Grist for the Mill: Summer 2014

GL & RW photo

GL & RW photoRachel Wharton (left) has been my secret weapon for the last nine years.

Hi, me again! I know I already said good-bye, but I’m happy to have had the chance to edit just one more issue of Edible Brooklyn before I sail off into the East River sunset, to live out my days editing Edible Manhattan.

But first I bring you wonderful news.

In my spring editor’s letter, I predicted my successor would raise both the bar and the roof — and now I know it without a doubt, because the job went to my longtime collaborator Rachel Wharton. If her name sounds familiar, that’s because she’s written for every issue I’ve edited since launching this magazine nine years ago. Or perhaps you know her byline from the Times or Saveur. Or as the author of the Edible Brooklyn Cookbook. Let me put it this way: I leave you in excellent hands.

I met Rachel over a decade ago, when I managed communications in the Greenmarket office and she was writing for the Daily News. We bonded instantly over our shared passion for meaningful food experiences and the stories behind them, and while many writers were most interested in what type of tomato Mario Batali preferred, Rachel would literally get more excited than I about black-dirt leeks, the black currant harvest or how oyster farming works. She would enthusiastically jump in a car at dawn for fields trips to make cheese in the Hudson Valley, tap maple trees in the Catskills or rake clams on Long Island, spiral notebook in hand, asking questions a mile a minute, eyes wide, red ringlets bouncing, and often interrupting herself with an excited “OOH!” and yet another question. Once, when I was asked to speak to farmers about how to pitch journalists, I called Rachel for ideas. “Forget tips on press releases,” she exclaimed, “just give them my number!”

But Rachel isn’t just endlessly interested in agriculture. She brings that same insatiable information appetite to edible experiences of all kinds. Which means, for our editorial meetings, Rachel always wanted to convene in Brighton Beach over Uzbeki lamb dumplings, or in Sunset Park for tortas or on a Sheepshead Bay bench where we could watch the fishing boats come in with the catch to sell on the sidewalk.

And she’s not just the most fun person you could ever cook, eat, road trip or work with. Her insatiability (and consequential knowledge) comes pouring out in her stories, whether she’s profiling an old school Ukrainian restaurant, punk rock Bushwick pizza or a third-generation fishmonger reinventing the industry. Little wonder three of the stories she’s written for us (profiles of Roberta’s, Egg and Franny’s and BKLYN Larder) won James Beard Awards.

Rachel, I couldn’t have asked for a better secret weapon, or successor. I can’t wait to see this magazine grow with you as editor. And I’ll still meet you for lamb dumplings anywhere, anytime.

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