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Charleston, SC and Brooklyn, NY
Date of Birth
Place of Birth
New York, New York
B.A. Amherst College, 1993
M.F.A. University Of Iowa
Writers Workshop, 1999
Why did you choose to come to Amherst?
When I visited Amherst, I stayed with a group of seniors who were Russian scholars. They were so passionate about their classes and professors and I thought, I want to be like them. I also found Amherst so beautiful--Memorial Hill at sunset pretty much sold me on the place.
Most influential class at AmhersT?
Kim Townsend's Reading and Writing Non-Fiction
Most influential professor
Jack Cameron, my senior thesis advisor. Such a superb reader, and teacher.
History of southern foodways in New York City.
Awards and Prizes
James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year; International Association of Culinary Professionals' Julia Child Award Favorite Cookbook: Taste of Country Cooking, by Edna Lewis Favorite Fiction Writer: Alice Munro Tips for aspiring writers? Read, read, read.
Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an author
I took a fairly unconventional path to being an author. I started a business with my brother selling southern pantry staples by mail-order and I wrote fiction on the side. At some point, a customer of our mail-order catalogue who was an editor of a travel magazine contacted us to say she enjoyed the writing in the catalogue, and hired us to write a story about traveling our home state, South Carolina, in search of great food. We wrote that story, and then other food magazines and newspapers started calling asking us to write food-focused travel stories in other parts of the South. The more we wrote those kinds of stories, the more we got interested in writing about home-cooking and what happens in the kitchen. From having grown up in Charleston, we had a number of recipes--and stories, always stories!--so we decided to put them together and make a book.