Gwyneth Paltrow appeared on Rachael Ray’s syndicated talk show this week so both women could once again take issue with a New York Times article about cookbook ghostwriters that named both of them as participants in the practice. They have denied this claim.
“You know normally I don't respond to gossip or anything,” said Paltrow, appearing via Skype from her London home. “But you know this is my professional life and I’m writing more cookbooks.”
Dining reporter Julia Moskin wrote the piece, pulling in part from her own experience as a cookbook ghostwriter. She spoke to Julia Turshen, who worked with Paltrow on the actress’s first cookbook, “My Father’s Daughter.” Turshen is called Paltrow’s ghostwriter in a photo caption.
According to the author’s note in Paltrow’s cookbook, Turshen “quantified, tested, and retested every recipe, oversaw the production of the photos, helped brainstorm in a crisis, and, above all, was my intellectual and emotional support through the whole process.”
After Moskin’s piece was released, Paltrow tweeted, “Love @nytimes dining section but this weeks facts need checking. No ghost writer on my cookbook, I wrote every word myself.”
On Ray’s show, Paltrow — who referred to Turshen as her assistant — explained her reason for tweeting her displeasure with Moskin’s piece: “I feel like it’s important for the people who have responded so positively and interacted with me about my book, that they know that this is my book and I wrote my book and it's all mine.”
(That statement in short: The book, book, book is mine, mine, mine.)
Moskin wrote a followup blog post to her piece after Paltrow’s (denied) request for a correction became fodder for sites like this one: “It became clear that the notion of ‘ghostwriting’ carried a strong stigma in the food world. It suggested that the food itself — the ingredients, the flavors, the techniques — was invented by someone else.”
Moskin clarifies that that kind of work is called ghost-cooking and that ghostwriting usually involves mundane tasks like “transcribing scribbled notes into logical sentences” and “producing the routine bits of the book like the glossary and the guide to ingredients.”
This seems to indicate that this whole thing is simply confusion over the term “ghostwriter” when applied to cooking. According to Moskin’s definition, ghostwriting a cookbook isn’t the same as ghostwriting an book-book.
Ray acknowledged this, saying a cookbook writer to her “is the person that is telling the story.” She asked Paltrow, “You wrote these recipes, you cooked this food in your home, right?”
“Yes,” Paltrow responded. “Every single recipe in the book I came up with and cooked on the spot.”
Watch part of the segment, via Entertainment Tonight, below.