The Kitchen Whisperers
By Dorothy Kalins
2021 • William Morrow
A beautifully written tribute to the people who teach us to cook and guide our hands in the kitchen, by the founding editor of Saveur.
The cooking lessons that stick with us are rarely the ones we read in books or learn through blog posts or YouTube videos (depending on your generation); they’re the ones we pick up as we spend time with good cooks in the kitchen. Dorothy Kalins, founding editor of Savuer magazine, calls the people who pass on their cooking wisdom her Kitchen Whisperers. Consciously or not, they help make us the cooks we are—and help show the way to the kind of cooks we have the potential to become.
Dorothy’s prolific career in food media means many of her Kitchen Whisperers are some of the best chefs around (though the lessons she’s learned from fellow home cooks are just as important). For Dorothy, a lifetime of exposure to incredible cooks and chefs means that she can’t enter her kitchen without hearing the voices of mentors and friends with whom she cooked over the years as they reveal their favorite techniques. Marcella Hazan warns her against valuing look over flavor. Christopher Hershimer advises that sometimes water is the best liquid to add to a dish rather than stock or wine. Her onetime Southern mother-in-law wisely knows that not everyone who asks for a biscuit is food hungry. Woven through the text are dozens of narrative recipes, from her mother’s meat loaf to David Tanis’s Swiss Chard Gratin.
The Kitchen Whisperers will prompt older readers to identify and cherish the food mentors in their own lives, just as it will inspire younger readers to seek them out. Stories and recipes from Dorothy’s notable connections will inspire the creative food journeys of all.
Tags: Books, food writing, memoir