My name is Molly Wizenberg, and I write this blog.
I live in Seattle, but I grew up in Oklahoma City. I have also lived in the Bay Area and briefly in Paris, France. I’m into peanut butter, scrambled eggs, seven-minute eggs, meatballs, meat that falls off the bone, cabbage, pancakes, black coffee, buttered toast, milkshakes, nectarines, raspberries, soup dumplings, tuna salad, chocolate, cold apples, warm blackberries, escarole, cheese described as “fudgy,” beverages involving rye and/or Campari and/or going by the name “shandy,” and anything malted, though not necessarily in that order. I am known in some circles for my karaoke (in)abilities.
I started Orangette in July of 2004. I had just decided to quit a Ph.D. program in cultural anthropology, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. The only thing I knew was that, whatever I did, it had to involve food and writing. I thought it might be kind of great to write for a food magazine someday, but I had no idea how. In the meantime, I decided I would just get a job doing whatever, and then write after hours. I told a journalist friend about my decision, and he suggested that I start a blog. It would help hold me accountable, he said: having a blog would force me to sit down and write regularly, even when it felt difficult. So I started Orangette. More than 12 years later, here I am, with this blog, a book, and a second book. In mid-August of 2009, a talented guy named Brandon Pettit and I opened a restaurant called Delancey, and in mid-August of 2012, we opened Essex, a bar and restaurant next door to Delancey. On September 9 of the same year, I gave birth to our daughter June, who is named after June Carter Cash. In 2015, this blog won a James Beard Award. And in March of 2016, we opened a pizza tavern called Dino’s Tomato Pie, across town from Delancey and Essex. [Pant pant pant.] Last but not least, I also co-host the food-and-comedy podcast Spilled Milk with my good friend Matthew Amster-Burton.
Thanks for stopping by.
Frequently Asked Questions
About this site
Why do you call it Orangette?
When I sat down to start this blog, I had a bag of orangettes – the French name for chocolate-dipped candied orange peels – sitting on my desk, just a few inches from the computer. I initially had a different blog title in mind, but it was already taken, and then my eye landed on the orangettes, and it seemed right. Plus, I like orangettes.
Do you have a recipe for orangettes posted somewhere around here?
I was afraid you would ask that. I don’t. It’s just that I’ve never felt a real need to make them, and I don’t have the patience to temper chocolate. In general, I have preferred to simply eat them, and to leave their making to the pros. (I feel the same way, incidentally, about baguettes, croissants, and cheese.) But if I were to make orangettes, this is probably the first method I would try.
Why haven’t you answered my e-mail / comment? Are you a bad person?
I shoplifted some calligraphy pens and keychains when I was eight, but I’m not a bad person. I love to hear from you, possibly even more than you can imagine. But! I have a hard time keeping up. I do my best to reply to every comment and e-mail I receive, but I am not always successful, and for that, I apologize.
I’d like to advertise on your blog. What are your rates?
I don’t accept ads. But thanks for asking! (For the sake of disclosure, I do participate in the Amazon Associates program.)
I left a comment, but you didn’t publish it. Why?
The Internet can feel like a good place to anonymously air one’s discontents, or to give voice to one’s politics or religious beliefs, but such commentary is no more welcome here than it would be if we were sitting together in my living room. This site may be open to the public, but it is also an extension of me and of my home. It exists because I have made it, because I pay for its hosting and maintenance. I ask that you post only words that you would say aloud to me in person, and I reserve the right to delete any comment that is hurtful or nasty, that openly proselytizes, or that uses hate speech.
Can I send you a free product to review?
I don’t do product reviews. But when appropriate, I do like to mention great books that cross my path.
Who takes the photographs on Orangette?
Except where noted, I do.
What kind of camera do you use?
Prior to April of 2008, most of the photographs on this site were taken with a Nikon D70s. But then I fell in love with film photography, and from mid-2008 to late 2013, nearly all the photos on this site were taken with film cameras. I have a number of them, and I have a hard time choosing a favorite: Nikon FE (35 mm), Pentax K1000 (35 mm), Minolta Instant Pro (a Polaroid-type camera), Fuji Instax (a Fuji-brand instant camera), Polaroid SX-70, Polaroid 600 (the big, hulking one from Polaroid’s professional line), Holga (medium format), and Hasselblad 500c/m (medium format). Film is magic. But of course, the turnaround time with film can be very slow, so in late 2013, after I realized that using only film was keeping me from posting here as often as I wanted to, I bought a new digital camera, a Canon 5D Mark III. Now I shoot a little of everything.
I sometimes also post iPhone shots.
When I post Polaroid shots, I do so with the help of an Epson Perfection V500 scanner. When I post shots from any of my other film cameras, they have been developed and scanned by Panda Lab, in Seattle.
Who designed your site?
My pals Sam Schick and Eli Van Zoeren, who you can find at Neversink, did.
Can I use one of your photos on my site or in my magazine?
The entire contents of this site are protected by copyright. Please do not use anything without my permission. Please ask first.
Is there a list or an index of recipes around here somewhere?
Yes, there is. It’s right here.
How did you get book deals and freelance writing gigs? Do you have a literary agent? Do you have any advice along those lines?
The short answer is this: I got to write books and magazine articles because of my blog. My agent and my editors, at Simon & Schuster and at Bon Appétit and elsewhere, found me directly through Orangette.
My best advice is to write. It sounds simplistic, but it’s the best advice I’ve ever been given, so now I’m passing it on to you. Write honestly and thoughtfully about what moves you. Start a blog, keep a journal – whatever works for you. Just keep writing, and try to have fun with it. And work hard. Set high standards for yourself – that’s very important – and get comfortable with not always meeting them. Work hard to learn how to meet them. Read this Ira Glass quote. Try to always write better, smarter, tighter. Read good writing and figure out what makes it work. Read up on book proposals and literary agencies, research other books and writers in your field, work hard, and stick your neck out. And when you get stuck, read books like Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. Or On Writing, by Stephen King. Above all, work hard. Keep going. Did I mention that it’s hard work?
Are you professionally trained in cooking? Do you have a degree in writing?
No, I am not professionally trained in cooking. My only “training,” as it were, comes from growing up in a family of avid eaters and home cooks. My brother David went to the Culinary Institute of America and owns a bunch of restaurants in the DC area, but the rest of us are purely home cooks.
Likewise, I do not have a degree in writing. I’ve always loved to write, though, and as a teenager, I had the honor of studying poetry for two summers at a remarkable program called the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain. I have also worked as a teaching assistant at OSAI, assisting poets George Bilgere and Ruth L. Schwartz. And in the fall of 2014, I was invited to teach at Quartz Mountain myself(!), a Fall Arts Institute workshop on personal narrative and memoir. I have a B.A. in human biology and a minor in French from Stanford University, and I have an M.A. in cultural anthropology from the University of Washington.
So you teach workshops on writing? Can I take one?
1. Yes. And, 2. Please do! I love to teach writing, particularly to adults, and I have taught one- to five-day workshops on narrative food writing, personal narrative, and memoir. Please drop me a line if you’d like more information, or if you’d like me to teach in your school or your town.
Wait: don’t you own a restaurant, too? But you said you were a home cook…
Right. I co-own (with chef Brandon Pettit) a restaurant called Delancey, in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. We opened the place in August of 2009, and the menu is focused on Brooklyn-style wood-fired pizza. (Brandon is originally from New Jersey, just a few minutes outside of New York City, and he’s been obsessed with pizza since he was a kid.) I cooked at Delancey in the beginning, and I still help to run it, but really, it’s Brandon’s thing. Come eat pizza! Or have a drink and a wood-fired burger at Essex, the bar we own next door. Or take a class at the Pantry. The Pantry is located directly behind Delancey, and it’s owned by our friend Brandi Henderson. Or, hey, hit up our newest place, Dino’s Tomato Pie, if its website doesn’t blind you (in a nice way) first.
What’s this about a book?
My first book was called A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, and it was published in 2009 by Simon & Schuster. It was – and I can’t believe I get to say this – a New York Timesbestseller. WHAT. It’s a food memoir (with 50 recipes) about losing my dad and growing up, and it was illustrated by one of my favorite artists, Camilla Engman. My second book, Delancey, was also published by Simon & Schuster, this time in 2014, and it too was a New York Times bestseller. AAAAHHH! It’s about the experience of opening our restaurant Delancey, which we did on a harrowingly tiny budget and with lots of help from friends and strangers, elbow grease, mistakes that seem funny now but weren’t at all funny then, and Cool Ranch Doritos.
What’s this about Bon Appétit?
In February of 2008, I began writing a monthly column for Bon Appétit magazine, and the column ran until April of 2011. It was called “Cooking Life.”
I am new to blogging, and I can’t figure out how to make my blog look / work the way I want it to. Can you help me?
Hooo boy. You really don’t want me to help you. You’d probably, or definitely, be better off Googling.
How can I make my blog better? How can I make my blog successful?
Those are tricky questions, and I don’t have a quick answer. Luckily, though, there are other people out there who do. You might try starting with my friend David Lebovitz, who put together a post on those very topics right here. Or my friend Adam Roberts: here and here.
As for my advice, this is going to seem sort of touchy-feely, but I have a question for you: are you having fun with your blog? Because if you’re not, it’s probably not worth doing – or reading. Above all, write about what you want to write about. Write what you want to read. If you’re passionate about something, and if you write about it honestly and clearly and thoughtfully, chances are, someone else will be interested too. Also, look closely at your favorite blogs. Look closely at your favorite writers, period. Study them. What do you like about them? What do they do well? And how can you bring elements of that into your work, while still making it your own? I’ve been blogging for a while, but I still think about these kinds of things all the time.
Oh – and I love to teach classes on this stuff. If that interests you, please drop me a line.
I have a blog / website. Will you link to it? Want to exchange links?
My general policy is that I link only to sites that I read regularly. I do not accept requests to exchange links. However, if you’d like to leave me a comment and tell me about your blog, please do. I would love to know about it, and if I find myself stopping by often, I will certainly put up a link.
Can I link to your blog?
Of course you may! I’m honored that you’d like to.
I’m coming to visit Seattle! Where should I go?
Well, how many days do you have? Because I have a lot of favorites:
FOOD: The Walrus and the Carpenter (oysters!), The Whale Wins (don’t miss the brownie), Columbia City Bakery (the walnut levain), Vif (avocado toast! red lentil ful! everything!), Manolin, Spinasse (be sure to sit at the counter), Din Tai Fung (soup dumplings! dry-fried green beans!), Sitka & Spruce (especially brunch), Bar Sajor (especially lunch, although $$$), The Wandering Goose (layer cakes!), Green Leaf, Honore Artisan Bakery (croissants, pains au chocolat, cannelés), Poppy, Maono, Slate Coffee Roasters, Herkimer Coffee, Analog Coffee, Cafe Lago (lasagna), … and, you know, Delancey and Essex and Dino’s.
SITES / THINGS: Ballard Farmers’ Market, Pike Place Market, Olympic Sculpture Park, Discovery Park, the view from Alki Beach, strolling and shopping on Ballard Avenue, the Ballard Locks, Center for Wooden Boats, University District Farmers’ Market, Elliott Bay Book Company, Totokaelo, ferry rides, and the nearby islands
Can I e-mail you?
If you’d like to reach me, send an e-mail to contactorangette (at) gmail (dot) com.