Michele Anna Jordan, a second-generation Californian who has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area her entire life, brings a solid culinary background to her work. During her thirteen years as a professional chef she received numerous awards, including “Best Chef, Sonoma County,” yet in the early 1990s, she shifted her professional focus to her first love, writing.
Michele’s most recents books, The Good Cook’s series of five titles–of Oil & Vinegar, of Salt & Pepper, of Mustard, of Tomatoes and the Good Cook’s Journal, were published in 2015 as full revisions of books originally written in the 1990s. More Than Meatballs was published in November, 2014.
Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings: Sixty Sensational Recipes to Liven Up Greens, Grains, Slaws and Every Kind of Salad, was published in April, 2013, by Harvard Common Press, which also published Michele’s ninth book, California Home Cooking, in 1997. It was voted Best Cookbook in the 1998 Small Press Awards and has been in print since its initial publication. In 2011, it was re-issued with a new cover as part of the publisher’s America Cooks series.
Michele’s first book, A Cook’s Tour of Sonoma, enjoyed wide critical acclaim for its celebration of the agricultural bounty of Sonoma County. Published in 1990, the book was the first publication to acknowledge what the rest of the country has only recently come to realize, that Sonoma County is one of the richest, most diverse agricultural regions in the world. In 2000, Michele published The New Cook’s Tour of Sonoma with 150 new recipes, an in-depth look at Sonoma viticulture, and an exploration of both the region’s history and future. In 2002, Michele completed a series of short documentaries about Sonoma’s viticultural areas that have aired on PBS stations throughout the country.
Michele Anna Jordan’s writing, sometimes about food, sometimes not, is shaped by a distinct, lyrical voice. For ten years, “The Jaded Palate”, a first-person narrative, appeared weekly in Sonoma County newspapers. Currently, she writes two weekly columns for the The Santa Rosa Press Democrat,, “Seasonal Pantry“ and Wine of the Week Pairing.” Two previous columns, “Mouthful” and “Fresh From Our Farmers,” ran in the paper for several years, until late fall 2015.
Michele is a regular contributor to Sonoma magazine and was a regular contributor to Savor, which took a first place award from the Association of Food and Wine Journalists and received numerous other awards since its launch in 2002. Michele’s essays appear in anthologies, such as the Travelers’ Tales series and Saltwater Sweetwater, a collection of fiction and nonfiction by women writers from the north coast of California.
Michele’s first five books were published by Addison-Wesley Publishing Co. When The Good Cook’s Book of Tomatoes was released in the spring of 1995, the late Jim Wood of the San Francisco Examiner declared it “easily one of the best books I’ve seen in five years.”
In the fall of 1995, Michele launched “Mouthful: The Wine County’s Most Delicious Hour” on KRCB-FM. Mouthful has been a James Beard Electronic Journalism Award nominee in 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2008. Michele also hosted a music show, “Red Shoes Rodeo,” on Friday nights from 1996 through 2013.
In 1995, Michele joined San Francisco Focus Magazine [now San Francisco Magazine] as restaurant critic and contributing editor. After the magazine sold, she became North Bay restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, a position she resigned in fall 2003. Michele has written for numerous national publications, including Cooking Light, Wine Enthusiast, Kitchen Garden, Fine Cooking, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Asian Week, Appellation, Sky, Wine & Spirits, the Electronic Gourmet Guide, food.com, and au Juice, The Journal of Eatin’, Drinkin’, & Screwin’ Around.
Michele’s piece “Serving Werner Herzog’s Shoe,” the cover story for the August 1996 issue of San Francisco Focus Magazine, received a 1997 James Beard Journalism Award for Magazine Feature Writing. The story documents the first 25 years of the iconic Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse, with little-known facts, personal reminiscences, and infamous moments.
Michele teaches and lectures on a variety of topics including salt, pepper, pasta, polenta, mustard, olive oil, California olive oil, writing, the farm-restaurant connection, and more, and has been a frequent guest on radio and television around the country. In the fall of 1998, Michele was a featured speaker at the annual Pepper and Spice Seminar in Kuching, capital of Sarawak, one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. In 2003, Michele choreographed the production of The World’s Biggest BLT, a 106-foot-long sandwich. In 2006, Michele beat her own record with a 130-foot-long BLT.
Michele lives in western Sonoma County with her two black cats, Poe and Rosemary, a long-haired black and tan miniature dachshund named Joey, a long-haired chocolate miniature dachshund named Lark, four Apple computers, a 1954 Seeburg Select-o-matic-100 jukebox and an authentic countertop Seeburg jukebox selector.
In 2002, Michele returned to her other first love, dance. She studies traditional Hawaiian hula with Halau Hula Na Pua O Ka La’akea, under the direction of Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa’i and based in Marin County. She is at work on several new books, including books two about food and a literary memoir about something entirely different.