Wednesday, August 11, 2010

5 Questions for Jenny Nelson

This post is the result of an offer I couldn't refuse: Check out a copy of Jenny Nelson's new novel, Georgia's Kitchen, and then pick her brain to my heart's content. Since I tend to enjoy the delicious blend of food and fiction, I was happy to give it a try. 

This is definitely fun summer reading. I love books and movies set in New York City, and this one gives us a peek into a fictional dining hot spot where our heroine is the head chef. But not for long...

Read on to learn more about the book and what kind of grueling research the author undertook to get the food details just right!

Julie: Georgia, the main character, is a top New York City chef (at least she is when the story begins). Have you ever fantasized about a career in restaurant kitchens?

Jenny Nelson: Absolutely! I would love to work in one of the top kitchens – maybe at Thomas Keller’s Per Se or Jean Georges … though my skills are nowhere near up to snuff and I’d be booted so fast I wouldn’t even have time to pack my knives. But what fun to watch the great chefs work their magic!

Julie: You describe the food Georgia cooks in detail ("a house-made taglierini with peas and ramps from the Greenmarket, slivers of bresaola, and shaved pecorino"). What kind of research did you do to come up with the dishes described in the book?

JN: I ate a lot! I studied menus and recipes and ate in as many restaurants as my waistline and my wallet could afford. It was a blast.

Julie: Part of the book is set in Tuscany. Do you have any other favorite food destinations?

JN: I love the food in Vietnam, especially in Hanoi – it’s so fresh and light and filled with great vegetables and fish and herbs like cilantro. It’s exactly the kind of food I love to eat.

Julie: Vietnam is one of all-time favorite food destinations too, but I've only been to Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang. I would love to visit Hanoi!

Julie: Describe your perfect meal (whether it's one you've already had, or one you hope to have someday)?

JN: The perfect meal means perfect company, and that’d include my husband and six-year-old daughters. I’d put us at a seaside restaurant in Sardinia and we’d start with plenty of good bread and e.v. olive oil and something with tomatoes – maybe a simple bruschetta. Then we’d move into an arugula and parmesan salad, some type of risotto, branzino (my absolute fave), and finish with a cheese selection and house-made gelato, a variety of flavors but at least one would have to be chocolate based.

Julie: What do you make to eat for yourself when you're alone (be honest, even if it's cereal with milk!)?

JN: How’d you know? I’m a huge cereal fan and have been known to indulge in more than a few late-night bowls. Typically, I eat lots of fish, chicken, pasta, quinoa, tons of salads and veggies (really into sautéed kale and chard lately) and, oh yeah, tons of cheese. Yogurt with berries and walnuts is another almost daily meal, as is oatmeal with raisins, cinnamon and brown sugar. Though I’m not a huge meat eater, I do love the occasional burger and I make a terrific grilled flank steak with horseradish sauce. I’m getting really hungry!

Bonus Question: You've worked at both and Do you plan to set a future novel in the fashion world?

JN: Probably not. Fashion has been done to death and unless I thought of a truly unique angle, I think that’s one topic I’ll avoid. Although, now you’ve got me thinking … 

Thank you, Jenny, for taking the time to visit A Mingling of Tastes! A review copy of Georgia's Kitchen was kindly provided by the publisher.

Now tell me what YOU are reading this summer? Anything food focused, or just some plain good reads? Please share!


MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

OK, now I am STARVING after reading this post! I LOVE cilantro, and everything Jenny has talked about here has me salivating! Including the cereal (we had Peanut Butter Captain Crunch for dinner the other night!) But I love her perfect meal idea too -- with the fresh bread and tomatoes and risotto! YUM!) Great interview and the book is awesome too! Thanks for a fun post!

dining table said...

Just like Manic. I am getting so hungry after reading this post. This is just a very interesting and mouthwatering post. Thank you for sharing it.