The Cookbook Ghostwriter Backlash Continues

Staff Writer
Celebrities, chefs deny using ghostwriters

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Following a hotly contested story in The New York Times about ghostwriters for celebrity cookbooks, more celebrities and celebrity chefs have come forward to deny using them for their own work.

In response to Julia Moskin's story, "I Was a Cookbook Ghostwriter," a number of big-name cookbook writers have acknowledged using contributors but "objected to what they saw as the implication that they were not the authors of their own work," says The New York Times follow-up. The list of celebrities and chefs include Rachael Ray (who responded quickly to media outlets, including The Daily Meal, to deny the account), Gwyneth Paltrow (who took to Twitter to refute the claims), Mario Batali, and Jamie Oliver. In a previous article on The Daily Meal, we mentioned John Besh as a cookbook author, but unintentionally implied that he too used a ghostwriter (for the record, he does not use a ghostwriter for his cookbooks).

In Moskin's reactionary piece, she said she was surprised by the negative stigma the word "ghostwriter" carries. She wrote that although she and other ghostwriters were supposed to produce the "routine bits" of a cookbook, "the food itself, and the story that surrounds it, usually comes from the chef in varying stages of page-readiness." Even then, Ray still tweeted that she felt a correction was still necessary.

As the debate continues, many have wondered whether the use of ghostwriters for cookbooks matters. Says Andrew Friedman in a column for the Huffington Post, books are usually a collaborative process, much like a television show or other creative project. He writes, "There are those who would criticize celebrities for not doling out credit to their collaborators, but to my mind there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, and the public shouldn't feel deceived or ripped off by celebrities who use ghostwriters."