Mark Bittman’s Final Minimalist Column

TODAY marks the exit of The Minimalist from the pages of the Dining section, as a weekly column at least. There may be return appearances, but the unbroken string of more than 13 years and nearly 700 columns ends here. (I’m not leaving the T…

TODAY marks the exit of The Minimalist from the pages of the Dining section, as a weekly column at least. There may be return appearances, but the unbroken string of more than 13 years and nearly 700 columns ends here. (I’m not leaving the Times family; more about that in a minute.)

Sooner or later, a weekly column starts to turn into a body of work. This one charts the history not only of my personal development in the kitchen, but of recent cooking trends. So indulge me while I toast The Minimalist with a Champagne cocktail — developed with help from the bartender Jim Meehan, it is appropriately celebratory and bittersweet — and a few reflections.

The Minimalist first appeared on Sept. 17, 1997. It was the brainchild of Rick Flaste, who created the Dining In/Dining Out section (now the Dining section); Trish Hall, my on-and-off editor; and me. It was conceived as a successor to Pierre Franey’s classic 60-Minute Gourmet column, but with a less French, more modern, less chef-y sensibility. In addition, Rick wanted the recipes to be “smart,” and although I couldn’t quite figure out what that meant, I tried to please him.

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