Ruth Reichl

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Ruth Reichl
Reichl in 2012
Reichl in 2012
Born1948 (age 74–75)
New York City, New York, U.S.
OccupationFood writer, magazine editor, chef

Ruth Reichl (/ˈrʃəl/ RY-shəl; born 1948), is an American chef, food writer and editor. In addition to two decades as a food critic, mainly spent at the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, Reichl has also written cookbooks, memoirs and a novel, and been co-producer of PBS's Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie, culinary editor for the Modern Library, host of PBS's Gourmet's Adventures With Ruth, and editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine. She has won six James Beard Foundation Awards.

Reichl’s critically acclaimed, best-selling memoirs are Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table (1998), Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, Not Becoming My Mother and Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir (2019).[1] In 2009, she published Gourmet Today a 1,008 page cookbook containing over 1,000 recipes. She published her first novel, Delicious! in 2014, and, in 2015, published My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life, a memoir of recipes prepared in the year following the shuttering of Gourmet.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in 1948[3] to Ernst, a typographer, and Miriam (née Brudno),[4] her German Jewish refugee father and an American Jewish mother,[5] Reichl was raised in Greenwich Village and spent time at a boarding school in Montreal as a young girl. She attended the University of Michigan, where she earned a degree in sociology in 1968[6] and met her first husband, the artist Douglas Hollis. In 1970 she earned an M.A. in art history, also from the University of Michigan.[6]


Reichl and Hollis moved to Berkeley, California, where her interest in food led to her joining the collectively owned Swallow Restaurant as a chef and co-owner from 1973 to 1977, and where she played an important role in the culinary revolution taking place at the time. Reichl began her food-writing career with Mmmmm: A Feastiary, a cookbook, in 1972.[7] She moved on to become food writer and editor of New West magazine in 1978, then to the Los Angeles Times as its restaurant editor from 1984 to 1993 and food editor and critic from 1990 to 1993.[6] She returned to her native New York City in 1993 to become the restaurant critic for The New York Times.[6] In 1999 she left the Times to assume the editorship of Gourmet, which she helmed until it closed in 2009.[8] During her tenure, the magazine sold 988,000 copies per month (as of March 2007)[9] and commissioned works like David Foster Wallace's “Consider the Lobster”.

She is known for her ability to "make or break" a restaurant[10] with her fierce attention to detail and her adventurous spirit. For Reichl, her mission has been to "demystify the world of fine cuisine" (CBS News Online). She has won acclaim with both readers and writers alike for her honesty about some of the not-so-fabulous aspects of haute cuisine. Through an outsider's perspective, she harshly criticized the sexism prevalent toward women in dine-out experiences, as well as the pretentious nature of the ritziest New York restaurants and restaurateurs alike.

Despite her success and tales of how she used to disguise herself to mask her identity while reviewing, she is quite open about why she stopped. "I really wanted to go home and cook for my family," she says. "I don't think there's one thing more important you can do for your kids than have family dinner".[10]

She has been the recipient of six James Beard Awards.[11] In 1996 and 1998 she won for restaurant criticism; in 1994 for journalism; and in 1984 for Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America. She has also won several awards granted by the Association of American Food Journalists. She was also the recipient of the YWCA's Elizabeth Cutter Morrow Award, celebrating the accomplishments of strong, successful women. Reichl served as host for three Food Network Specials titled "Eating Out Loud" which covered cuisine from each coast and corner of the United States, in New York in 2002, and Miami and San Francisco in 2003. She also frequents Leonard Lopate's monthly food radio show on WNYC in New York.

From 2011 to 2013, Reichl appeared as a judge on seasons 3, 4 and 5 of the Bravo reality television show Top Chef Masters.[12]

In 2021, Reichl joined Substack to begin publishing a newsletter about food writing.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Reichl is married to Michael Singer, with whom she has one son.[11] They live in Spencertown, New York.[11]


  • Mmmmm: A Feastiary (cookbook), (1972)
  • Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table (memoir) (1998)
  • Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table (memoir) (2001)
  • Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise (memoir) (2005)[10]
  • The Gourmet Cookbook: More Than 1000 Recipes (2006)
  • Not Becoming My Mother: and Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way (2009)
  • Gourmet Today: More than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen (2009)
  • For You, Mom. Finally. (2010; first published under the title Not Becoming My Mother)
  • Delicious! (novel) (2014)
  • My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life (2015)
  • Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir (2019)


  1. ^ "Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise (review)". Archived from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  2. ^ "Cookbook review: In 'My Kitchen Year,' Ruth Reichl soldiers on after gourmet shutdown". Los Angeles Times. 6 November 2015. Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2016-02-29.
  3. ^ Chamberlain, Sarah (2017-09-14). "'Food is never just about what we put in our mouths'". the Guardian. Retrieved 2022-08-24.
  4. ^ Ernst Reichl Archived 2016-01-14 at the Wayback Machine, web page, accessed 8 June 2016
  5. ^ Bloom, Nate (2006-01-13). "Celebrity Jews". J. Retrieved 2022-08-24.
  6. ^ a b c d "Restaurant Critic Is Named". The New York Times. 1993-06-11. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2022-02-01. Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  7. ^ "Kitchen Library". Oakland Tribune. 1972-12-06. pp. 9A. Retrieved 2022-08-27.
  8. ^ Betts, Kate (2019-04-09). "Ruth Reichl Dishes on the Last Days of Gourmet Magazine". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2020-11-08. Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  9. ^ Case, Tony (March 5, 2007). "Special Report: Ruth Reichl in Focus". Retrieved 2022-08-27.
  10. ^ a b c Morales, Tatiana (May 18, 2005). "Garlic and Sapphires". CBS News. Archived from the original on 14 July 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  11. ^ a b c Palazzolo, Rose (2021-05-19). "At home upstate with Ruth Reichl". Times Union. Archived from the original on 2021-12-28. Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  12. ^ "Top Chef Masters". Archived from the original on 2022-08-24. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  13. ^ Severson, Kim (1 December 2021). "Substack Expands Food Newsletters With Ruth Reichl and Others". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 28 May 2022. Retrieved 23 August 2022.

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