She grew up in Park Rapids, Minnesota, near the headwaters of the Mississippi River, and graduated from Macalester College. For three years she and her husband, visual artist Aaron Spangler, lived in a rustic off-the-grid cabin he built in the Two Inlets State Forest outside of Park Rapids, where she picked up her cooking and gardening afflictions. In 1999, they moved to New York City where she worked for celebrated chefs David Bouley, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, and Shea Gallante. In 2008, she left the hot line and she and Aaron and their son moved back home to northern Minnesota.
She was the host of the James Beard-nominated Heartland Table on Food Network, an instructional cooking show co-produced by Lidia Bastianich’s Tavola Productions and Random House Studios and filmed in her rural kitchen in northern Minnesota. Her first cookbook, New Midwestern Table, was published by Clarkson Potter in 2013 and won the James Beard Book Award for American Cooking. Her second book, Give a Girl a Knife, was published May, 2017, and was reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Reader, and The Toronto Star, among others. She writes about food for newspapers and magazines, including Saveur, where she is a contributing editor, and has appeared in many others, including People, Food Network Magazine, Country Living, Reuters, The Boston Globe, Eater National, Esquire, Oprah Magazine, Parade Magazine, and LA Magazine—in addition to radio and television appearances on NPR’s All Things Considered, The Splendid Table, and various news programs.
Amy lives with her husband, Aaron, their son, his dog, a bunch of chickens, and a huge vegetable garden, in rural Park Rapids, Minnesota, in the house Aaron built years before–now fully hooked up to the 21st Century grid. A recovering professional chef, she now thinks of herself as a home cooking civilian and develops recipes to fit her own small-town limits, sticking with ingredients she can find at the local grocery store, in her garden, and in the woods. Her food is rustic but extravagant, rich with honest fats and vegetables, original, and thrifty; she is not afraid of butter or burnt ends.
When not traveling, speaking, or teaching, she can usually be found in her rural kitchen, standing in the space between the counter and the stove. On the web, she can be found at amythielen.com and on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.