celebrity

'The Stew' and a controversial interview: Why everyone is talking about Alison Roman.

In recent months, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, food writer Alison Roman has become a household name around the world.

The former pastry chef, who has a bi-weekly column in The New York Times, has seen a sudden surge in her famous recipes.

In fact, the 34-year-old’s recipes – such as the Caramelised Shallot Pasta, the sunshine-yellow chickpea stew, and the Instagram famous chocolate chip shortbread cookies – have become so popular that they’re simply referred to in their singular form.

The Pasta. The Cookies. The Stew.

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud, Mamamia’s podcast with what women are talking about this week. Post continues below.

Although some of these recipes have been around for a few years, social distancing measures have meant that many of us are turning to home-cooking more than ever. And in turn, we’re sharing our attempts – like our own recreations of Roman’s iconic ‘The Stew’ – online.

“On the one hand, I’m so happy to be the ‘prom queen’ of the pandemic,” Roman told Vox in April.

“But on the other hand, are people going to forever associate me with the darkest time in their lives?”

While Roman has published two cookbooks, Dining In and Nothing Fancy, the pandemic has allowed the recipe writer to become even more accessible to her readers.

In recent weeks, Roman has conducted multiple Ask Me Anything sessions on Twitter, allowing people to ask cooking questions, or questions about her famous recipes.

“I think it’s a little lame, but, I think [teaching and cooking] really is, like, my love language — like, acts of servitude,” she told Vox.

“I really like doing nice things for people, and there’s so much I can’t do right now.”

Last week, amid Roman’s continuing rise to foodie fame, the cookbook writer was interviewed by New Consumer.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Alison Roman (@alisoneroman) on

ADVERTISEMENT

Since the interview was released, Roman’s name has been trending online – and not just because of her recipes.

In the interview, Roman spoke about the direction she’s hoping to take her brand in the future.

“Roman, 34, has emerged as one of the most interesting and visible people in the food media world, at a time when cooking at home has unexpectedly taken over our lives,” journalist Dan Frommer’s article began.

“And she’s now at a crossroads: How to build a bigger business without selling out?”

Later on in the interview, Roman shared that she’s not interested in turning her brand into a “lifestyle” line with a variety of products.

“I’d rather say small and always be myself,” she told Frommer.

“But at the same time, I do need to figure out how to turn this into money.”

The 34-year-old then went on to compare herself to professional home organiser Marie Kondo and television personality Chrissy Teigen, to illustrate what she doesn’t want her brand to become.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Alison Roman (@alisoneroman) on

ADVERTISEMENT

“Like the idea that when Marie Kondo decided to capitalise on her fame and make stuff that you can buy, that is completely antithetical to everything she’s ever taught you… I’m like, damn, b*tch, you f*cking just sold out immediately!” she said.

“Someone’s like ‘you should make stuff,’ and she’s like, ‘okay, slap my name on it, I don’t give a sh*t!'”

Roman then went on to criticise Chrissy Teigen, who has released a cookbook and her own cookware line.

“Like, what Chrissy Teigen has done is so crazy to me,” Roman said.

“She had a successful cookbook. And then it was like: Boom, line at Target. Boom, now she has an Instagram page that has over a million followers where it’s just, like, people running a content farm for her. That horrifies me and it’s not something that I ever want to do. I don’t aspire to that. But like, who’s laughing now? Because she’s making a ton of f*cking money.”

While Kondo hasn’t responded to Roman’s comments, Teigen, who has signed on to executive produce Roman’s upcoming TV show, responded to the interview on Twitter.

“This is a huge bummer and hit me hard,” Teigen said.

“I have made her recipes for years now, bought the cookbooks, supported her on social and praised her in interviews.”

kids on social media
Image: Instagram/@chrissyteigen.
ADVERTISEMENT

Teigen also defended her cookbook, Cravings, sharing that she had launched the cookbook, website and cookware line as a way to make something for herself.

"I wanted something John didn't buy, I wanted something to do that calmed me, made me happy and made others happy. Cravings isn't a 'machine' or 'farmed content' – it's me and two other women," she wrote on Twitter.

"I didn't 'sell out' by making my dreams come true," she continued.

"I don't think I've ever been so bummed out by the words of a fellow food-lover. I just had no idea I was perceived that way, by her especially. And Marie, too. Marie is awesome.

"It has been crappy to deal with this all day but I couldn't not say something. I know the actual tears I put into the work I do and it's really hard to see someone try to completely invalidate it. Someone I really liked."

After Teigen shared that she was going to take a "little break" from social media, Roman shared an apology to Teigen on Twitter.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I sent an email but also wanted to say here that I'm genuinely sorry I caused you pain with what I said," Roman wrote.

"I shouldn't have used you/your business (or Marie's) as an example to show what I wanted for my own career – it was flippant, careless and I'm so sorry."

Roman's interview with New Consumer has since led to debate online.

While some readers have agreed that there was nothing wrong with Roman having different business priorities, others have lambasted the cookbook author for singling out two women of colour.

"I want to clarify, I am not coming for anyone who's successful, especially not women," Roman later tweeted.

Feature Image: YouTube.


Sign up for the "Mamamia Daily" newsletter. Get across the stories women are talking about today.


00:00 / ???