Salt + Spine
Salt & Spine
LIVE at Hog Island Oyster Co. with co-founder John Finger and chef John Ash

LIVE at Hog Island Oyster Co. with co-founder John Finger and chef John Ash

From the role of oysters in cleaning ocean waters to a technique for cooking mussels under burning pine needles, it's all fish + shellfish this week!

Hi there. First today: We’re remembering beloved photographer Aubrie Pick, who tragically passed away last week after a battle with cancer. Aubrie’s work was stunning and personal, and she was a visionary creative force in the Bay Area. Elana Kadvany writes in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Pick’s images — vibrant and charismatic, like the photographer herself, collaborators said — have left an indelible mark on the national food scene, and particularly in the Bay Area. Pick photographed numerous high-profile cookbooks, from celebrity chef Chrissy Teigen’s “Cravings” and Bay Area chef Tanya Holland’s “California Soul” to Andrea Nguyen’s “Vietnamese Food Any Day.” Her photos were featured on the covers of Bon Appetit and Food & Wine magazines. She captured Chez Panisse owner Alice Waters in her Berkeley backyard, and caught the light falling just so across a set restaurant table. 

There is an ongoing GoFundMe to support Aubrie’s husband Erik and 2-year-old daughter Romy here.

📖 What I’m Reading

  • Julia Moskin spent over a year working to lock in an interview with Half Baked Harvest’s Tieghan Gerard, who has become a polarizing figure in the cookbook industry—so much so that Moskin notes most of the sources she contacted wouldn’t go on the record. Gerard’s early viral success built her a massive online following, and her books sell quite well—but, as Moskin writes, she has “also become an unwilling lightning rod for controversy, entangled in issues that have galvanized the food world in the last decade: cultural appropriation, intellectual property, body shaming, privilege and racism.” A fascinating piece that prompts many discussion questions. Read more in the New York Times here.

🎧 What I’m Listening To

🍳 What I’m Cooking

  • 🦃 It’s almost T-Day! This year, I’m hosting a small pre-Thanksgiving dinner party that’s “Thanksgiving-inspired” and built around cookbooks. A new twist and I’m excited to share the menu with y’all soon!

Episode 163: John Finger + John Ash

This week’s episode was recorded *live* at Hog Island Oyster Co. on the shores of Tomales Bay in Northern California. I’m joined by Hog Island co-founder John Finger and revered chef John Ash for this conversation, which took place while our audience enjoyed a spread of dishes from the new Hog Island Book of Fish & Seafood.

In the show, we discuss:

  • The history of Hog Island Oyster Co. and oyster farming in America, and the introduction of Hog Island’s Sweetwater oysters;

  • How sustainable aquaculture practices have evolved over time—and what’s on the horizon;

  • And the wide-ranging new Hog Island cookbook, in which John Ash pulls in recipes and techniques from around the globe.

Plus, as always, we put our guests to the test in our signature culinary game!

The Hog Island Book of Fish & Seafood: Culinary Treasures from Our Waters -  Kindle edition by Ash, John, Brioza, Stuart, Lima, Ashley. Cookbooks, Food  & Wine Kindle eBooks @

The Hog Island Book of Fish & Seafood: Culinary Treasures from Our Waters by Chef John Ash, with a Foreword by Stuart Brioza

Featuring favorites from the kitchens of Hog Island Oyster Bars and other talented chefs who have embraced the company's sustainability ethos, this authoritative compendium showcases over 250 dishes from cuisines around the world, including regional favorites like San Francisco cioppino, Southern crayfish étouffée, and New England clam chowder. Presenting a wide variety of cooking methods--such as steaming, roasting, grilling, pan-frying, and curing--along with illustrations for techniques like shucking oysters, opening clams, and filleting fish, this comprehensive cookbook will guide you through the basics of seafood preparation. And the extensive list of sauces, butters, and seasonings will help you turn your choice of seafood into a stellar dish.

The Hog Island Book of Fish & Seafood is a master class from a chef who shows home and professional cooks how to bring culinary gifts from the water to the table at their peak of perfection.

We 💚 local bookstores! Pick up your copy of The Hog Island Book of Fish & Seafood here:


This week, paid subscribers will receive two recipes from The Hog Island Book of Fish & Seafood: a perfect-for-Thanksgiving Cornbread Oyster Stuffing with Thyme and Fennel … and a classic Grilled Oysters with Four Sauces (we’re talking Chipotle-Bourbon Butter! Harissa Butter! Mendocino Miso Butter!)

Salt + Spine is supported by listeners like you. For this week’s recipe—plus exclusive content and hundreds of other featured recipes—become a paid subscriber today.

Salt + Spine
Salt & Spine
We tell the compelling stories behind cookbooks you won't get anywhere else. Featuring interviews with leading authors, we explore the art and craft of cookbooks, looking at both new and vintage cookbooks and the inspirations behind them … the compelling people who create them … and their impact on home cooks and the culinary world.