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A Cookbook Ghostwriter Tells All

Okay. Sit down. Hold onto your hat, and maybe even get a barf bag ready if you’re sensitive. What we’re about to reveal is…shocking.

Gwyneth Paltrow did not write her whole cookbook by herself.

Rachael Ray doesn’t do all her own stuff either.

We’ll ready the fainting couch. When you’ve revived, check this out: a cookbook ghostwriter has explained what it’s like to be her in the New York Times.

It doesn’t sound like an easy job: the ghostwriter must “produce a credible book from the thin air of a chef’s mind and menu — to cajole and probe, to elicit ideas and anecdotes by any means necessary.”

“‘Write up something about all the kinds of chiles,’ one Mexican-American chef demanded of me, providing no further details. ‘There should be a really solid guide to poultry,’ a barbecue maven prescribed for his own forthcoming book. (After much stalling, he sent the writer a link to the Wikipedia page for ‘chicken.’)”

The pay is not very good. The chefs can be abusive or prima donnas. But if you make it, you’re golden – chefs even put your name on the front of the book, like with Paltrow’s aforementioned ghostwriter, Julia Turshen (though, interestingly enough, Paltrow claims to have written every word herself while Turshen lists the book on her website under ‘Work’). After the success of ‘My Father’s Daughter,’ Turshen and Paltrow are working on a second book.

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