Delicious Vocations

Published in Gourmet Live 06.06.12
We’re exploring culinary careers with caterer-to-the-stars Serena Bass, famed food photographer Ben Fink, and a Spanish shepherd-cheesemaker—plus, an homage to Craig Claiborne, the late, great dean of restaurant reviewers

Working in the food world can be a pretty sweet gig—especially on the days here in our office when there’s chocolate, cheese, or wine that demands tasting. This issue is dedicated to Food Jobs and some of the great people in our industry.

Much as we love chefs (and stories and books and sites and tweets and TV shows and films about chefs), we thought we’d give them a spring break from media ubiquity and focus instead on trades and art forms that feed our love of food in other ways. To begin, Serena Bass contributes a must-read account of her 30-plus years in the catering biz, throwing parties for Andy Warhol (not bad for a first assignment), Stella McCartney, the New York City Opera, Hillary Clinton, and a few other clients you may have heard of. Bass tells tales both humorous and horrifying from the one profession that requires the combined skill sets of a chef, therapist, mind reader, military strategist, religious-studies expert, and truck driver.

We sent Adam Harrison Levy to shadow noted food photographer Ben Fink, whose credits include dozens of cookbooks and collaborations with the likes of Ina Garten, Jacques Pépin, and Bobby Flay. In this day-in-the-life peek inside a working food shoot, we also meet some of the supporting characters who labor to make food look fabulous—even in extreme close-ups that would make a Hollywood starlet blanch—and help Fink create the beautifully lit shots he’s known for.

Far away from the flash of celeb parties and the choreography of camera studios, José Bada, a shepherd and maker of Cabrales—the bluest of cheeses—tends his herd and ages his rich, tangy rounds in the Picos de Europa mountains of northwestern Spain. Lisa Abend, a Madrid-based journalist and longtime contributor to Gourmet magazine, tracked down this passionate pro who—close encounters with wolves aside—wouldn’t trade his job for the world.

This issue closes with two treats from the Gourmet archives. The first is the debut assignment for Gourmet, circa 1955, of the legendary Craig Claiborne, who once worked as a receptionist for the magazine and later became the first food editor at The New York Times, where he set the standard for restaurant reviewing and further legitimized the food writer’s craft.

Ready for a meal yourself? Try our featured recipe for Sticky Sesame Chicken Wings, an archival pick that’s perfect for a picnic.

For more delicious and alluring recipes, dig into two new books, Gourmet Weekday and Gourmet Italian. These hardcover versions of two popular Gourmet Special Editions feature some of our very best recipes, complete with photos of every dish.

What’s your dream food job? Tell us via Twitter or Facebook, drop us a line (, or post a comment on our blog. For more tasty bites, sign up for our weekly newsletter to get convenient access to our most-read blog posts, editors’ favorite recipes, and exclusive reader offers.

Don’t work too hard!

The editors of Gourmet Live

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