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Elaine Corn was born in 1951. Her father had a military career, and her family moved often. When she was twelve, her family relocated to El Paso, Texas. Corn graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1972 with a degree in journalism. Her first job out of college was as a copy editor at the Austin American Statesman. Corn said that this was the last major newspaper in Texas to start a food section, so she petitioned her editors to let her start one. Corn became the food editor in 1978. After she left the Statesman, she traveled through England, Italy, and Greece. In the Negev region of Israel, she picked apricots and prepared meals in a kibbutz. Along the way, Corn learned to cook.
Armed with new culinary skills, she applied for the food editor job at The Louisville Courier-Journal in 1981. Corn began to examine food to better understand the communities of Louisville. She spent the rest of her career in Sacramento, California, as the food editor of The Sacramento Bee and as a contributor for Capitol Public Radio. She has also published six cookbooks, including Now You’re Cooking: Everything a Beginner Needs to Know to Start Cooking Today (1994).