Dana Cowin is the editor in chief of Food and Wine magazine. Previously, Ms. Cowin served as the executive editor of Mademoiselle, the managing editor of HG Magazine, and associate editor of Vogue. A recent guest judge on Top Chef, she is a member of the board of directors of City Harvest. Cowin received her B.A. from Brown University in 1982, and resides in Manhattan with husband Barclay Palmer, who is a producer at CNN
Question: When did food first spark your interest?
Dana Cowin: Well. Food first sparked my interest when I knew how to make a restaurant reservation. So I didn’t start out as a cook, which as the editor in chief of Food & Wine magazine, you would think may be that would be where I started I had a mother or grandmother, a mother who didn’t cook, a grandmother who didn’t cook, a great grandmother who didn’t cook. So going out for restaurants was fantastic, terrible food at home and that was in college I suddenly realized dorm food was terrible. What was the alternative and I would look for the best new places in Providence, Rhode Island, and there were lot of new places in Providence. So I spent a lot of time seeking out great places to go, came to New York City same thing. Where am I gonna go? Certainly I wasn’t going to cook. I am generationally incapable and so my interest in food grew and my interest in life style is what actually brought me to Food & Wine Magazine. So I have been in Vogue magazine, I have been in House and Garden and these people had fantastic clothes and fantastic houses, but they also had great kitchens whether they are cooking themselves I can’t tell you, but when I went over to Food & Wine, it was the same people with the same attributes, but they love to cook more than they loved to shop and over this if they were shopping they were shopping for ingredients. So I brought that notion of lifestyle to Food & Wine rather than my fantastic expertise in food or wine, which was close to non-existent. That’s where the experts and staff were for.
So I arrived at Food & Wine in 1994 and I thought I mean I had thrown a lot of dinner parties mostly to find a boyfriend which didn’t really work out for me, so I had that confidence, but I have learned so much and I cook as much as possible now and I love food. I mean I have become obsessed, so arriving at the magazine and being infected by the passion of everybody around me. I am now a bonafide food-obsessed individual. The wine came a little bit later because it’s a little trickier, the food you have to eat and if you are going to eat you might as well eat really interesting delicious things and the food world has changed so much in that time, but wine is now where I put my effort in learning. I want to learn every American cab maker, but more than that I want to learn about the esoteric wines of Italy. All of these native grapes that are suddenly of interest in wine bars and so I feel this is a never-ending learning curve for both Food & Wine.
Recorded on: 3/7/08