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Is Fauchald a foodie?

By David Gonnerman '90
November 12, 2010

Nick Fauchald '01 credits Professor of English Diana Postlethwaite with teaching him critical writing skills and planting a seed for writing restaurant reviews.

The November issue of Food & Wine includes a “40 Big Food Thinkers 40 and Under” section that notes, at No. 8, the accomplishments of Nick Fauchald '01, editor in chief of the trend- and artisan-scouting e-newsletter Tasting Table. The publication is distributed to nearly 500,000 subscribers. We asked him a few questions . . .

So what’s it like being No. 8? I can understand losing out to some White House guy, but really — a yogurt maker was No. 2!
Did you see his hair? I can't compete with that.

How big a staff is behind Tasting Table?
We've gone from two employees (including me) to 22 in two years. That's some pretty rapid growth, and it's meant I've had to learn quickly how to manage a staff. Because a lot of our editors are scattered throughout the country, the biggest challenge has been keeping everyone feeling like they're part of a team. I make sure I have frequent one-on-one check-ins with each editor. I've grown comfortable with Skype video chats.

Have you always been a “foodie”?
I think "foodie" is to food and cooking as "Trekkie" is to Star Trek. It's a word that describes a VERY serious relationship with food. I don't think I was ever a foodie. I see myself more like our readers: Someone who is serious about food but doesn't take it too seriously.

That said, I spent much of my childhood in the kitchen with my mom, either watching her or getting in the way. And I've been a Julia Child fan for as long as I can remember.

As an English major, did you write all of your papers about food?
Almost none, actually. I had no idea I'd end up cooking or writing about food professionally. However, for Interim my senior year I did an independent study on critical writing with Professor of English Diana Postlethwaite. I owe her a huge thanks for that; she taught me a lot and planted a seed for writing restaurant reviews later on.

When did you first decide on a culinary-related career?
After graduation I took a job as an editor at Minnesota Monthly. They needed someone to run the food section, so I waved my arms until they gave me a shot.   

What elements of your St. Olaf education best prepared you for your career?
My semester abroad, actually. I did a semester at Lancaster University my junior year, and lived next door to an Italian guy who made me cook lunch and dinner with him every day. I really got the cooking bug after that.

Did you have a favorite dish from Bon Appétit’s kitchens while you were at Olaf?
The grilled cheese at the Cage. Whoever created that sandwich is a wizard.

I’m guessing you eat plenty of good food. But what makes a meal truly memorable for you?
Unless I've taken careful notes for a story, I actually have a pretty bad memory for food. So the meals that I can actually remember are the most special. Why do they stick around? Usually it has to do with eating something new or unexpected — and sharing it with someone special.

What’s the “hot” Thanksgiving trend this year?
There's no such thing. "Thanksgiving trends" are just a way for food publications to fill space. I love Thanksgiving because it's inherently so anti-trend.

Do you visit favorite restaurants when you’re back in Minnesota?
Not as much as I'd like to; I'm usually cooking for friends or family or enjoying my mom's food. I mostly miss the iconic Minnesota food: Juicy Lucys, fried walleye, and all that.

Are you better at cooking or writing?
Neither? I find cooking to be more enjoyable, though. It's the most relaxing thing in the world for me.

Watch Fauchald's recent appearance on The Martha Stewart Show.

Contact David Gonnerman at 507-786-3315 or