How did this project come about?
Paula's been a hero of mine since I was in college, or right after—I got a job as a line cook at a restaurant, and the chef there introduced me to her cookbooks. Then I got hired at Food & Wine, and she had been a contributor since it was founded in 1978. I got to travel with her in Morocco for a story right before she reissued her first book and we were just walking around in the medina in Marrakesh. She told me how she and her first husband took a steamer to Morocco in 1959, then took a freight train and got off in Casablanca, then went to Marrakesh. Our trip was so cool, and I've wanted to write her biography for a long time. I was working on a story for the Washington Post about how she was cooking with Alzheimer's, and Eric Wolfinger was taking the photos, and we thought, "let's just do this ourselves." And then I was getting drinks with Andrea Nguyen, and she offered to help out.