The Secrets Of Great Cooking And Great Business

Dec 21, 2013
Originally published on December 21, 2013 9:28 pm

The online magazine Ozy covers people, places and trends on the horizon. Co-founder Carlos Watson joins All Things Considered regularly to tell us about the site's latest feature stories.

This week, Watson tells host Arun Rath about an Iranian-American chef hoping to bring basic cooking genius to the masses, and the "CEO Whisperer" who is a secret weapon for many powerful business leaders.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


From NPR West, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Arun Rath.

It's time now for The New and The Next.


RATH: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. Each week, he joins us to talk about what's new and what's next. Welcome back, Carlos.

CARLOS WATSON: Arun, great to be here, and early happy holidays to you and to all the listeners.

RATH: Great story this week about something that we'll be hearing about for certain in 2014, a rising star in the world of food, an Iranian-American woman whose writing what sounds like the next great cookbook.

WATSON: So Samin Nosrat - you're going to love her story, Arun - grew up the daughter of Iranian immigrants down in Southern California. Always loved food, jokes that her lunchbox used to be very different than the lunchbox of her kind of classic American pals, led her to love cooking. And she decided that instead of a cookbook that just laid out an endless number of recipes, she really wanted to teach people how to use four essential elements - salt and heat and fat and acid - in order to cook whatever they wanted.

SAMIN NOSRAT: Your mind can get blown. When you teach people how to use the right amount of salt in their food, like, holy crap, their life changes.

WATSON: So you don't need fancy ingredients, she'd say. You just need to know the basic principles involving those four things.

RATH: And she had an interesting approach to getting where she is, that she just would go after mentors and not take no for an answer.

WATSON: You name it. Alice Waters, the famous chef and the owner at Chez Panisse, Michael Pollan, the bestselling author and food journalist and a number of others she would write these great letters to. And in the case of Alice Waters, beg her for a job, any job, which ended up being vacuuming and sweeping at Chez Panisse. Or in the case of Michael Pollan saying, I want to take your course at UC Berkeley, even though I'm not enrolled there.

And so she, by the way, Arun, just a year ago was only making $17,000 and just recently landed an incredible book deal. She had no less than 12 different publishers bidding for it, and ultimately decided to partner with one and is working on that great book.

RATH: Carlos, you did an interview this week with a man - actually, I had never heard of this guy before, but he's had a huge effect behind the scenes in the tech world. It sounds like he also kind of likes to stay behind the scenes. He doesn't do many interviews.

WATSON: This is his first kind of big public interview in over a decade. Bill Campbell is what many of us call the CEO whisperer. About 15 years ago, Arun, he started advising a then-little-known CEO named Jeff Bezos of Amazon. While Bezos was on the edge of being kicked out of his job as CEO, Bill came in, gave him incredible advice and gave good advice to the board. And today, we see one of the most successful CEOs of all time. He did the same kind of advising for Steve Jobs and for a whole series of others.

While he's not a big public name, for many people in the know, one of the most important names in business is Bill Campbell. Bill, by the way, grew up in Steel Country in Pennsylvania, made his way on scholarship to college and later became a football coach. He was, believe it or not, the head coach at Columbia University, an Ivy League school. And when you ask him why he no longer is coaching and instead went into business, he said: Have you looked at my record?


WATSON: And so he moved into running companies. But Bill often says that how to lead people - not just manage them, but lead and grow people - is an incredibly important skill that people don't always have. And so he often spends a ton of time with people on both how to lead and how to really make sure that the business is running effectively and efficiently.

RATH: Carlos Watson is the cofounder of the online magazine Ozy. You can explore all the stories we talked about at Carlos, thanks again.

WATSON: Hey, my pleasure. Have a terrific holiday.

RATH: You too. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.