Wordfest feeds the foodies with more tempting talks on the menu including Ruth Reichl, Kim Thuy and Mairlyn Smith

Any foodie worth their salt is familiar with storied Gourmet Magazine. 

The famed publication was a go-to resource and read for millions of passionate cooks or eating enthusiasts — especially after Ruth Reichl took the reins and transformed it from a somewhat stuffy magazine to one with a more modern approach. 

Reichl is in Calgary Monday as part of Wordfest to talk about her time at Gourmet and her new book recounting that era, Save Me the Plums.

A California hippie and LA Times food editor and critic for that newspaper along with the New York Times, Reichl may have seemed an unlikely choice to lead Gourmet. Even she thought so at the time, initially turning the position down. 

But a leap of faith saw Reichl dive into the magazine world — all of which she chronicles in Plums.

Here, Reichl recounts Gourmet’s heyday — a time of lush lunches, all-night parties and incredible spreads designed to get the perfect mouthwatering photo. 

The facts alone make it a compelling story, but it is Reichl’s undeniable way with words that takes this memoir to delicious levels. Food, of course, is a major character with Reichl’s entrancing and mouthwatering descriptions playing a key role. 

“The food was as fine as I remembered,” she writes, “and I ate dreamily, savouring the sweetbreads with their hints of ginger and rumours of mango.”

But it is also the way she weaves recipes into the story, making food as integral to the book as it was to her beloved Gourmet. 

Reichl is an impeccable memoirist — this is but one of several books she has written sharing the stories of her incredible career. 

She writes with heart and it is as easy to get drawn in as it would be when reading a novel, which, yes, she has also written. (Check out Delicious, a fun romp of a book that nods to food magazines and changing times in publishing. Write about what you know, is an adage Reichl takes to heart.)

Reichl’s talk goes ahead Monday, April 29 at the Glenbow Theatre.

Food lovers, take note: Wordfest has food on the menu with two other upcoming events.

On May 10, novelist Kim Thuy will be at the Memorial Park Library to talk about her newest book, Secrets From My Vietnamese Kitchen. The cookbook is a natural bridge between her novels (Ru, Man and Vi) and her time running the celebrated Ru de Nam restaurant in Montreal. The cookbook, which includes 50 recipes and stunning photos, introduces readers to her family and their stories, all told through the food of Vietnam, which they had to leave when Thuy was a girl.

The interview and Q&A runs from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance.

Mairlyn Smith, a professional home economist and bestselling author who combines healthy eating with hilarity, returns to Calgary to talk all things fibre on May 28. Peace, Love & Fibre covers all the benefits of this integral nutritional ingredient, how it works and why it’s important. Don’t fear the fibre, though. With recipes for Pumpkin Spice Griddle Cakes and Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork, everyone will find a new way to love fibre. 

Mairlyn’s talk with cookbook author and CBC columnist Julie Van Rosendaal runs from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Central Memorial Library.

Tickets are $20 at the door, but can be purchased in advance for $15.

(Ruth Reichl photo courtesy Michael Singer.)

Gwendolyn Richards is a Calgary-based food writer and the author of Pucker: A Cookbook for Citrus Lovers. She regularly contributes to Avenue Magazine and She shares her cooking and eating adventures – and occasionally some of her favourite outfits – on Twitter and Instagram at @gwendolynmr.