Toni Lydecker's Tavola Talk Blog

About Toni Lydecker

Toni LydeckerI’d always loved Italian food but I never had to prepare it every day until we moved to Florence with our newborn daughter. While my art historian husband plowed through fifteenth-century documents in the archives, I pushed a stroller, with baby Kate sitting calmly amid bags of edibles from neighborhood markets and shops.

At night I cooked what I’d found, armed at first with well-thumbed copies of Marcella Hazan’s books but eventually relying on tips from the butcher or a neighbor, Italian cooking magazines and cookbooks, an idea from a dish encountered in a restaurant.

We suffered through a few leaden risottos & other mishaps but by the end of our Italian sojourn, I could make lots of good things with melodic names: acquacotta, crostata, stracotto. By that time, the flavors and seasonal rhythms of a life revolving around food had become very natural and appealing.

I returned to the U.S. resolved to begin a career as a food writer. And so I have. My articles on topics ranging from airline menus to zuppa inglese have appeared in many print and online publications, including the Washington Post, New York Daily News, Tampa Bay Times, Cucina Italiana, Culture, Fine Cooking, Better Homes & Gardens, Wine Enthusiast and Dream of Italy.

Along the way, I completed a culinary program and restaurant internship through The New School. But my real education has been on the job: researching articles, talking with food authorities and home cooks, developing and testing recipes, teaching classes on regional Italian cooking and other topics.

Seafood alla Siciliana: Recipes and Stories from a Living Tradition (Lake Isle Press, 2009) was based on intensive research in Sicily. My second cookbook, with more than one hundred recipes, is Piatto Unico: When One Course Makes a Real Italian Meal. And my first book, Serves One: Meals to Savor When You’re on Your Own, keeps chugging along.

In my volunteer and professional activities, I draw on years of staff experience as a restaurant magazine editor and as vice president/editorial director for a leading food public relations agency. I’m expert at writing food-related brochures, newsletters, Web content and other marketing copy; adapting chefs’ recipes; and developing and testing new recipes. I’m especially interested in the challenges of introducing artisanal foods to consumers.

Like many culinary professionals, my experience is diverse and I’m adept at doing many things, as suggested by the name of my business: Culinary Productions. What runs through my professional and personal life is a love of food—above all, Italian food—and a belief in the power of words to explore this amazing part of life.

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