A few years ago, I went outside my comfort zone. I contacted a stranger and asked to meet.
The stranger was John Birdsall, now a double James-Beard winning writer and essayist. At that time he was a restaurant reviewer for a local newspaper here in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I loved his restaurant reviews.
John has since moved on to narrative non-fiction or personal essays, often about the intersection of gay culture and food. I know he’s already won awards and was published in prestigious places, but I feel like he’s just getting started and has so much more to offer us.
Here’s his take on restaurant writing, personal essay writing, and taking risks. He also has good insights about his former writing and the role of an editor. I asked him to write his answers (rather than me interviewing him), so you can get a sense of his style:
Q. How does your background as a restaurant and catering cook influence your food writing? Do you believe that people who write about food should have professional experience or culinary training?
A. For a long time I didn’t think it did: Cooking seemed a prelude disconnected from [Read more…] about “Memoir Has to Risk Something,” says John Birdsall