Some of Rick’s books
As soon as I met Rick Rodgers, I bombarded him with questions. How could I not? Here I had one of the great baking and food writing minds in my midst, and doggone it, I had to know all about him. Over fancy tea and tiny cookies, no less.
Certainly, you remember this post I did on the Dobos Torte, for a Daring Bakers challenge? From this exquisite, authentically-Viennese pastry book? Yep, THAT Rick Rodgers. He wrote that one and an avalanche of others. The man knows his way around a coffee cake.
But let’s back up for a second. How is it that I was suddenly sitting around sipping tea with Rick Rodgers on a Sunday afternoon? It’s because of that dang Macaron primer. That thing gets around. Turns out, we have a mutual friend (Linda, I’m looking at you), and she dropped a copy in his inbox.
Next thing I know, Rick sent me a very nice email and fast foward to us sitting around munching biscuits, batting around industry gossip like a couple of Real Housewives. Rick was a wealth of info about what’s up in the professional food and publishing biz. I found myself completely riveted.
I thought you might be interested in Rick’s hard-won wisdom too. Rick was kind enough to answer all of my questions.
Tea and Questions with Rick Rodgers
How did you get your start in the food business?
I came from a family of many nationalities (Liechtenstein, Hawaii, Portugal, and Ireland), and each branch identified itself through cooking. I was exposed to great food early on. My Auntie Gisela’s Kipferln Viennese croissants come to mind, and the family still talks about Cousin Trudy’s chocolate cake.
My first job was at a “gourmet” deli in suburban San Francisco, and I already knew the names of most of the cheeses and cold cuts they were serving. I was fifteen, and I just kept working in restaurants through college.
When I moved to New York after graduating with a Theater BA from San Francisco State University, I got a restaurant management job at a terrific place in Manhattan, Teacher’s, which was next door to Zabar’s, where I learned even more about food. (We had a Thai chef, so I was eating Southeast Asian before it was popular.) That’s where I met a lot of the celebrities who gave me my start as a caterer. One thing led to another, and very soon I was cooking for the French Government on Fifth Avenue. I never performed on the stage again after I came to New York, although my theatrical background sure comes in handy when I am on TV or teaching my classes.
What major changes in the food business have you seen since you started?
The biggest change is food on TV. There used to be a very few PBS shows that made an impact, such as Julia Child and Martin Yan. Now every cable station has a cooking show…but it is hard to find a show that really teaches how to cook. Competition is not cooking.
And as you read this, you are experiencing another Big Change: blogging. Again, like TV, the quality varies and you can’t take everything at face value, because there is so much information out there. I find that the group recipe sites are totally unreliable. But, if a person who stands behind his or her writing runs the site, your chances of getting good information and recipes are better.
When I started, you had to be a good cook period. Now, in addition to my cookbooks, I have to spend lots of time on my blog, not just writing, but testing recipes, taking photos, and more. I also have to read what other bloggers are writing about. This can take up a big part of your day with very little financial return.
Read more and see it come together...