Meet & Eat: Adam Roberts, The Amateur Gourmet
Today there are literally millions of food blogs, but back in 2004, it was rare to see someone pull out a camera at a restaurant or post pictures of their culinary creations. Adam Roberts, also known as The Amateur Gourmet, is a food blogging pioneer with a quirky style that has earned him legions of followers. Today he celebrates the sixth anniversary of the creation of his site—please join the team of Serious Eats in wishing Adam a happy birthday!
Name: Adam Roberts
Location: West Village, New York
Occupation: Writer, The Amateur Gourmet
What inspired you to start your blog, the Amateur Gourmet? Six years ago, I was in my third year of law school, totally miserable, and bursting with creative energy that had no outlet. That led me to the kitchen—where I poisoned a few people before getting the knack for cooking—and, eventually, the web, where I sought to document my culinary coming-of-age.
How has it evolved over the years? It's gotten more polished—both in terms of design and in terms of content, which is much more focused than it was. My pictures have improved (thanks to tips from friends like Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks.com) though I still have a long way to go. And, after six years of cooking and thinking about food, I think my food knowledge has evolved as well; I know a lot more than I did when I started.
What are your three favorite posts from the past six years? Hard question! But, off the top of my head, the El Bulli post, just because that experience was so epic and I felt like I really got to share it with my readers in a way that was only possible in this medium. Similarly, I love reliving the experience of "Chutzpah, Truffles and Alain Ducasse" (and watching Craig embarrass himself on YouTube). Finally, in terms of more serious writing, I was pretty proud of the "Eid-Al-Adha" piece I shared in December.
What was it like making the transition from blogger to print author, when you published your book in 2008? As a blogger, I felt like a weird hermit, only really existing in cyberspace. Then, with the book, I was plunged into the real world as an "official" food writer. Before I knew it, I was giving readings at book stores, doing cooking demonstrations (at the Baltimore Food Festival, for example), and hosting a web show for the Food Network. It's quite a career-starter, writing a book.
Tell us about your collaboration with Food 2—how do you select the chefs with whom you work? The Food2 collaboration is lots of fun; I work with my director friend Joshua Hume and we create all the shows ourselves. Usually, we start with the dish we want to make, then we think about the chefs we'd most like to teach us the techniques behind that dish. As a result, we've learned how to make fried chicken from Charles Gabriel, curry from Floyd Cardoz and chocolate souffle from Michael Laiskonis. We're very lucky.
You've written quite a few songs—any chance of "The Amateur Gourmet, the Musical" in the works? Ha, only if I can do a kick-line with the staff of Serious Eats. [Ed.: we're game!]
What are your favorite local hangouts or places you might be considered a regular? I'm most definitely a regular at Joe (the coffee shop) on Waverly. It's the warmest, friendliest space in New York, it has great coffee, and I get great work done there. Otherwise, in Park Slope, I was a regular at Taro Sushi, Brooklyn Fish Camp, and Gorilla Coffee; now, as a West Village resident, I visit The New French, Hudson Bagels and Baoguette at least once a week.
If you could put together a three course meal with dishes from three different NYC restaurants, what would you include? Monkfish liver from Prune, the clam pizza from Franny's and the butterscotch sundae from Pearl Oyster Bar.
What is in your fridge that you'd be embarrassed to tell us about? An 8-year old carton of buttermilk that's so rancid and old, representatives from the Department of Health have seized my fridge and put a yellow sticker on my front door.
Do you have any particular tried and true, go-to recipes that you like to make for company? Absolutely. Cavatappi with sun-dried tomatoes, any recipe from Molly Stevens's "All About Braising," and cookies for dessert.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant/bar recommendations. Who's yours? Following the food world luminaries I do on Twitter—everyone from Ruth Reichl to Serious Eats's own Ed Levine—has provided invaluable advice on where to eat. It's an up-to-the-minute, reliable restaurant resource.
What's the best recommendation he/she has given you? Through Twitter, not only did I learn about Marea (the restaurant darling of 2009), I also knew what to order: the fusilli with octopus and bone marrow. Now, everyone's atwitter about The Breslin: I can't wait to go.