I just got asked if I was available to food style a "celebrity cookbook." Here I am in my kitchen/living/dinning room that is currently doing double, triple, quadruple duty as a test kitchen, writing room and photo studio for my latest cookbook and it's a total mess! I thrive in the normally clean, tidy, bright and serene environment that is the third floor of my home. I am so lucky that it is really one of my favorite places- but right now it's an angst inducing jumble of photo equipment, jars, baskets, stacks of dishes and leftovers. I've got a manuscript to turn in, and all I want to do is mop my floor and organize my refrigerator. I'm putting in 12-plus hour days cooking, writing, cooking, schlepping- and I keep asking myself "why would anyone want to write a cookbook?"
Okay, people love cookbooks, and good recipes make it so that anyone can cook. Food is about sharing, and a cookbook allows you to share your recipes with the world. I write cookbooks because it is my craft. I have never had another career in life. I catered as a kid, I went to culinary school, I slogged it out on the line in a fine, French restaurant before landing a job at Bon Appetit Magazine. When I realized that the pictures of my recipes that appeared in Bon Appetit did not look nearly as delicious as the food that I had prepared at home, I began food styling (the art of making food for photos). So, I also make cookbooks because I can. I have the ability to create a recipe and make it photogenic.
This is what most folks don't realize about the cookbooks that they buy: the food is not cooked by the author of the book. I'm not saying this is a bad thing; it's merely a statement of fact. I'm also not saying that my books are better for it. There are so many wonderful books out there where the author was not even present for the the photo shoot. There are also amazing cookbooks with no photos at all.
But, this brings me back to the celebrity cookbook. Yeah, it's so fun to write a cookbook! Hair and make-up, check! Photographer, check! Florist, check! Prop-stylist, check! Food-stylist, check! Ghost writer, check!
I am blessed and fortunate that I get to garden and cook and develop enticing, balanced recipes. I am honored that people bring my books into their homes and prepare some of the recipes for their families. Feeding people feeds my soul-- this is why I write cookbooks, and maybe this is also what motivates the celebrity cookbook. I'm just not sure that I will be available to be the food stylist for the above mentioned book. I'm too busy mopping up after my last book and staring in the sit com "Celebrity Cookbook!"