For those of you who haven't heard through the grapevine, the December issue of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine will be the 159th and last that Adam Platt edits.
Today is his first day at mspmag’s sister publication, Twin Cities Business . He will hold the same title of executive editor. Adam has been a fixture on the local paper and magazine scene for the last billion years, and he is one of my closest friends. I wish him nothing but the best.
A dozen years ago I started writing at the magazine, at first doing a food blurb or two and under Adam’s care and guidance grew my presence in the mag to five columns a month at one point. Thankfully, the late Brian Anderson had the patience of a saint and an unerring jeweler’s eye for the moment in which I was about to stray too far off base, and he committed to my becoming a teammate and sent me over to Adam to learn how to continue to think and write critically.
Over the years Adam fielded every phone call of a complaint, the occasional compliment, triaged all the outraged ‘letters to the editor,’ and, most importantly, threw stuff back at me when it wasn’t up to snuff. Sometimes that was a line or two, sometimes a paragraph that didn’t make sense, sometimes an entire column. He talked me down from the ledge when I went way overboard and fought hard for including pieces that were dangerously controversial but important to me. He and I spent years putting together special columns and special issues, and I loved sitting around a table arguing for hours over what resto deserved to be an editors’ choice or whom would be considered for Restaurateur of the Year. He helped me out in immeasurable ways as a writer and, more importantly, as someone who cares deeply about our cities and our communities. From school board issues, to controversial zoning laws to tasting menus at major league restaurants, Adam is a fountain of expertise and the folks at TCB are lucky to have him.
My current editor, Stephanie March, is a superb coach for me, a committed advocate for our food community, and a great boss as well, but I am in different point in my career and I only write one column a month in the magazine because of my other commitments. I am lucky to have written for three great editors in my career at mspmag.
So that got me thinking about the parallels with food and chefs. Many are in desperate need of a good editor. It doesn’t matter what you have achieved in life, how good you are as an athlete, a musician, a chef, a cook, a writer, an artist, a businessperson, whatever . . . you need someone to edit your work. It makes the product better. Left to our own devices we believe our own press, we cease to grow, and we are unable to challenge ourselves in a way that good editor can in the largest sense of the word. I often sit in restaurants, local and otherwise, and think to myself after a decent meal, “Is anyone tasting this food and challenging the chef on the why/how/when/what/where of it all?”
My last two meals at Wise Acre felt that way, for example. Wholesome food, good concept, nice ingredients, but it felt like everyone there on their talented staff was co-signing each other’s craziness, accepting each others work, some of which needed to be fixed. Badly. From portion size to plating, from menu choices to cooking techniques, what was a decent meal could have been soooooo much better with just a little bit of self awareness. And that’s what an editor inspires and forces down your throat until you get it. This past summer I had a single-bun sausage rolling around on a metal quarter sheet pan, with a little cup of not very well prepared slaw. Period. I didn’t mind the sparseness; it was the plating that ruined the experience for me. Over the last few months the kitchen has gotten on the road to reason, and clearly someone is starting to edit the diners experience there because it keeps getting better and better and hope it stays that way.
And I hope in your life, with whatever you do, you have a good editor. It can make or break you. Thanks, Adam, for everything.
The editors at Cooking Light came up with this list and are rolling it out over the next year, dribble after dribble. The General Interest cookbooks are first and foremost, and Keller, Bittman, etc. all deserve their nominations. I love that Rozeanne Gold, one of my life mentors, got a nod as well for her “Simple..” idea, which was way before its time as a genre of thinking about food or cooking that way for that matter.
Will Guidara and Daniel Humm edit themselves very nicely and were lucky enough to have the folks at Little/Brown edit one of the most beautiful and provocative books in recent memory. Their Eleven Madison Park cookbook is a must for anyone who loves food on your holiday gift list.
Looking for a great holiday ham to order on-line? Here is one of the best in the country. You can thank me later.