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.