NEW YORK — Are famous chefs, such as Jamie Oliver, Rachael Ray and Mario Batali, working with ghostwriters on their cookbooks? The New York Times hit a nerve when it suggested as much, in a piece by Julia Moskin that was published last week.
“Many real-world cooks have wondered at the output of authors like Martha Stewart, Paula Deen and Jamie Oliver, who maintain cookbook production schedules that boggle the mind. Rachael Ray alone has published thousands of recipes in her cookbooks and magazine since 2005. How, you might ask, do they do it? The answer: they don’t.” Moskin said successful cookbook authors get the job done these days with the assistance of “an army of writer-cooks.”
Gwyneth Paltrow, who appeared in the piece and was said to have used Batali’s ghostwriter, didn’t take long to fire back, via Twitter. “Love @nytimes dining section but this weeks facts need checking. No ghost writer on my cookbook, I wrote every word myself.”
Ray told Eater that in well over a decade of writing recipes for cookbooks, television shows and magazines, she has never employed a ghostwriter.
So, which side of the story should we believe? Does the Times owe all of these chefs an apology and perhaps, a correction?
Dining editor Susan Edgerley said no correction will be issued and pointed to a follow up blog post by Moskin, which said all four have acknowledged working with collaborators but said they wrote their own books. “After a careful examination of the facts over the last few days, we posted a Diner’s Journal blog item here to note the reaction and explain why some chefs have bridled at the mention of ghostwriting,” said Edgerley. At the end of Moskin’s blog post, she said Ray, Batali and a publicist for Oliver said some other chefs should have been included in the article, but of course, “not them.”