Few dishes come closer to what I imagine the cafeteria rations in heaven will mercifully taste like than perfectly executed chicken and dumplings. Then again, perhaps no other dish looks quite so, well, regurgitated, either. So, at a recent Southern Foodways Alliance symposium in Oxford, Mississippi, when world-renowned chef Sean Brock served up a batch he’d cooked—with his very own mother—some of my fellow diners were in a visible tizzy about what to do.
Throughout the event, we’d all been posting hundreds of images of each course to our Instagram accounts. The slice of golden skillet cornbread, the glistening bowl of butter beans, and the Technicolor-green pickles were all objectively lovely. But chicken and dumplings, it seemed, was the whiz kid who couldn’t find a date. And as people wavered and then lowered their cameras without snapping a shot, I found myself downright upset. I mean, this was a rare privilege: An A-list chef and the woman who’d pretty much taught him how to cook, putting their down-home dish on a pedestal in front of some of the biggest names in the food world. And we were shying away because it was homely? Screw that, I thought. This is honest food, and it should be honestly portrayed. I steadied my phone, clicked, and posted. The caption: “Some food isn’t pretty and does not need to be.”
KK: Give yourself time to develop your voice. Think “what is this gift I can give to myself and my readers. Give yourself permission to screw up. What is the story that only I can tell? and then tell that.
Kat Kinsman is the Editor of Tasting Table and the author of the upcoming book – Hi, Anxiety – that’s coming out in April. She shares her own history with overcoming anxiety as a New York food writer, and hosts Jacqueline and Ben chime in with how anxiety has affected their dating and dining lives on this episode of Love Bites.
I recently had the opportunity to speak on a panel at the TerraVita Food & Drink Festival in Chapel Hill, NC. Each member of the panel was asked to talk for a few minutes on how they use their culinary capital to benefit their community. Here’s roughly what I had to say.
I am delighted and I am lucky to have a chance to speak with you today about two subjects that are increasingly intersecting in my work, namely:
1. My crazy intense love of food.
2. And, well, being crazy.
I’ve been a writer for the past big chunk of my life and mentally ill for all of it — but it took getting a platform as a food journalist for people to listen to me.
At first, I was just caught up in the deliciousness of it all. The fabulousness and the sensual pleasures — Yay, bacon! Oooohhh…pimento cheese. Calloo callay for cake (and pie).
And what I found out pretty quickly was that if you can find this common ground of pleasure with people, you can also start to talk a little bit about the pain.
Take a look through Kat Kinsman’s writings, food-related or not, and you’ll quickly see that when it comes to voice, she’s engaging, interesting and makes you want to keep reading. As a writer (her first book, Hi, Anxiety, comes out in 2016) and editor (she’s the editor-at-large and former editor-in-chief of Tasting Table), she can offer you expert insight into how to hone your own unique voice.
Whether you’re new to the food blogging world or looking to sharpen your writing skills, there’s plenty to learn from Kat at #BlogHerFood15, where she’s speaking on the panel Capturing Your Own Voice.
Here, she gave us a glimpse of what to expect from her, with advice on writing, blogging, failing and “embracing your inner chumpitude.” Plus, you’ll learn the really crucial things, like her favorite dessert (spoiler: it’s a cocktail), how she pairs kale with cheese grits and biscuits, and the best dinner she’s ever eaten. Because when you’re a food blogger, those things matter, too.
Tasting Table editor-in-chief Kat Kinsman is here to set the record straight: Your notions of Las Vegas as a cesspool of gaudy filth unworthy of your time and money are completely misguided. That’s not to say, of course, that Sin City is without its tawdry temptations. “I lost my vegetarianism on a $3.99 steak-and-egg special at the Tropicana’s coffee shop within an hour of the first time I landed, and I thought I was rolling pretty high.”
Kinsman has been prowling the Strip since 1999, when she says a new era of Vegas dining and drinking began to take shape with the opening of the Bellagio. “I’d argue that it’s turned into one of America’s great culinary destinations, based on sheer number of killer culinary opportunities per square mile. Now some of the world’s finest chefs and bartenders boast outposts that they *gasp* actually show up or cook/mix drinks at on a regular basis—AND mere mortals can get a reservation.”
Based on many years of trial and error, Kinsman gave use the inside scoop on her fool-proof guide for eating and drinking in Las Vegas. With her commandments, you too may experience one of the “sharpest juxtapositions of grotesquerie and bliss possible.”