Hungry Onion Drooling Q&A with Jonathan Kauffman. Nov 17, 2016 2pm PT

Q&A with Jonathan Kauffman

Nov 17, 2016 (Thurs) at 2-3 PT

Jonathan Kauffman has been writing about food for The San Francisco Chronicle since the spring of 2014. He focuses on the intersection of food and culture — whether that be profiling chefs, tracking new trends in nonwestern cuisines, or examining the impact of technology on the way we eat. He is the author of the forthcoming “Hippie Food” (William Morrow, 2017), a book about why the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s adopted foods like brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and tofu, and how these foods spread throughout the rest of the country in the matter of just a few years.

After cooking for a number of years in Minnesota and San Francisco, Kauffman left the kitchen for what he assumed would be the more lucrative field of journalism. He reviewed restaurants for 11 years in the Bay Area and Seattle (East Bay Express, Seattle Weekly, SF Weekly), then spent several years as the San Francisco editor for Tasting Table.

His reporting has won awards from the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and his criticism has won several Association of Food Journalism awards. He has also been anthologized in the annual Best Food Writing series several times.

Twitter: @jonkauffman
Instagram: @jonkauffman

Hungry Onion Drooling Q&A is a place where you can interact with your favorite cookbook authors, food critics and chefs and ask them in-depth and thought-provoking questions about their areas of expertise. It is a great venue that lets us explore the interviewees’ thought processes, how they approach their professional work, and what drives their passion.

Got a question for Jonathan? Click ‘Reply’ and ask! Jonathan will join us on Nov 17.

Don’t forget to also check out our great Q&A lineup as well as our community members’ knowledgeable discussions on restaurant recommendations and cooking techniques!


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Ask away!

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Does your forthcoming book cover institutions like the Berkeley Food Conspiracy? (My then wife and I were Cheese Coordinators for the North Berkeley-Albany cell in the late 60s.)

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What is your secret ingredient or technique to get homemade salad dressing to match that of a highly regarded restaurant?


It seems to be a common theme amongst countries that are getting more affluent to move towards refined grains and food. Once enough time passes (half a decade?) and the pendulum swings far enough, there is usually a desire to bring back ‘rustic food’ that our agrarian ancestors enjoyed with much health benefit. Specific to the US, why do you think it’s the hippies who brought those food back, versus other groups, like people who are conscious about health, etc.?


Since your writings explore food and culture, do you have a view on why US, compared to other countries, seems to have more niche diets that every few years take the country by storm and then fade to obscurity a few years later?


Why have you blocked me on Twitter? I don’t recall ever playing nasty with you.

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In the four years since you switched from being an anonymous reviewer to a food culture writer whose face in on the internet, how have your interactions with servers and restaurant owners changed, both on your end and theirs?


When foods get disembodied from their culture of origin, whether due to ingredient availability, a need to assimilate, or an attempt to “elevate,” the soul of dish and what it makes it taste good can be lost. Are there any particular dishes or ingredients that you’d like to see return to their cultural roots, or that you think mainstream American tastes are finally ready for in their more traditional forms?

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What prompted you to write the book Hippie Food? Now that you have returned from your sabbatical, I assume your book is close to finished. Can you tell us more details about topics you are exploring in the book?

At the inception, its somewhat challenging to tell hippie food that lasts versus just another food fad that will fade away. Any observable difference you can tell between them?

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Since you have experience writing about food in the Bay Area and Seattle. How do you compare the two cities’ dining scenes?

Jonathan, there has been a lot of talk about high commercial (and residential) rent, staff shortage and attrition to tech companies in San Francisco during boom times- that interesting restaurants are sprouting instead in lower cost cities such as Oakland.

Your thoughts? Is SF restaurant scene getting stale or risk averse?


What are your favorite budget and mid-tier restaurants in the Bay Area?

Newspapers are dealing with declining ad revenue and changing reading habit from paper to online. Where do you see the future of food journalism going?

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Hi Jonathan, thanks for coming to Hungry Onion Drooling Q&A.

Usually the quest for Asian food outside the country of origin is to find the authentic taste closest to the original cooking. As we know, food is always an evolution with influences with different cultures, availability of ingredients and cooking techniques. After tasting so many Asian restaurants, do you however find places in US that serve food that is better than the original cooking or the cooking gathers new influences and create something original that could be called Asian American cooking?

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I know a food writer friend that has been a ghost writer for chef books when she started her career. Did you have this period? Why this shift from working in a kitchen to journalism? Did you miss your days of cooking?

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After many years of writing about food, what subjects you haven’t cover yet and you would like to explore?

I read your tweet earlier than Anna Roth is moving to NY? Do you have any insights what will happen to the budget eats section in the Chronicle?

All the best to Anna!

At the different stages in your career, what books did you find yourself consulting the most?

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Making noodles. Phongdien Town, Cantho City, Southern Vietnam.
Credit: CiaoHo