Thursday, December 14, 2006

How not to publish a restaurant cookbook

The anonymous Northern California chef over at Knife's Edge is terrified of publishing a cookbook like the one Valerie Nehez of Cafe Pongo in New York state published recently:

"The book is amateurish, the writing poor and the dishes if not boring, are more what I would turn to the Joy of Cooking for... The book has nothing to say other than 'Hey, I've got a quaint restaurant in the Hudson Valley.' And that's exactly what I wouldn't want a book with my name on it to say."

But Knifes, how do you really feel?

Nehez is not the only target, of course; the whole genre is experiencing something of a backlash, and not just from Knife's Edge. In naming another book the best of 2006 food writer Michael Ruhlman dropped aside this:
This is a “chef” cookbook, a category I’m usually very skeptical about. Too often these books are vanity projects that add nothing new to the world of the kitchen or to our understanding of cooking; they’re yet another collection of recipes, which we need about as much as we need a case of shingles. (I wish we could call a moratorium on new recipes and spend the next decade working on the ones we have.)
The chef cookbook? Is nothing sacred?

Next thing you know, they'll be coming for Food TV or something... (Cough)



V Smoothe said...

Funny the Michael Ruhlman would be complaining about "chef" cookbooks as a genre, considering he wrote half the "chef" cookbooks on my shelf.

December 15, 2006 11:46 AM  
Ryan said...


OK but is Ruhlman really a chef? He basically went to culinary school then became a food writer, if I recall correctly.

Oh I just looked -- I guess he partners with chefs on the books. I guess his point is, chefs can't write books, unless they hire Michael Ruhlman ;->

December 15, 2006 2:59 PM  

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