I was Bon Appétit magazine’s Food Editor for 20 years, and it was my responsibility to fill its pages with the delicious, modern and reliable recipes the magazine is known for. I developed many recipes for Bon Appétit, wrote a monthly column, often created the cover dishes, and was the resident food trends expert. But recently, I had to make a big change in the way I approach food.
I had celiac disease as a baby, and the doctors informed my mother that if I ate no gluten for my first three years, I would be cured. I trusted this information, despite digestive problems my entire life. Several years ago, my symptoms became a lot worse, with agonizing bloating almost every time I ate, frequent gastrointestinal distress, and aching joints. The two indicators that really got my attention were fatigue and weight loss, despite eating enormous quantities of dark chocolate to boost my energy (I'm not complaining about that part). After considerable investigation, it became clear that the gluten intolerance had resurfaced and my system was in chaos.
I knew immediately that in order to be happy, I had to eat as well as I always had—fresh, simple, farmer's market-inspired food—but it now had to be free of wheat, rye, barley, and other foods that contain the protein called gluten. Because I am interested in everything about food and cooking, this challenge turned into an enthralling and satisfying project. I attended celiac conferences, read books, and, best of all, experimented in the kitchen.
My career in food began long before my years at Bon Appetit. I have been interested in cooking and everything about food since I was six, when my grandmother taught me to make the brown sugar thumbprint cookies we called Grandmother Cookies; I was enthralled by the magic of turning flour, sugar, and eggs into something so delicious. During my teen years, my parents opened a country inn and restaurant in southern Vermont, and to earn a ski pass, I helped out in the kitchen. I quickly discovered that I liked working with the chef, and before long I was spending more time in the kitchen than on the ski slopes. One day the chef disappeared and I was drafted as the new chef. I went on to work at other New England inns, and restaurants in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. For four years, I ran a successful catering business in Southern California, and taught at UCLA and many Los Angeles cooking schools.
When I learned about an opening at Bon Appétit, I brushed up on my typing, wrote a résumé, memorized names on the masthead, and went to the offices for an interview. Within a week I was hired as an assistant food editor and began devising recipes for feature stories immediately. I worked with celebrity chefs and notable food writers, visited fabulous restaurants, and ate the food of some of the world’s best chefs.
I love to come up with delicious recipes, and have written eight cookbooks for Williams-Sonoma and Time-Life Inc. My most recent books are, of course, dedicated to gluten-free cooking. Weeknight Gluten-Free is filled with recipes for fresh, gluten-free dishes that anyone would love, whether they eat gluten or not. In Gluten-Free Baking I offer goodies and breads using gluten-free whole grains and naturally gluten-free techniques.
I enjoy sharing my knowledge about food and my passion for cooking with new writers and other food professionals. I have been a guest teacher at UCLA and the Art Institute of California. I have spoken at many major food conferences in the country, have appeared on TV food shows and radio programs, and have been a judge for the Julia Child Cookbook Awards. I also served on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) and Careers through Culinary Arts Programs (C-CAP).
As busy as I am, I make time to prepare fresh meals at home almost every night. I am first and foremost a cook, and have fun experimenting with the latest ingredients. I shop at Los Angeles farmers’ markets every weekend, and use local and sustainable ingredients whenever practical. I add in Pilates, Nordic walking, and hiking in the Sierra’s, to make certain I have a good appetite. I live with my husband, Steve Peck, and our dog, Atticus Finch. Steve is my editor, number one taster, and is responsible for the photos on this blog. He calls himself the blographer.