By the early 1970s, he was a teacher for several years at Stockbridge School, a progressive New England boarding school that became defunct in 1976. Following this period, Thorne lived in Boston for a number of years, where he self-published a number of culinary pamphlets reviewed at the time by The New York Times, which in 1983 grew into his ongoing newsletter, "Simple Cooking".
In the middle 1980s, Thorne moved to coastal Maine to devote himself exclusively to food writing, and where he became associated with Matt Lewis, who later shared a byline for a number of his books and his newsletter. During the 1990s, the couple moved to Northampton, Mass., where they remained as of 2010.
Thorne's newsletter has consisted of essays on food preparation and appreciation blended with snatches of autobiography. It also has often included commentary from fictional characters from the fantasy "No Name Diner," as well as frequent cookbook reviews, and much more rarely, opposing essays by various pseudonymous authors, who are apparently Thorne.
Based upon the newsletter's success, Thorne authored at least six books issued by major publishers as of 2009. Publishers Weekly, reviewing Outlaw Cook, said his "essays delight with passion and originality". The content of much of these works had previously appeared in the self-published newsletters. Thorne has been named the best American food writer by both Gourmet and Connoisseur magazines and other sources.Saveur magazine named him to their 2009 Saveur 100 list, calling him "the poet of the every day", and his work was for many years frequently quoted in various national newspapers and other publications .