Gabrielle Hamilton would be the first to tell you that her career and eventual success as a chef didn’t come easy. She started out her illustrious career as a dishwasher at the age of 12 in her hometown in Pennsylvania, but then went to Hampshire College in Massachusetts before returning to food. She moved to New York and started a catering business, which she later sold in 1995 to, as she says, “escape from cooking.” She then pursued a Master's in Fine Arts degree in fiction writing at the University of Michigan to then return to New York City and promptly open her own restaurant, Prune, where her culinary intentions were simple: to serve the foods she wanted to eat at home.
Not long after Prune's opening in 1999, Jane and I were in New York and ventured to her establishment for one evening's dinner. We came upon the tiny space in the East Village, sat down and fell in love. The intimate atmosphere, the brilliant flavors, the authenticity of that night was unforgettable.
an peek into dinner at Prune
Over the years Hamilton has put not only her cooking but also her writing skills to good use. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ, Bon Appetit, Saveur, and Food & Wine Magazine. Her work has been anthologized in Best Food Writing every year between 2001 and 2006. Hamilton was nominated for Best Chef: New York City by the James Beard Foundation in 2009 and 2010. And in 2011 her first book, an autobiography, Blood, Bones and Butter was published, further proving her to be as gifted with words as she is with food.
To this day, Blood Bones and Butter is one of my all time favorite books. You can purchase your copy here:
And, if you would like to try your hand at one of her incredible recipes:
Last week, she wrote this poignant piece for the New York Times, chronicling the last six weeks as a small business owner/restaurateur in Covid-19 times, "My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore?"
We certainly don't want to think of a world in which there is no Prune, but there is no doubt we will hear more from this incomparable woman.