New Book: Food Jobs by Irena Chalmers


A few years back, Bob sat next to author Irena Chalmers at a professional food conference. They had met before, and took advantage of the time to catch up with one another. As they chatted, Irena told Bob that she was working on a new book that explored the wide variety of professional career jobs that the food industry had to offer.

As she explained, Bob was intrigued at the scope of her concept. She asked Bob a few questions about being a specialty food retailer and he gave her his thoughts on this and that, including what we both do in the daily operations of our store.  At the end of their converstation, Irena told Bob that she would like to include his thoughts in her book.

Fast forward several years ( it takes at least 2 years on average for a book to appear in stores from the moment of signed contract to final bound and printed book is ready ) and imagine our surprise and delight when we received a copy of  Irena’s book Food Jobs: 150 Great JOBS for Culinary Students, Career Changers and FOOD Lovers. 

True to her word Irena did include Bob’s thoughts. In fact, she gave him special attention in a boxed sidebar titled: Words from the Wise in the Chapter dedicated to Retail Jobs.  But as to what he said… you’ll have to purchase the book to find out !

Food Jobs: 150 Great JOBS for Culinary Students, Career Changers and FOOD Lovers by Irena Chalmers, 2008, Beaufort Books, NY  $19.95

Chapters include: restaurants and foodservice; retail jobs; art and design; food media ( publishing, television, the internet, radio); promotions and publicity; history and culture; science and technology; farming; cooking schools and culinary education.

Food Judging ? You bet. Read my previous post.

Food Media ? Yes, check out this link to Bob’s lively food radio shows !


2009 Massachusetts Farmers Market Week/ Annual Tomato Contest

Judge Bob flashes a wedge of his favorite slicer

Judge Bob flashes a wedge of his favorite slicer

This week is Massachusetts Farmers Market Week and the 25th Annual Massachusetts Tomato Festival and Contest. In this good natured competiton, farmers from the Commonwealth face off in categories such as field tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, heirloom varieties, weight and of course, flavor.

Despite the rain, rain and more rain that we have had this summer, and the resulting demise of many a good tomato patch, the competiton drew appromimately 70 entries, a similar number to that of last year.

According to the Offices of Energy and Environmental Affairs, more than 532 farms in the Bay State produce 6.2 million pounds of tomatoes a year on 575 acres of farmland.  For a self-confessed tomato-aholic like myself, this is splendid news. The market value of this crop is estimate at $12.4 million, which includes the share we spend at our neighborhood farmstand and farmers market. And there is good news for Farmers Markets as well in the Commonwealth – 38 new markets were added in 2009, bringing the statewide total to 198.

Many Boston-area farmers who entered their best fruits came to the judging with their game faces on. In addition to Bob’s repeat Judgeship, the other judges comprised a distinguished panel of  food writers, chefs, cookbook authors, grocers and state officials.


Verrill Farm tomatoes scored two 2nd place finishes

This is the listing of the 1st Place winners, many of whom were present to accept their trophy. All left smiling and trimphant.

Slicing Category: Macone Farm, Concord, Ma                                                        ‘Orange Blossom’  yellow variety

Cherry Category: Red Fire Farm, Granby, Ma,                                            ”Sungold’ yellow variety

Heirloom Category: Macone Farm, Concord, Ma                                     ‘Macone Farm ‘ heritage variety

Heaviest: Kimball Fruit Farm, Pepperell, MA                                                          ‘Big Raspberry’ variety

Happy Birthday, Julia

Bob and Julia then....

Yes, today ( August 15th ) is Julia’s birthday…she would have turned 97.  OK, so she is no longer here to actually celebrate her birthday with a sip of this and a bite of that, but spiritually, she is omnipresent amongst us. If the fact that she is remembered lovingly by all whom she influenced and that her cookbooks are still relevant to legions of cooks is not proof enough, just evidence the long-suffering current dialogue about ‘the book’ and ‘the movie.’  Would she have approved or would she have gaffawed at the amount of lip-time that this new national obsession has racked up?

Anyway, here’s to you, just you, dear Julia. We met you in 1991 at a United Way Benefit fund-raising event. You were signing copies of your new book: The Way to Cook and charming your fans, and we were serving cups of our coffee to attendees.

In fact, we were serving cups of a coffee blend that we created in your honor and introduced that night: Mastering the Art of Coffee. You were so thrilled to have a coffee created just for you ( you said it was a ‘first’ ) and several cups of it were requested to be sent over to your table throughout the evening, if I remember correctly. We’ve sold your coffee blend in the store since than, and it is very popular indeed. Later that evening, you signed one of the large display posters of your book that hung in the room and gave it to us for a memento. Do you know that it is one of our most cherished possessions and proudly resides on display in our store to this day ?

The following year we sent you a birthday card when your turned 80. Your note of appreciation for our well-wishes sent us to the moon and back when we received it, and we grinned like school children when we showed it to all of our foodie friends.

julia card scan 1

Then, to make it even better, Random House sent us a cardboard likeness of you – a PR piece that was to top a generous display of your books. We like instead to put you in the window of our store from time to time ( we dressed up your smock with a silver “J” pin that belonged to Bob’s mother Jean ) and watch passersby do a double take when they see you. The sight of you always makes people stop, and do a bit of a double take. Many of them smile, with a look that tells me they are fondly remembering something endearing about you.

Of course there are those who ask if they can purchase the cardboard ‘you’ ( sorry, no ) or have it ( are you kidding me ? ) or borrow it ( ya, right ! ).  We’ll always keep our ‘cardboard Julia’ …..just for the memories.

Bob and 'Julia' now.....

Bob and ‘Julia’ now…..