JULY 2010 – I don’t think Frank Bruni needs any introduction. He was the acclaimed NY Times food critic for 5 years, a position he held from 2004-2009. He is also the author of several books. Most recent, Born Round: A Story of Family, Food and a Ferocious Appetite (now available in paperback) tells the story about the history of his food centered Italian American upbringing, and his battle with bulimia. It is truly a wonderful read for anyone who is interested in food, life and love. The book is filled with tons of laughter and humor.
Frank Bruni was born and raised in White Plains, NY and attended University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with B.A. in English. He had joined the New York Times in 1995. Prior to that Frank was at the Detroit Free Press and the New York Post. These days Frank is a writer at large at New York Times Magazine and working on personal projects. It was very special to interview someone with such an incredible background in writing, food and restaurants.
Be sure to visit the website of Frank Bruni where you can learn much more and purchase his book: http://www.bornround.com
An Interview with Acclaimed NY Food Critic & Author Frank Bruni, by Loraine Pavich
How did you get such an amazing job at the New York Times?
I joined the Times in 1995, so had been there about 9 years when they asked me to be restaurant critic. They did so because they felt, based on the work I’d done for them to that point, that the job would be a good fit for me, and that I could do it with some distinction. They took a leap of faith and so, in turn, did I. Now I’m a staff writer at the Times’s Sunday magazine, another terrific assignment, given to me based in large part because of scattered stories I contributed to the magazine over the years.
What is your favorite restaurant in the world?
I have no one favorite. There are simply too many great restaurants in my mental Rolodex, each one satisfying different moods, different priorities.
What do you normally eat for breakfast?
It changes all the time. Sometimes I skip breakfast. I rarely have a full breakfast. When I do eat something, it’s most often either a toasted sesame bagel with some type of Swiss cheese and sliced tomato; a bowl of Greek yogurt with some granola mixed in; or a baguette with jam and butter from Levain Bakery, which is on my block.
How many meals a day do you have?
Usually two full ones and one half one: breakfast. I’m also a late-night snacker, and there are occasions when that late-night snack attains the heft of a meal.
What is the worst meal you ever had?
I’ve had many terrible meals across a lifetime of eating. No one of them stands out as the worst. If there was an experience more abysmal than all the others, I’ve probably repressed the memory. Who would want to cling to it?
What interests you other than food?
I pay attention to, and frequently write about, politics. I’m a movie lover. I’m a book lover. And when I have time, I like to do things like hike and take long bike rides, in part because it counteracts all the food I shovel down the hatch.
Your favorite meal and who makes it for you?
I’m truly an adventurous, wide-open eater. There’s no one favorite meal I have. Though I like, at least once every two months, to roast a chicken and slowly, while watching TV, pick my way through all of it. It satisfies a gluttony in me that will never go away.
Is there an unknown place in New York doesn’t know about that we should?
New York doesn’t have any unknown places anymore. There are so many passionate food lovers who do vigorous scouting and can share their experiences on the Internet that secrets don’t last – dont’ really exist.
What do you like most about New York?
New York is as inexhaustible a city as there is, and that holds true for food as for so much else. There are so many people here and there’s so much diversity here and there’s so much wealth that you can never, ever run out of experiences to savor and try. If you’re bored in New York, it’s your fault, never the city’s.
Your favorite television show?
This changes from season to season. Last year I found myself addicted to “The Good Wife,” which I thought was simply terrific. Whenever “Curb Your Enthusiasm” comes back on, I watch it faithfully. I still miss and mourn “The Comeback,” Lisa Kudrow’s send-up of reality TV. It had just one 13-episode season, but I think I watched each of those episodes four times.
Where in Italy do you like most?
For eating, I’m partial to the Piedmont region. In terms of cities, I don’t think there’s a one of them that matches the enchantment of Venice, if you can edit the hordes of tourists out. And that’s doable: by doing much of your walking around Venice at night; by wandering far from the most trammeled walking routes.
Do you ever cook for yourself?
Sure. Doesn’t everyone? I didn’t cook much for myself when I was the restaurant critic from June 2004 to August 2009, because I had to eat out pretty much every night. But since then I’ve begun to cook more and more for myself.
Do you sometimes feel you never want to see food again?
Never! Even in the minutes right after a too-big meal, when I’m full to bursting, I know that I’ll be hungry again soon enough, and I know that there are many, many wonderful things to eat. Food is one of life’s supreme pleasures. That never, ever escapes me.
Loraine Pavich has had a diverse career in publishing with several successful magazines.