How to Write A Cookbook

How to Write A Cookbook

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Despite the recent monsoon here in New York,  I ventured down to SoHo to hear two of my favorite food writers talk about writing a cookbook with WNYC radio host Leonard Lopate. Joining Lopate was a frequent show guest, New York Times "A Good Appetite" columnist Melissa Clark and Smitten Kitchen blogger and cookbook author Deb Perelman.  

They were a good pair--enthusiastic about their work and thoughtful in their advice.  They were also self-deprecating.  Clark, it turns out, is obsessed with how to cut back on the number of bowl and utensils per recipe.  Perelman is a prisoner of measuring and precision. 

Both talked about the necessity of finding a voice and a perspective.  Agreeing that every cook should have a signature item--Perelman is quite proud of her scones--they discussed how they approached assembling a book.  Perelman's cookbook is not just a rework of her blog recipes, and she Googles every recipe to be aware of what is already out there.  Clark is frequently tapped as a co-author, and she has several books of her own. 

Clark said a cookbook writer needs to be a good teacher.  Recipes take a lot of things for granted--that you would know how to pit an avocado for instance.  Both come up with a recipe a week.  Clark's most recent Times recipe was Lamb with Green Tomatoes She chose green tomatoes--although it is October--because of the abundance end of season tomatoes that never get to ripen.  

Perelman said it is critical to write everyday and cook everyday.  Clark encouraged people to take a writing class, share their work, and take the feedback.  

The talk was part of a series "Lopates and Locavores" at the The Greene Space.  Click here to watch the full video and see the great recipes that were made on-site:  kale, pecorino popcorn and dark chocolate bark with bacon and pomegranates.

Upcoming events include Krista Tippett Live: Discovering the Cosmology of Bach on November 4 and Jim Gaffigan in Conversation on November 6.

About Lori Theisen

Lori Theisen is a co-founder and managing editor of The Literary Cafe. A journalism major before she got swept up into the world of corporate marketing, she always wanted to indulge her passion of books, culture and food.