Blogs and books, together

Pros use both

June 22, 2009

Remember, as a child, watching your mother or grandmother cook? If she wasn’t cooking from memory, she probably used a thick cookbook with wrinkled pages and recipe notes scribbled in the margins. She almost certainly didn’t nestle her laptop between the microwave and the refrigerator, peering at the screen to check ingredient measurements.

Times have changed — and yet, they haven’t. Despite the recession and competition from the Internet, cookbooks continue to sell well. And those thousands of food bloggers out there, filling the Web with their musings, recipes, and photos? Plenty are published print authors who simply view going online as yet another component of their careers.

Eight well-known food authorities who cook, blog, photograph, and write shared their tips with us.

  1. Jaden Hair
    Jaden Hair
    Blog: Steamy Kitchen

    In 2007, with five years of experience teaching Asian cooking classes, Hair began a blog to file her favorite family recipes. Hair has since become a columnist for the Tampa Tribune and a contributor to local television stations.

    In her book — titled The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook and due out this fall — Hair embraces culinary traditions and what she considers ancient kitchen secrets: “My grandma never used an immersion blender.”

    For aspiring bloggers and writers, Hair says, “Be totally authentic in your voice. I’m the same exact person online as I am in person as I am on television as I am in print.”

    Favorite recipes: Mom’s Famous Crispy Egg Rolls and Chinese Sausage Fried Rice
  2. David Leite
    David Leite
    Website: Leite’s Culinaria

    Having started his website years before there was even such a word as “blog,” Leite is an expert in the online culinary field. A seasoned food writer and recipe taster, Leite has just finished his first book, The New Portuguese Table, which will be published later this summer.

    Although he maintains a food website, Leite isn’t a food blogger in the modern sense; rather, he uses the Internet as a medium for inspiration. After leaving advertising as a career, Leite started his website as a way to catalog the family recipes that his late grandmother passed down to his mother and aunt.

    “For years, I hated being Portuguese,” he says. “But I’ve really embraced it. Food and cooking are sensuous experiences and those memories will stick with you.”
  3. Zoë François
    Zoë François
    Blogs: ZoeBakes and ArtisanBreadInFive

    After 14 years as a pastry chef, François became the co-author, with colleague Jeff Hertzberg, of the number-one bestselling bread cookbook on Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. When the book hit the shelves in November 2007, François launched two blogs: one with Hertzberg, Artisanbreadinfive, and her own baking and pastry blog, Zoebakes.

    François uses forums like Twitter and Facebook to sustain dialogue with her blog and book readers. “I have met so many people who are passionate about baking and pastry through the Internet,” she says. “In fact, Jeff and I got the concept for our second bread book (due out in fall 2009) from listening to the requests on [the artisanal bread blog].”

    Favorite recipe: Homemade Brioche Dough
  4. stephanie o'dea
    Stephanie O’Dea
    Stephanie O’Dea
    Blog: A Year of Slow Cooking

    In 2008, O’Dea made a New Year’s resolution: She would use her slow cooker daily for an entire year. After six months of blogging about the project, she was approached by a publisher, and her upcoming book, Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking, is due for release in October of this year.

    Her turning point was when she figured out how to make crème brûlée in her crockpot and it turned out perfectly. “Not everything works out the first time you make it,” she says. “For me, cooking should be fun and easy. I don’t really know how to cook; I can only crockpot!”

    Favorite recipes: Brown Sugar Chicken and Fish Chowder
  5. David Lebovitz
    David Lebovitz
    Blog: David Lebovitz, Living the Sweet Life in Paris

    Lebovitz is the well-known author of several dessert cookbooks (including Room for Dessert and The Perfect Scoop) as well as a new book, The Sweet Life in Paris. But that hasn’t stopped him from blogging his kitchen adventures.

    He began his website in 1999, and though he considers it a great forum for keeping in touch with readers, he says, “I love the visceral feel of books. You can read recipes online, but unless you’re holding the book in your hand, there’s absolutely no way you’re going to feel the warmth that radiates through the pages.”

    Lebovitz tells bloggers to remember that they’re revealing parts of their private lives in a public forum. “Be prepared to open up and expose yourself to the public,” he says. “When people meet me, they might say, ‘I hear you on that stinky neighbor [that you blogged about]. There’s a guy in my gym who smells like rotten Camembert, too!’”

    Favorite recipe: Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream
  6. cynthia nelson
    Cynthia Nelson
    Cynthia Nelson
    Blog: Tastes Like Home

    Nelson’s blog is an extension of a newspaper column that she writes. Her book, My Caribbean Cookbook: Tastes Like Home, dispels common notions about Caribbean food. “It is more than a garnish,” Nelson says. “A lot of people think of Caribbean food as the slice of pineapple that sits on the rim of a glass, the slice of mango on a dish.”

    She reminds bloggers to be prepared for a reality check. “There are times when any food writer will have to stand back and question some of the notions we have about a recipe, dish, or ingredient being authentic,” she says. “Food blogging opens up a whole new world for [the writer].”

    Favorite recipe: Fish Curry
  7. Amy Sherman
    Amy Sherman
    Blog: Cooking with Amy

    Sherman has been blogging for nearly six years, in response to friends and family requesting cooking and dining advice. Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Appetizers: Classic Recipes Redefined, published in 2008, was a book that, like many other opportunities, arose from her blog.

    “If you love food, if you’re the type of person who thinks about food 24/7, you’re likely to be good at it,” says Sherman. “Indulge in what you love and share it with others.”

    Favorite recipe: Lately, Sherman has enjoyed making pasta dishes such as Pasta Puttanesca.
  8. clotilde dusoulier
    Clotilde Dusoulier
    Clotilde Dusoulier
    Blog: Chocolate & Zucchini

    Dusoulier had been cooking with passion for several years before she began a blog, which existed primarily as a journal to document her daily food adventures. Her website has since become a full-time food-writing career. She has published two books, Chocolate & Zucchini and Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris.

    “Persistence is the key,” says Dusoulier. “As a writer, your blog is your playground. If you have professional aspirations, blogging lets you determine whether you feel ready to approach publications and pitch ideas.”

    Favorite recipes: Yogurt Cake and Chocolate & Zucchini Cake (Gâteau Chocolat & Courgette)

Maris Callahan is a publicist and freelance writer living in New York City. In her spare time, she can usually be found cooking or baking and then writing about it at In Good Taste.

There are 8 comments on this item
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1. by Olga on Jun 23, 2009 at 8:03 AM PDT

What a great write up! How I dream to one day become one of these people!

2. by Fiksu on Jun 23, 2009 at 1:15 PM PDT

Oops. You’ve got Zoe’s picture up there as Jaden Hair.

3. by Kim on Jun 24, 2009 at 9:16 AM PDT

Thanks, Fiksu. All’s well now.

4. by William on Jun 26, 2009 at 5:59 AM PDT

You forgot Helen from Tartelette ( releasing “Start With Sugar” in late fall.

5. by Jennifer Meier on Jun 27, 2009 at 7:36 AM PDT

Has anyone on Culinate self-published a cookbook based on their blog using websites like I’ve just started working on one and I’m realizing its going to take much longer than I anticipated to finish, but it’s a fun challenge. I’d be interested in hearing how others tackled the process of self-publishing a cookbook (either for fun or for profit).

6. by Stephanie O'Dea on Jun 28, 2009 at 8:22 PM PDT

thank you for including me in this round-up! I’m honored and touched.
xoxo steph

7. by Buy WoW Mage on Sep 23, 2010 at 5:09 PM PDT

Such an awesome post you have here! I love to cooked and I always have my cook-book with me. Thanks for this post!

8. by Debbie Hines on Apr 16, 2014 at 5:03 PM PDT

An awesome post indeed. Can’t wait to start cooking!

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