In a literary world that demands our increasingly splintered attention and focus, it is the sensate that best anchors and grounds both the writer and the reader, and provides the necessary ingredients for a transportive story. It is food that strongly connects us to our humanity, history, and well-being, which is why readers have such a visceral response to narrative writing about the primal act of eating; whoever we are, wherever we come from, we all engage in it. To eat is to live; to not eat is to die. The successful food memoir, then, engages and engrosses the reader at the very place where the mundane --- the simple, commonplace act --- becomes a provocative and compelling narrative catalyst.

In this weekend class, learn how to create food writing that teems with life at the most basic and primitive level. Practice effective methods for writing with authenticity both gastronomical and beyond; develop your individual, unique voice that reaches out from the page and engages the reader; create a trustworthy narrative pers

ona writing from the past; wrap personal narrative around the act of eating; and craft knife-sharp description using taste, olfactory sense, and reliable (and unreliable) memory.

The class will engage in active, short-form writing exercises, explorations of style, sharing of work, readings from and discussions of classic food memoir and narrative of other genres, and individual work review meetings with instructor. By the end of the course, transform your writing skills to create compelling writing for a personal essay, blog, magazine or longer book form in a way  that will leave your readers hungry for more.

Suggested readings:

§  Blood, Bones, & Butter/Gabrielle Hamilton

§  Home Cooking (Vols 1 and 2)/Laurie Colwin

§  Toast/Nigel Slater

§  Gastronomical Me/MFK Fisher

§ Still Writing, Dani Shapiro





Elissa Altman

Elissa Altman is the critically-acclaimed, award-winning author of Poor Man’s Feast: A Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking, the James Beard Award-winning blog of the same name, the Washington Post column "Feeding My Mother", and a finalist for the Frank McCourt Memoir Prize. She is a contributor to publications ranging from Tin House and Dame Magazine to O: The Oprah Magazine, Saveur, and the New York Times and has spoken live at TEDx on the moral imperative to care for senior citizens. 
A 2016 resident fellow at Vermont Studio Center, Altman writes full time from her home in Newtown, Connecticut where she lives with her spouse of sixteen years, book designer Susan Turner.
Elissa’s most recent memoir, TREYF My Life as an Unorthodox Outlaw was published in September,—to much critical acclaim—and was recently named one of Library Journal’s Top Five “Best Books of the Year” in the Religion and Spirituality category. 
A sampling of praise for TREYF My Life as an Unorthodox Outlaw
“This earthy, gorgeously-written, sensual, powerful book is so compulsively-readable you’ll want to read it in one great gulp, but you’ll also want to slow down and savor every delicious morsel. Elissa Altman has written a brave and generous memoir, a lucid love letter to her history that—in its bracing clarity and large-heartedness—does the work of great memoir in piercing the reader’s separateness, and reminding us that we are not alone. I love this book.” 
—Dani Shapiro, national bestselling author of Devotion

“Treyf is a memoir that reads like a novel, a spellbinding portrait of a very specific world that also serves as a universal primer on identity, on loneliness, on the nature of familial bonds, on the ways we make sense of the mess of our lives. Gorgeous, singular, heartbreaking, haunting.” —Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year

“Treyf is a beautiful, brilliant memoir filled with striking images, unforgettable people, and vivid stories. Elissa Altman has given us the story of an era and a tribe, rooted in 1970s New York City, wrought with such visceral love that the pages shimmer.” —Kate Christensen, bestselling author of Blue Plate Special


Course Dates

Jun 3 to Jun 4



Class Size