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Whither Amanda Hesser?

Where had Amanda Hesser been lately? She hasn't written much for the NY Times as far as I can see. Is she working on another book?

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  1. I was wondering as well. I have some really great recipes from her, and like her entertaining sensibility.

    Her chocolate dump-it cake and fleur de sel caramels have made me famous in my 'hood.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Kishari

      Yes, her recipes really do work. Where is her recipes for caramels? Sounds like something I'd like to try...

      1. re: Cakegirl

        Sorry, I forgot to check back on this one. It was a column called "The Way We Eat: free ranging" Dec. 2005. Sorry, I don't have it in Word to cut and paste here, if you like you can email me at likesafari@aol.com and I'll scan it and send it to you.

    2. About a year ago now, maybe longer, there was a short squib in the NYTimes asking people who fondly recalled old Times recipes to send them in to Hesser for what I believe was to be a cookbook of oldies but goodies. She's still writing for the Times. In fact, I see that she's begun to reprint some of those old recipes. Here's the results of a Times search:


      1. She is pregnant with twins. Maybe she is taking a break.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Nuray

          No kidding. How did you find that out?

          I still see her byline in the NY Times magazine sometimes. She's usually reviving old recipes for the magazine's food page.

          1. re: SarahEats

            good luck to Amanda! I always thought she had quite a bit of talent but that embarrassing Mr Latte series killed my habit of reading of the sunday food column which I had opened eagerly every Sunday for 20+ years. Havent opened it since except randomly.

            1. re: jen kalb

              I cut her a lot of slack on the Mr. latte thing. After all, she was in love...

              1. re: micki

                They werent as adorable to us as they were to each other, thats all. I know the NYTimes was encouraging this kind of personal writing at the time, but it just wasnt very interesting. It wasnt about food.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  I really liked the book. In fact I used it for my book club one month. I had everyone make one thing from that book. It was a fun time.

              2. re: jen kalb

                I always found her irritating, and the Mr. Latte thing really put the icing on that cake. Sorry, but when I am reading a food column, I want to read about food, not your goo-goo eyes. I was pretty relieved when she seemed to drop off the face of the earth.

                1. re: travelmad478

                  me three . . . she seems to have driven more than a few of us away from NYT food writing.

              3. re: SarahEats

                She was on Times on the Park last Fall interviewing a couple of Food TV Celebs and Daisy from Channel 13. They talked about it there...

            2. that mr. latte series made me want to gouge out my eyes. i stopped reading the sunday food column for many years because of her.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hotoynoodle

                I agree that the Mr. Latte series was foul and cloying, and not helped by those syrupy illustrations that went along with it. God, I'm so glad that's over with.

              2. Gee. Mr. latte only made me grit my teeth. (she's at least a more entertaining writer than he is, though)

                1. Count me in as a "hesser hater" as well. I always found her columns so condescending. I just finished reading "Garlic and Sapphires" by Ruth Reichl, and in her one to two sentence descripton of Ms. Hesser, I got the immediate visual of Anne Baxter's character in "All about Eve"
                  Agreed on all the Mr. Latte discussion.

                  1. Seriously - don't ask too loudly where she is, she may come back!

                    Unlike hotoynoodle, I can't blame my lack of interest in the Times' latter day food coverage solely on her, but she's certainly an extreme example of what I think's wrong with it. (If there was a single straw that broke my camel's back, it was Eric Asimov being made wine columnist.)

                    I did like Hesser's occasional gadget review "features" but anything longer invariably irritates me no end. That whole Mr. Latte saga made me embarrassed me to be a member of the species...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MikeG

                      Agreed -- she was just an awful writer, and I don't think her writing was particularly relevant to anyone outside of a few misguided women living out some foodie Sex In the City-style fantasy life.

                    2. Haven't thought of Hesser for a while. Given the tone of the thread, i couldn't resist digging up a letter I sent to the Times. I apologize for its length and pettiness. I remember being quite chagrined at the time.

                      RE: Amanda Hesser in the Sunday Times Magazine

                      August 20 2001

                      Dear Editor:

                      When I first read Amanda Hesser’s column for the New York Times magazine, I bemoaned the sacrifice of quality in pursuit of the precious 18-35 youth market. Instead of the intelligent and spiritually generous writings of a Reichl, Claiborne, or O’Neill, we were presented with Hesser’s self-indulgent musings peppered with her insecurities. I refrained from commenting publicly as the young need to grow into their positions. After several precious articles with an unhealthy obsession on her love life, I feel a need to write to you.

                      I think I understand your motivation to appeal to the young, as there must be marked (as well as market) pressure on you from your advertisers to attract this demographic. I believe that this particular choice is in error. Reichl and others were always a joy to read because their writings were focused on food and their audience and far less on themselves. We all learned from their experiences and this, in no small way, added luster to our own lives. Hesser’s articles seem small and petty by comparison. A strength of the New York Times has always been its appeal to the best within us. I am saddened by this change of policy and the fact that this next generation may not reap the benefits that your newspaper once provided.

                      I don’t mean to suggest that you should abandon Hesser or that she should abandon her chosen profession. She can write and has some culinary experience. But someone needs to tell her how disappointing her current efforts are. It seems an unfortunate trend for our youth-oriented society that such writing is in vogue. It is perhaps a sign of the times that the Times chose to follow this trend instead of lead.

                      1. That about says it, and I'm at the tail end of the that "market demographic" myself. You give her even more credit for background knowledge than I would, though her writing itself is OK, barring what I've come to think of as the "blog style" of it all.

                        If you read peoples' blogs, you are by definition inviting them to emote all over your shoes and give you "Way Too Much Information" if the mood strikes. That's why I don't read blogs. And it's certainly not why I do read newspapers, much less the Times.

                        Asimov is more restrained, but I still get a similar sense of too-obvious conviction in his own coolness, if not knowledge, for my liking. But I think what you write is exactly the reason those two were/are successful there.

                        1. I've been so glad to not see her byline...gawd, how I hated the whole Mr. Big, er, Latte thing.

                          1. I'm smack in the middle of the 18 to 35 demographic as well. I missed her Mr. Latte articles in the NYT. Instead I made the huge mistake of getting the book. Initially it seemed ok, then I grew increasingly more annoyed and about now I am ready to toss it. One reviewer called it delightful and honest, I call it dry as a cracker and humourless and as delightful as a bed full of cracker crumbs at bedtime.
                            In all fairness, she can write about food. She should keep away from anything resembling a novel. As an upside, if I see anything like this again, I know not to get it.

                              1. re: sepiabella

                                Yes--I actually googled Hesser after reading the "correction" for her cookbook review on Times select. For those who haven't seen it, Hesser failed to reveal to the Times that Patricia Wells, whose book she glowingly mentions, had previously blurbed one of her books. This is AFTER the kerfluffle over her three-star review of a chef who had also blurbed on of her books. I like Hesser's recipes, but her professional ethics leave something to be desired. I suppose anyone can slip once; making the same mistake again suggests that she just doesn't get it.