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Ruth Reichl

  • Culinary icon
  • Author

About

Ruth Reichl is recognized as one of the most discerning voices in the food world, with accolades as a bestselling author, revered restaurant critic, and culinary industry influencer across all media. Her icon status stems from groundbreaking roles in food journalism, including lead restaurant critic at the New York Times and Editor-in-Chief at Gourmet magazine. Ruth offers sharp insights connected to the shifting industry landscape, including supply chain and sustainability issues and innovations.

New in 2024, Ruth debuts her book The Paris Novel, described as a heartfelt adventure set in 1983 filled with food, art, and fashion. Her own comments on this book:

The truth is almost everything about this book makes me happy. Writing it was pure pleasure. It wasn't just Paris, but Paris past. A Paris filled with food and art and fashion. A Paris filled with writers. A Paris where a young American could live on very little as she discovered herself.

Recently Ruth examined the country's food system with the documentary “Food and Country,” built on her many connections to ranchers, farmers, fishermen and restaurants wrestling with the challenges of industry consolidation. Launched at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and SXSW, the film created buzz at film festivals across the country with uniformly favorable reviews.

A six-time James Beard Award winner, Ruth's work transcends all platforms with top honors for best-selling books, magazine feature writing, restaurant critique, and multimedia food commentary. Born and raised in New York City, she moved to Berkeley, California, in the early 1970s, launching her career as chef and co-owner of The Swallow Restaurant. She later held court as one of the top restaurant critics in America, influencing commentary during the early days of the foodie explosion.

Ruth bestselling memoirs include Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir, a chronicle of her tenure at the magazine; Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table; Comfort Me with Apples; and Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise. Her cookbook My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life received best cookbook accolades from industry peers and booksellers. For TV, Ruth's PBS series “Gourmet's Adventures with Ruth” featured the best cooking schools around the world.

Ruth is beloved as a fascinating and gracious speaker, sought as an authority on culinary trends; our fixation on food reflecting culture and society; on writing, memoirs, and self-discovery; and on the healing solace found in the kitchen. A favorite with audiences of all flavors, Ruth shares her current musings on the La Briffe Substack channel.

Content

Awards announcement

For their documentary “Food and Country,” director Laura Gabbert and renowned food writer Ruth Reichl gathered a thoughtful and strikingly personable cast of characters from…

Review: Food and Country

Topics

  • Bouncing back: how to make the next course your best. After ten years as editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, its sudden closure left Ruth Reichl completely devastated, to say the least. Still feeling the shock, she retreated to the kitchen—the only place she could find solace, and began cooking up a storm. Over the next year, Ruth kept a journal of the comforting meals she prepared, the important lessons she learned, and discovered that the secret to life is finding joy in the simple things. In this speech, Ruth will share how through doing what she loves most, she was able to not only survive—but thrive in the face of adversity.
  • American food now: how we became a nation of foodies. Reichl has been called the Zelig of food. When Berkeley, California was becoming the gourmet ghetto in the early seventies, she was there. She moved to Los Angeles just in time to chronicle the creation of California Cuisine, and she was in New York as America discovered the joys of ethnic foods. Ruth Reichl has lived America’s food journey, and she explores it all with audiences from a very personal perspective.
  • On writing: memory, memoir, and self discovery. From the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times restaurant reviews—to blogging and Twitter, Ruth Reichl has witnessed a disruption in the literary world as profound as that in the culinary world. In this look back on her life in writing and journalism, Reichl reflects on her tenure as editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, the inspiration behind her many bestselling memoirs, and the way a memoir, novel or even a magazine evolves from the time pen is put to paper to the time it hits the shelves.
  • Protect what we eat: how to fix america’s great food failure. Rule #1 of a healthy diet: know what you're eating. But while many count calories, read ingredients labels, and research where their food comes from, some of the most important aspects of our food still go unchecked. In “Protect What You Eat,” Ruth Reichl examines the problems with our food, from school lunches to the glaring holes in food policy, and how government inaction is hurting consumers, cooks, and food producers. More importantly, Reichl shows audiences what they can do to help remedy this.
  • Eating our words. These days we're doing a lot of writing about food. The question is, why? Our attitudes about food have been in constant flux, and by looking at the past we can understand why we are living in such a food-focused present. You can enter history at almost any point and find out what society was like simply by listening to people talking about what they're eating. In this little romp through history, Ruth looks at food writing in different times and places in the world in an attempt to discover what the changing language of food can tell us about ourselves.

Testimonials

We are over the moon after hosting Ruth yesterday and today. She made a big impact with our community, and we're so grateful for her involvement.

Yakima Town Hall

Ruth is such a delight…Standing ovation. So smart, funny and kind. Great stories. I bet you have loved working with her over the years…Thank you for making it possible to bring Ruth to Portland. As always, you did me right!!

Voices Lectures

Ruth Reichl began her talk at the Hartford Public Library with a nod to the importance of libraries, and then worked her way, with referential charm, through the stacks. History, her own and that of dining in America; sociology, the delight of her own odd family and that of wavering social construct; commerce, her ability to find a way to succeed as each chapter ends, and that of the sad slaughter of Gourmet; non-fiction, her response to the vagaries of consumption and that of the country's cultural shape-shifting around how we iconize food; and finally fiction, the costumed years as the New York Times food critic and now her wonderful Lulu. We loved her and we loved sharing ravioli, pulpo, and wine with her.

Hartford Public Library

Last night with Ruth was wonderful. As you know we packed her evening with multiple different events, all of which were extremely successful! We all enjoyed her talk and there was a lively discussion with the audience during our Q&A. The audience was eager to have her sign their books and I heard that the dinner with patrons was a fantastic experience for all.

Sun valley center of the arts

Ruth was FANTASTIC—the audience thoroughly enjoyed her talk and there was a great Q&A session, followed by a robust book signing, and an awesome reception.

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Everything was “perfect!” Ruth was terrific! She is so personable, easy to be around, she spent so much time with everyone, answered many questions, and was a great fit for the event.

El Camino Hospital Foundation

We certainly did enjoy Ruth. I would say: best keynote speaker ever! And the easiest, and the most fun. I am wholly converted to the concept of a keynote LECTURE instead of a keynote READING. Or maybe it's just that Ruth's lecture, Eating Our Words, was so very fascinating and well researched. She was just great.

Kentucky Women's Writers Conference

Ruth Reichl was amazing…Her lecture was a sell-out; we had to open two overflow rooms and hire Dartmouth security to keep the crowd in order…The audience was wildly passionate about hearing her. It goes without saying that her lecture was magnificent: clear, articulate, intelligent, insightful, and informative.

Dartmouth University

It was fabulous. Everyone LOVED Ruth Reichl…She was the hit of the party.

Woodstock Writers Festival

Ruth Reichl is quite the popular foodie/writer in our area. The lecture was completely sold out and I received a good deal of very positive feedback. It was my pleasure to have her featured with our series—she was funny, engaging, absolutely enjoyable.

California Lectures

Ruth Reichl was fab. Really, really great. And also so good with donors and patrons etc…

Literary Arts

She was incredibly gracious and charming with our patrons, brilliant on stage, honest and funny in her Q&A and kind during her book signing. I can’t say enough about her lecture—she is as witty and thoughtful in person as she is on the page.

The Cabin

The event was wonderful. Ruth Reichl was both gracious and lovely. We had over 800 people come to hear her talk and they were charmed. She signed for nearly an hour afterward and made many people happy. I had a really nice time chatting with her. Books, food, people's stories—I imagine sitting next to her at a dinner party would be a fabulous evening.

Pierce County Library

Ruth Reichl was wonderful! I love the way she knows everything about food. It is like meeting a bit history when you listen to Ruth Reichl. She has watched food trends come and go and continues to educate us on what is out there. I am awed by her ability to discern flavors and enjoy the way she relates the experience of eating/cooking. We loved her.

Tuckahoe Women's Club

RAVE reviews for Ruth Reichl and the experience at Premier Chefs Dinner. The Center community is absolutely elated. We have much to celebrate.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

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