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Talking Points to conclude with NYT cooking app editor

By BIG ARTS - | Mar 4, 2021

PHOTO PROVIDED Sam Sifton

Join Sam Sifton, founding editor of the New York Times Cooking app, to hear about the joys and frustrations of home cooking during COVID. For the last year, he has been working — and cooking — at home, and that is where Sifton will speak from virtually on March 11 at 4 p.m. for the final BIG ARTS Talking Points presentation of the season.

As a former chief restaurant critic for The New York Times, Sifton knew that chefs would often tell stories to their line cooks, describing a dish in a kind of shorthand, leaving the line cooks to execute the chef’s desires. It prompted him to begin to experiment with his own “stories,” and that led to weekly “no recipe, recipe” ideas included in his four-times-a-week newsletter.

On March 16, “No-Recipe Recipes” will be released from Ten Speed Press. MacIntosh Books and Paper will have copies available, and Sifton will reveal his ideas early for Talking Points participants.

“I presume many of our readers have core competence in the kitchen, but maybe lack the confidence to try stuff,” he said. “Lots of us are not chefs, just home cooks.”

Sifton started simply, working off a photo or idea or something he found inspiring, and discovered no-recipe stories were “super super fun.”

He has a long relationship with Sanibel. Sifton’s grandparents lived on island before a bridge existed, finding it a haven from their harsh Maine winters. It was an especially good climate for his grandfather, whose lungs were damaged by mustard gas while fighting in World War I. Later, his mother lived on Sanibel.

Sifton’s area visits beyond Sanibel have included Captiva, North Captiva, Useppa and Cabbage Key; and today his in-laws live in Bonita Springs. NYT Cooking, a digital recipe collection, even includes a Sanibel recipe: Doc Ford’s popular Yucatan Shrimp.

Formerly The Times’s food editor, national news editor, chief restaurant critic and culture news editor, Sifton is also the author of “See You on Sunday: A Cookbook for Family and Friends” and “Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well.” As an assistant managing editor now responsible for culture and lifestyle coverage, he also supervises the At Home section on Sunday, a venture created during the pandemic to bring subscribers something “delightful, and of service to readers.” The goal is to offer a guide to living a “full, cultured, happy life” despite the restrictions needed to fight a deadly virus.

So what is ahead? Sifton, who demurs on prognostication, says he cannot predict whether vaccinated folks will roar back to restaurants or rather tentatively head out. Either way, he expects pre-COVID huge restaurant portions may be scaled back soon. Otherwise, after months of home cooking, patrons would be shocked at the super-sized plates of old.

Tickets are available at www.bigarts.org for $20; to watch on the big screen at BIG ARTS, visit the box office at 900 Dunlop Road, Sanibel, or call 239-395-0900 for socially-distanced reserved seating.

Sifton will have time to answer audience questions, which may be texted during his presentation.