At the Table with Gayle King
"Is there really a restaurant that makes truffle oil french fries?" she asked with wonder and awe. Gayle, who is the editor-at-large of O, The Oprah Magazine and the host of her own show on XM Radio, is a food lover—not a cook, as she is quick to point out. She can make pancakes and scrambled eggs with cheese and crispy bacon on the side, but that about sums up her abilities in the kitchen. "My two kids won't have fond food memories from their childhoods," she says. They will remember, however, that their mother absolutely, unequivocally adores food and eating.
When she took her son to college recently, she noticed an entry on the hotel's room service menu for peach bread pudding. Yum! She was instantly tantalized. Later in the evening, while buying dorm room supplies at Target, she realized she would not get back to the hotel before the kitchen closed. She placed a hurried phone call to the front desk with a request. Could the pudding be waiting in her room for her? It was, and it was sublime.
Gayle may not cook, but she is a fan of tasteful presentation and pleasing surroundings when she eats. She loves fine dining in elegant restaurants as much as she appreciates a juicy cheeseburger in the right joint. When she talks to a friend who has attended a gala she missed, her first questions are not about the guest list or the fashion but the menu. She admits that when she's a guest at a large buffet party, it's hard for her not to be the first in line for the food.
"I have an impressionable palate," she explains. "A well-worded menu or beautifully presented dish excites me. I get a great deal of pleasure just thinking about food."
As a magazine editor, Gayle is certainly aware of the health benefits of eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, but that doesn't stop her from ordering french fries. Oprah laughs at her good friend when she grills a waiter about the kind a restaurant serves. "There's a science to ordering potatoes," Gayle says. "Are they skinny shoestring or big, fat steak fries? You just have to let your taste buds guide you when deciding what to eat." As for dessert, Gayle has a sweet tooth. "I'll do almost anything for cake—even trample little children!" she says jokingly. In fact, leaving Los Angeles one afternoon for the ride to the airport, she asked the driver to stop at Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills, a bakery that makes one of her favorite treats. "When we pulled up, there was a long line out the door," she remembers. "I called American Airlines to ask if it would be possible for them to meet me at the curb and help me to the gate. Even with their help, I knew I'd be taking a chance and could miss the plane, and so I made the executive decision to fly to New York cupcake-free." It was a sacrifice she still regrets today.
Whether she's describing the cupcakes that got away or a long-ago fabulous meal that she's still passionate about, Gayle's enthusiasm for good food is compelling: One goes away from the conversation with an appetite for more.