Food Blogger Spotlight: Michael Ruhlman

For the next installment of our Food Blogger Spotlight, we’ve got a guest that needs no introduction (unless you’ve been living under a culinary rock for the past decade): author/food writer Michael Ruhlman. Besides blogging at Ruhlman.com, Michael has written countless books about food – and others that aren’t about food at all. In fact, the Michael Ruhlman catalog is hovering at somewhere around 16 books as of this posting. Holy prolific writing career, Batman.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking
  • The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America
  • The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef’s Craft for Every Kitchen
  • Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing

Michael has also worked on other notable cookbooks:

  • The French Laundry Cookbook with Thomas Keller
  • A Return to Cooking with Eric Ripert
  • Michael Symon’s Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen with Michael Symon

On top of his published writing, which includes articles for some of the country’s most influential food magazines, Michael regularly blogs about the art and craft of cooking at his personal website. He’s a tireless advocate of encouraging Americans to prepare real food at home, going so far as to present to the everyday home cook the keys to the kingdom of culinary freedom. Anthony Bourdain also makes the occasional guest appearance on Ruhlman.com, adding a little sugar spice to Michael’s already witty tone.

Please welcome Michael Ruhlman as he answers four burning questions. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

All photos below were taken by Michael’s wife, Donna Ruhlman, a fabulous photographer who also shoots all of the images on Michael’s site. I wish I had an amazing in-house photographer! Lucky guy!

We all have staples that we couldn’t live without. What three ingredients do you *always* have in your kitchen and why? I’m not talking snacks like chips and hummus, but rather ingredients you use all the time in your cooking.

Onions, fish sauce, and parmigiano-reggiano.

I’m seriously handicapped when I let myself run out of onions, THE single most important grown ingredient in kitchen. I use fish sauce in most hot foods, everything from salad dressing to meat sauce to soup. As for the cheese, starches and greens tastes better with reggiano on it.

Imagine you moved to the smallest apartment possible – a shoebox, really – and you only had room for a single cookbook. Of all your cookbooks, which one would you keep? Why do you love it so?

The New Professional Chef, 5th edition. It’s the book I bought before learning to cook for real, before I went to the Culinary Institute of America, and then used at the Culinary, during the writing of the book about my time there, The Making of a Chef. Besides loving the book for its definitive treatment of the fundamentals, it’s powerful to me because when I bought the book in 1995 I was one person, and two years later, I was a whole other person, and that book both explicitly describes, and also symbolizes, the transformation. Also, if you have that book, there’s nothing you couldn’t do in the kitchen, or figure out how to do, like making a cake or skinning an eel.

(Ed. note: there’s a more recent edition of The Professional Chef.)

When you’re looking for new recipes (or creating one of your own), what is your number one priority? What makes you pick one recipe over another?

When I do a new recipe, it’s to learn something new rather than to eat something good. When I want to eat something good, I just cook it that way; you learn, but not as fast – especially if you’re late making dinner and need to do something quickly.

Blogs have the potential to be so many things, from personal journals to outrageous adventure reports. What is the most important thing you put into your blog, and what is the most important thing you get out of it?

I hope it’s my passion for cooking and sharing good, useful information, and also to call attention to bad information or stupid thinking. I think¬†cooking technique is important to convey. The more people that understand fundamental technique, as opposed to, say, a recipe for Asian coleslaw, the better cooks they become. My goal is to encourage people to cook, and to encourage the people who read my blog and blog themselves to encourage others to cook. The more people cooking raw food, the better the world becomes.

What I get out of it is multifaceted. I love connecting with people who care about cooking; they’re who read my blog and comment. I like the sense of community. I like that it allows me to vent when I need to. I like that it allows me to promote my work and also the work of people I admire. The hardest part is managing the times spent on it – I want to spend more time on blogging than is good for my other work!

Thanks, Michael!

Click here for more Food Bloggers Spotlight interviews.

Some of my favorite posts from Ruhlman.com by Michael Ruhlman:

Comments

  1. fun interview stephanie, but we need a shout out to my wife Donna for the awesome pix! forgot about that quail egg one, love it!

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says:

      Hey there, I stuck her in the photo credits, but they’re hidden in the code – will make it visible right now. :)

  2. Alisa Bowman says:

    I love the distinction of cooking to learn vs cooking to eat something good. I will remind my husband of that distinction next time I create a flop, but learn a lot in the process. I just wish he was able to eat practically anything–as I am–no matter it’s offending taste. I’m the only person who is willing to eat my flops.
    .-= Check out Alisa Bowman

    • Stephanie Stiavetti says:

      Heh, in my house there’s only one dinner – so if there’s a flop, the only alternative is starvation. ;) Thankfully my husband is pretty open to anything without reserving an opinion! Makes him a difficult recipe testing partner, though…

  3. Love the interview – and I always enjoy reading both of your blogs! And I loved including you both in the “strawberries” recipe iPhone app! It’s great when your work life mixes with the things you personally love!

  4. Ellen Allard says:

    Thank you for this interview with Michael Ruhlman. I have been a fan of his books and his work since I discovered his book “Ratio”. Though I haven’t completely made the switch, weighing ingredients (and being aware of their ratios to each other in a recipe) is slowly creeping into my baking. I have Mr. Ruhlman to thank for that.

    best, Ellen
    http://www.Iamglutenfree.blogspot.com

  5. Kerry Dexter says:

    I feel the same way about onions…
    really enjoying this interview series, Steph. always thought provoking, thanks.
    .-= Check out Kerry Dexter

  6. That is handy that he has an in-house photographer! I clicked over to his blog to check it out, and I guess it’s down for maintenance. Bummer! I’ll be sure to try it again later.

  7. Almost Slowfood says:

    I have and adore Ruhlman’s Ratio. I find there’s becoming a real distinction in the food world between showing off in the kitchen and showing people how to cook real food. I love that Ruhlman is a proponent of the latter.

  8. MyKidsEatSquid says:

    That’s the first time that fish sauce has made it into the top three ingredients list. I must admit unless the recipe calls for it I rarely reach for the fish sauce. Maybe it’s time to reconsider. Great interview, as always.
    .-= Check out MyKidsEatSquid

  9. Heather @ Side of Sneakers says:

    I enjoyed reading this interview! I never realized how important fish sauce could be!;)

  10. health news says:

    i found this blog very helpful, how to find the good information about the health , what to eat , i like to read it.
    thanks
    .-= Check out health news

  11. great interview! mr. ruhlman gave a fantastic speech at a recent TEDx event that i put on – if you’re interested in checking it out, you may do so here:

  12. Donna Hull says:

    Great interview. It’s nice to know that I have one thing in common with a good cook and prolific writer, I’d be lost without onions in the house.
    .-= Check out Donna Hull

  13. Enjoyed the interview. And, now I feel better; my cooking flops are not flops at all – just learning opportunities, right?

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  1. Baking Bread in the Digital Era with Michael Ruhlman | Bay Area Bites | KQED Food says:

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