One of the nice things about living in a major urban area is that authors generally include San Francisco on the itinerary when they’re doing book tours. Michael Ruhlman has a new book out, The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef’s Craft for Every Kitchen, and luckily for us, SF was an early stop on his itinerary.

Book Passage in the Ferry Building is a small shop, and they had their hands full making space for the full-house turnout. We got there a few minutes before the event was schedule to start, and practically walked right into Ruhlman as he stood there chatting with a few folks by the door. He was gracious to all and was kind enough to pose for a photo with Scott and I.

United in a love of cooking

Eventually the event got underway, including Ruhlman doing a short reading from the essay on finesse (pp.47-49, if you’ve got a copy already) and taking some questions, then the signing.

Michael Ruhlman

I didn’t take notes during the Q&A session, so I can’t give an in-depth report on the questions asked, but they ranged from questions about judging Michael Symon and where he’d be eating dinner tonight (sadly, the answer to that was “In an airport”) to my own somewhat ineptly-phrased question about the discipline of writing. I mentioned Tennessee Williams in the question, so Ruhlman went off on the dangers inherent in writing and the high number of alcoholics & drug addicts who wrote, which although interesting wasn’t what I was asking about. The error was mine in not being more clear, though.

At any rate, it was all a pretty standard book signing event until something unexpected happened. As we were slowly moving through the signing line, all of a sudden, we hear someone yelling “I’m coming for you, Ruhlman!” and who should we see but Chris Cosentino, would-be Iron Chef and SF resident, waving a cauliflower and smiling broadly. (If you didn’t watch “The Next Iron Chef” the cauliflower won’t make much sense, but if you did, you’ll know exactly why he brought it.)

Ruhlman looked just as surprised as everyone else, and greeted Cosentino warmly. I tried to get a photo of them saying hello, but some schmo with a smartphone was standing in my line of sight. They were nice enough to pose with the cauliflower afterwards, though.

Ruhlman, Cosentino, and a cauliflower

We got to chat with Cosentino after we’d gotten our book (and Scott’s personal recipe book) autographed. Nice guy. if he was unhappy with how things turned out for him on “The Next Iron Chef” he’s gotten over it, or at least can put a good game face. I assume that he and Ruhlman went off to spend a little time chatting before Ruhlman had to get back on an airplane.

So that was our food adventure for the day. We’ve got roasted tomatoes cooling off right now, and dinner prep will start soon. I’m looking forward to reading Ruhlman’s book this week.

UPDATE 11/17: Another report on the day can be found over at Justinsomnia. And at Scott’s place, of course.