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April 13, 2007

Can TV, cookbooks, and a line of signature frozen entrées be far behind?


"I've been reading your blog and like what you do. Do you have any interest in writing for the magazine?"

This email query -- which I rescued from my junk mail folder (thanks, Hotmail) -- was from the food editor of Toronto Life, Chris Nuttall-Smith. Would I be interested?  Of course I'd be interested.  Toronto Life is a prominent magazine, with a monthly readership of almost 900,000 and a reputation as perhaps the preeminent resource for information about food and dining in Toronto.  Toronto Life's focus on food, fashion, nightlife, arts, and investigative journalism makes it roughly analogous to New York Magazine, a city-based magazine with a broad mandate.

I pondered my response carefully.  My email had to sound eager, not desperate.  I settled on, "Writing for Toronto Life sounds like an amazing opportunity, so I would definitely be interested."  This is a restrained version of the truth, but it seemed inappropriate to reply: "I would slave over a keyboard for you."

We met for lunch, a nerve-jangling experience on par with a first date.  I even approached it with the same mixture of nerves and planning: What should I say?  What will he think of me?  What should I wear?  Much to Rachel's chagrin, these are questions I hadn't asked myself in years.  Our meal went well, nonetheless, and, to borrow Chris' words, I'm now a "Toronto Life contributor."  My first assignment just hit newsstands this week in the May 2007 issue.

The Dish is a regular Toronto Life feature that profiles an item from the menu of a local chef.  Given my familiarity with unorthodox flavour combinations via molecular gastronomy, Chris asked me to find and profile a dish that combined sweet and savoury elements in an unconventional way.  My research led me to David Lee, the immensely talented chef at Splendido, one of Toronto's best restaurants.

Distilling a dish as complex as his Cold Water Icelandic Langoustine Tails, Maple Tuna Bacon, Candied Fennel, and Licorice Emulsion into a single informative and lively paragraph is as challenging as it is rewarding.  The task was made substantially easier by Chef Lee, whose unwavering commitment to quality ingredients and passion for flavour are infectious, and by Chris, whose patience is boundless, even when that means covering basics like explaining that "tk" means "to come" to a green writer who's never before worked with a professional editor.

It's all somewhat overwhelming, really, though I can't say I didn't hope for such an outcome upon starting this blog. I just didn't expect it.  This is literally a dream come true.  It gets better, however.  Chris continues to send more work my way, including a request for an essay-length piece.  I don't know where it's all leading, but I can't wait to discover what's TK.


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You have earned it. You have done an excellent job with this blog, and I wish you well with the new assignments.

Now if you could just get them to pay for "food vacations".


Congrats! I can't wait to read your piece.

bea at La tartine gourmande

Congrats Rob. This is super super cool news to see your beautifully witty writing published! Yeah!


What a great opportunity! You're really bringing something to the table for them. Bravo!


Hooray for you! That's so exciting!


That's fantastic! And to think, I just recieved my copy of the May issue of Toronto Life yesterday (I just flipped to the page with your contribution) and just went to Splendido this past Sat for the tasting menu! :)


That's awesome Rob! Congrats!


Wicked! What a great opportunity, I love Toronto Life, I can't wait to see what your contributions.



Congratulations! Toronto Life could not have chosen a better contributor. I can't wait to get my copy of the May issue in the mail!


Congratulations! I'm so pleased and excited for you.


Glad they're making an honest man out of you Rob... :)


Lisa (Homesick Texan)

Wow! How cool is that? I'll have to hunt down a copy. Congrats and well deserved!


congrats! i know everyone is saying it but really that's fantastic. i love when such wonderfully unexpected things happen. your writing is wonderful and it's fantastic that you're getting the recognition.


You earned it! Your writing deserve more and more essays and publications. You challenge our writing skills by the comments you leave us. I wish I could get a copy..would your essays be available on line?


Congratulations! As a long-time reader of your blog, I think Toronto Life made a wise decision in retaining your services. I look forward to reading your contributions.

Incidentally, Toronto Life's reach may be broader than you think; even here in Fredericton, NB Loblaws stocks the magazine (although I'd wager that no one buys it).


Congratulations! I'm sure many of us food bloggers dream of that kind of email coming to us one day but you surely deserve it! Wish we had Toronto Life over here!


Congratulations - your writing and knowledge definitely should be on a bigger platform for a larger audience to appreciate! Wish I could Toronto Life so I could read your piece!


Congratulations--very exciting! I'll be sure to pick up the May issue!


congrats rob, great news. bring on the frozen entree line!

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