Jocelyn Ruggiero’s first word was “cookie.”
Her culinary education began during her childhood, while she was growing up in a tight-knit Italian family. There was lots of yelling and swearing while cooking and eating big meals at her Aunt Phil’s house in New Haven, Connecticut.
Food has always been an important part of Ms. Ruggiero’s life. Over the years, as her palate expanded and became more refined, so has her career as a freelance food journalist. She authors the Foodie Fatale blog, has written about food for The Boston Globe, Relish Magazine, and Yankee Magazine, and now has her own radio show, Foodie Fatale, on 88.3 WPPB, Peconic Public Broadcasting.
“Food was always emotional for me, tied to family, feelings and connectivity,” she said during a recent telephone interview from her Connecticut home. “Sitting down and having a meal together is so much more than eating food, it’s connecting and sharing. That’s my culinary background, I’m an eater, those are my credentials. I love to eat.”
Ms. Ruggiero is the host and producer of Foodie Fatale, and her close friend, Fern Berman, is the creative consultant. The template for the show is a two-part half-hour program. The first part is spent on a specific ingredient, where the ingredient is sourced, and talking to the farmers, fisherman, or whoever else is involved in the ingredient’s production. The second half is spent at a restaurant, eating the ingredient once it has been prepared by a chef.
“It’s a structure that I think is really going to work well,” Ms. Ruggiero said. “It’s a wonderful structure for which to highlight food. It was born out of a real genuine desire to learn about local food.”
All of the ingredients selected for future episodes are grown or caught in the Hamptons or Connecticut.
During the launch episode, the Foodie Fatale visited the Behan Family Farm in Charlestown, Rhode Island. While there, she learned how Ninigret Nectar Oyster is produced.
Radio may not seem like the proper medium for a food show, but when listening to Ms. Ruggiero talk to the oyster farmers, it immediately becomes visual. The listener is transported to the farm and can see and smell the washing machine-like tumblers getting pulled from the salt water, each oyster hand-scrubbed and parasite-free.
Foodie Fatale is a program that gets down to basics—it addresses the heart of the matter: properly raised, local food, she explained.
The host said that she enjoys cooking shows, but none have influenced her more than Julia Child. She describes Child’s shows from the 1960s as relevant, engaging, exciting and authentic, which is how she models her own show.
It comes as no surprise that Ms. Berman, who was the public relations representative for Ms. Child, is the creative consultant for the show. In her role, she’s able to pull ideas directly from her work experience with the top people in the restaurant industry from her 30 years representing such heavy-hitters as Sirio Maccioni, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Rick Moonen.
“I had a who’s who of clientele,” Ms. Berman reported. “It was at the beginning of the food revolution, so to speak [and] when I saw Jocelyn and her work, it made me spark. And I thought ‘here’s another one, she’s it, she’s going to be great.’”
Passionate about food, Ms. Ruggiero, said that the work of a food writer and radio personality is really about taking one’s time and experiencing everything that a dish has to offer.
“For me the kind of journey I have been on, writing about food, it’s a matter of just slowing down and really tasting things and having things side by side, and really tasting,” she said.
For upcoming episodes, the Foodie Fatale is planning on visiting a strawberry farmer, a grass-fed beef farm, cheese makers and a fisherman. While visiting these artisanal food producers, she wants listeners to feel as if they are at the table with her.
“When I thought about this medium I thought ‘what a wonderful opportunity to allow listeners to really be with me on this journey.’ They can feel it, they can taste it,” Ms. Ruggiero said. “Everything culturally is too fast, I wanted to really slow down.”
To listen to the launch episode of Foodie Fatale visit peconicpublicbroadcasting.org/post/foodie-fatale-episode-01.
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