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“Chestnut”


  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out New American Brooklyn Moderate Good

Many moons ago I was just starting out as a freelance food writer and trying desperately to get into the New York Times Dining Section. But as a relative neophyte (I was an associate food editor at Restaurant Business Magazine), getting into the Times was proving to be quite difficult. I looked at it (and still do) as the gold standard in food writing so naturally I was obsessed with getting in. I must have pitched the editor at the time (Michalene Busico) a story idea every other week for six months before she departed to the LA Times without even responding with as much as a “No way, Jose.” Let’s just say I was starting to get discouraged. But then a new editor was hired, a guy named Sam Sifton whom I had followed at his days at The New York Press and Talk Magazine. Here was someone who worked his way up the ranks, and who might give me a shot. My hopes were buoyed. So once again, I started pitching, but as often as I clicked refresh on my inbox, there were no responses (good or bad) from Mr. Sifton.

One day after many months of getting zero response from Sam, I was feeling pretty badly about the situation, and I decided to write him a different sort of email. In it, I was very direct and asked him why he never responded to me, what he thought of my ideas, and whether I had any chance of ever writing for the Times, or if I should just pack up and move to Peoria. Before I could think about whether this was a good idea or not, I hit send. Moments later, an email from Mr. Sifton had arrived in my inbox. I almost fell off my chair. In a nutshell he told me he was busy, he thought my ideas were good but not right for the Times, yet. “Keep on pitching me,” he wrote, “and one day, maybe you’ll get in.” I still had a chance!!!! I was over the moon.

Later that week, I was on a blind date with a bankruptcy lawyer my friend Susie had fixed me up with. We met for drinks at Washington Park, Jonathan Waxman’s restaurant in the space that is now Cru. It was not a match. Let’s just say he thought the intricacies of the bankruptcy code was something I might be interested in as cocktail conversation. Not so much. I was bored to tears, but intrigued by what was in his cocktail. “What’s in your gimlet?” I asked, looking at some strange alien creatures on the lip of the glass. “I have no idea, I asked for it with onions and this is what I got.” I fetched the bartender, a guy ... [more, click below]

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1.)
“mom”

Great article - brought back a lot of memories.

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