As noted in the New York Times, the recent controversy over food writer Josh Ozersky’s wedding freebies and potential conflicts of interest at Time magazine has raised the importance of providing more disclosure of free meals, gifts and other compensation by members of the food media.
So, in the interest of providing greater transparency, I’m going to begin disclosing those items I have received over the years from members of the food industry, either as gifts, or provided to me free of charge. This is by no means a complete list, but hey, it’s a start.
BAT MITZVAH: Stuffed derma at my bat mitzvah provided free by James Beard.
STILETTO PUMPS: Leather uppers made from scraps of cow hides from Niman Ranch. Heels made from paring knives, a gift from chef Thomas Keller.
SHOE POLISH: 20 lb chunk of Lardo (gives a great shine), a gift from chef Mario Batali.
COUSIN LARRY’S SON’S BRIS: By my own arrangement, pastrami guy at Katz’s Deli performed the circumcision gratis. Beautiful job, by the way.
HAIR COLOR: Squid ink hair dye courtesy of chef Eric Ripert.
TOOLS: Guy Fieri, provided gratis from the Food Network, and Rocco DiSpirito, a gift from Bertolli.
DEODORANT: Heirloom tomato water, a gift from Alice Waters.
ROAST CHICKEN: Serving as the managing editor of Spatchcocked magazine had some pretty great perks. One of them was free roast chicken for life — anywhere, anytime — from chef Jonathan Waxman. Now you know.
MASSAGE OIL: Rendered duck fat, a gift from D’Artagnan.
STEAK BONE BACK SCRATCHER: Valentine’s Day gift from Tuscan butcher Dario Cecchini.
MATTRESS: 100% mushroom foam king-size mattress. Housewarming gift from chef Ferran Adria. Surprisingly supportive.
NAILS: Buffed to a beautiful shine with chef Tom Colicchio’s bald head. Free.
AROMATHERAPY: 100 lb wheel of Époisses. Gift from chef Joel Robuchon.