All the blog buzz surrounding criticism that Gwyneth Paltrow employed a ghostwriter on her 2011 cookbook, My Father’s Daughter, and Paltrow’s subsequent vehement denial, boils down to a comment by Julia Moskin, a New York Times reporter for the Dining section and confessed cookbook ghost writer.
Moskin, a veteran ghostwriter, explains that years ago, there was an old-world trust among cookbook buyers that chefs personally wrote their books and tested their recipes.
Today, writes Moskin, “in a content-driven media environment, the role of the writer is given far more respect, and many chefs do not pretend that they do their own writing.”
Moskin claims a few highly paid ghostwriter-cooks actually produce entire books, from soup to nuts. “One recent best-selling tome on regional cooking was produced entirely in a New York apartment kitchen, with almost no input from the author.”
“Those are the cases where you are pretty sure the chef never even reads the book,” the writer said.
But Paltrow’s case is entirely different.
According to Moskin, Jamie Oliver, Rachael Ray, Gwyneth Paltrow and Mario Batali, have all “acknowledged in print working with collaborators on their books — but all objected to what they saw as the implication that they were not the authors of their own work.”
There you have it. It shouldn’t be too difficult for readers to grasp. Any further speculation is petty gossip.
Moskin notes that ghostwriting is common among business leaders, sports figures and celebrities.
“But the domesticity and intimacy of cooking make readers want to believe that the food they make has been personally created and tested — or at least tasted — by the face on the cover. And that isn’t always the case, especially for restaurant chefs.”
That explains the public’s preoccupation with who actually authored Paltrow’s cookbook.
But as the Huffington Post points out, Paltrow credits Julia Turshen — Paltrow’s alleged ghostwriter — for a lot of work in the cookbook and Turshen worked very closely with Paltrow. “Still, she [Paltrow] distinguishes between her own writing and the assistance of Turshen.”
“I don’t normally address false reporting in the media but this week I would like to clarify something,” writes Paltrow in her weekly newsletter GOOP.
“Last week, The New York Times inferred that I used a ghostwriter on my cookbook, My Father’s Daughter, which to me means someone else wrote the recipes and the text.
“That is not the case. My Father’s Daughter was a three year labor of love, a collection of the food I make and serve loved ones, an ode to my dad. I had lots of tremendous assistance with things like note taking, recipe testing, logistical planning, but the recipes and words are all mine and come from my heart.”
And I believe her.
In Moskin’s article, “I Was a Cookbook Ghostwriter”, Moskin referred to Turshen as Paltrow’s cookbook collaborator, but that doesn’t mean Turshen wrote Paltrow’s recipes and words.
Julia Turshen is a food writer, producer and private chef who was born and bread in New York. She co-authored Spain: A Culinary Road Trip with Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow, assisted Paltrow on her new book and has written extensively for GOOP.com
Because Turshen is a frequent contributor to GOOP, Paltrow’s weekly newsletter covering shared recipes, travel notes, shopping ideas, and wellness tips, it’s safe to assume Paltrow and Turshen are well acquainted and on good terms.
Paltrow even endearingly refers to Turshen as “the Turshinator” in a post about the release of her new cookbook.
March 23rd, 2012