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  • NYS Writers Institute

Chef/food writer Ruth Reichl kicks off 2021-22 Creative Life Series on Tuesday, Oct. 5


"... one of the most notable, lauded and legendary food writers ever to execute the craft."

-- Deanna Fox, Times Union

Ruth Reichl
(Photo credit: Michael Singer)

Ruth Reichl, a James Beard Award-winning food writer, former New York Times food critic, and noted chef will visit the University at Albany for a conversation with WAMC’s Joe Donahue as part of The Creative Life: Conversation Series.

The event, free and open to the public, will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5, at UAlbany Performing Arts Center on the University at Albany’s uptown campus at 1400 Washington Avenue.

Free parking in the State Quad Commuter / Student parking lot. See map and more parking information.

In her most recent book, Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir, trailblazing food writer and beloved restaurant critic Reichl chronicles her groundbreaking tenure as editor in chief of Gourmet from 1999 to 2009. Complete with recipes, Save Me the Plums tells a story of the golden age of print media — the last spendthrift gasp before the Internet turned the magazine world upside down.

The New York Times praised her book as “Poignant and hilarious . . . simply delicious . . . Each serving of magazine folklore is worth savoring. In fact, Reichl’s story is juicier than a Peter Luger porterhouse. Dig in.”

Freelance food journalist Deanna Fox, interviewed Reichl recently: "While the act of writing can be a solitary endeavor, preparing and eating food rarely are. Reichl said that food writing, therefore, is all about balance in the same way perfecting a recipe is.

Being a restaurant critic is very social. At the New York Times I went out for 14 meals a week. I probably spent five hours a day sitting at a table with other people. So that’s not solitary. For me, I happen to be a very social person, and it was a perfect balance.” Read more

Soleil Ho reviewed Save Me the Plums in San Francisco Chronicle: “If you haven’t picked up food writing queen Ruth Reichl’s new book, Save Me the Plums, I highly recommend you fix that problem. . . . Reichl is in top form and ready to dish, with every chapter seeming like a dedicated behind-the-scenes documentary on its own.”

Reichl began writing about food in 1972 when she published Mmmmm: A Feastiary. Since then, she has authored the critically acclaimed, best-selling memoirs Tender at the Bone; Comfort Me with Apples, Garlic and Sapphires; and For You Mom, Finally. She has also published a novel, Delicious!, and a cookbook, My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life.

Before taking on the editor in chief position at Gourmet magazine, she was the restaurant critic of The New York Times and served as the food editor and restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times. Reichl has also served as host for “Eating Out Loud,” a Food Network Special that highlights cuisine from around the U.S. She is the executive producer of Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie, public television’s 30-episode series, and executive producer/host of Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth, a 10-episode public television event. She was also a judge on Top Chef Masters.

She has been honored with six James Beard Awards for her journalism, magazine feature writing, and criticism.

You may purchase Ruth Reichl's books in advance of the event at the local, independent Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza. A book signing will take place following her event.

Ruth Reichl online

A second Creative Life event this fall will feature designer Debbie Millman and author/social commentator Roxanne Gay, to be held 7 p.m. Tuesday November 2.

Covid protocols

The event will comply with all COVID-19 protocols and follow the guidance of health officials.

Attendees, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask inside all campus buildings. Featured guests and moderators will remove masks during their talks, but attendees are required to keep masks on during the events. For more information, visit

About The Creative Life Series

The Creative Life series is a major arts initiative of the University Art Museum, New York State Writers Institute and UAlbany Performing Arts Center in conjunction with WAMC Public Radio. Sponsored by The University at Albany Foundation, the series features live onstage interviews conducted by WAMC’s "Roundtable" host Joe Donahue with artists of national and international prominence in conversation about their creative inspiration, their craft, their careers and the demands of sustaining an artistic practice over time. A question and answer period closes each program.

Guests for the previous four seasons of the series included fiction writer Joyce Carol Oates, tap dancer-choreographer Savion Glover, jazz violinist Regina Carter, painter David Salle, Young Adult author Lois Lowry, choreographer Garth Fagan, Broadway star Patti LuPone, Warhol film star Bibbe Hansen, sculptor Jean Shin, author/essayist Esmeralda Santiago, New Yorker journalist/author Susan Orlean, comedian/actor Paul Reiser, high-wire artist Philippe Petit, rapper Rakim and novelist Jhumpa Lahiri.

Art critic Jerry Saltz’s March 2020 appearance in the series was postponed due to the pandemic and will be rescheduled for a later date.

Additional guests will also be added for the spring of 2022.

Major support for The Creative Life is provided by The University at Albany Foundation, with additional support from UAlbany Alumni Association and University Auxiliary Services.

More information can be obtained by calling the UAlbany Performing Arts Center’s box office at (518) 442-3997.


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