Posts Tagged ‘Roger Smith Cookbook Conference’

Loose Ends Tied Up: The Roger Smith Cookbook Conference, Dinner Dealer, and EatYourBooks.

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Part 1. The Roger Smith CookBook Writing Conference.

Before I get to cookbook writing, I want to recommend the Roger Smith Hotel in Midtown Manhattan.  The boutique building acts as a canvas for owner Roger Smith’s artistic expression; his artwork is inside and out.  You can’t take a photo in the place without capturing an edge of sculpture or a canvas-full of Mr. Smith’s Matisse-like levity.  Culture happens in many ways at this address; you can read about all of it on Roger Smith Life.


Caught between ominous weather predictions, I only attended two workshops before catching the last Amtrak to Boston.  Condensed, here’s what I learned:

  1. Self-publishing is no longer considered the self-aggrandizing lesser cousin to house-published; the two are equally respected, just different.
  2.   Food writers and cookbook authors are weirdly willy-nilly about documenting sources, as in “this is the most authentic mole recipe in Oaxaca.”
  3.   The Downtown Take on cooking and recipes: “Cooking is performance art; the recipe is its archive.”

The conference was wonderful,  Run by the hugely affable cookbook author and culinary historian, Andrew Sullivan, the conference is a buoyant, brainy collection of the country’s leading culinary historians, researchers, librarians, app designers, blogging experts, cookbook publishers, food writers, etc.  Come hell, high water, and heavy snows next year I’ll attend all of it.  But many of the panel discussions have been taped; you can go to the conference website – linked above – to watch them.

For the record, the food at the opening reception was excellent.




Part 2.  Dinner Dealer

Dinner Dealer  is an adorably packaged deck of cards representing deals on local restaurants.  It tucks easily into a purse, as does any blackjack and old maid player’s deck.  Each card has the glossy stiffness of an ace of hearts and offers, let’s say $20 off of $50 at Ithaki, or $5 off of $20 at The Farm Bar and Grill.  The emphasis here is on LOCAL.  Chain restaurants aren’t invited to play the game, only those owned by local people doing their best.  It’s also a great way to keep track of restaurants you may have tucked into the “that place was great!  How come we never go there anymore?” category. The whole deck costs $25, and represents 40 restaurants, and over $300 worth of savings.  $1 from each sale goes to a local food pantry.  This is one smart package of local love, a great teacher gift,  babysitter, dogwalker thank you, etc.



Part 3.  EatYourBooks – sign up.   NOW.  Stop reading this –  click here  – EatYourBooks.  – NOW.

If you’re still with me, I’ll explain:  EatYourBooks is an online index service for ALL your cookbooks, food magazines, and blogs.  All you do is sign up, and start telling them with one click per book what’s in your cookbook collection, which magazines are piled in weighty columns somewhere in your house, and which blogs you can’t stop checking.  They will put all in an index for you, so that, instead of wasting hours sorting through old Gourmets and Martha Stewarts, you can see exactly where is that spinach dip you made in Easter, 2004.   It’s kind of amazing, and I just keep asking myself why I didn’t sign up a year ago.  What I could have done with a year’s worth of hours spent tracking down recipes… Don’t understand it yet?  Let’s say I want to make a chocolate cake, but I have no idea what kind.  I go to my “bookshelf,” do a search for chocolate cake, and get every single recipe for chocolate cake that’s in my house right now, in every cookbook and every magazine I own.  Each finding will list the main ingredients, so you can get a sense of the recipe, but you still have to go find the cookbook on your shelf, or the magazine on your bedstand.  It’s worth organizing your cookbook shelves for this.