Podcast: Melissa Clark

Melissa Clark, author and journalist, chats about her cookbook, writing for the NY Times, and why burning garlic isn’t such a bad thing.

Melissa Clark

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I guess you could say that Melissa Clark and I have been orbiting each other for years. She’s a regular columnist for the New York Times; I’ve been to the New York Times—twice. She’s authored and co-authored a battalion of  30 cookbooks; I have all of her cookbooks. Yes, it’s clear that Melissa and I were destined to eventually meet up for a podcast, considering our intense professional involvement. Not.

That still doesn’t mean I haven’t admired Melissa’s work from afar and from my kitchen. But it did mean I was hesitant to ask her to join me for a podcast. Yet within seconds of Mac Mail’s whooosh notification of sending out the invitation, she replied, “Sure!”

It’s usually not a good idea to meet your idols—because most come with feet made of 100 percent certifiably organic earthly clay. But not Melissa. She bounded into the studio, dropped her coat, (not unlike Barbra Streisand in “Funny Girl”), and launched into the whirlwind that was her day. It took everything I had to stop her from not giving away all this great info without being in front of a microphone. For instance, did you know if you cook garlic or onions to the burning point, adding more oil and cooking them low and slow a bit longer will render them sweet? Nether did I.

Listen along while we discuss her latest book, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, its 150 recipes, and her lovely accompanying essays—in essence, her “search for deliciousness.” Along the way, Melissa will teach you how to eat today, right now, this very moment. And what’s better than that?

Our Favorite Melissa Clark Recipes

Northern Fried Chicken
Hanger Steak with Onions, Mushrooms, and Potatoes
Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake
Un-Pumpkin Pie
Apple and White Cheddar Scones
Mini-Muffin Financiers
Red Eye Devil’s Food Cake

Have a question for Melissa about In the Kitchen or cooking? Or want to leave her a message? You know what to do below.

Hungry for more? Chow down on these:



  1. David, I have to put you on the spot and ask if you’re a fan of your sort-of countryman, Emeril Lagasse.

    1. Jean, actually Emeril and I are both from Fall River, MA. I had the pleasure of being on his show with his mom, dad, and Ilda, his mentor, when he did a tribute to the city. I enjoyed it.

      1. I wish I’d seen it! I’m from Massachusetts too I’ll see if I can find that appearance on YouTube.

  2. David, thanks so much for a great conversation. I’ve devoured Melissa’s cookbook and since I’d just bought yours, the combination was fascinating to me! Wonderful to hear both of your actual voices as well. I’m hoping to get to Portugal for the first time next year so I needed your cookbook for early research. We rent apartments so we can explore the markets and cook while we’re there – it helps us feel like locals while we’re on vacation. Thanks again!

    1. Deb, my pleasure. I had such a great time chatting with Melissa. In fact, we continued talking through the studio, into the lobby, and out the building.

      And enjoy Portugal! There is much to love.

  3. Fantastic podcast, David. I really enjoyed listening in on what sounded like a lively conversation and not a structured interview. Melissa is extremely articulate and I liked hearing both of your views on what is important in cookbooks. Long, well-written head notes are great in cookbooks; pictures are nice, but not nearly as important to me. I have to agree with Melissa, that I’d rather have the space in a cookbook used to give me more of the author’s opinions, experiences and guidance. Loved all her tips too, and especially the insight into how she puts a meal together. Made me ready to run to the kitchen too.

    1. Thanks, Nancy. I like a book that combines plenty of space for the author’s opinions and lots and lots of pictures. Keep you fingers crossed–it just might what my next cookbook turns out to be!

  4. This was a good and fun interview. I know of Melissa Clark, and have seen and tried some of her recipes that have been featured by bloggers on their sites. This podcast has me more interested in her books because I like the way she thinks, love her enthusiasm and her realistic approach to foods we want to use to prepare a dish or meal. I’m all for local, seasonal foods when I can get them, but it has annoyed me to think that I should limit myself to what’s available and in season. Sometimes I crave a plum tart in the middle of winter, so what’s wrong with plums from Chile? Nothing! And how lucky are we to be able to get plums, similar in quality to what available in the local grocery store in season, but in winter? That cucumber she spoke of, set me free! I like her! And I like David’s questions…and the quality of his voice. Yes, really! Great sound, David!

    1. Susan, thanks for the kind words. Melissa has a great attitude toward food. It’s fun, fresh, easy, and so relaxed. Not the crazy, panic-attack-inducing approach to cooking and entertaining that some authors seem to have.

  5. What a fun podcast! I never miss Melissa’s column, as much for her intros and her “voice” as the recipes. AND, next time I make dinner for my 7-year-old grandson, who has decided he doesn’t like much of anything, he’s going to be grating cheddar for that whole-wheat/heavy cream mac and cheese! Maybe even ripping up some chard to go with it, though that might be pushing things.

    1. Jean, we know just what you mean about Melissa’s voice—I certainly do, anyway; crave it every bit as much as her soul-satisfying dishes. As for your grandson… there’s nothing quite like manual labor and a bit of pride to make trying what comes out of the kitchen a bit easier. Thanks for listening to the podcast and taking the time to comment. Oh, and good luck with the chard!

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