What is the name of your cookbook?
The Four Seasons of Gourmet Entertaining With the World at Your Table
Is this your first cookbook?
No. This is my second book. My first book was published in 2006: Pasta for Men Only
Did you have a food blog prior to writing your cookbook?
I started my food blog shortly after the publication of the pasta book. Unfortunately, I have not kept pace with the blog-The Four Seasons of Gourmet Entertaining has me swamped, but I hope to focus on my blog again in the near future.
What compelled you to write a cookbook?
Although I majored in Chemistry in college, my real choice would have been to be an English Major. In my professional career in chemistry, I always seem to gravitate toward the printed word, either as the editor of the in-house newspaper or writing technical proposals. When I retired, writing about cooking came front and center. I started a cooking school which led once again to the printed page. I reviewed restaurants in Manhattan, wrote for a Long Island newspaper. When I moved to North Carolina, I wrote a weekly food column, “Let’s Cook” for the Brunswick Beacon for three years. The path led me to creating a Gourmet Club in my community which ultimately led to the Gourmet book. (see about the Gourmet Club below.) When I decided to turn over the reins of the Gourmet Club to a few of the members-15 years is a long time to create menus for 4 course dinners four times a year. Looking back on the dinners stored in my computer, I decided to publish them in a book. The added incentive was the introductory remarks written to introduce the recipes. It seemed an easy path to the book. Ha!
Tell me more about the Gourmet Club.
In September 1997, we organized the Gourmet Club, never dreaming that it would endure for fifteen years. Fifty-six aspiring cooks signed on, committed to dining together six times during the year. I selected the recipes, had them printed, and hand-delivered them to each participant. We created groups of four couples per group, the host preparing the main course, and the other three couples, the appetizer, first course and dessert. It became quickly apparent that the format took the stress out of preparing an elegant dinner for eight. Now, there was time for the hostess to fashion a lovely table setting with beautiful flowers. One rigid rule is still in place today. Each couple brings a fine bottle of wine that matches the menu. Friendship, however, became the most important ingredient that we brought to the Gourmet table.
What advice do you have for an aspiring cookbook author who wants to self-publish a cookbook?
Do you have a passion for cooking and can add more than a recipe to the printed page? Can you tell a story? The Internet easily supplies recipes, but are they credible and tested? I often tease my Writers Bloc colleagues-“Next time I’m writing a novel.” Be scrupulous in your editing. This takes an inordinate amount of time.
Tell me more about the Writers Bloc group.
A local author here in North Carolina invited me to join his Writers Bloc group – six aspiring authors, all writing novels, got together to critique each other’s work. Of course, I was the odd man out-I was writing a cookbook. We met once monthly, and most times I wondered what possible positive criticisms I could offer them. But, they were intrigued and very supportive, encouraging me to continue with my cookbook.
What was your biggest challenge in writing your cookbook?
My biggest challenge was organizing it into Seasons. I had to be sure that the seasonal ingredients in the recipes were available in the food market in that particular season. This was somewhat of a problem for me because our gourmet dinners spanned a 2 month period. What do I do about Peach Melba in January?
What was your biggest challenge in publishing your cookbook?
I would caution an aspiring author to research credible printing companies. Prices vary and there is a two pronged sword here. Do you want to do the entire process yourself (pdf files, editing, word documents, etc.) or let the company prepare the guts of the book (composition)-a costly move or have it ready for printing yourself? Computer time is extensive if you go this route.
Any thoughts you’d like to share on the marketing and sales of your cookbook?
Now comes the next phase-marketing. Not as easy as you may think. I will admit that the Pasta book opened many doors. I had a huge spread sheet containing names, number of books purchased, clubs, etc. which my computer guy accidentally deleted in the transfer of my hard drive to the new computer. A connecting link or having something in common, such as LinkedIn is an excellent networking tool. I was thrilled to get an offer to co-write a cookbook with a culinary writer. I’m getting smart. I’ve learned to say, “Thank you, but no thanks.” I would suggest that the writer touch base with anybody and everybody – you never know when the next door will open.