Author Kevin Alexander comes on to talk about the crazy rise and maturation of Gabriel Rucker, the chef in Portland who fathered America's farm-to-table dining revolution. Rucker's story is the centerpiece of Kevin's Burn The Ice, which is the rarest of foodie books: The one I couldn't put down. I've known Kevin since 2008 and have watched him transform as well, from a struggling grad student forced to do stories on what high school kids like to a James Beard winner who profiles the chefs and concepts that shape everything we eat. Which is another way to say: You don't have to own cookbooks to enjoy today's episode. It's for anyone who lives to satisfy their creativity and ambition.
Kevin is a writer-at-large at Thrillist who lives in the Bay Area with his family. We talk not only about the dishes that inspired Rucker but the writers who've influenced Kevin, almost none of whom are food writers themselves. Like me, Kevin disdains the haughtiness of that world and so pacing his pieces are the big beating hearts of the chefs who tell Kevin about their accomplishments and insecurities. It's riveting stuff. I wanted as an episode the chef whose story eclipsed everyone else's in the book. Kevin was all too happy to talk about Rucker.
Kevin loves the non-fiction of John Jeremiah Sullivan and the essays and reporting of Tom Junod. We also talk about Susan Orleans books, and the more influential pieces of David Foster Wallace's career.