The year was 1999 and my first book had come out and was nominated for one of those terribly-important cookbook awards. During the dinner and awards presentation, everyone thought I was a shoe-in and so I was seated right up in front, sharing a table with Graham Kerr, Claudia Rodin, some woman from Sweden (I had no idea who she was; the only Swedish women I’ve committed to memory are the ladies of Abba, I’m afraid)—and, gulp, Julia Child.
It was nice to be considered, but the real reason I wanted to win was because Alice Medrich was presenting the award in my category and I quickly thought of something that I wanted to say about her. When I was starting out as a baker, I used to step into her shop, Cocolat in Berkeley, on my way to work and get a truffle or a wedge of cake, which I would devour before beginning my own baking shift. And I credit her for introducing me, and a lot of other Americans, to the pleasures of fine chocolate.
Unfortunately I didn’t win and the following year, I was relegated to the rear of the room, back with rest of the riff-raff.