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1996 Symposium for Professional Food Writers at The Greenbrier

by Sally Bernstein

The annual Symposium for Professional Food Writers was held at The Greenbrier, the five-star, five-diamond resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The March 21-24, 1996 event included 14 speakers, a cooking class led by Julia Child and Anne Willan at the LaVarenne kitchens at The Greenbrier, individual sessions with writing coach Don Fry, a workshop on contract writing, and tours of The Greenbrier kitchens and the underground, recently discovered, government bunker. Talks and panel discussions included the following topics: storytelling as a food writing technique, recipe writing challenges, multi-media as it affects food writers, history of food writing, food writing for magazines and newspapers, and freelance writing.

This year's speakers included: Mark Bittman, Flo Braker, Julia Child, Don Fry, Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Deborah Krasner, Laurie Ochoa, Mary Ord, Barbara Gibbs Ostmann, Maria Pallante, Zanne Early Stewart, Jonathan Tasini, Anne Willan, and John Willoughby.

The dynamic duo of Julia Child and Anne Willan prepared a duck leg salad, a salad of chicken breast stuffed with dried figs and blue cheese, Julia's ice cream surprise, and white wine granita with fresh berries. During the demonstration, Julia said, "I never felt anything got to me until I got to France to study food." Anne asked the group, "What makes a good cook great?" to which participants answered: cooking that has an edge, excitement, creativity, passion, and courage. Great cooks must have a ton of energy, love their work, be totally involved and love to eat. Start with the classics...it is not fair to break the rules if you don't know them!

One of Julia's pet peeves is "restaurants who put too much food on your plate, so much that you can't tell what is on the plate."

The duo cooked with the new portable induction heater which works through the use of magnetics. It is much more effective than gas but many pots and pans cannot be used on them, flat-bottomed, metal cookware works best.

Julia's ice cream surprise consisted of vanilla Haagen Dazs ice cream scooped into a round wine glass with powdered espresso and bourbon poured over the top. This is a simple, last-minute dessert.

At the end of each day's busy activities, an informal discussion was held where participants relaxed, exchanged information, and networked.

Space for the symposium is limited to 90 professional food writers. For information on the May 11-15, 2009 symposium, contact Lynn Swann at The Greenbrier at (800) 624-6070 or food_writers@greenbrier.com.

See: www.greenbrier.com/foodwriters.

The Symposium Director, Antonia Allegra, can be reached at (707) 963-0777 or Antonia@fcs.net.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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