Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir

Trailblazing food writer and beloved restaurant critic Ruth Reichl took the risk (and the job) of a lifetime when she entered the glamorous, high-stakes world of magazine publishing. Now, for the first time, she chronicles her groundbreaking tenure as editor in chief of Gourmet, during which she spearheaded a revolution in the way we think about food. When Condé Nast offer...

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Title:Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir
Author:Ruth Reichl
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Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir Reviews

  • Kasa Cotugno

    Based on her wonderful memoirs, Ruth Reichl has deservedly garnered a large, affectionate following. Her generous sharing of her moments with her family have provided much enjoyment, and here she is finally able to tell about her years at Gourmet Magazine and her experiences with its mercurial publishing house, Conde Nast. It was definitely a dream of a job. I remember seeing her when she was on a book tour in 2009 for one of her memoirs, during which she enthused about the magazine and the role

    Based on her wonderful memoirs, Ruth Reichl has deservedly garnered a large, affectionate following. Her generous sharing of her moments with her family have provided much enjoyment, and here she is finally able to tell about her years at Gourmet Magazine and her experiences with its mercurial publishing house, Conde Nast. It was definitely a dream of a job. I remember seeing her when she was on a book tour in 2009 for one of her memoirs, during which she enthused about the magazine and the role she had with it, how it gave her the opportunity of a lifetime, not realizing that within a few months the magazine would fold, just before presentation of their eagerly awaited Christmas issue.

    We learn of how she was lured away from her job as food critic for The New York Times to be Editor in Chief of a magazine she had loved since childhood, finding herself in spacious, luxurious digs facing out on Broadway, with all the perks someone can only dream of. But there is so much more here, in that her position and glamor never went to her head. I was particularly taken by a chapter in which she describes a Parisian trip on a budget, and how cutting back doesn't mean giving up pleasures of quality or discovery.

    She really is a national treasure.

  • Chris

    For ten years Ruth Reichl helmed Gourmet magazine, turning the tired and worn publication back into the cultural achievement it once was. However, she initially balked at the idea of taking control. In 1999 she was the food critic for The New York Times— a writer first and last, she certainly had no interest in managing a staff of sixty. But Gourmet was a magazine that sparked her culinary career when she discovered it at eight years old … How could she resist? The next ten years became a whirlw

    For ten years Ruth Reichl helmed Gourmet magazine, turning the tired and worn publication back into the cultural achievement it once was. However, she initially balked at the idea of taking control. In 1999 she was the food critic for The New York Times— a writer first and last, she certainly had no interest in managing a staff of sixty. But Gourmet was a magazine that sparked her culinary career when she discovered it at eight years old … How could she resist? The next ten years became a whirlwind of learning how to head a magazine, navigating publishing egos, and, above all else, dishing out great food.

    In Save Me the Plums, the best of these stories are on display. Richl works linearly, showcasing her trepidation at taking control of a massive publication with minimal managerial experience. She’s obviously anxious, something that’s palpable on the page all these years later. It’s a testament to her writing. She’s frank, candid, and brutally honest about her successes and failures. This is particularly effective as she gains confidence and is forced into working situations with so many high profile names and even larger personalities. For some, this would come off like name dropping. For Reichl, it’s just her exploring the wonder and absurdity that was her life working for a Condé Nast publication.

    In the opening section of the book, Reichl makes mention that those reading this book probably have some connection to Gourmet. This almost does a disservice to her writing. Sure, those with a familiar with the magazine will have a special reaction to her discussing the test kitchens or working on specific covers and features. However, Reichl’s work is almost like poetry— lyrical with no words wasted. Behind all the hullabaloo of office life, it’s really about the basics of food, and her careful prose make any readers hungry for more.

    Reichl’s ability to weave a memoir into an examination of food and a changing industry is unparalleled. Funny, thoughtful, and enlightening— this book cannot be recommended enough.

    Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)

    If you have followed Ruth Reichl through her memoirs, this takes place between

    and

    , telling the story of her experience as the editor for Gourmet Magazine up until its shocking closure. I feel this memoir is for foodies first, but will also be of interest for anyone in publishing or the arts. The people working for Gourmet cultivated an environment of creative exploration and perfection

    If you have followed Ruth Reichl through her memoirs, this takes place between

    and

    , telling the story of her experience as the editor for Gourmet Magazine up until its shocking closure. I feel this memoir is for foodies first, but will also be of interest for anyone in publishing or the arts. The people working for Gourmet cultivated an environment of creative exploration and perfection that made the magazine what it is, and I loved reading about each person's contributions and how the magazine reflected the changing culture of food in the United States. There's an entire chapter, for instance, about the publication of "Consider the Lobster" by David Foster Wallace, which I had no idea was first published in Gourmet!

    In a different voice, I can see how this story could be obnoxious. So many famous people, so many fancy meals and expensive restaurants, so many trends in food and fashion. But Ruth Reichl is so direct, honest, and open that the story transforms into something more heartwarming than it feels it has the right to be.

    Unlike My Kitchen Year which is sometimes referred to as a cookbook (although I personally still feel it is more memoir than recipe), this memoir only has 3-4 recipes. I had my eye on that chocolate cake that helped her establish kitchen credibility with her staff, so you know

  • Lisa Leone-campbell

    Ruth Reichl was a top food critic when she decided to take a job as the editor-in-chief at Gourmet Magazine, the culinary food magazine of its time. But in her new memoir we see she is so much more than the 10 year editor of Gourmet who sadly was their last as they shockingly closed in 2009.

    When she was just 8 years old, coming from humble beginnings with a mother who was bipolar and spent hours and days and months in deep depression, and a father who not only adored Ruth, but adored his wife no

    Ruth Reichl was a top food critic when she decided to take a job as the editor-in-chief at Gourmet Magazine, the culinary food magazine of its time. But in her new memoir we see she is so much more than the 10 year editor of Gourmet who sadly was their last as they shockingly closed in 2009.

    When she was just 8 years old, coming from humble beginnings with a mother who was bipolar and spent hours and days and months in deep depression, and a father who not only adored Ruth, but adored his wife none the less, she read her first issue of Gourmet Magazine and she was hooked. It was then she made the decision to pursue something in the food industry, so when offered the job at the magazine she was frightened, honored and excited.

    Feeling as if everyday would be her last, Reichl went on to change the magazine's direction into the popular bibliophile it became under her tenure.

    She tells stories in the book of making a bet of $100 that they would not lose subscribers if they put a dead fish on the cover (they did not), to writer David Foster Wallace's travel piece about a Maine Lobster Festival and the killing of lobsters.

    We also meet many of the eccentric personalities who graced the halls during her tenure. We see how her immediate family, her son Nick, a young child when she took the job and her husband Michael supported her and gave her sage feedback and advice. She also describes the aftermath of 9/11 and how the New York food industry bonded together to assist the first responders.

    There are mouthwatering descriptions of meals she has had the pleasure of experiencing which make the reader wish they had been there to witness and taste. And if that is not enough, she even includes a few of her favorite recipes.

    As a fan of Reichl, I loved her novel Delicious and her travel show on television, I ravenously"ate up" her stories and her life during her time at Gourmet.

    Thank you #NetGalley #Random House #Save Me the Plums #Ruth Reichl

    The book will be out on April 2.

    If you enjoyed this review please follow me at Lisascubby.com. Happy Reading!

  • Julie Ehlers

    It's always a pleasure to read a new memoir from an author whose memoirs you've enjoyed in the past—it's like catching up with an old friend. I particularly enjoyed

    because, in addition to the usual draws of a Reichl memoir (the writing and the recipes), this one was about her time as editor of

    magazine. I love any kind of publishing story, really, and in this case it was so fascinating to go behind the scenes of a glamorous magazine, as many Conde Nast publications wer

    It's always a pleasure to read a new memoir from an author whose memoirs you've enjoyed in the past—it's like catching up with an old friend. I particularly enjoyed

    because, in addition to the usual draws of a Reichl memoir (the writing and the recipes), this one was about her time as editor of

    magazine. I love any kind of publishing story, really, and in this case it was so fascinating to go behind the scenes of a glamorous magazine, as many Conde Nast publications were at the time. Ruth Reichl was the perfect tour guide, because the entire magazine scene was completely new to her when she started, so she explained all the things a reader might most want to know.

    Most memoirs are about the author's personal life; what's so unique about

    is that it's about work. It was fascinating to read about how Reichl managed the editorial transition, how she handled each of her powerful bosses, how she hired people to carry out her vision, how she convinced the powers that be to let her take chances. I loved hearing the story behind the publication of David Foster Wallace's now-famous essay "Consider the Lobster," for instance, and about the bets she placed with her bosses about which covers would succeed or fail on the newsstand. It occurs to me that this memoir, like

    , depends a lot on your interest in the profession Reichl is focusing on.

    was my least favorite of hers because I don't care that much about restaurant reviewing; if you don't care much about magazine editing, be warned: there's a lot of it in here.

    Of course, it's no spoiler to say this memoir ends with

    being shut down and merged with

    , and the chapters leading up to this, as Reichl takes on more and more in an attempt to save it, are some of the most honest, and also the saddest, in the book.

    is really an elegy for a time that's slipping away: When there were fabulous magazines full of quality material put together by smart people who really cared about doing something good. For some reason as a culture we've decided we don't want that anymore. But I was happy to have a chance to celebrate that era, and I couldn't have asked for a better companion than Ruth Reichl. Magazine publishing's loss is book publishing's gain; regardless of what Reichl decides to do next, I'll be more than happy to read her next book about whatever it is.

    I won this ARC via Shelf Awareness. Thank you to the publisher!

  • Mellie Antoinette

    Ruth Reichl has always been an instant read author for and Save Me The Plums doesn’t disappoint. What an incredible career she has had! An eye-opening view of the chutzpah needed to run, grow and support not just the birth of a magazine, but the renaissance of the ultimate insider view of all things foodalicious.

  • JanB

    This is a captivating look into how Ruth Reichl transformed Gourmet magazine from a stuffy, stodgy, dying publication into a slick, relevant magazine that had it’s finger on the pulse of food trends and gave readers recipes that were accessible to home cooks everywhere.

    She was hesitant at first to take the job as editor-in-chief of Gourmet but reconsidered when she thought about how profoundly the magazine impacted her life, starting at age 8 when she saw her first copy of the glossy magazine. T

    This is a captivating look into how Ruth Reichl transformed Gourmet magazine from a stuffy, stodgy, dying publication into a slick, relevant magazine that had it’s finger on the pulse of food trends and gave readers recipes that were accessible to home cooks everywhere.

    She was hesitant at first to take the job as editor-in-chief of Gourmet but reconsidered when she thought about how profoundly the magazine impacted her life, starting at age 8 when she saw her first copy of the glossy magazine. Taking the job would also allow her to be home in the evenings with her husband and son instead of eating out every night for her job as restaurant critic for the NYT.

    This book chronicles her 10 years with the magazine. It’s a memoir of the changing food scene, the trials and tribulations of a corporate job, and a behind-the-scenes look into the world of recipe testing and magazine publishing. She tells plenty of interesting anecdotes, dropping names of people familiar to most of us. Sprinkled throughout are personal stories of her family, which I loved.

    Her descriptions of food is mouth-watering and she includes a few of her favorite recipes. Sadly, as most of us know, the magazine merged with Bon Appetit in 2009, ending an era, but through her writing Ruth Reichl gives us an insider look into a life few of us have intimate knowledge of, one I found fascinating.

    Recommended to anyone who loves food – which is to say, everyone. I highly recommend the audio version, as Ruth narrates her own story. Then get a hard copy for the recipes.

  • Diane S ☔

    I'm a big foodie, not a baker, but I love to cook. New recipes. Old favorites, comfort food, different ethnic cuisines, I love to experiment with recipes. I've read all of Ruth's books and have enjoyed each and everyone.

    As the food critic for the New York times, her meal time was not her own. She regretted not having more time with her husband and son, so when she is approached and asked to become editor of Gourmet Magazine, she accepts. Not that she isn't worried about a job she is not certain

    I'm a big foodie, not a baker, but I love to cook. New recipes. Old favorites, comfort food, different ethnic cuisines, I love to experiment with recipes. I've read all of Ruth's books and have enjoyed each and everyone.

    As the food critic for the New York times, her meal time was not her own. She regretted not having more time with her husband and son, so when she is approached and asked to become editor of Gourmet Magazine, she accepts. Not that she isn't worried about a job she is not certain she is qualified for, but being able to be home for dinner is a big plus, not to mention the salary and perks.

    This book covers her time at Gourmet, and it makes very interesting reading.

    Her descriptions of food had me drooling. Melted chocolate, caramel, my two favorite ingredients. The way the food is staged, photographed. Occasional looks into her private life, and the challenges of keeping a magazine running, in the dying days of magazines. She would reinvent Gourmet, changing the stuffy image, into a trendy, but elegant magazine. She is a wonderful writer, and she captures a life based on food, and cuisine, effortlessly.

  • Lola

    I have wanted to read Ruth Reichl for YEARS and I was going to start with another of her memoirs – Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise – because it sounded JUICY and very secret indeed. But then this one came out and I was offered a chance to review it so I jumped on the opportunity.

    Alright, guys. It’s important for you to know, right from the start, that reading this book on an empty stomach is TORTURE. Torture, I tell you. More torturous than watching Lucas and Peyto

    I have wanted to read Ruth Reichl for YEARS and I was going to start with another of her memoirs – Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise – because it sounded JUICY and very secret indeed. But then this one came out and I was offered a chance to review it so I jumped on the opportunity.

    Alright, guys. It’s important for you to know, right from the start, that reading this book on an empty stomach is TORTURE. Torture, I tell you. More torturous than watching Lucas and Peyton from One Tree Hill pretend they aren’t soul mates. I’m currently watching the third season and I am DYING. So yes, please do eat something before diving into this memoir filled with exquisite descriptions of foods and tastes. Ruth Reichl really knows what she’s doing.

    What she doesn’t quite know is how to be an editor in chief, even if it’s at the glorious food magazine Gourmet. I say GLORIOUS but really I hadn’t heard of it before. But apparently it made its mark on Food History and it sought Ruth Reichl to be part of its gloriousness. Although I don’t quite like reading about opportunities given to people who don’t appreciate them or want them, I do believe the magazine helped Ruth develop her managing skills and become more assertive and she certainly made many proud so she did end up appreciating the chance she was given to lead regardless of her initial refusal to take the job.

    It’s a short but meaningful memoir that spans many MANY years. Ruth talks about the magazine as much as she does about food and her own personal life or past experiences that helped her become who she is today. I especially enjoyed reading about her son who experienced food differently than she did when she was a child. I was also very surprised by all the changes at Gourmet Ruth played a role in, like the rock and roll cover, something never done before, or the publishing of a controversial piece of writing. I do believe though that this book could have been even more interesting if there had been pictures included. Somehow those aren’t so popular anymore in memoirs – were they even before? Still, I am impressed with this author’s writing and career so I cannot wait to explore her previously written memoirs.

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  • Lisa

    [4+] Mmmm - a delicious and nutritious memoir! Reichl is an excellent storyteller and I found her ten years at Gourmet magazine riveting. I worked at Conde Nast in the late 1980s (before Ruth) and loved the way she brought the publishing empire's cast of characters to life.

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