Book Tour: The Amateur Gourmet

by Matt on September 12, 2007

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I’ve always been an early adopter and I was thrilled to be asked to participate in Adam Roberts’ Virtual Book Tour. Today The Amateur Gourmet is stopping by this lil old blog to answer a few questions, but damn it if that Ruhlman fella got to the good questions before I did! But never worry, Adam was gracious enough to sit down and humor me with my list of questions that I was hoping wouldn’t be too off the wall.

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So have you read The Amateur Gourmet: How to Shop, Chop, and Table Hot like a Pro? If you haven’t, you really should. Out for just a short time it’s already seeing its share of wonderful praise–as it should! it’s an entertaining and personal collection of culinary endeavors that kept me chuckling and laughing the entire time. And then it made me hungry. And then a bit nervous. And then I laughed again. But if there’s one thing I can take away from Adam and this book it’s that life is simply too short to not grab it by the basters and get in the kitchen and try. It’s refreshing, spirited and truly a breath of fresh air.

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Q: Adam, a big giant congrats on your book. It’s such a great read and thoroughly entertaining. How’s the reception been so far?

Thanks, Matt! The reception’s been really positive. I’m getting e-mails every day from enthusiastic readers. Plus the mainstream food press has been really supportive: lots of the writers I admire (Michael Ruhlman, Ed Levine, the Lee Brothers) have been really kind to the book. I’m really excited by the reception.

Q: I appreciated the explanation you’ve given on Michael Ruhlman’s  site on the difference between your book and your blog. As you mentioned, good writing is good writing, no matter the format. What were the biggest similarities in writing AG: How to Shop and AG: The blog?  And what were the biggest differences?

Writing the book was like writing the blog in the sense that I kept my "voice"–I wanted to sound like me, not a high-and-mighty food writer preaching from a mountaintop. So in that sense, it was similar. In every other sense it was different: different in how I approached the material, in how I chose the material, in how I worked with the material once it was done. Everything that went into the book had to fit an overall scheme–it couldn’t just be a random tidbit that had no place in the larger story. And story was the driving force behind the book: I wanted to tell a good story. The book allowed me to do that–it had a very clear beginning, middle and end. A blog is infinite, so writing on a blog is like shooting messages into outer space. They get read on their way out of the atmosphere, but then they just float along. It’s a very different thing.

Q: Which 4 historical figures, past or present, would you invite  over for a dinner party? It’s a cheesy question I realize but I had  to ask.

I love this question. I choose:

1. Barbara Walters
2. Joy Behar
3. Whoopi Goldberg
4. Sherri Shephard

Just kidding. In all seriousness:

1. Martin Short
2. Vladimir Nabokov
3. Julia Child
4. Bob Dylan

Wow, what a weird table. But there’s a comedian, a writer, a cook and a musician: my kind of crowd.

Q: Heidi, Shauna, Clotilde, You, I see a trend here. What advice can you give bloggers interested in getting book deals and writing  books? And when is  your next book due? C’mon, you can tell us.

What’s miraculous about blogging is that anyone, even you reading this, can–at any moment–hop on to Typepad or blogger.com and create a blog. You can do it in a matter of minutes. And everything after that is up to you. It’s a real meritocracy: if you create something worthwhile, people will come to it. That’s what happened to me. So you’ve gotta get your voice out there, you’ve gotta create a brand, you’ve gotta be persistent, you’ve gotta be passionate, and you’ve gotta be unique. It helps to have a hook, but it’s not required. What is required is a level of commitment that most people don’t have. I’d say the large majority of people who start blogs update their blogs every few days or so and then they fizzle out. You can’t fizzle out, you’ve gotta keep going, and not only that, you’ve gotta keep coming up with new ideas, new posts, new stories to tell and new ways of telling them. On my blog I’m constantly experimenting with the form: videos, songs, comic books–you name it, I’ve tried it. Pour yourself into this and the rewards will come. I promise.

No next book in the works yet, but as soon as it happens you’ll be the first to know!

Q: Ok, so I’ve read that you haven’t accepted that many freebies in  the Amateur Gourmet’s career, but being called "World Class Mooch" was a bit much and not fair. Had that been me I would have had my feelings hurt beyond repair and climbed into a hole for about a year. You seem to have handled it just fine. Did it bother you or does it just come with the territory of putting yourself out there and being in the media spotlight?

Yes and yes. It bothered me, but it comes with the territory. That’s the scariest thing about this–putting yourself out there, you’re opening yourself up to scrutiny. You’ve gotta have a thick skin and even then, it can be tough. My boyfriend Craig always tells me to "rise above the fray." And he’s right: I can’t take it personally if people attack me somewhere. Not only that, it makes me look bad to engage them so I have to force myself to let it go and to move on. It’s tough, but I do it.

Q: Being the quintessential Mama’s Boy (and I only use that term about myself in the most complimentary way), I’d be interested to know what your parents think of your success and the book. It seems a completely different path than law school…

It’s so outside the scope of what they know that I may as well have built a ship out of paperclips and sailed around the world. But to say they’re incredibly proud would be a huge understatement. My mom bought out all the copies in the Boca Raton Barnes & Noble and gave them away to the woman who does her hair, the woman who does her nails, the bank teller, the toll booth operator… ok not the last two, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Q: What’s your idea of comfort food?

Pasta. I love love love to make pasta. It’s satisfying, flavorful, versatile—there’s so much you can do with it. Oooh, I want some pasta right now.

Q: What’s on the horizon for The Amateur Gourmet?

Good question! I have lots of ideas in the works. I’m working on a novel, another food book idea, and some new concepts for the website. You’ll just have to wait and see.

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Adam, a million thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Visit Amazon.com to get your book if you haven’t already!