After more than 20 years of exploring the world of food as host of The Splendid Table, Lynne Rossetto Kasper is retiring at the end of this year. Award-winning The New York Times Magazine columnist and Top Chef Masters judge, Francis Lam will become the new host of the program as of March 10.
“The tough part of knowing you want to launch a new life is figuring out the ideal person to take over your chair,” said Rossetto Kasper. “In the first five minutes of talking with Francis, I was a fan.” She added, “Besides being a gifted cook and storyteller, he has a delicious sense of humor about food and himself. He instinctively connects with people. Francis is a gem for the next stage of The Splendid Table.”
A regular contributor and frequent guest host on The Splendid Table since 2010, Lam is the former "Eat" columnist for The New York Times Magazine and is Editor-at-Large at Clarkson Potter, a division within Penguin Random House that is a leader in cookbook publishing. In his tenure at Clarkson Potter, he has been the editor behind some of the most creative and best-selling cookbooks. For two seasons, Lam was a regular judge on Bravo’s hit show, Top Chef Masters, a spin-off of Top Chef, where world-renowned chefs competed against each other in weekly challenges.
“I have always admired Lynne — her knowledge, her turn of phrase, her constant curiosity — but what I admire most is her warmth and generosity of spirit and how that comes through in interviews and listener calls. No one can ever fill her shoes, but I hope to build on the wonderful foundation she has laid for the show and continue the conversation,” Lam said.
The oldest of three children, Lam grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey, where he says his parents commuted to Chinatown every day, so that “their kids could live in a house with a lawn.” His career and life have taken him from Portland, Ore., to Biloxi, Miss., with stints in Michigan, Wyoming, Maine and Hong Kong.
“Food has always been part of our shared experience and bringing people together through storytelling about food is what excites me most about my new role.”
A music aficionado, Lam is a self-proclaimed karaoke expert and admits that football is his “one, true, complicated love,” and that “if you can talk food and football, you can have a conversation with anyone in America.”
Lam graduated first in his class at the Culinary Institute of America and holds a bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies and Creative Writing from the University of Michigan. He lives with his family in New York City.
Listen to Rosetto Kasper's recent conversation with Lam here. She will continue to contribute to the program until her retirement at the end of the year. You can hear The Splendid Table on VPR Sunday afternoons at 2.