March 21, 2012 at 10:24 AM ET
A recent New York Times article about cookbook ghostwriters has left some celeb chefs burning mad, alleging that many, including Rachael Ray, Mario Batali and Jamie Oliver, don’t actually write their books.
“Recipes are product, and today's successful cookbook authors are demons at providing it — usually, with the assistance of an army of writer-cooks," wrote Julia Moskin.
Since the article came out last week, the newspaper was contacted by Batali, Ray, Gwyneth Paltrow and reps for Oliver, who "objected to what they saw as the implication that they were not the authors of their own work,” according to a follow-up piece in the Times that responded to the uproar.
“All four have acknowledged, in print, working with collaborators on their books — but all objected to what they saw as the implication that they were not the authors of their own work,” Moskin wrote.
She goes on to explain that "ghostwriting" doesn't necessarily mean the recipes are somebody else's, but that there is help getting food from the plate to the page. She says she wasn’t implying that celeb chefs were employing people to “ghost-cook” – actually invent recipes — which would warrant “a special kind of scorn.”
But for Ray and others who claim they do all the work, that argument just isn’t enough.
"@nytimes Diner's Journal gets it wrong- AGAIN. I celebrate & value stylists, photographers, editors. I also write my recipes alone,” Ray tweeted, adding, “Disappointing response when a correction was in order.”
Bon Appetit magazine editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport says that using cookbook ghostwriters is nothing new.
“Most chefs use ghostwriters,” he told TODAY. “They're not writers. They need someone to help them put their imagination and their creativity on to paper."
If the recipes are good, and align with the celeb chef's style, does it really matter who actually wrote them down?
As with many other things, seeing how the sausage recipe is made can leave behind a bad taste.
“Finding out there's a person or an entire team behind the process just takes a little bit of the magic out of the moment," said Toqueland.com food writer Andrew Friedman.
What do you think? Would it bother you to learn your favorite chef uses a ghostwriter for his or her cookbook?