Ali Rosen '03
November 30, 2021

Food for thought

A love of all things culinary leads to a satisfying career
by Ali Rosen '03

I don’t know how to get people to agree on politics or money or religion. But start talking about food, and I can get your entire life story.

I always wanted to be a storyteller—at Andover I wrote for The Phillipian and directed theatre—but no arena inspired me the way food does.

Food is our childhoods, our cultures, our celebrations, and our comfort in trying times. It is one of the few mediums in which you can tell a story through every one of the senses.

I always felt this way about food, but I never thought I could actually make it into a career. My path to food as a profession was a circuitous one. I interned and worked in restaurants and wrote recipes when I was younger, but I never saw it as a serious option that I could pursue professionally. After graduating from college, I started working in news production. But a few years in, I had a sit-down with a correspondent who passionately advised me to follow my dreams by following the story. He, of course, was referencing his years in far-flung bureaus, doggedly pursuing whatever was behind the international headlines. But it planted the seed that my storytelling passions might lie elsewhere.

I took a leap and went to work for a food website startup. It was a risk, but one that I could not have been happier with once I got to spend my days in kitchens, learning from chefs about their most beloved dishes.

Food is our childhoods, our cultures, our celebrations, and our comfort in trying times. It is one of the few mediums in which you can tell a story through every one of the senses.

I eventually landed my own show, Potluck with Ali Rosen, telling the stories of chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, and makers around New York City and across the globe. I’ve been lucky to interview some of the greats like Anthony Bourdain, Jacques Pepin, and Martha Stewart. But I have so much more enjoyed the opportunity to share the stories of people whose food hasn’t garnered as much attention.

I’ve watched thousands of dumplings being made for the dim sum brunch rush and gone behind the scenes of a generations-old matzoh factory. I’ve gone to salmon hatcheries in Alaska and whiskey distilleries in Japan. And the best part of my job is that whenever I want to learn a recipe, I not only get to ask the best chef how to do it, but also get to share their intimate knowledge with viewers who want to know. In turn, I’ve been able to take my knowledge and help others become more confident cooks through my show and cookbooks.

Covering food professionally means a lifetime of education. There is no such thing as full expertise on food. You can spend years studying one niche topic and still learn every day. You can meet the world’s foremost expert in the foods of a specific region or of a particular type of baking and yet there is still a hunger to know more. There always is more. And at the end of that exploration there is always a literal treat. What career could possibly be better?

Ali Rosen ’03 is an Emmy Award- and James Beard Award-nominated food writer and TV host. Her show, Potluck with Ali Rosen, is in its 13th season on NYC Life. Rosen is the author of two cookbooks: Bring It: Tried and True Recipes for Potlucks and Casual Entertaining and Modern Freezer Meals: Simple Recipes to Cook Now and Freeze for Later. Follow her on Instagram @ali_rosen.

Photo credits: Noah Fecks, Jane Stout

Categories: Alumni, Magazine, Magazine Online

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