Why I’ll (Probably) Never Publish Your Cookbook

It happened again. My own book is still a couple of months away from publication and already, I am getting pitches from people wanting me to publish their book. Specifically, their cookbook.

The first came via Twitter. (Incidentally – do not ever do this.) A public message asking if I’d be interested in a fun, quirky cookbook. Besides the fact that you destroy any credibility you might have as a serious writer by pitching to a publisher via Twitter, it helps to actually visit the website of the publisher and learn more about them and what they’re looking for, or if they’re accepting submissions at all. That you came across an indie publisher on Twitter and contacted them doesn’t get you points for taking the initiative, it makes you look like someone who is clueless, can’t follow protocol or written instructions, and who probably doesn’t really care about how professionally things are done.

Far moreso in the US than here in Canada, successful bloggers have been able to translate their blogs into book deals. But Canadian publishers have never had a lot of money to do such things and tend to stick with the more tried and true – TV chefs or chefs from restaurants with a strong customer base. And while there are many publishers who offer a lot of cookbooks and obviously do well with them, I don’t want to be one of them.

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Lucky Dip – Monday, October 31st, 2011

Uh… how much candy are your kids eating after Halloween that they’re getting cavities  and “weakening” their teeth? Sure, taffy and the like is probably not a good pairing with expensive dental work, but if your kids are eating enough Halloween swag to get a cavity, there are other issues at play. [Globe and Mail]

And so you know the value of what your neighbours have shelled out – the candy hierarchy. [Boing Boing]

Groupon usually gets you cheap deals for cheap food – but they’re expanding into upscale restaurants. Could we soon see Groupon deals for Scaramouche and Pangaea?? [Nation’s Restaurant News]

The difference between food allergies and food sensitivities. (Although, as an allergy sufferer, the bit about the scratch test being the gold standard is laughable. We really need to update allergy testing beyond a 100-year-old system that is famously inaccurate.) [Toronto Sun]

Batali does Fieri for Halloween. [Eater]

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Life Beyond the Kitchen – Chefs Build Their Brands with Chef Network Inc.

The food scene in Toronto is abuzz this week with distress over UK chef Marco Pierre White’s decision to become the face of Knorr bouillon cubes. Disregarding the fact that White has been the face of Knorr in the UK for a few years, food writers and chefs seem genuinely distressed that White has “sold out” for the corporate big bucks.

Known as one of the best chefs in the world, White’s decision to become the face of Knorr (and his insistence that all of his restaurants use the product in place of real stock) is confusing, amusing, and to his fans, especially other chefs, understandably upsetting.

The world may never know White’s real reasons for taking the endorsement, but in an era when even successful chefs don’t make a lot of money from cooking, branding yourself has taken on a much greater importance, especially for chefs coming to a point in their careers when it’s no longer enjoyable to work the line every night.

Chefs everywhere are in big demand – for cookbooks, personal appearances, television shows, and yes, endorsement deals. But it’s not as easy as one might think to hook up with the big players, and it’s not always a good idea for chefs to try and broker deals on their own.

That’s where Carmen Correia and Chef Network Inc. (CNI) come into play.

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Where Can I Find – Cookbooks

librarybooksWe got an email from a reader last week asking about where to find cookbooks, specifically older vintage ones, and I have to say, I didn’t really have a good reply. “Used bookstores” seemed like a really patronizing answer, but that’s about all I could come up with.

After a bit of research, my answer would be dependant on the disclaimer of “what do you want to do with it?” For some people, the hunt is the best part of the process, and if you’re not cursed with asthma, an afternoon spent digging through dusty stacks and boxes of cookbooks at the back of a used bookstore might be sheer heaven. If it’s the having of the book that is the goal, then online resources might be a better bet, and if the plan is simply to view, copy and try out the recipes, then I’d head to the library to dig through their treasures.

The Cookbook Store (850 Yonge Street) offers an extensive collection of older titles, as do most of the big chains. Amazon offers many titles at new or used prices, and it’s possible to find vintage or rare stuff in the used section here. Alibris specializes in used and rare books, but it helps to know the title of what you’re looking for in order to search effectively.

Newer titles – published in the past couple of years – can often be picked up at those remaindered bookshops that tend to pop up in malls or empty storefronts on main shopping stretches. I actually do most of my own cookbook shopping at these places, and my favourites include the one in Dufferin Mall; the one on Yonge Street, south of Bloor on the east side; and the one on the corner of Front Street East and Church. I don’t know the names of any of them, but everyone’s been to them, I’m sure.

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