John’s work and books have garnered high praise over the past forty years. In 2007, Charleston Magazine named him as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Charleston’s then 337-year history.
He is the former food editor of the French-language magazine Ici New York. He has spoken at museums and conferences throughout the country and appeared on both regional and national television and radio. He has lived in the Caribbean, France, Italy, Bulgaria, China, Cambodia and Vietnam, and is practiced in the cuisines and customs of not only his southern homeland but also of Liguria, France, the Balkans, and the African diaspora. A well-exhibited photographer as well, he took many of the photos for his book on lowcountry style. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called him “the South’s answer to Martha Stewart.” A founding member of the Southern Foodways Alliance he is considered a leading authority on the culinary history of the South and the expert on the foods of the lowcountry, the coastal plain that encompasses Charleston and Savannah. Gourmet has said that “no man deserves more credit for Charleston’s culinary resurgence than John Martin Taylor, author of the exhilarating Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking.”
Madeleine Kamman described the book: “Excellent recipes accessible to cooks of all levels, research without peer, and lively, personal writing style make John Taylor’s fascinating book the prototype for any serious American regional cookbook.”
Lee Bailey wrote, “John has a lively sense of humor about the customs, preferences, and foibles of [southerners] – himself included.”
His latest book, an anthology of his writing 1987-2022, CHARLESTON TO PHNOM PENH: A COOK’S JOURNAL, has been reviewed by a wide variety of cooks, chefs, and writers:
From the Foreword by Jessica B. Harris: “You are about to make a friend. Meet John Martin Taylor…. The tales that are told [here] are an exuberant love letter to a life will lived: a life that is savored daily – one seasoned with thought, simmered with humor, and served up with JOY.”
“Taylor amiably shifts from the merry, like a tribute to dancing, to the madcap, via his first catastrophic attempt at making a wedding cake, to the mortal, in a ruminative exploration of insomnia and death. Throughout, a sense of joy rises to the top as if it were a delectable cream…. The fanatical foodie leavens his research with plenty of frothy fun, folding serious scholarship into conversational accounts of meals with friends and family. It is as if you were gathered in his kitchen, where he chats away while fixing you dinner.”
-POST & COURIER, Charleston.
“From the first essay, dismissing the myths of Huguenot torte (it’s not local, Huguenot, or a torte) to his elegiac, yet hopeful, final essay on loved ones lost, you’ll find yourself in the hands of a gifted cook and raconteur…. Whatever fascinates Taylor will inevitably fascinate the reader thanks to his seductive, yet straightforward, expository style.”
-Harlan Greene in CHARLESTON MAGAZINE
“Taylor’s delightful new book is culinary treasure.”
-CHARLESTON CITY PAPER
“A picaresque account of a dramatically varied life in realms culinary, Charleston to Phnom Penh is a collection of essays from an unparalleled raconteur…. Taylor writes like the kind of person you’d be delighted to be seated beside at a dinner party. Charming.”
-KITCHEN ARTS & LETTERS
“There is much joy and peace in [the book]. [The essay] “Body Count” is a masterpiece. [It] is very personal and completely universal, this is one definition of art. [Taylor is] a great writer.”
-Edouard Cointreau, Chairman of Gourmand International, President of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, President of honour of China Food Television and President of the World Association of Food TV Producers.
"After flipping through a few pages, you will see why John Martin Taylor is one of my biggest heroes. His contribution to Southern food is unmatched. Keep flipping through these pages and you'll see why."
- Sean Brock, author of cookbooks Heritage and SOUTH, and featured chef on the Netflix Chef's Table series
“How lucky we are to have John Martin Taylor’s collected works! These essays are filled with exuberance, wit, and erudition, at turns poignant and funny. Charleston to Phnom Penh captures a life rich in food, friendship, and art. Equal parts scholarship, memoir, travelogue, culinary companion, and language lesson, this is truly a book to savor.”
-Darra Goldstein, food historian and founding editor of Gastronomica
“What a pleasure, what a treasure--John Taylor's culinary musings all pulled together in one fascinating volume. I especially loved the beginning chapters with such hauntingly delicious memories of his early years, in the South and many other parts of the world. In a word: Delightful!”
- Nancy Jenkins, food historian and journalist, author of Virgin Territory
“I have known John Taylor since we met in Paris 40 years ago. His friendship was the key to an amazingly rich new world. Not only is he a wonderful cook, someone who cooks with his soul, with all his life history, but he’s a passionate scholar of everything we ingest. This truly marvelous book encapsulates all this and more. It’s a declaration of love to life.”
- Jean-Sébastien Stehli, associate managing editor of Madame Figaro
“I had the good fortune to meet the inimitable John Martin Taylor at his Charleston bookshop years ago while I was a young newspaper food writer full of questions and his grand epicurean journey had already begun. This Lowcountry man who was born in Louisiana has been on the move all his life, and now, finally, we can find out where he’s been. And meet his grandmother who showed him how to dry green summer apples on a window screen and learn the secret to his mother-in-law’s chocolate chip cookies. And see how to make pesto like they do in Genoa and understand why he doesn’t want to make wedding cakes anymore, no matter how good of friends you are. (It has something to do with summer heat, a broken air conditioner, and vodka.) This bright, witty, globe-trotting epicure has just shared it all, and we better pull up a chair and listen.”
-Anne Byrn, author of American Cake, The Cake Mix Doctor, and Between the Layers newsletter on Substack
“John Martin Taylor embodies himself in landscapes and absorbs water, air, earth and spirit. This project, bridging his journeys southeast of America and Asia, with stops in Italy, Romania, China and the Caribbean in between exposes a culinary dialogue of an artist with his art we are privileged to be a part of. This collection is magical.”
- Michael W. Twitty, author of The Cooking Gene and Koshersoul
“John Martin Taylor, or "Hoppin' John," has done it again. His laser-like vision brings to life decades of insightful and scholarly work encompassing his vast knowledge of culinary history and classic European cooking. His Southern voice enchants us with vivid memories from long ago — dancing the Shag; preparing minestrone outside Genoa; and to-the-minute details of Lowcountry shrimp and grits. In Charleston to Phnom Penh: A Cook's Journal, he shares the lifetime of a man who has enjoyed life to the fullest. His brilliance edits out the mediocre, focusing instead on the beauty of a dish like Peaches Aswim in Rose Petals, 2008, a recipe from the sister-in-law of my mentor Richard Olney. John, like Richard, is an artist who, in lieu of painting, makes his mark with some of the greatest food writing and editing from the 20th century.”
-Frank Stitt, chef and owner of Highlands Bar and Grill, Bottega, and Chez Fonfon
“A legendary writer and cook, John M. Taylor is one of the finest culinary and historical treasures of his generation. Two of my first cookbooks, The New Southern Cook and Hoppin' John's Lowcountry Cooking, are still some of my favorites and quite worn with use. Anyone can cook Southern if they follow along with this master of the craft!”
- Tank Jackson, hog farmer and owner of Holy City Hogs
“I LOVE this book! John Taylor is what I would call a natural cook -We go back almost 50 years and I’ve never known him to cook without dancing at the same time! Our band - The B52s - used to go over to his little house in Athens, Georgia, on a hot summer afternoon where he could always be found playing music and making cornbread - we’d all dance around the table and wait for the gold to come out of the oven!
This book - rich in recipes, culinary history, travel, and general joie de vivre - Will leave you hungry and will have you dancing around the kitchen table hungry for more!”
-Kate Pierson, longtime friend of “JT,” founding member of the B-52s