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

  • Tammy

    “When you attain my age you will understand one of life’s great secrets: Luxury is best appreciated in small portions. When it becomes routine it loses its allure.” As told to Ruth in Paris

    5 ☆ I’m totally fangirling!! I truly enjoyed reading Ruth Reichl’s memoir (which read like a novel) of her years as the very last editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine.

    Reading Gourmet magazines beginning at the young age of 8 is what inspired Ruth to cook and later become a food critic & writer.

    After being

    “When you attain my age you will understand one of life’s great secrets: Luxury is best appreciated in small portions. When it becomes routine it loses its allure.” As told to Ruth in Paris

    5 ☆ I’m totally fangirling!! I truly enjoyed reading Ruth Reichl’s memoir (which read like a novel) of her years as the very last editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine.

    Reading Gourmet magazines beginning at the young age of 8 is what inspired Ruth to cook and later become a food critic & writer.

    After being offered the job at Gourmet, turning it down, then finally accepting her new position she learned the do’s & don’ts of fitting into the magazine publishing world and the “lingo,” not an easy task. And with the perks billionaire owner Si Newhouse offered: money, a chauffeured limo & clothing allowance.. she was so thoroughly insulated from ordinary life that for ten years she never balanced a checkbook, made a reservation, or knew where she was meant to be at any given moment. Life then was certainly not her normal.

    I loved the inside look into the Gourmet test kitchen and the working and reworking of the test recipes to get them perfect. What a treat! I found it fun and interesting including the recipes to try throughout the book.

    Ruth was an amazing trailblazer that’s for sure! In ten years time after taking risks and pushing the envelope with her team to completely restyle the magazine by making its recipes more easily accessible to home cooks, offering how-to’s, and changing the way it’s subscribers think about food, the Gourmet era was over.

    Si Newhouse shuttered it’s doors in 2009 surprising all 65 employees. I remember when that happened and found it sad and unfortunate as Gourmet was my one go-to food magazine.

    Ruth really does have it all and I’d trade her places in a heartbeat. A supportive circle of her husband, son & friends and doing what she loves as an occupation. Save Me the Plums is a beautifully written book that I highly recommend!

    Anne Bogel #summerreadingguide pick

  • 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!

  • PorshaJo

    I'm a Ruth Reichl fan. Always have been. I've read a number of her books (loved them), read her blog, watched her on cooking shows....so I knew I had to read this one. I'm a big foodie and will read anything food related so had a feeling this one would fit that bill. I was so happy to buddy read this one too with Dana, who is always willing to jump into foodie books too!

    Many probably know of the quick 'demise' of Gourmet magazine. Ruth Reichl was in charge at that time and in this book she detai

    I'm a Ruth Reichl fan. Always have been. I've read a number of her books (loved them), read her blog, watched her on cooking shows....so I knew I had to read this one. I'm a big foodie and will read anything food related so had a feeling this one would fit that bill. I was so happy to buddy read this one too with Dana, who is always willing to jump into foodie books too!

    Many probably know of the quick 'demise' of Gourmet magazine. Ruth Reichl was in charge at that time and in this book she details her story of how she came to be at Gourmet to it's ultimate shut down of a long standing magazine. To be honest, I didn't read Gourmet. I thought it was a bit much for me. I've come a long way in my cooking and baking but when I started my journey I was overwhelmed by the mag. I enjoyed the details of the behind the curtains look at the magazine and how it worked. There were even a few recipes included that I have added to my list to make. Come on, chocolate cake and cheddar biscuits, how could you NOT want to make them. Reichl does a lot of name dropping in this one but she seems like such a sweet, genuine person that it comes off just matter-of-fact. She is not pretentious at all. And if she excels at anything....it's writing about food.

    I listened to this one which is narrated by the author and she does a wonderful job. Overall, we were glad to read this one. Certainly a must for anyone who loves to read about food, or wants to hear the inner-working details of Gourmet magazine, or you just want to listen to a good audio for a few hours. Heck, you might even be enticed to make that chocolate cake and have it for breakfast! Why not!

  • Dana

    I am not huge fan of cooking, although I love to bake and read about food, so when my foodie buddy, PorshaJo, suggested Save Me the Plums for our next foodie read, I was excited to finally be jumping on the Ruth Reichl wagon. I have been wanting to read her books forever.

    Save Me the Plums is a memoir of Reichl’s ten years with Gourmet magazine - from transforming the magazine to one that appealed to the average cook, with easily accessible recipes - to its final demise.

    We had a great discussion

    I am not huge fan of cooking, although I love to bake and read about food, so when my foodie buddy, PorshaJo, suggested Save Me the Plums for our next foodie read, I was excited to finally be jumping on the Ruth Reichl wagon. I have been wanting to read her books forever.

    Save Me the Plums is a memoir of Reichl’s ten years with Gourmet magazine - from transforming the magazine to one that appealed to the average cook, with easily accessible recipes - to its final demise.

    We had a great discussion as we read the book, learning about the inner sanctum of Condé Nast (lots of name dropping that most will be familiar with), the making of a magazine, inside a testing kitchen and several of her favorite recipes. Our favorites, and ones we plan to make soon, include Cheddar Scallion Biscuits and Jeweled Chocolate cake. We also enjoyed looking back at the covers of the magazine - for me, in particularly, the watercolor covers.

    The audiobook, read by the author, elevated the “experience” for me. Hearing Reichl speak her own words added depth and sincerity. I look forward to reading all her books now!

  • 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.

  • 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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