had the opportunity to meet a very special lady recently. Rachel attended a presentation by nationally acclaimed cookbook writer Dorie Greenspan and then after the presentation, Ms. Greenspan graciously agreed to be interviewed by Rachel.

Dorie Greenspan is a James Beard award-winning cookbook author.  On Sunday, Jan. 16, “foodies” had the opportunity to savor her experiences of Parisian life and food at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek’s “Books and Bagels” event held at the Chester synagogue.  Greenspan inspired the large audience with her stories of Parisian “joie de vivre” and food prepared in a myriad of ways.

I was honored to have the opportunity to interview Ms. Greenspan after her presentation.  I asked her about the famous chefs she has worked with and the inspiration for her newest book “Around my French Table.”

RB: How long did it take you to put “Around my French Table” together?

DS: I teasingly say it took me 30 years because it’s really a record of my experience in France.  I worked on the book for four years.

RB: What was it like for you to work with Julia Child? What are your favorite memories and/or recipes of that time?

DG: I have so many ‘Julia’ recipes.  She was extraordinary.  She was the same person as she was on television.  She was always warm and encouraging.  Julia wanted women in the kitchen.  She counseled people to go to college and finish school.  She thought it was really important.  I was so lucky to work with her.

Ms. Greenspan is a very expressive lady!

RB: What was it like to work with Daniel Boulud?  What is your favorite memory of that time?

DG: The “memory” was how we put “the book” together (“Café Boulud Cookbook: French-American Recipes for the Home Cook”).  He (Daniel) had closed his restaurant and was rebuilding it.  It was August and all of the cooks were off.  He called about eight cooks [back to the restaurant] and said, “Okay, we’re going to work.  We’re going to come into the kitchen and create this book in teams.”  The whole restaurant was a construction site, but the kitchen was still usable.  He put together teams of two, about 10 teams.  Every morning, we would come in and there was a list of recipes we would have to create.  He would be around telling us what to do and how he wanted it done.  We would cook all day and as a dish would finish, everybody would stop and we would all taste it together.  Daniel has a great way of being a leader.

RB: Would you like to have your own show on PBS/Food Network?

DG: I like working on television, but I don’t know if I would have a show.

RB: How did you choose the recipes for the book?

DG: It’s interesting.  A lot of my recipes essentially come from three places: the food that I cook, food my friends cook, and food my friends who are chefs serve in their restaurants.  I wanted to show “a snapshot” of what food is like in France today.  I wanted to have the food you would “nibble” before you eat … things you would have as an “hors d’oeuvres.”  I knew what I wanted my chapters to be.   The great fun was saying, “I have these chapters.  All of my favorite recipes are going to go in there.” You get to put in (the cookbook) what you love most.  You also have to balance it so you don’t have a hundred chicken recipes and two for beef.  It’s that balance: what would make the most interesting recipes for readers and home cooks.

The audience was captivated by Ms. Greenspan's tales.

RB: Which region of France do you prefer?

DG: There are so many regions.  They “hold on” to their cuisine.  It’s wonderful that the traditions remain.  I liked the hearty food of the southwest of France.  I love the pastries from Alsace.  It’s hard to say.  I love the salted butter from Brittany … Bretagne.  I love gougères (cheese puff pastries) from Burgundy.

It was a pleasure talking to Ms. Greenspan.  She was such a kind and gracious lady.  I just have two more things that I want to say to her now — “Merci,” and “Bon Appétit!”