Writer Gillian Duffy - Biography

November 2011

Gillian Duffy may have been born in Salisbury, but her teenage summers were spent with various families in Normandy—the perfect breeding group to develop a serious appetite for serious food. Diving the year between Normandy’s summertime markets, selecting perfectly ripe melon with her summer hostess, and her father’s farm in rural Sussex, where she would pick vegetables from the garden mere minutes before the were cooked—Duffy’s adolescence was like an unofficial culinary finishing school.

After her official schooling ended (sadly void of fresh vegetables and Norman cuisine), Duffy joined advertising agency Papert Koenig Lois as an art buyer, where she had formative training organizing all the photography for print and television. After marrying David Duffy, a Captain in the Royal Artillery to whom she owes her name, Duffy found herself relocated to Germany at a mere 20 years old, presiding over dinner parties for senior officers (and, more dreadfully, their wives). Fortunately—and perhaps necessarily—during this period she developed a taste for cooking and entertaining, with plenty of time to indulge it. In fact Duffy made the most of her time in Germany, traveling and sampling the many cuisines of the continent. A year of cooking on a yacht off the coast of Ibiza followed, after which Duffy returned to London before she and her husband made a pivotal move to the US in 1978.

At least for Duffy, the US proved itself a land of opportunity. In 1980 she joined New York Magazine in what would become a long and fruitful career in publishing. The magazine gave her myriad opportunities to explore the food and restaurant scene in New York, and eventually she started working on the Food & Entertaining issues, where her photography and organizational skills came in extremely handy.

Having such an intimate acquaintance with food at a young age, and an intuition for cuisine developed over time in her own trips to markets, farms, and of course in the privacy of her own kitchen, Duffy was a natural fit for the Food & Entertaining issues of the magazine, so much so that she eventually became the magazine’s Culinary Editor. As editor of New York Magazine, Duffy’s written about everything from ouzo (a highly divisive topic if ever there was one) to the resurgence of actual, honest to goodness butter (in the viscous wake of an olive oil craze) to the oft-misunderstood capon. Duffy’s also found time to write Hors d’oeuvres and compile New York Cooks: The 100 Best Recipes from New York Magazine. She’s also contributed to various other publications including Marie Claire, Allure, House Beautiful, and In Style.