Jennifer Iannolo

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Ten years ago today, I sat down with a laptop and a tray table and made a conscious decision to try my hand at food writing. After being laid off from my job as Director of Culinary Programs for Relais & Chateaux, I figured it was my one chance to indulge that dream and see where it would take me.

I went to Blogger and created something called “Gastronomic Meditations”. Shortly after, I learned how to build a web site and taught myself how to code; I even sent out a newsletter to everyone in my address book (this was before spam regulations, so hush). Those efforts, and my extensive interactions with the support team at GoDaddy, resulted in my starring in a television commercial for them.

All of that effort, and those hand cramps and headaches, has since morphed into everything you see here at The Gilded Fork and Culinary Media Network.

In 2004 there were some prominent food blogs in circulation, including Chez Pim and the Julie/Julia project. Now Julie has been featured in a movie, and Pim Techamuanvivit has opened Kin Khao, a restaurant of her own. And me, well, I’ve done a few things. I created the world’s first food podcast channel with Chef Mark Tafoya, for starters.

The food writing and media making has been good to me. I’ve been published in a food anthology, featured in a documentary, wrote a cookbook, and have traveled the world telling stories about the things that make my soul sing. I have enough to fill a wonderful book of memoirs.

But the most important thing of all is that this wonderful food experience has enriched my life with people I would have otherwise never met. I’ve seen our staff expand and grow, from my first partner in crime, Donna Desfor (who was a client at Relais & Chateaux!), to Chef Mark, who has become my best friend on this planet, to my muses Kelly Cline — now a very prominent food photographer — and Monica Glass, named one of Food & Wine’s Best Pastry Chefs in America for 2013. And my dear Madeline Shores, our intrepid editor, who I am committed to taking with me everywhere on the planet forever more.

We’ve had delicious interns and made scores of friends in new media, including my dear pals C.C. Chapman, Chris Penn and Chris Brogan, with whom I geeked out at early PodCamps. We were deep in discussions with the folks at Apple to be among the first set of iPhone apps. We’ve met and become friends with farmers, chefs and restaurateurs from around the world. It has been one glorious adventure.

Last, but certainly not least, it has given me an opportunity to communicate with YOU. Without you, there would be no one to share this passion with, and that has kept me going on even the most difficult days. Thank you for all of it — for every single day.

And though I’m now ready for what’s next, I wouldn’t trade a second of what has happened so far. Even though the past few years has comprised a series of food allergies and challenges (which kicked off Zenfully Delicious), it has all contributed to this wonderful life of mine. It’s made me think about the big questions, and look at what kind of legacy I want to leave behind. Perhaps in another 10 years I’ll have an answer to that question.

Until then, I will keep playing with my food — and hope you will, too.

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My Food “Sabbatical”

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Sometimes in life, there comes a moment when you are willing to put everything on pause because there is something you MUST do. This past summer, that moment arrived for Jennifer.

A Spoonful of Sugar

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Congratulations to our Pastry Princess, Monica Glass, named one of the top 5 Pastry Chefs for 2013 by Food & Wine magazine!

FP7: Chef Thomas Keller

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A goodie from the archives: Thomas Keller joins Jennifer for a chat on food philosophy and what that means in the world of The French Laundry and its siblings.

Mulling Things Over

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The soothing fragrance of cinnamon and its mulling companions is the perfect match for red wine — and holidays.