Hungry Onion Drooling Q&A with Mark Bittman (Jan 19, 2017 2pm ET)

Q&A with Mark Bittman

January 19, 2017 (Thurs) 2pm ET

There is no one like Mark Bittman, whose core message—that food has the power to make or break not only our personal health but that of the planet—is increasingly accepted and broadcast widely.

For The New York Times and all kinds of other publications, Bittman covers policy, agriculture, health, the environment and more, along, of course, with cooking and eating. His body of work spans all media with print and web columns, videos, interviews, TV appearances and shows. He is a regular on the Today Show and has hosted four TV series, including Showtime’s Emmy Award-winning climate change documentary, Years of Living Dangerously.

Mark Bittman is especially known as the author of more than a dozen groundbreaking, popular books (three of which are now successful apps). His latest book is How to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking. He is also the author of Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix, and How to Cook Everything Fast.

How to Cook Everything—widely considered the new bible of American cooking with well over 1 million copies sold—continues to demonstrate his combination of common sense and approachable authority after more than 15 years in print.

Twitter: @bittman
Instagram: @markbittman

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 Mark? Click ‘Reply’ and ask! Mark will join us in January 2017

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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Hi Mark: Was wondering if there were any food & dining spots you enjoyed while living in the Bronx? What influenced you the most in your food writing career? Thanks…

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Hello, Mr. Bittman:

I have read several instances in your writing where you have characterized cast iron pans as being “even heating”. See, e.g.,

Given (a) cast iron’s mediocre conductivity (it is classified in naval architecture as an insulator): and (b) the fact that anything heats evenly in an oven, what is your basis for this “even heating” claim?

Also, it’s been attributed to you that all tinned copper cookware contains hazardous levels of lead, and therefore should be avoided. Is this really your opinion?


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Thank you for participating, and for a wealth of recipes and inspiration (and, albeit heavy, wedding gifts)

In 2011, you said that, because regions of Italy are focused on their own specialities, “with the possible exception of New York, it may be said that San Francisco is the world’s best city for regional Italian food.” Now that you are a Bay Area resident, do you still agree with that sentiment and are there other international cuisines that you’re finding the Bay Area represents better than it gets credit for?


Hi Mark, What are you working on these days now that you have moved on from your startup days? Any plans to go back to write for the Times again?

What do you think is the biggest food-related distraction from a healthy diet and sound lifestyle?
“Low fat diet”, “Avoid aluminum cookware”, “Water bottles”, “Kale salad”, “Juicing”, “Gluten-free diet”…etc.

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Mark, how much influence do cookbook authors have over the way people eat in America?

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I am big on waste reduction. Since you have discussed waste reduction in the past, what do you think are the most effective things people can do as individuals to achieve that? Similarly, on a larger scale, what can institutions do?

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You started out at The New York Times writing about cooking. Towards the end of your tenure, you wrote more about food policies and the broader food world and started to use your influence to drive changes. Now that you are not writing for the paper any more, how are you continuing the work of influencing food policy?

Mark, I live in the SF Bay Area, and we have the benefits of having farmer’s markets supplying quality produce year round. I often hear people say that produce from farmer’s markets are pricey. Of course, these markets often attract farmers that produce the best quality produce that are more expensive, but often times good value produce are available and are often cheaper than similar quality produce found in stores. Farmer’s markets I think can play a large role in improving the quality of food and reducing food miles. But do farmer’s markets need to evolve to have a broader reach across the country?


Hang out with Michael Pollan much during your time in Berkeley? What you both advocate- fix the food system, better diet, are pretty similar. Any plans to collaborate in the future? Or implement the goals of the Berkeley Food Institute in a different form?

Mark, how has your idea of good home cooking evolved in the 20, 30 years since you first started writing about cooking?

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How do you come up with cookbook ideas? What is the creative process?

Thanks for doing this, Mark!

I’m curious about your current cooking/eating interests and how, over time, your decisions about what to eat/how to cook have changed personally?

Any new books being planned?

Other than brown, what color food do you like best?

Do you have a favorite "How to Cook Everything " title or are they all like your children?

In your 2008 New York Times recipe for kasha varnishkes (which I made with great results a few times), the first step is to cook onions in a covered skillet over medium heat without any fat. After 10 minutes, fat added to the skillet. What is the purpose of the fat-free beginning? I have looked at many kasha varnishkes recipes and none of them start with a fat-free skillet.

What are the food lessons from the Bay Area that you think its worthy to share with the rest of the country, and what are food lessons from the rest of the country that the Bay Area should hear?