Julia Sherman: How does one become a food writer and editor?
Kaitlyn Goalen: I started out thinking I wanted to be a cook. I love restaurants and restaurant people, and worked in restaurants throughout high school and college. But after a few years, I realized that I wasn’t in love with the late nights and the day-to-day aspects of being a line cook. I began to explore food writing as an option and lucked out with an internship at Food & Wine magazine. That’s where I met my business partner, Nick Fauchald — he was a senior food editor at the time. I followed him to Tasting Table, where I worked as an editor for four years. Tasting Table was way more than a food writing job — it was a crash course. In the beginning, the team was so small that everything overlapped; we were all in the trenches together. It definitely lit an entrepreneurial fire that ultimately led me to Short Stack.
JS: What came first, cooking or writing?
JS: You just moved to North Carolina from NYC. What are the perks? Do you miss anything?
KG: Lots of perks! I prefer porches to stoops, for starters. The community here is incredibly tight-knit — there’s lots of cheering each other on, lots of pride about making Raleigh better, which I love. But the biggest perk is being closer to my girlfriend and our dogs — three years of long distance was enough. That said, I miss plenty of things about Brooklyn; mostly the friends I made there and the accessibility to a bacon, egg and cheese on a roll.
JS: You edit cookbooks and your partner is a chef/restauranteur. Do you think about food 100% of the time? What do you do when you’re not cooking or writing?
KG: Ha! We definitely think about food a lot. But I feel grateful that cooking hasn’t lost its thrill for either of us — we both still really enjoy cooking at home, having friends over, eating together. I do, however, get food-writing fatigue, and a lot of what I end up reading is non-food related. I just finished a book called Chasing the Scream and I can’t shut up about it. So powerful. There’s also a really strong music scene here in Raleigh, and we try to get out and see live shows as much as we can.
JS: How did Short Stacks begin? What does this project offer that other magazines and cookbooks do not?
KG: Nick and I have a habit of hatching business ideas over cocktails; we’ve started probably 100 companies in our heads while tipsy. So I’m pretty sure Short Stack started over a drink somewhere…Nick had the idea to do a printed series on ingredients, and it grew from there. I think it became real when Rotem Raffe, our creative director, got involved — that’s when we finally knew what it would look and feel like. We pulled the trigger in earnest in 2013 — I quit my job and we launched a Kickstarter campaign.
From the start, it was important to us to create a model that trumpeted our authors first. As writers ourselves, we were looking to create a new model of book publishing that really benefited the author first. Additionally, we approached the idea with a less-is-more laser-focus that ended up bucking many of the current trends in food publishing: no photos, just 20 recipes, print only. It reads like a list of what NOT to do, but I think it’s actually been critical to our success. People aren’t overwhelmed by these books; they feel approachable and clear-cut.
JS: What’s next for Short Stacks?
KG: We’re currently working on a full length, full size cookbook, which will come out next year from Abrams. And we have authors lined up for editions for the next 2 years, which is absolutely crazy and exciting to me! We have lots of big dreams for these tiny books.
JS: Where did the inspiration for this salad come from?
KG: Crab is so accessible and delicious here, and it’s one of my favorite things. Between crab and lobster, I’ll choose crab every time. And I’m just infatuated with cooked radishes. I never ate them until recently and it was like this tiny epiphany. Now they’re a staple in my diet.