How do you write about food?
Jennifer Rubell, 36, writer, renowned hostess, hotelier, Harvard grad and member of the illustrious Rubell clan, is poised to become the country’s newest entertaining guru. Jennifer is currently Food and Entertaining Editor of the Miami Herald’s Home & Design magazine, Former Contributing Food Editor of, the recently folded (March 2009), Condé Nast shelter magazine Domino, and her first book, Real Life Entertaining, was released in May 2006 by HarperCollins. She writes regularly for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, and has appeared in, among others, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, W, Better Homes and Gardens, Elle, The New York Times, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Travel + Leisure, Ocean Drive and Food & Wine. In 2007, Paper Magazine named Jennifer one of its 30 most beautiful people.
Entertaining is in Jennifer Rubell’s blood. Her uncle, the late Studio 54 owner Steve Rubell, treated Jennifer as his own child, taking her along to parties with Halston, Calvin Klein, Liza Minelli and Bianca Jagger, and inviting her to every major event at Studio 54, starting at the age of 7. Her parents, world-renowned contemporary art collectors Donald and Mera Rubell, became famous in the ‘80s for the Whitney Biennial after-party they hosted at their Upper East Side townhouse. With artists like Keith Haring, Jean Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel and Andy Warhol roaming around the house, Mera turned out bowl after bowl of spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce, with Jennifer at her side learning the Rubell family style: personal, unconventional and decidedly hands-on.
Jennifer Rubell: Well because I have a column, I’m always doing something related to the time of year, the season, a particular month – something that’s bubbling up in food in general. So the first thing I do is sort of . . . I’m always writing four or five months ahead. So the first thing I do is think about that time of year and what I’m going to be really interested in that time of year. And then I set about kind of honing in on one broader idea. And then and only then do I start really going into the kitchen and cooking. So for instance I’ll start thinking about February. I’ll think you know it’s just disgusting outside. All you wanna do is sit at home inside, and you want something you can hold tight, that’s warm, that’s hearty, but that’s not really, really bad for you because you probably went to too many holiday parties and are not dying to, you know . . . So then this year when I was doing that, I felt like that dish was vegetarian chili. Then I thought to make it more interesting and to tie it into some interesting things that are happening on a farmer level, a lot of farmers have been starting to grow heirloom beans, which like heirloom tomatoes are . . . are, you know, beans that were popular in the 19th century and even the earlier part of the 20th century, and that have gone out of popularity. There are also . . . I didn’t even know this until I started getting into them – that if you plant one, the same one will grow. Whereas a hybrid, which is what most beans are when you go to the supermarket and you see the bag of beans, a hybrid is sliced together in a way that if you plant it, it can grow this kind of bean or that kind of bean. It’s not gonna grow itself, which is very, very interesting. As a total non-gardener that blew my mind. So then I’ll get in . . . deeper into the heirloom beans. And I’ll . . . those will become a part of the chili. And then I’ll tweak the recipe so that . . . I mean the flavor of the recipe is always the final word to me, and that has to be there.
Recorded on 12/13/07
Rubell writes about food seasonally.
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