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Kitchen Confidential

Author and Food & Wine magazine Editor-in-Chief Dana Cowin, who comes to town next month as the guest speaker at Broward Public Library Foundation’s LitLUNCH!, talks her new book, food and the future of magazines.

In your new book Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen, you open up about your struggles with cooking and seek guidance from some incredibly talented chefs. How did you come up with the concept?

I really truly am not the greatest cook in the whole world. There’s no joke in that. And I decided that after being at Food & Wine for so long … I have to learn how to cook.

Tell us about testing out recipes for the book.

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It gave me a good opportunity to learn and get feedback. So for example, I was making pork sliders, and I had Danny Meyer over. Danny is behind the genius Shake Shack empire. … I had just essentially made a mini burger for the king of burgers. That was a little nerve-racking, but Danny had helpful suggestions on how to make it better.

Congrats on 20 years at Food&Wine. How does someone who doesn’t consider herself a good cook end up the editor-in-chief of the country’s top food magazine?

It is a little ironic, isn’t it? … Back then, what I thought would be great for a food magazine would be to turn it into a lifestyle magazine – and for that I was exceptionally well qualified because I had been at a house magazine; I had been at a fashion magazine.

What do you think the future of the magazine industry is?

I think that magazines will be around for a long time. … A magazine is a beautiful break in your day if it’s a lifestyle magazine, so you get to relax; you get to curl up.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten?

A steamed lobster at Five Islands Lobster Co. in Maine, where you sit on the dock and the lobster’s just caught and perfectly steamed – and the best lobster in the world.

If you could have dinner with anyone on earth, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you eat?

Jane Austen, maybe, because she’s one of the greatest dead writers ever. ... It would be so great to sit at a table and pick apart the whole world around us. … And what we’d eat – probably something with lady, bite-size pieces.

How do you stay so thin with your job?

Knowing that there’s always gonna be another great meal around the corner. I think you can overeat if you think, ‘Oh my god, this is the last time I’m going to have something so delicious.’ And I have a really good valve that just shuts off and says, ‘No, if you eat more, you’re going to have to exercise and you don’t want to do that, do you?’ I don’t.