Sunday Reading: The World of Helen Rosner

You have to honor anyone who can write, and write well, about using a hair dryer to prepare a chicken for roasting. Recently, Helen Rosner, who came to The New Yorker from Eater, was indeed honored; she was named a finalist for a 2022 National Magazine Award for life-style journalism. Her pieces, while ostensibly about food, invariably find their way into other areas: community, family, friendship. Not just the chicken but the people at the table eating the chicken.

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This week, we’re bringing you a selection of Rosner’s work. In “The Female Chef Making Japan’s Most Elaborate Cuisine Her Own,” the writer profiles Niki Nakayama, the unerringly creative Japanese American chef behind a celebrated kaiseki restaurant in Los Angeles. In 2020, she looked West again to interview the engaging Iranian American chef Samin Nosrat and learned the secret to writing a great cookbook. In “How Apples Go Bad,” Rosner offers a poignant meditation on fruit, police brutality, and the killing of George Floyd. In “Gabrielle Hamilton, April Bloomfield, and the Problem with Leaving Women to Clean Up the Mess,” she examines the #MeToo reckoning in the restaurant industry, and, in a rememberance about the maverick chef Anthony Bourdain, she writes about Bourdain as a unique guide to the wider world. Finally, to return to the matter of the chicken and the hair dryer: a uniquely instructive essay, from 2018, that will improve dinner and possibly even your life.

David Remnick

A roast chicken and a hair dryer

Little did the skeptics know that, in blow-drying my chicken, I was standing on the shoulders of giants.

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Variety of dishes at restaurant.

How Niki Nakayama’s kaiseki restaurant became a highly coveted reservation in L.A.

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Anthony Bourdain

In his final years, Bourdain attained a new sort of celebrity as an activist, a revered elder statesman, and an overt and uncompromising figure of moral authority.

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Samin Nosrat opening up an orange.

The chef, cookbook author, and star of the Netflix series “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” talks about the challenges of writing her next book, her relationship to fame, her attempts at veganism, and more.

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Rotting apples hang from a tree.

The closer the fruit is to rot, the more rot it spreads.

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Gabrielle Hamilton

In the wake of sexual-misconduct scandals, restaurants like the Spotted Pig have adopted a strategy that is equal parts performative gesture and survival tactic: throw a woman out in front of the business.

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