Ruth Reichl (//; born January 16, 1948), is an American chef, food writer, co-producer of PBS‘s Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie, culinary editor for the Modern Library, host of PBS’s Gourmet’s Adventures With Ruth, and the last editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine. She has written critically acclaimed, best-selling memoirs: Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table, Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise and Not Becoming My Mother. In 2009, she published Gourmet Today a 1,008 page cookbook containing over 1,000 recipes. She published her first novel, Delicious! in 2014, and, in 2015, published My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life, a memoir of recipes prepared in the year following the shuttering of Gourmet.
Born in Manhattan on January 16, 1948, to parents Ernst, a typographer, and Miriam (née Brudno), the daughter of a German Jewish refugee father and an American Jewish mother, Reichl was raised in Greenwich Village and spent time at a boarding school in Montreal as a young girl. She attended the University of Michigan, where she met her first husband, the artist Douglas Hollis. She graduated in 1970 with an M.A. in Art History.
She and Hollis moved to Berkeley, California, where her interest in food led to her joining the collectively owned Swallow Restaurant as a chef and co-owner from 1973 to 1977, and where she played an important role in the culinary revolution taking place at the time. Reichl began her food-writing career with Mmmmm: A Feastiary, a cookbook, in 1972. She moved on to become food writer and editor of New West magazine from 1973 to 1977, then to the Los Angeles Times as its restaurant editor from 1984 to 1993 and food editor and critic from 1990 to 1993. She returned to her native New York City in 1993 to become the restaurant critic for The New York Times before leaving to assume the editorship of Gourmet in 1999.
She is known for her ability to “make or break” a restaurant with her fierce attention to detail and her adventurous spirit. For Reichl, her mission has been to “demystify the world of fine cuisine” (CBS News Online). She has won acclaim with both readers and writers alike for her honesty about some of the not-so-fabulous aspects of haute cuisine. Through an outsider’s perspective, she harshly criticized the sexism prevalent toward women in dine-out experiences, as well as the pretentious nature of the ritziest New York restaurants and restaurateurs alike.
Despite her success and tales of how she used to disguise herself to mask her identity while reviewing, she is quite open about why she stopped. “I really wanted to go home and cook for my family,” she says. “I don’t think there’s one thing more important you can do for your kids than have family dinner”. Reichl is now married to television news producer, Michael Singer; they have a son, Nick.
She has been the recipient of four James Beard Awards: in 1996 and 1998 for restaurant criticism, one in 1994 for journalism and in 1984 for Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America; as well as several awards granted by the Association of American Food Journalists. She was also the recipient of the YWCA’s Elizabeth Cutter Morrow Award, celebrating the accomplishments of strong, successful women. Reichl served as host for three Food Network Specials titled “Eating Out Loud” which covered cuisine from each coast and corner of the United States, in New York in 2002, and Miami and San Francisco in 2003. She also frequents Leonard Lopate’s monthly food radio show on WNYC in New York.