This week on Foodie Friday, get to know June Naylor who’s a food writer, recipe developer and cookbook author. She is a regular contributing writer and editor for a wide range of Texas publications, including 360 West, Texas Highways, Texas Journey (the magazine for Texas AAA members) and Texas Monthly.
In addition, she’s well known throughout the southwest as a cookbook author and Texas guidebook writer. June is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier, and serves on the board of directors for the Fort Worth Food & Wine Foundation and advisory board for the Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival.
How did you first get involved in the food industry?
My mom first sent me to cooking lessons at age 8, and I have cooked fairly passionately since then. I began waiting tables at age 16 at Steak & Ale in Fort Worth; I waited tables throughout college at various places. I began writing restaurant reviews for the Star-Telegram in 1987 where I was assistant travel editor. I later served as the newspaper’s dining critic for several years and wrote a food/recipe column for the Star-Telegram. My first cookbook (I have co-authored 3 thus far, with a fourth in the works) was The Texas Cowboy Kitchen, with Grady Spears, in 2003.
What/who inspired your current role in the food industry?
My parents were both devoted cooks, and I was always in awe of people who crafted good food from scratch, whether that was meatloaf or coq au vin. As I began to spend more time in restaurants, I was inspired by chefs whose creativity translated well on the plate. Writers whose work inspires me include Calvin Trillin, Amanda Hesser, Gabrielle Hamilton, John T. Edge, and the late Anthony Bourdain, James Beard and R.W. (Johnny) Apple.
What food trends are most influential in what you do?
Proper, scratch cooking; use of local ingredients.
What is the most significant change you’ve witnessed in the food industry?
The shift to molecular gastronomy and back again to the passion for simplicity.
Tell us about an industry professional who influenced you most?
Describe a food fad/trend you would love to start.
That’s a little too presumptuous and self-serving, I think. I’m eager to see a passion for handmade food with pure, real ingredients continue.
What's your big splurge food item? Any particular brand you're willing to pay more for?
Prime beef; wild, fresh seafood; reserve wines.
What keeps you going as a food professional?
There is always fresh talent doing exciting things – there’s no chance to become bored.
What do you view as your greatest achievement to-date as a food professional?
I’m honored to have been writing professionally about food for this long and to have covered so many intriguing personalities in our food world like Jacques Pepin, Wolfgang Puck, Chris Shepherd, Hugo Ortega, Stephan Pyles, and Sharon Hage.
What’s your favorite food to make at home?
Anything in my ancient cast-iron skillet – whether that’s fish, steak, lamb, cornbread.
What’s your favorite meal to order in a restaurant?
Whatever the chef is most excited about that day.
What three ingredients could you not live without?
Olive oil, vinegar, sea salt. Oh, and lemons.
Tell us about a memorable meal you’ve had.
Last spring in Paris at La Grand Huit (it was my birthday and our wedding anniversary): our dinner included duck, white asparagus, and the best octopus we’ve ever tasted.
Who in the food industry do you most admire?
I could not possibly choose one – it takes a village.
What food or meal makes you happiest?
The meals my talented husband (artist Marshall Harris) prepares for us at home.
What food or ingredient would you never use or eat?
Never, never, never: marshmallows.
Tell us about your favorite vacation destination.
For wine, New Zealand or France. For food, Paris or New Orleans or Houston. For raw beauty, Iceland or the TransPecos of West Texas.
Connect with June Naylor
Facebook: June Naylor Food & Travel