Jane Alexander's Headshot

Jane Alexander

- Panelist Blurb

Jane Stern (born 1946) and Michael Stern (born 1946) are American writers who specialize in books about travel, food, and popular culture. They are best known for their "Roadfood" books, website, and magazine columns, in which they seek out restaurants serving American regional specialities.

Jane Grossman grew up in New York City. She attended the Walden School and received a BFA in graphic design at Pratt Institute]] in Brooklyn. Michael Stern grew up in Winnetka, Illinois, and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1968. They met as graduate art students at Yale University. The Sterns married in 1970. In 1971, Jane earned an MFA in painting from Yale and Michael changed schools and earned an MFA from Columbia University in film, but neither found work in their respective fields. After a short stint of producing documentaries for WNBC, a teaching job at Hunter College and another at Weslyan University they began work on the book that eventually became the first Roadfood, travelling throughout the United States and eating at small-town cafes. Roadfood was published in 1977; the most recent edition was released in 2011. Roadfood was a revolutionary book when first published. The Sterns were the first travel writers to take regional American food seriously. Their tireless research laid the way for many other food writers and TV personalities who became advocates of off-the-beaten path diners, drives and BBQ's.

In addition to their food writing, the Sterns have written numerous books on American popular culture, including The New York Times bestselling Elvis World (1987) and The Encyclopaedia of Bad Taste (1990). In all, they have written over 30 books. They were staff writers for Gourmet magazine for 18 years, have written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and are now contributing editors at Saveur. They have won numerous awards including James Beard awards and have been inducted into the Who's Who of American Food.

In 2003, Jane Stern published Ambulance Girl: How I Saved Myself by Becoming an EMT, discussing how she overcame clinical depression by training and working as an Emergency Medical Technician in Connecticut. In 2005 it was made into a television movie, Ambulance Girl starring Kathy Bates who was nominated for an Emmy.

The Sterns wrote a memoir, Two for the Road: Our Love Affair With American Food, in 2006. Although divorced in 2008, the Sterns are still writing partners. In 2011 their Lexicon of American Food will be published as well as a book by Jane Stern on her little known career as a tarot card reader.

NOTE: Bio updated on June 14, 2011.