Lorin Gaudin, aka NOLA Food Goddess, is indeed a Food Goddess Extraordinaire! She is the Food Editor/Writer for Where Magazine New Orleans, does foodie podcasts for GoNOLA Radio and is a contributor for The New York Post and Culinary Consierge. She bakes weekly with Chef Lisa Barbato of Rivista, both of whom can be seen on Saturdays at the Crescent City Farmers’ Market and she’s also runs a business, FiveOhFork, where she crafts content for major food companies, restaurants and chefs. On top of that, she’ll soon be writing for the new CityEats New Orleans site owned by Food Network. I talked to Lorin recently to find out just exactly what makes a Food Goddess tick.
Lorin, I used to watch you almost every Friday night on Steppin’ Out where you were my favorite panelist because your love of food was so joyful and your passion for the subject reached out through the TV to me. Please fill me in on how and why food became your passion.
Thanks for those kind words! You’ve hit the nail on the head, I am a passionate foodie. Food and cooking have long been my soul-call, it’s the way I see the world – through taste, smell and color. Food is my art and expression, also my salve. Food and reading saved me in many ways. I suppose that’s why I’m such a cookbook fanatic.
You mention that you cook – not all foodies do. What is your specialty?
I love to cook French, American (traditional, contemporary and molecular), Asian and Middle Eastern.
What is your earliest food memory?
I remember my first bowl of cornflakes. I was very young and I can’t explain why or how I recall this, but I remember the rough and squishy feel of the flakes, the cool milk and the sweet milky-corn scent. Even today, if there is a box of cornflakes nearby, I can take a whiff and be transported to that first bowl. Yes, I know that’s odd, but that’s me. My family, going back several generations, are all artists and eaters – I’m hardwired.
Almost everyone has someone in their family who is legendary for their cooking. Mine is my paternal grandmother. Who is yours?
She was the woman I call the mother of my heart – her name was Annie and she was from Troy, Alabama. Annie and I cooked, danced and laughed together for 15 years. She taught me how to put together a great meal with balance, and how to time everything to come out together hot. My Aunt Lillian was legendary for her cheesecakes, kolachkes, and a long list of gorgeous baked goods. She was genius, and she knew she had a captive audience in me, so she’d make extras of everything, pack them in a bakery box tied with string and a note scribbled across the top, just for me. I loved both these wonderful, creative women.
Do you have any foodie “idols” or anyone who inspires you? Who are they and why?
Every cook inspires me in some way, but my one and only idol is Jeremiah Tower, period. When I was young, I watched him cook with love and passion and I adore his smarts and culinary sensibility. I made a pilgrimage to his restaurant Stars in San Francisco, the year it opened, and I was gobsmacked. Every detail from the restaurant design to the china to the food was done with thought and care. Gorgeous.
Do you have any favorite local restaurants that you’d like to share along with favorite dishes?
My favorite dish is always the one I’m currently eating and I don’t have a favorite restaurant. I do have a particular penchant for Asian food and cookery. I’m always on the hunt for great ethnic cuisine. I also have a serious thing for fine dining.
When did you first realize you wanted food to be integral in your professional life and how did you go about accomplishing that goal?
Actually, food writing came to me. In 1998 was approached by Gambit to write food features. The way that happened is kismet: A relative working in traffic at Gambit, called me to say that they were looking for a food feature writer and asked if I’d ever written anything on food. I lied and said “yes.” That night, I went home, wrote an 850 word article on Vietnamese eggroll, faxed it to the editor and was hired two days later. At the time, I was working as an Intelligence Analyst in Asset Seizure and Forfeiture for the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Unit. Yep, you read that right. Me and Julia Child – both of us started working for the government, then were consumed by food. I am NOT the cook she was, though I aspire to be.
Anyway, I was living a dual life working for IRS and food writing for Gambit. One of the Agents I worked with gave me a shove when he said, “What the f*$% are you doing here?”I thought long and hard about that…I left the IRS, kept writing for Gambit, was then picked up by Emeril to write for his blog, and from there it was crazy. I was hired by the group that produced New Orleans Magazine, etc. to write and be the “food editor.” Then came radio and television opportunities, and next thing I knew, I had a “career.” Weird.