Food Reporting: A syllabus with taste and style when writing


This is a private study book produced by Doral Chenoweth with content from his lectures representing the Columbus Dispatch at NIE (Newspapers In Education) classes, The Ohio State University, Franklin University and as conductor of the annual Central Ohio Home and Garden Show's Galaxy Cafe, the nine-day showcase of chefs' cooking demonstrations. Some content herein has appeared on his teaching website,, and continues there for study.

The Genesis of a Cookbook Junkie:
How All This Started...

Never give away a cookbook. It is a crime of some sort.

Actually, since many contend that food is the new religion, it is a sin to toss, loan or give away a cookbook. It took years for me to learn my lesson. Working for a major daily newspaper I confess to having given away hundreds, maybe thousands of cookbooks sent to me by publishers expecting a blurb in ink.

My first review copies arrived in the 1960s. In the 1980s, I passed them around the newsroom. When I appeared before audiences more interested in restaurants than cooking at home, the food editors gave me bundles of cookbooks to give away. And then — an epiphany. It had a name: Ellen Brown. Her name was familiar. Rather than go into my Newspapers In Education bag for my next speaking gig, I thumbed through her two pounds of recipes credited to the then star chefs in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico. The bios for chefs I had experienced in those states were more interesting to me than recipes.

Ellen Brown's massive food book Southwest Tastes, from the television series Great Chefs of the West. It struck me that here was a food book more for reading than cooking. It was a kindred spirit to a television show that was the least of my interests. Not only the TV thing, Brown had incorporated food-related companies and brand names. She credited the underwriters for the Public Broadcasting Service series. They had full page display ads in back of the book. Weber cooking woods. Crisco. Not once did I find those names in the text. She compiled a full page of mail order sources for seasoning items to be used when attempting the recipes. Spices. Cheeses. Chocolates. Seeds. Canned chilies and dried chilies. Smoked wild game. Utensils. Even a Lazy Susan.

Not once did I find a suggestion that home cookery should use Crisco. I did note one hiccup: Who keeps "star anise powder" at the ready?

Southwest Tastes is not posted as one of my 96 suggestions for student study. I wanted to call attention to it separately. It is one huge food book to serve those who intend to write about food or a cookbook. Beyond that, the writing structure of Ms. Brown is a model of perfection. Trust the source. Ellen Brown is a busy big city newsroom product.

Bottom line: When some wise university creates a certified course for food and restaurant writing, Ms. Brown should be the dean. Her single text should be the updated reissue of Southwest Tastes. Attention The Ohio State University, the largest university in the nation, both student count and main campus acreage, is without a culinary program.

Study Ms. Brown: In 2009 food writer Ellen Brown published what amounts to the final authority on a specific food stuff, the ever-loved meatball. The Meatball Cookbook Bible, 500 variations of an American favorite. If a student has led a limited food life with basic meatballs of pork, ground chuck and veal, peruse her other 499 creations under the meatball pot lid. Unlike many other cookbooks, many recipes in The Bible include the author's first-person comments. Book 59, one of 96 primary read suggestions in this syllabus.

== Pause for Tea ==