I’m Brooke, a college-aged food writer, journalist, recipe hunter and blogger based out of Boston (and on occasion, Eugene, Oregon). I have been passionate about food, writing and food writing since I could crawl, and I have dedicated much of my life to improving my skills as a writer and chef. I currently study journalism and gender studies at Boston University. This is a place to explore the work I do and have done for The Boston Globe, Boston magazine, The Daily Free Press, the online food magazine Simmer, the food blogging network and recipe e-newsletter NoshOn.It and various other sources around the internet. For clips, please scroll to the bottom; above is an overly-detailed personal history (only for those interested).
My earliest memory I have is in my father’s tomato garden. I was three, a pudgy, wobbling little girl with blonde pigtails, and I was running under a trellis with tomato plants and pea vines. I ran to the end of the tunnel, where I found pay-dirt: sunrise orange sungold tomatoes, still warm and a little fuzzy the way fresh from the garden tomatoes are. I remember stuffing that little sungold in my mouth biting down, and pow! The flavor of the sun.
I don’t know if that was when I fell in love with food. It could have been when my mother sat me down and flipped through my first Bon Appetit, the ultimate picture book, with chefs laughing alongside casual dinner guests on beautiful patio furniture, sipping sparkling wine cocktails and munching on steaming slices of spanakopita. It could have been when I first went to Paris and ate my first street crepe, or when I went to Italy and dug for pine nuts under that Tuscan sun everyone talks about. It could have been when I first cooked with my grandmother (sweet sticky buns, with mashed potatoes in the dough), or my aunt (chicken parmigiana in homemade marinara), or my mother (impossible to tell – maybe Thanksgiving stuffing of rice pilaf with port-soaked cherries and apricots and sausage; maybe cool cucumber soup in a blender to make it silky smooth; maybe pasta with a pasta maker, feeding in the dough and giggling when I tried and failed to crank the lever). It could have been at my first dinner party, or my first dinner.
But all I can remember about my childhood was ripping open the new copy of Bon Appetit, setting tables with cheese plates and fish forks for weekly dinners, sneaking swabs of cream cheese frosting off of my godmother’s carrot cake, bonding over cheese varieties at a play date with my best friend, watching Food Network and trying to make Barefoot Contessa dishes with whatever I could find in the fridge, and the garden – where I always returned, where I still return, whenever I need to reconnect with my roots.
In high school, I was the first food blogger for my school paper’s website and the Arts & Features Editor for the two years I could. I collected names of restaurants from the countless food publications and blogs I follow and wrote reviews of prix-fixe menus in my stereotypical freckled composition journal. I started writing for Boston University’s Daily Free Press as a freshman and became the food editor by my second semester. In my time as food editor, I interviewed Ming Tsai, James Beard winners and favorite bloggers. I had a moment of infamy when I (erroneously) referred to James Beard nominee and Chopped winner Jamie Bissonnette as bald in a story – which is obviously not the case; Eater picked up my story and my mistake, and the Editor of Food and Wine joked with him about his “baldness.” In that same spring, I got my first internship, with an incredible group of people at NoshOn.It, where I was the youngest Recipe Hunter in the history of their site. Vijay and Alex are way more important to me than I think they know. This summer, a profile I wrote of James Beard nominee Barry Maiden won third place at the Boston University Nachman Awards for 2013. In the fall of 2013, I covered Boston Calling as the Muse editor for the Daily Free Press (the arts & entertainment section of the “FreeP”), which promoted me to features editor that spring. As features editor, I facilitated the release of April’s music issue, which included Boston Calling previews, student band profiles and a sneak peek into Boston’s latest music showcase, Allston Rock City Hall.
In addition, I developed my growing portfolio of audio wraps as a reporter and newscaster for WTBU’s News Brunch, in association with the Boston University News Service. My love for radio journalism has developed into a potential career interest — growing up on NPR, I never realized how much I value listening to the news until I took part in its creation. In retrospect, radio has always been my primary news source and a constant presence in my daily life. Since I was a child, my family left the radio on throughout the day. Today, I still keep that tradition alive: Morning Edition while I make breakfast, Here & Now while I get dressed and All Things Considered on my evening commute. I hope to get more involved with radio journalism as I finish my years at BU.
Over the summer of 2014, I worked with the burgeoning-Boston-college-foodie-resource Simmer Magazine, where I experimented with recipe development for the first time in my life. I have tremendous respect for all the writers and chefs at that magazine. Nisreen Galloway, who both founded Simmer and worked with me at NoshOn.It, is a driven, intelligent editor. I hope we cross paths in the future.
In the fall of my junior year, I was one of the lucky few who studied under New York Times columnist David Carr. David was a mentor in a way I can’t describe. After his three-hour seminar, I would often visit him in his office, where he would offer me jelly beans, head hanging heavy on his neck, blazer far too large, smile in the works. Each email, each office hours chat, each cigarette break was a moment for me to absorb pieces of haphazard wisdom he’d shoot off, sure of its relative truth but unsure of its universality. David wasn’t sure of himself as a teacher, which I always found mildly humorous. He’d taught everyone he knew for far longer than he taught at BU. His death in the winter of 2015 is one I still regularly grieve. After the news broke, I was no longer the journalist, but rather the subject — an unfamiliar position. His obituary is tacked to the wall of my cubicle; I tend to glance in its direction whenever I’m in need of a little advice or encouragement.
One of the last ways David helped me was in my first weeks at The Boston Globe. I was about to start the Co-Op program in January, and I was at home visiting family when I received an email from Lena Dunham (of the HBO show “Girls”). It said, “D. Carr said you were looking for me… :)” In one of our office hour conversations, I once mentioned how I would love to interview her. My Q&A with Dunham was my first piece for the Globe, and I hadn’t started working there when it ran.
I now regularly freelance for the Living/Arts section. When this post was last updated, I had written six section covers alone, not to mention over 30 print stories, weekly items, Names pieces, online features and Q&As. Most often I write for the Wednesday Food section, under the absurdly meticulous, always-well-dressed, infinitely wise Sheryl Julian. I was Sheryl’s first editorial assistant, and I still consider her one of my greatest teachers. When David died, she immediately assumed the position of mentor, not only in journalism or culinary arts, but in grace, humility and honesty. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.
Today, I continue to freelance for the Globe and Boston magazine as I finish my final year at Boston University.
A Globe story on Japanese tidying guru and NYT bestseller Marie Kondo (I’m particularly proud of this one, because I was the first American journalist to interview her. This story was my first section lead.)
Seriously, though, if you have ANY questions, want a restaurant recommendation in Oregon (really, anywhere), San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New Orleans, Charleston SC, Boston, New York, Toronto, Seattle, etc, let me know! I collect restaurant recommendations, remember?
Cheers and Keep on Munchin’.