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Alison Roman Transcript

 “At Home With Alison Roman” Transcript

Natasha Pickowicz: Hi, this is Natasha Pickowicz and you're listening to Radio Cherry Bombe. You're the bombe.

Kerry Diamond: Hi Bombesquad. Welcome to Radio Cherry Bombe. I'm your host, Kerry Diamond, and I am here right now sitting on a stoop in Brooklyn with producer Jess Zeidman and we are about to go inside and interview the one and only Alison Roman. We are very excited. Alison's brand-new book, Nothing Fancy, is out this week. It's a fantastic book and we cannot wait to talk to her about everything that's going on in her life.

Kerry Diamond: Okay, we have some housekeeping. Kansas City, Missouri, we are headed your way. We'll be at Corvino on Monday, November 4th, talking to the KC Bombesquad. We're also headed to Philadelphia and Miami later this year, so keep an eye on our website for more information. Early bird tickets are on sale for Jubilee NYC. Can you believe? It's taking place April 5th at the Brooklyn Expo, and we will be announcing some fun stuff about Jubilee in the months ahead. We have some time on that one, less time on Jubilee Seattle. We're headed to Seattle in less than two weeks, and we couldn't be more excited to see everybody there. Tickets are sold out, but we will be recording everything for future episodes of Radio Cherry Bombe.

Kerry Diamond: I want to thank our sponsors, Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Schools and Emmi cheese from Switzerland, for supporting our podcast. You folks are the bombe. We'll be right back with Alison after this word from our sponsor.

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Kerry Diamond: Do you have any mentors or people you can talk like-

Alison Roman: Yeah, I-

Kerry Diamond: Is Ina on speed dial, or Martha?

Alison Roman: I wish. I don't think they know who I am, which is fine. Hi, Ina. Hi, Martha. What's up, ladies? No, I don't think that ... No, I don't have any ... Not of that caliber. I think the people that I ask advice for are peers and either people I've worked for or worked with that I feel like are in a similar position. Women I reach out to that have either a quasi-similar job description or have done certain things, and I'll reach out to them and just be like, "How are you doing?" Just checking in with them emotionally and I think that that is a bigger help for me than ... because I'm so hellbent on creating and carving out my own career path that I don't think want to follow anybody else's road map, but I do want to be able to connect with other people emotionally and intellectually about like, "How are you holding up in the freelance life?" or "How are you holding up promoting your book?" or "How are you holding up ... How do you juggle all these things?" "Let me ask your opinion on this," "Can I ask you a professional question?" And reaching out to those people, even just via text, is so helpful and does make you feel a lot less alone and make you realize that we're all kind of just doing the best we can and all trying to figure it out.

Alison Roman: Like Deb Perelman, we text and I'll just be like, "Sigh," and she'll be like, "Oh, same. Sigh," you know? And just connecting with her, being like we're both doing our own thing, we're both on our own path, but we can connect over the struggle of X, Y, and Z, and making sure that just checking and being like, "Is this just me? Or ..." and she's like, "No, no. It's not just you." That type of encouragement is really special and important. Old editors that I've had and just being like, "Does this feel weird? Does this feel right?" Just checking in with people is ... really goes a long way, and that can also be friends, but I think that in the workspace is really important, too.

Kerry Diamond: Deb's a great example of another person who has carved out her own path.

Alison Roman: Oh, yeah.

Kerry Diamond: It's so ... We're at such an interesting time in the food world, food media, all of that, where there are so many women who have carved out their own careers and ways of being, and part of me wonders, is it because women were shut out of more traditional things in this industry, but they loved food and had no choice but to find their own way in.

Alison Roman: Yeah, I think that having worked at magazines and having worked at an internet company, I knew that that's not what I wanted. I think had I ... When I was at Bon Appétit, had I been there and saw somebody else's job at that company and been like, "I want that job," I have no doubt in my mind I would have that job right now, or at least close to it, or I would've fought hard as hell to get it. You know? And I feel like that could've been my reality. There wasn't ... I didn't want it. There wasn't the job that I wanted there for me, whether it was a man having it or a woman or whatever, but I was just kind of like, "Oh, that's not ... I know that ... I've explored that. No thanks." I was in restaurants, same thing. I knew I didn't want to be a chef. I knew I didn't want to own a restaurant. Not for me. Next. I worked for a website. I knew that wasn't for me. Next.

Kerry Diamond: Which website did you work for?

Alison Roman: I worked for BuzzFeed.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, you worked for BuzzFeed.

Alison Roman: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Okay, I forgot that. Sorry.

Alison Roman: We have a shocked expression in the room. I know.

Kerry Diamond: Wait, you knew that? Oh no, you didn't know. I

Alison Roman: I worked ... It was like eight months. It was brief. I came, I saw, I ...

Kerry Diamond: It's a different animal.

Alison Roman: Yeah, a different animal.

Kerry Diamond: It's like Yahoo Food. Did we do anything together when I was at Yahoo Food? I forget who I worked for.

Alison Roman: No, I think it was after you were at Yahoo.

Kerry Diamond: Okay.

Alison Roman: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: But it's crazy.

Alison Roman: Yeah, but it's nice to be like, "Oh, I explored that."

Kerry Diamond: Yes.

Alison Roman: It's like dating. You're like, "I've done it all. I've seen it all. I've dated all."

Kerry Diamond: That's true.

Alison Roman: And you can't really know what it is you truly want until you see a lot of stuff and do a lot of things that you don't.

Kerry Diamond: Yes. I say that all the time.

Alison Roman: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Like sometimes for internships. You might not have a dream internship, but you know what? At least you learned what your dream is.

Alison Roman: Oh yeah. I think that knowing what you don't want is as important as knowing what you do want.

Kerry Diamond: Totally.

Alison Roman: In fact, sometimes more so, because what you think you want is not necessarily always what you actually want.

Kerry Diamond: So you mentioned Bon App, and I automatically think of Claire and everybody over there, that whole gang. What the heck is going on in food right now that all of the sudden, we have all these superstars, and you are one of them?

Alison Roman: I don't know. I don't know how to answer that.

Kerry Diamond: We have our theories.

Alison Roman: What are your theories?

Kerry Diamond: Just the times we're in, that the times we're in are so bizarre that there is comfort in people like you and Carla Lalli Music and all these other folks we're just sort of loving more than ever. I know it's really weird for you to answer that question because you're talking about yourself in that respect, but there is something going on that wasn't going on a few years ago.

Alison Roman: Yeah, for sure. For me, it's hard because I feel like I've been working at it and towards this for my whole life, like literally an eternity, and so to speak about where the other stuff comes from, I'm not really sure. I think that it helps when you have a company behind you putting tons of money into creating a YouTube channel and pushing it and-

Kerry Diamond: Always helpful.

Alison Roman: ... the budget and flooding your consciousness with content that is really helpful. So I think there are two separate questions, maybe, but I also just think that like ... I don't know.

Kerry Diamond: Because for the longest time, it was just the same people, and we love those same people, nothing against them, but for the longest time, it has been Martha, Ina, Rachel, Pioneer Woman. I felt like the first shift was when Molly Yeh got her show on The Food Network and I was like, "Hallelujah, finally someone has entered the next realm," or whatever the hell you want to call it.

Alison Roman: For sure.

Kerry Diamond: And now it's happening big time, like new food stars are being created.

Alison Roman: Yeah, it's weird. It's super weird. I don't know what quite to make of it, and I don't even know that I'm even in that same category, because I'm not on YouTube and ... I mean, I am peripherally at the Times, but it's not something that I'm pursuing currently, so I feel like I don't know if it's in the same category. I am grateful that I'm writing books and recipes that people are responding to and resonating with, and I think that with all food, there's a really fine line between service and entertainment, and I think that oftentimes, the way that we digest video, especially, it's entertainment. I don't know how many of those people are watching ... I felt the same way about the BuzzFeed videos and the hands and pans, and it's like, people were watching these videos on Facebook like-

Kerry Diamond: Hands in pans?

Alison Roman: Hands and pans.

Kerry Diamond: Hands and pans, okay.

Alison Roman: Like millions and millions of people, and everyone was like, "Oh, we've got to pivot to video. We've got to pivot to doing these overhead top-down hands and pans videos, because that's what the people want," and now people are pivoting to like-

Kerry Diamond: Personalities.

Alison Roman: ... personality and then God knows what people are going to pivot to next, but all I can kind of do is just be like, I'm not pivoting to anything. I'm pivoting to what I want to pivot to when it feels right to me to pivot.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah. Well, you have done a brilliant job of sort of capturing the zeitgeist. I mean, first with Dining In, the whole trend toward people just being ... again, going back to people being kind of freaked out about the times, you want to stay home, you want to watch Netflix, you just want to sort of break away from the craziness, and Dining In really captured that spirit in a positive way.

Alison Roman: Yeah, I think so, too. Yeah, I hope so. And that was just lucky timing. I wasn't like, "I think we're in the midst of a renaissance." I didn't have that sense. I just knew that I wanted to write a-

Kerry Diamond: You didn't have a zeitgeist Magic 8-Ball? "What do I do next?"

Alison Roman: No, I wish. I just knew that I wanted to write a book of recipes that were highly cookable, that worked, that were aesthetically pleasing and easy to execute, and I knew that I also, if I was going to ever write books, which I wanted to do, that I wasn't going to come up with some wackadoodle concept or some farfetched overly editorialized concept for the sake of having a concept. I was just like, I don't have that in me. That's not me. This is me, and if people like it, great. If not," and luck, people did, and that was great, and there wasn't really anything like it to point to to be like, "This will succeed or fail." So everyone was kind of just like, "Well, I hope this works," and it did. When I pitched the idea for Nothing Fancy-

Kerry Diamond: Your new book.

Alison Roman: ... I felt like everyone was like, "Entertaining books don't sell," and I'm like, "Well, this isn't an entertaining book. This is a having people over book, and I'm trying to redefine what that means, and it's weird, because now that it's coming out, I don't know if it's just because it's things that I'm noticing, but I feel like now people are talking about that as like a movement and it's like important to people and I'm like, oh, that ... the timing great for me, because that's what this is about. But yeah, I think everything is circular, and I think that food media and culture and we had like celebrity chefs and before that, we had home cooks and now we're back to more home cooks and we might pivot more to celebrity chefs and restaurants again at some point. But all I know is that I cannot shift my content or what the kinds of recipes I want to create to suit a trend.

Kerry Diamond: You're doing what comes naturally to you.

Alison Roman: I have to. Otherwise, there's too much risk. It also takes a year and a half to make a book. I don't know what's going to be cool in a year and a half. All I know is what is coming out naturally. But I think it's like if I wanted to be really rich, I would write keto book or an Instant Pot book, but that's not where I'm at.

Kerry Diamond: So Nothing Fancy I think really, you nailed it again, totally captures the zeitgeist.

Alison Roman: I think there's a general shift in the way that we sort of idolize chefs and food and restaurant culture and having a fancy restaurant or a fine dining or really highbrow chefs be the sort of pinnacle of food and food media and food culture, and for me anyway, I've been exhausted by it for a long time and I think because I'm in it and of course, when you're in the industry, it's going to, fatigue will reach you quicker. But I think that other people are catching up with that, and there's something nice about saying you don't have to be an expert to make dinner and you shouldn't feel bad about not having the right kind of tomatoes, and you shouldn't feel bad if you, if one of your chicken thighs gets a little darker in the skillet.

Alison Roman: I don't know, I just feel like there's so much shame associated with being perfect in the kitchen and in your home and having the right things, and Instagram and lifestyle and there's this Instagram culture of lifestyle people that I don't really think have jobs, that take pictures of their perfect lives and their perfect homes and they're like making a perfect salad and it looks really nice, but I don't know what that's like. I've never lived that way. My friends don't certainly live that way, and neither does my family, and I feel like having a better representation of what's actually happening is really comforting to people, because it makes you feel less alone, it makes you feel connected, and it makes you feel less shame for not having those things.

Kerry Diamond: Absolutely. I think it's okay to say something like that on the record. I've been trying to unfollow people like that.

Alison Roman: Oh, yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Where it's just-

Alison Roman: Unfollow, baby.

Kerry Diamond: ... pretty pictures in different places and you never post anything political or what you stand for. I mean, I want to know what people care about, what they stand for, what they believe in.

Alison Roman: Yeah. There's a lot of mutes happening lately.

Kerry Diamond: What do you believe in, Alison Roman?

Alison Roman: What do I believe in?

Kerry Diamond: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alison Roman: I believe in not using straws to protect our planet like you, Kerry. I believe in affordable healthcare. I believe in better protection for our environment so we can have a planet to live on.

Kerry Diamond: I'm happy to hear that.

Alison Roman: Yeah. Gun control. I believe in a lot of stuff. Abortion rights. Yeah, I mean, I feel like we're on the same page. I could go on, but.

Kerry Diamond: I'm so excited to see all these bake sales around the country for Planned Parenthood.

Alison Roman: Isn't that beautiful? Yeah, I think Natasha really spearheaded that.

Kerry Diamond: We're doing a story on that.

Alison Roman: Yeah, she's amazing.

Kerry Diamond: It's a great trend to see taking off.

Alison Roman: It is, yeah. It's a really nice way to contribute and seeing the sort of social gathering as political activism is really special. It's something that I'm like really-

Kerry Diamond: Via baked goods.

Alison Roman: ... trying to figure out myself, how to be more involved, and it's funny, I've missed every Planned Parenthood bake sale, but I've contributed something to it via somebody in my stead, because I've just been out of town. And so this year I'm like, "I will be there in person." But yeah, just figuring out what shape that takes and what form that takes and not shying away from having opinions that you think are going to alienate people, because without fail, anytime I post anything political on my Instagram, somebody comments that's like, "Keep your politics out of my food," or like, "I don't like it when my chefs get political," and I'm like, "First of all, I'm not a chef. Second of all, everything's political. Third of all, don't follow me. I don't care. I'm not worried about losing a follower. That's fine. If you are offended by something that I'm posting that is something I believe in, then I don't want you seeing my content anyways." And yes, I just called it content.

Kerry Diamond: Well, politics has infiltrated everything. Sports, restaurants, magazines, fashion magazines. I mean, you can't separate anything these days from the political.

Alison Roman: No, and I am, especially compared to a lot of women in our field and industry, I am definitely on the quieter side of politics, but that's mostly because of my education level of the politics. I have my beliefs and what I believe in and who I support and what I believe to be good versus wrong and right versus wrong, knowing I feel like that's a general shortcoming of mine, not professionally necessarily, but as a human, I want to be more informed and I want to be more involved, and I also have ... It's not a cop out, but using cooking and food of just being like, I don't know, man. That's also a really nice way for me to turn off my phone, not look at the news, not be engaged, and just kind of ... not zone out or turn a blind eye or not be engaged, but just take care of yourself.

Kerry Diamond: We'll be right back with Alison Roman after this quick break.

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Kerry Diamond: Back to my conversation with Alison Roman.

Kerry Diamond: All right, well, I did not look in your pantry while you were in the shower. I behaved and I sat here like a good person.

Alison Roman: I mean, it's an open book in here.

Kerry Diamond: But tell me what's in your pantry. I do want to peek later.

Alison Roman: So much shit.

Kerry Diamond: So much shit? Like what?

Alison Roman: Like 48 tins of fish. Like chickpeas.

Kerry Diamond: Oh no, I thought I was so unique, I brought you a tin of fish.

Alison Roman: No, you are. I mean, I, it's just, it's a constant revolving door of tinned seafood.

Kerry Diamond: Okay. What do you do with that tinned seafood?

Alison Roman: I like to open them up and I like to kind of doctor them. I'll throw some pickled red onions on top and herbs and salads and put a little fork out and let people put them on crackers with sour cream or aioli or something, just part of like a snack hour.

Kerry Diamond: Note she didn't say mayonnaise.

Alison Roman: I'm not a mayonnaise person.

Kerry Diamond: No, you're not?

Alison Roman: No. I'm like one of those really annoying people that's like, "I don't like mayonnaise, but I do like aioli," which is just about the most annoying thing you can say. I do appreciate mayonnaise in certain context. I really like a little bit of it smeared onto a jammy egg. I like it in tuna salad, I like it in egg salad.

Kerry Diamond: Did you invent the term jammy egg?

Alison Roman: I don't know.

Kerry Diamond: I've told you people you have.

Alison Roman: I'll take credit for it.

Kerry Diamond: Okay.

Alison Roman: It's probably not true, but let's say yes.

Kerry Diamond: Strong maybe.

Alison Roman: Let's say that that's my legacy. I would take it. I would be proud of that.

Kerry Diamond: The first line in your New York Times obituary.

Alison Roman: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, so what else is in my pantry? Backup olive oil, tons of vinegar, yuzu kosho, all of my baking stuff, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, et cetera. Spices, chilies that I've brought back from Mexico and Italy, different pastas, rice, beans, dried lentils. It's a Fairway Market in there. We could ... I was making a joke, I've probably made this joke twice now and someone's going to call me out on it, but I feel like we could have a Chopped show but just with the contents of my pantry, because you could really do a lot with what's in there.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah. Do you have a lot of canned things in your pantry?

Alison Roman: Not like a doomsday prepper. I have ... If anything canned, it's coconut milk, chickpeas, and beans. Or tomatoes.

Kerry Diamond: Okay. I was psyched to see the New York Times did that story on canned items.

Alison Roman: Oh, yeah. I thought that was cute.

Kerry Diamond: And making things with canned items, because there's so much snobbery around things in cans.

Alison Roman: Oh, I used canned tomatoes and canned beans and canned chickpeas constantly. I think when people are like, "You have to make this with fresh chickpeas that you soak overnight and do it," I'm like, "No you don't. Stop. No you don't. Stop telling people they have to do that." If you can, great. It's going to be delicious. But you're fine if you use a can.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah. Yeah. Making dried beans, I don't know why, is a fail for me every time.

Alison Roman: Oh, I love making dried beans.

Kerry Diamond: I know, I've-

Alison Roman: But to me, it's a different reason, a dish that I'm using canned beans in. To me, they're two very different things. I love to make a pot of beans with dried beans.

Kerry Diamond: But for some reason, every time I make it, it does not ... I know you're looking at me like I'm crazy.

Alison Roman: It's so good and easy.

Kerry Diamond: I know, I know, but I'm telling you-

Alison Roman: What's the problem?

Kerry Diamond: I wish I knew. Every time I see dried black beans at the farmer's market, I buy them.

Alison Roman: Eh, you know what? Black beans? Meh.

Kerry Diamond: Oh. Is it the black beans?

Alison Roman: They're just to me-

Kerry Diamond: And they never come out soft enough.

Alison Roman: You've got to keep going.

Kerry Diamond: I think I've done that.

Alison Roman: Really?

Kerry Diamond: Yeah. We'll take this conversation offline-

Alison Roman: All right. All right.

Kerry Diamond: ... because I'm sure you're all listening like-

Alison Roman: I mean, I'll talk about beans all day.

Kerry Diamond: This is as interesting as the cat conversation from earlier. So let's talk about your book.

Alison Roman: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Is every tour date sold out? Or can people still come see you?

Alison Roman: There are like a handful of events that I haven't released tickets for yet.

Kerry Diamond: Okay. Great.

Alison Roman: There's one in L.A., there's one in New Orleans, there's one in Toronto.

Kerry Diamond: Ooh, you're going to Toronto?

Alison Roman: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Fun.

Alison Roman: Yeah, and I think otherwise, yeah. They're all sold out.

Kerry Diamond: Very exciting.

Alison Roman: It's wild. I'm shocked.

Kerry Diamond: How many cities are you hitting?

Alison Roman: I'm hitting like 11 cities.

Kerry Diamond: Wow.

Alison Roman: It's ... and it's so crazy because every time I tell people where I'm going, somebody's like, "You're not coming here?" And I'm like, "People, I am literally pounding the pavement out here trying to do," I'm hitting more cities this time than I did last time, but also I'm going to do a second leg in the spring, winter/spring, in February/March.

Kerry Diamond: Very cool.

Alison Roman: And so I will hit a lot of cities that I did not hit this first leg, but this is, you know ... Also, I don't think that people realize that nobody pays for you to go on tour. It's really nice when you can get sponsors, which I know you and I have both worked really hard to get, but it is work and you do owe them work in return. There's no free money involved. And to come to a new city, I have to fly myself there, I have to put myself up, and I have to ... You know, there's some budget from publisher, there's some budget from sponsors, but all in all, you're spending money to be in a place. Nobody ... It's tough out there.

Kerry Diamond: You have to hustle.

Alison Roman: Yeah, you have to hustle really hard and you have to be really scrappy. You have to ... It's a tough situation. It's not cushy. It's not like a cushy, fun tour. I have ... That's not true. I do have fun. It is fun. It's not cushy.

Kerry Diamond: It is fun, it's not cushy, exactly. We always ask people on the show how they really make money, because there is all this mystery out there about oh my God, what do you get paid for, what don't you get paid for? So let's jump to that question, then. You mentioned sponsors. Same for Cherry Bombe, you have to get sponsors to help you get out on the road and do certain things. So you do have sponsors?

Alison Roman: For this particular tour, yeah, I've partnered with Resy and American Express, who just recently partnered with each other, and they gave money for the restaurant portion of the tour, so that brings me to seven cities. The other cities I'm going to, I'm going on my own, where there isn't a restaurant stop involved or if there is, it's part of a separate deal. So that was great, because I love doing those restaurant popups. I did them last tour, and so it just kind of made since and Lilli Sherman, who I work with on events, she's like, "Oh, I spoke with someone at Resy, they're interested in doing more stuff." We had just been to one of their dinners at Simon & The Whale, and we were like, "Oh, we should just do these dinners, but for the tour."

Alison Roman: Anyway, so it worked out really well, and then honestly, beyond that, it becomes really complicated asking for things, because I don't think that a lot of companies see the value yet and they're like, "Okay, I'm going to give you money. What am I getting in return?" So for the tour specifically, but I make ... My money comes from a lot of different places. For the tour specifically, it's mostly the Resy/American Express portion. Some comes from my publisher.

Kerry Diamond: And you don't get paid all at once for a book. People also don't realize that.

Alison Roman: No.

Kerry Diamond: You get paid out in chunks.

Alison Roman: You get paid out in chunks, and then you pay everyone. So I get an advance, and then from that advance comes my agent's commission, I pay the photographers, I pay my recipe testers, I pay the prop stylist, I pay my assistants, I pay location fees, I pay for ingredients, I pay for everything. So what you're left with is like ... You know, you're like, "Okay, well, you get to choose how you spend your money," and there's a lot of different ways to make a cookbook and a lot of different ways to save and a lot of different ways to spend, and I think it just depends on each author, what is important to you.

Alison Roman: But in my general life, I mean, the past few years have been crazy because money comes from unexpected places, where people want ... you know, "Oh, we want three exclusive recipes for X," or "We want you to do two videos for this," or "Would you ..." I do less of the Instagram posting thing, just because it's not natural to me to do that and I also, unless I really believe in the product or feel good about it, I tend to not, just because it feels yucky to me and I don't want to ever be embarrassed about something and I also don't want people to feel like I'm selling them something, except that I'm always trying to sell my book. But I'm pretty forward about that and I feel good about it, so I don't know.

Alison Roman: It's funny, when I got the New York Times column, somebody had commented ... like I posted my first column and somebody in the comment section was like ... added a friend of theirs and was like, "Now we know how she affords all those vacations," or something like that, and I was like, "Oh, honey. It's not the newspaper." It's definitely not print. It's definitely not books. There's just ... It's like, if there's money to be had, or if there's vacations to go on, it's because I've saved money. It's because I'm smart about how I use it, and I wanted to go on vacation.

Kerry Diamond: I didn't realize you were always on vacation.

Alison Roman: Exactly, thank you. I know. There was a period where I was traveling-

Kerry Diamond: But now I know.

Alison Roman: ... for like a month and I think people ... Also, when you work for yourself, you can work from anywhere, and that's the luxury of it. But you're always working. It doesn't matter where I am. I could be in Italy, probably working, and that's great, because I'm in Italy. But the perception that I have this very free and relaxed thing going on where I'm just always traveling is great, but it is mostly work and if I go somewhere, it's because I'm going for work and then I tack on time to take for myself, because that's important.

Alison Roman: But yeah, honestly, that's a big thing for me lately, is money, is figuring out how to have more of it, because writing does not pay that well. I mean, there's not an easy way to say it, and it's not being ungrateful for the money that I do receive for paying, because I do feel like the places that I contribute to pay me fairly and they take good care of me and I'm grateful, but that said, there's always going to be a ceiling for how much you can make as a writer, and that's challenging.

Kerry Diamond: So I got this great email this weekend from this young woman named Celia, and the subject line is about David Chang's Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner release-

Alison Roman: Oh, I got the same release.

Kerry Diamond: ... and why we still are not having a woman host for food travel shows. Did you get the email from her?

Alison Roman: No, no, no. Oh, oh-

Kerry Diamond: Oh, you got the release about it? Yes.

Alison Roman: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, okay. Sorry.

Kerry Diamond: No, she wrote why do we still not have a woman host for food travel shows?"

Alison Roman: Yeah, great question.

Kerry Diamond: And I thought it was a great question, too, and she wrote this really long, thoughtful email that I think we're actually going to publish on our website and I'm sure you're ... I mean, I'm not sure, but I'm hoping you're in talks about some bigger shows.

Alison Roman: Yes, correct. Yes.

Kerry Diamond: Because I really, as far as women have come, and I'm so excited to just see all the advances since Cherry Bombe launched, I feel like that is still-

Alison Roman: It's wild.

Kerry Diamond: ... the place where we have not made a lot of strides.

Alison Roman: Yeah, I know. It's really frustrating.

Kerry Diamond: Samin was a great start, but I don't know that she's doing additional episodes of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. I hope she does.

Alison Roman: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: But ...

Alison Roman: I mean yeah, a great start, for sure.

Kerry Diamond: I'd love to see you do a travel show.

Alison Roman: Thank you. I would love to do that, as well. I think that for me, it's really important that whatever it is that I end up doing not just be travel based, because I think that that is a-

Kerry Diamond: Well, travel and food. I mean, I don't think you can-

Alison Roman: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, travel and food, well because-

Kerry Diamond: I don't think you can even divide them these days.

Alison Roman: Well, I think that a lot of travel food shows are just about eating and food. They're not about cooking. And I think that whatever it is that I do has to be focused in cooking, and I do believe there will be a travel element to that, but I think that anyone can host a food show that involves travel. If you can talk about food and eat it and be excited about it, sure, host a show. Who cares? Anyone can do that, and they do. Anyone can write a cookbook if you ... whatever.

Alison Roman: It's like, anyone can do certain things, but I think to actually cook and cook well on camera and use that information of your surroundings is a special task and a special job, and that's the job I want. That's what I want to do, and I think that it's so crazy to me that all of the food travel shows are hosted by men, and I think that it's wild to me that all the food travel shows are just about eating and they're not about cooking.

Alison Roman: And so I don't know when we got into this rut, but it blows my mind every time I get a press release or see on Twitter or whatever that one of these dudes, who already has a show, is getting another show, like on a different network, and it's the same show and the same host but with a different title, or ... like what? Why ... and they're all the same person, and they're all about where they can go the craziest place and eat the craziest thing, and isn't that wild and look how badass this is and isn't that shocking and entertaining? And I'm like, you know what? That's boring. Your personality sucks, so you're using this outlandish cuisine as a crutch to make yourself look interesting and honestly, I'm bored. You're all boring.

Kerry Diamond: Same. That's what was so, I think, wonderful about Samin's show was she was actually cooking. They were these love letters to these ... each episode was a love letter to a place, but she was right in there, whether it was making the focaccia or the pasta or all the different dishes she celebrated in that show.

Alison Roman: Yeah. She's amazing.

Kerry Diamond: All right, well, fingers crossed. I-

Alison Roman: Oh yeah. I mean, I kind of am like ... Yeah. I've got a lot of ...

Kerry Diamond: Or not even fingers crossed. Why did I say that? Let's make this effing happen. You know?

Alison Roman: Well yeah, I think that, you know, it's an ever-changing landscape and like I said, I've received many different solicitations for different projects that I'm like, that's not for me and that's not me, and so I think for it to be successful for anything, I have to be a thousand percent myself. I cannot fake it, and I think that I'm only good ... I only write good things when I'm excited about something. My worst work, my worst writing is always when I'm lukewarm about something, and people can tell. I can tell. And so especially on a thing like video, I have to be feeling good and passionate and secure in the project to really have it be successful. Otherwise, people are going to see right through that shit.

Kerry Diamond: Lukewarm is the saddest word.

Alison Roman: Oh God. Milquetoast, lukewarm. Oh, God.

Kerry Diamond: All right, give me two minutes on natural wine.

Alison Roman: Ah!

Kerry Diamond: People are still confused. You love it.

Alison Roman: Literally, I'm confused.

Kerry Diamond: You are? Okay.

Alison Roman: I'm confused. Yeah, I mean, natural wine to me, like when my mom asks what it is, I say it's wine made without ... well, it's like low intervention wine, or I guess that's a classification of natural wine. I never claimed to know anything about it. I know that I like to drink it. Naturally fermented, not ... I'm just using words here, spitballing.

Kerry Diamond: Well I guess the key is find someone you trust where you can buy or get recommendations.

Alison Roman: Oh, yeah. I'm like-

Kerry Diamond: So you're not pretending to be the expert.

Alison Roman: No.

Kerry Diamond: You're just an enthusiast.

Alison Roman: Yes, one thousand percent. I'm-

Kerry Diamond: Let me rephrase that. Of course you're not pretending to be an expert.

Alison Roman: No. I am not pretending-

Kerry Diamond: You don't put yourself out there as an expert, but you're an enthusiast.

Alison Roman: Yeah, and every time I go into a wine store, the first thing I do is ask the person who's working there, "Here's what I like. What do you recommend? Here's my budget." They're not like, "Can I help you?" and I'm like, "Oh, I've got it." Like, I don't got it. I don't know what I'm talking about. I know what I like. I know what I've enjoyed. I'll say, "Oh, I've had these things. Can you recommend something similar? I'm looking for something more acidic than that. I had this, I didn't like it so much for these reasons."

Alison Roman: You have to be descriptive and you have to be sort of not afraid to sound dumb, and I think that people, especially with wine, are so afraid of looking like they don't know what they're talking about or so afraid of seeming dumb because natural wine is cool and we should all know about it already. Well, I don't, and I have been drinking it for a minute now and there's still a lot that I am in the dark about, and it's not for lack of drinking, it's just a lot of information and I'd rather have a conversation with somebody who is an expert, who has dedicated their time to learning it, so I can learn from them.

Kerry Diamond: That's great advice. I always feel intimidated when I go into a wine shop. But that's silly.

Alison Roman: Yeah, I think you-

Kerry Diamond: They're so happy to have you in there-

Alison Roman: Exactly.

Kerry Diamond: ... buying and asking questions.

Alison Roman: They want to talk about it, too, so I think that ... At a restaurant, same thing. Don't pretend to know everything.

Kerry Diamond: Okay. Good advice. Thank you, Alison. And that extends to a lot of things.

Alison Roman: Yes, exactly.

Kerry Diamond: Okay, speed round time. Ready?

Alison Roman: Yes.

Kerry Diamond: Favorite kitchen utensil?

Alison Roman: My pastry scraper.

Kerry Diamond: Really? Why?

Alison Roman: Yeah, my Matfer pastry scraper. It does everything. It's flexible enough to where I can pick up stuff. It's firm enough to where I can scrape off stuff off my counter or cut dough or pie crust. It is a multipurpose tool. I use it to lift vegetables off a sheet tray, transfer things from a skillet to a plate, clean my cutting board. It does everything, and I'm obsessed with it. I love it.

Kerry Diamond: Okay. Oldest thing in your fridge?

Alison Roman: Mm. Probably a batch of sauerkraut that I made an eternity ago. It's still good.

Kerry Diamond: Favorite ingredient to cook with?

Alison Roman: Lemons.

Kerry Diamond: Lemons? Okay. Culinary hero? You said lemons like I should know that. Should I have known that?

Alison Roman: No.

Kerry Diamond: Okay.

Alison Roman: It was just more like, I feel like such a one-trick pony. I'm like, "Lemons and anchovies, that's all I cook with," but it is kind of all I cook with. Culinary hero. I feel like all my answers are trite and obvious, but Alice Waters, Gabrielle Hamilton, all the badass babes who don't give a fuck and are a thousand percent themselves and do really good work and are talented and hardworking and know themselves and believe in something.

Kerry Diamond: Dream vacation destination?

Alison Roman: Mm. I don't know. I really want to go to the Mexican wine country. That I'm really curious to go to, because I haven't been. Otherwise, I'd say Italy. I'm obsessed. Sicily, I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Kerry Diamond: Food you would never eat?

Alison Roman: I don't know if I have a never list. I'd try anything once, for sure. I'm not big on offal. I'm just not. I know myself. It seems cool. Not that into it, any sort of innard sitch, especially when it's from a fish. It's not for me.

Kerry Diamond: Fish innards, like monkfish liver or something?

Alison Roman: I eat monkfish liver. It's fine. I'm not like, "Yum, delish. Pass me some more of that monkfish liver," but I'm not going to not eat it. I try ... People are like, "Oh, would you ever eat balut?" I'm like, "Yeah." People in Vietnam eat it all the time, and I ate it and it wasn't terrible. I'm not craving it. It wasn't the best thing I ate there. But I'll eat anything once.

Kerry Diamond: I draw the line at brains.

Alison Roman: Oh, I like brains.

Kerry Diamond: I think I ate them once, but-

Alison Roman: Yeah, I mean again, not craving them, but if I'm in Paris and I'm at Clown Bar, I will have the veal brains. They are delicious. I will need to share them with four other people because I cannot eat a portion myself, but yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Song that makes you smile?

Alison Roman: Mm. I don't know, Diana Ross, It’s My House.

Kerry Diamond: A treasured cookbook? Not your most treasured, but a treasured cookbook.

Alison Roman: Probably The Last Course by Claudia Fleming and Melissa Clark, because I think it's out of print.

Kerry Diamond: It's being reissued.

Alison Roman: Is it?

Kerry Diamond: Yes.

Alison Roman: Oh, that's exciting.

Kerry Diamond: Isn't that exciting?

Alison Roman: Yeah, that was probably one of the first books I ever received and cooked from and read and poured over. I don't think I've ever told Melissa that. I meant to the other day when I saw her, because we were talking about something related to it, but yeah, that's such a special book to me, and I lost it at one point and somebody found it for me and sent it to me. It's definitely very treasured for me.

Kerry Diamond: It's being reissued. Claudia's going to have a big-

Alison Roman: That's really exciting.

Kerry Diamond: ... season very shortly.

Alison Roman: That's so cool. Do you have a secret?

Kerry Diamond: Do I have a secret? Oh, well, she's going to be on Radio Cherry Bombe, but-

Alison Roman: Oh, cool. That's great.

Kerry Diamond: And we're trying to do a little trip out to her place in the North Fork.

Alison Roman: Oh, nice.

Kerry Diamond: We want to get a bunch of girls together to go out and-

Alison Roman: I'll come. I'm in.

Kerry Diamond: ... and celebrate, so okay. If you were trapped on a desert island with one food celebrity, who would it be and why?

Alison Roman: Oh, God. The term food celebrity makes me want to weep into this cup of coffee. I love you, Kerry, but it makes me want to die.

Kerry Diamond: You still have to answer it.

Alison Roman: I don't know. Honestly, I'm going to go for entertainment value or resourcefulness. Right? So I want someone who's going to be very fun and funny or know how to do a ton of stuff. I hate ... It's not a woman, but honestly?

Kerry Diamond: That's okay.

Alison Roman: My friend Brad Leone is legit extremely handy, could like build me a shelter, but also we laugh so hard together that I know we would make the best of the situation. We could fish ... We would be a good team. We'd both take our alone time, but also ... I think it'd be him.

Kerry Diamond: I think the entertainment value is key, because you might never get rescued.

Alison Roman: Yeah, honestly for me, I'd prioritize how handy are they, and I think he can build me a lot of stuff. Not to gender it, I just know that of him because I've spent time with him. I've seen him build stuff, so.

Kerry Diamond: But we'd come find you, Alison.

Alison Roman: Thank you.

Kerry Diamond: We wouldn't let you disappear forever.

Alison Roman: Thank you so much.

Kerry Diamond: That's it for today's show. Thank you so much to Alison Roman for sitting down with me. Her new book, Nothing Fancy, is out now. Be sure to pick up a copy at your favorite local bookstore. If you want to see her in person, check out her website for more information on her book tour.

Kerry Diamond: Thank you to Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School and Emmi for supporting our show. We really appreciate it. Be sure to check them out.

Kerry Diamond: Radio Cherry Bombe is edited, engineered, and produced by Jess Zeidman. Cherry Bombe is powered by Audrey Payne, Maria Sanchez, Donna Yen, Kia Damon, and our publisher is Kate Miller-Spencer. We're saying goodbye this week to the one and only Lauren Goldstein. If you know Lauren, you love Lauren. She is moving onward, upward, all those good things. We're going to miss her terribly. She is Bombesquad all the way. We love you, Lauren, and we miss you already.

Kerry Diamond: Our theme song is All Fired Up by the band Tralala. Thanks for listening, everybody. You are the bombe.

When Harry Met Sally Clip: I'll have what she's having.

Ashley Elizabeth: Hi, my name is Ashley Elizabeth from Asheville, North Carolina, and I write Do you want to know who I think is the bombe? Molly Baz, senior associate food editor at Bon Appétit. Molly inspires us to embrace cooking and eating at home with one another instead of using modern conveniences. She teaches you how to understand each recipe so the end result is something you are immensely proud of. Thanks, Molly.