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Carol Haddix, the Recently Retired Food Editor of the Chicago Tribune Recalls the Golden Years of Culinary Coverage

Carol Haddix, the recently retired food editor of the Chicago Tribune, recalls the golden years of culinary coverage.

After 40 years in the newspaper business, 34 of them with the Chicago Tribune as a food writer and editor, Carol Haddix retired on April 1. Under her direction, the Tribune’s food section won yearly best-section awards and nominations from the Association of Food Journalists and writing awards from the James Beard Foundation.

We asked Ms. Haddix, a founding member of the Culinary Historians of Chicago, to share her history in food, and give us her ideas on where food coverage is headed in this electronic age. Here’s a sampling of her talk, which we’ve adapted from her final article for the Tribune, “A farewell to Good Eating and to you,” that appeared on March 30:

“It has been a 40-year feast to say the least... We...covered changing food trends through the years, from that strange import from France called nouvelle cuisine, to the emerging new American cuisine in restaurants... A Cajun blackened redfish recipe brought a young chef named Paul Prudhomme to national attention and the redfish almost to extinction. The age of celebrity chefs was beginning...

“Once, when Julia Child arrived in Chicago for an event, we asked her to help judge our annual Holiday Cookie Contest. She graciously accepted, but then may have regretted it. 'I wouldn’t make any of these cookies,' she harrumphed, after sampling the 12 finalists offerings. We didn’t quote her...

“It’s sad to see the diminishing food sections and the corresponding shrinking advertising that supports them, just when it seems as if food is on more people’s minds than ever before. It’s also sad to see cooking at home being replaced by expensive frozen packages of entrees and desserts, or by pizza delivery and restaurant takeout. Sure, everyone’s in a hurry, but are those sports events, meetings and yes, TV, as important as sitting down together at the dinner table and talking over a good meal?...

“I’ll...miss the excitement of tasting new recipes every week in the test kitchen, our wine tastings in the old Ann Landers office, editing six Tribune cookbooks... I won’t miss the canned chicken broth or margarine tastings, or trying to think of a new way to cover Thanksgiving each year...Sharing these years of the changing food scene with you has been a privilege. Now it’s on to other food projects...”

Recorded Saturday, August 13, 2011 at the Chicago History Museum.

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