Jane Goldman: The PBJ Interview

What made you start Chow?

I started Chow because I love food and I love magazines, but there wasn’t a single food magazine that I was excited about reading. The others do what they do very well, but I wanted a magazine that did something different — covered the subject with energy and humor.
We’re about the world of food – cooking, restaurants and travel, yes, but also business, pop culture, politics. We also include a lot of explicit, easy-to-follow how-to information. My assumption is that, like me, our readers are sophisticated eaters but fairly primitive cooks. We don’t necessarily cook every day, but when we do, we want the product to be as good as what we’re used to eating in restaurants. And at the same time, we need to be led by the hand. That’s what we do. So yes, we probably are more accessible.

What’s your background?
I’ve worked in magazines almost all of my adult life. I started out with the launch of Us magazine, and moved from there to writing or editing for a number of magazines. I moved to San Francisco to go to Stanford Law School, and after law school went back to magazines — first as editor of California Lawyer, then as editor of The Industry Standard.

What’s the one thing you want readers to get out of Chow that they may not be getting out of the other mags?
A sense of joyous enthusiasm. Everything that we’re writing about, from how to throw a party to where to find the best chocolate, comes from our sheer enjoyment of the subject. We want people to get all revved up about trying something they’ve read about or sharing something they’ve learned. And we want them to feel that the joy is in the moment, not in the perfect outcome.
The biggest difference between Chow and other food magazines is probably our point of view. We take food seriously, but we’re not serious. We’ve got a sense of humor and a sense of fun. Our contributors have top-notch credentials — they’re some of the most highly acclaimed chefs, writers, and food professionals — but they also manage to be funny and down-to-earth.

Yeah, I got that impression, that it’s a mag for ordinary people that love food, love to watch Food Network, want to learn to cook better, but they’re not chefs. 

Let’s talk food blogs. Do you read any? I noticed on one of the chowmag.com pages, there is a little graphic of the Chow food blog, but I don’t see one at the site yet. Is that something that is in the works?
I do read some food blogs, though not every day.

We’re working on a blog that should be up in a couple of weeks.

What do you think of what happened to Martha Stewart?
I’m all for apprehending white collar criminals and attempting to curb the abuse of power and money. However, from what I’ve read, it sure seems like enforcement was selective and her punishment was disproportionate.

So what are some of your food guilty pleasures? Deep-fried Twinkies? Pork rinds?
I love Coca-Cola. I’m drinking some right now.

What do have planned for Chow in the future?
Next issue you’ll see a little better the breadth of our coverage. The launch issue was a guide to the holidays, so we covered traditional cooking. Soon you’ll see more far-reaching subject matter. And then, of course, world domination.


Birthplace/Date: Akron, Ohio/ March 1955
Favorite TV Shows: Project Runway, The Simpsons and Law and Order.
Favorite Movies: Really looking forward to the Strangers with Candy movie.
Favorite Music: White Stripes, Noir Desir, the Vines
Favorite Food: Steamers, epoisses, homemade walnut oil
Favorite Drink: Coca-cola
Favorite Car: Subaru
Hobbies: Bicycling
Best Advice You Ever Received: Tell the truth.
The Worst: New York real estate never goes down.
Leno Or Letterman? Ellen.
And Most Importantly…Paper Or Plastic? Paper for recycling, plastic for the dogs.


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