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At his mother-in-law’s table in Barcelona, Jeff learned how a simple staple (rice in the form of her seafood paella) could be transformed into something not only sublimely delicious but also an anchor to both family and community. Everything, it seems, passes through the paella, he says.
Jeff Koehler is a writer, photographer and cookbook author who spends much of his time traveling throughout the Mediterranean region learning about the food and culture.
His first book, La Paella: Deliciously Authentic Rice Dishes from Spain’s Mediterranean Coast, was inspired, he says, by the Spanish family tradition of gathering on the weekend to enjoy the food and each other. His next book, scheduled for publication later this year, is Rice Pasta Couscous: The Delicious Heart of the Mediterranean Kitchen.
Jeff has written, mostly about food and travel, for many magazines and newspapers, including Gourmet, Saveur, Food & Wine, Eating Well, the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly, Christian Science Monitor, Tin House, and Dwell. He also writes a few features every year for Continental’s in-flight magazine and writes frequently for the Spanish government publication Foods From Spain News.
His Lemon-Cinnamon Flan was featured in Food & Wine magazine as a “Last Bite” —the dessert and photograph featured on the last page of each issue. This and ten or so more of Jeff’s recipes can be found in the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2006.
Some of his pieces have been anthologized, including one on the Lotus-eaters of Djerba in Food & Booze: A Tin House Literary Feast alongside works by Francine Prose, Steve Almond, Lydia Davis, and Grace Paley.
Jeff contributed to Soup’s On!: 75 Soul-Satisfying Recipes from Your Favorite Chefs. Other contributors include Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, Traci des Jardins, Elizabeth Falkner, Joyce Goldstein, Charlie Trotter, and Jacques Pépin.
Jeff photographed La Paella and is photographing his new book, too. He also photographed Teresa Barrenechea’s The Cuisines of Spain, which was a 2006 IACP Cookbook Award Finalist in the international category, and Braiden Rex-Johnson’s Pike Place Market Seafood Cookbook.
His photos have been published in Saveur, Men’s Journal, Dwell, the Atlantic Monthly on-line, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, and Foods From Spain News.
Jeff was born and raised in Seattle and after college headed for Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. After four years on the road he landed in London for graduate work in the theatre at King’s College London and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. As he tells it, it was there in the kitchen of a shared Hampstead residence hall that he met another foreign post-grad, a Catalan woman named Eva. When she returned home to Barcelona to complete her PhD, Jeff followed.
Jeff and Eva were married not long after, and for most of the last dozen years have lived in Barcelona with their two young daughters, Alba and Maia. His website is http://jeff-koehler.com.