BUSINESS NEWSMAKERS/Shannon Henry – Dot com diva to cooking queen


She was there from the beginning, writing about the Homeric rise and fall of the age for Washington to read about with fascination as the tech ripple turned into a tsunami. Shannon Henry, a pellucid-eyed former writer for the Washington Post, covered the tech scene from 1998-2005 in her column The Download. Washington at that time is what LA must be like all the time, she tells us. Instead of a film project everyone had a in their back pocket. Everyone wanted to be near the Internet excitement and financial reward. Known for her book The Dinner Club, an inside look at the Washington tech scene and the players who made it pulse, Henry has discovered a new kind of dinner club. 

Now living in Denver, the mother of two who has covered just about every beat, is turning her attention to food. Cooking With Friends, Henrys new cookbook, co-written with both her best friend from high school and Dana Bowen, Deputy Editor for Saveur magazine, has just been accepted for publication. Its all about getting together to nourish your family and friends, says Henry. I felt like I had covered one arc of the story, tech. The people were fascinating but it’s a different world right now, and I was ready for a change.

Too many cooks in the kitchen, may be a negative expression for many, but for Henry and coterie, its the way cooking should be. When youre cooking with friends you really get to know them differently. Its not just child and family oriented. To those who know Henry as the woman who could make moguls shake in their loafers, it might be a surprise that she has gone from the boardroom to the kitchen, but Henrys career has taken her into almost every room in the house.

It was while working for NPR before graduate school at American that Henry became interested in journalism as a form of telling stories. Having studied poetry under former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, Henry covered the finance industry for American Banker for two years before going to Washington Technology magazine in 1995 to cover telecom and the Internet. She then co-founded the Post-owned magazine TechCapital before coming to The Post in 1999. 
There were signs that people and ideas were gettingcrazier, says Henry of the eventual bursting of the bubble. When you saw companies going public that shouldnt have, you knew something was wrong. But people that had big ideas were great. You thought wow, they want to change the world and thats what we need. Henrys Dinner Club gave an intimate view into the tech players grand and sometimes grandiose, ideas. Some of the people in the book, I think that they worried. It came out before Enron really happened it was a different time. Some people in it come off better than others. It really is about how technology power players changed Washington in every domain. Now, Henry notes, the Washington tech scene is back to basics. Government contracting and bio tech those are very real important technological communities that will always be in Washington.

Its sort of a surprise that I went that route but you change beats, says Henry about her new passion. For most journalists a great subject can be anything. To have a real sense of curiosity is the important thing.