I usually do the Interview first then arrange with the publisher to have a contest around one of the interviewee 's books.
She has a second book coming out in September 2010 titled Taste of Broadway published like her first effort by Gibbs Smith.
Here's my walking and talking around New York interview with Carliss Retif Pond.
Q: Carliss, your first book 'Sizzle in Hell's Kitchen' (2009) is about a neighborhood which was at times gritty, what attracted you most to it?
The people who came in the 1800's and survived against all odds - tenements, little, if any, knowledge of English. They resorted to what they knew - foods from the countries they left behind. Today, their children and grandchildren still carry on their food tradtions and cultures. I fell in love with the strength, resilience and persistence of generations who created, unknowingly, one of the most famous NYC neighborhoods.
Q: Sizzle in Hells' Kitchen shares the smells, local personalities, peculiarities that make a neighborhood what it is, how did you blend it all, was it a long process of letting your senses take it in and then digest slowly?
The idea for Sizzle "popped" in my head on a sweltering hot summer day in a small hot restaurant eating sizzling hot food. Looked out the window and the sidewalks were sizzling. Even the characters walking along were part of the atmosphere.
For 6 years, I mulled it over in my mind. Casually,spoke with residents, merchants, etc. and they , unknowingly provided the story. If I said I was writing a book, they would look perplexed, "Why, there's nothing to tell. Born, school, work, then die." It then clicked to ask them what it was like when they were 12 years old. Seems to be the age - between childhood and adulthood - that stores a deluge of memories.
The actual writing of the book, collecting recipes and testing recipes took a year.
Hope this answers your question!
Q: If there was one place you had to pick of all those you mention in Sizzle in Hell's Kitchen which would it be?
Impossible! Each of the 37 ethnic cuisines in the book are totally unique. I could never pick a favorite ANYTHING - books, places, foods, colors, etc... The beauty of HK is that every day, I can indulge in a different cuisine everyday. One day, Ethiopian, next, French, Druze, Thai, Russia........
Q: Your second book is titled Taste of Broadway, is it about the theater district or are you exploring Broadway, the artery?
Taste covers the theater district area from the old New York institutions (Sardi's, "21", Patsy's, Algonquin, Russian Tea Room and more) to the newer kids on the block. The book includes 30 Theater District restaurants with a great diversity of dishes.
Q: Is it a block by block exploration, up or down Broadway or did you let inspiration, spirit of the moment guide you?
Totally, let the spirit move me. Of, course, Sardi's was the first to come on board and the rest followed. Then, walking doing errands, I would spot a restaurant and think,"Perfect, would be a great addition." Popped in and was received with enthusiam. Voila! Another book came to be.
Q: Food and restaurant wise is there an Off-Broadway scene as happens in the theater?
Do you mean in the book?
Q: In 'Taste of Broadway' do you include places in the jewelry district?
Q: Name restaurants that would fit the mood of people who are attending the following shows?
-Musical Lucille's Grill at B.B. King's
-Kid-Friendly Ellen's Stardust Diner
-Edgy None, really
Q: Can you share a recipe from 'Taste of Broadway' as a sneak preview or should I say a Premiere?
Ravioli Dopo Teatro Courtesy of Trattoria Dopo Teatro, 125 West 44th Street
Appetizer (double for entree)
4 uncooked lasagna strips
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked lobster meat
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup tomato sauce
S&P to taste
11/4 cup chopped Italian parsley to garnish
Cook lasagna according to package directions.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet, over medium-high heat and saute the garlic until lightly browned. Set aside and cool for a minute. Return to heat, add lobster and parsley and cook for 5 minutes, stirring gently. Add the white wine and cook over medium heat until wine evaporates. Stir in the tomato sauce, salt and pepper and simmer 4-5 minutes.
Drain the cooked lasagna strips and cut each in half. Place a half strip on each plate, top with one-fourth of the lobster mixture and another half strip. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
Q: Last, did your roots in New Orleans with its music, entertainment, nightlife inform your choice of Broadway as subject for a book?
Definately. More music than anything else. When I was three years old, I was enrolled in dance class. Hooked ever after. I, also, studied piano from the time I was 8. I went to Sr. Mary Bartholomew for classical piano . Left her, and went to Miss Glo, who played in cocktail lounges around New Orleans. She taught me Broadway show tunes. I desperately wanted to be "on Broadway" but had no clue where it was. Just a place very far away.
Thanks Carliss for making this mid-Summer interview possible.
Quickly cooked and served like a nice omelette!
Previous Interview: What Vintage is Your Caravan, My Cool Caravan Interview with Chris Haddon