One of the great things about living in Chicago is that you get a chance to meet some wonderful people in the food world. The Culinary Historians put on a lecture last week showcasing none other than Barbara Fairchild. For the last 33 years Barbara has been the editor in chief of Bon Appetit. The magazine relocated to NY this past year and Barbara decided to stay in LA. It was fascinating to hear the stories of how she became the editor, tested the recipes, and what it took to put out a monthly food magazine.
When she left, subscription sales were at 1.6 million. Every year they photographed a turkey for Thanksgiving and every issue had a dessert. The editorial staff always looked for a classic dish, but would add a twist to it. Bon Appetit was designed for the ‘home’ cook. Traditional food items such as lemon, chocolate, and vanilla were always included. Two of the highest selling issues over the years were focused on Irish and Mexican food.
After she talked for a while about her career and the magazine, the host opened the floor to questions. One lady asked her what she ‘favorite’ meal was. It was nice to hear that location and who she dined with were just as important as the food. I think the most dead-on thing I took away from her response on this particular question was when she described how she knew a ‘great‘ meal was about to be served. Barbara said if the bread basket came and the bread was exceptional, then she knew the chef really cared about the food they were cooking. When I think back to the really special meals I’ve had, it always started with bread and butter that wanted me going back for more.
Barbara talked about recipes and how the test kitchen for Bon Appetit got more refined as the years went on. Early on, she said she was served broccoli with strawberry sauce and refused to even try it. Each recipe that gets placed in the magazine is tested two times and if it doesn’t work, they toss it out.
Another guest asked her what her favorite recipe was. Barbara said that every year since 1994, she still makes the Roast Turkey Herb Rub & Shiitake Mushroom Gravy. (Picture from bonappetit.com)
After the discussion, desserts were provided by Delightful Pastries. Dobra Bielinski, the owner attends some of the monthly dessert exchanges and I always look forward to what she brings. And believe me, she didn’t disappoint this time either.
As Barbara was wrapping up the talk she said, “Basil & Lavender sorbet is a momentary recipe, but chocolate chip cookies are forever. So in her honor and all the great years of giving us Bon Appetit….Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies from Bon Appetit Desserts.
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter; room temperature
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
3. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add both sugars; beat to blend. Add eggs and vanilla; beat to blend..
4. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed just to blend.
5. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and chill dough at least 2 hrs. (I skipped this part).
6. Drop dough by 2 level tablespoons onto cookie sheets; spacing 2″ apart. Bake until edges are browned and tops are golden brown, 11-12 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack and cool completely.