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What kind of cookbook are you looking for?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hello all! My husband is a chef and wants to write a cookbook. He already has some great ideas but I though I would ask the everday cooks what kind of cookbook they want. Any suggestions would be welcome! Thanks!!!:D
post #2 of 8
I don't know. There are so many millions of cookbooks out on the market that it's hard to say what isn't out there.
I'm the kind of person who loves to learn. I love to know the history behind things and how they work and why they came about (which I guess is why I like Good Eats). So I tend to enjoy books that are more about the history of food. More than actual cookbooks...
I think Alton Brown might be the only person writing cookbooks like that. I could very well be wrong. But either way I think there is a shortage of cookbooks that mix education and "fun facts" with recipes. But if your husband is not that kind of a person he's not going to have fun writing that kind of a book.
So I'm not much help. That's just the only kind of book that I see a shortage of on the market. I mean, we have just about every kind of "basic cookbook" and "30 minute meals" book you can think of.
Maybe the only other thing there isn't much of are cooks with recipes small enough for one person. As depressing as it is to go to a bookstore looking for a cookbook for one, single people are out there and most recipes are geared towards groups.
*shrug* Good luck to your husband.
post #3 of 8
What kind of cookbook? General, ethnic cuisine, specific ingredient, recipes from his restaurant, desserts? He needs to define his theme and see what's already been written.

Some general suggestions from a cookbook addict:

--New, flavorful recipes. There are 10,000 choc chip cookie recipes, how to roast a chicken recipes, etc, out there and I don't want a cookbook with more of the same.

--Lots of pictures, including any techniques that are difficult to narrate.

--Traditional organization. I hate cookbooks with recipes organized by season, color, or shape of ingredients.

--Substitution suggestions for exotic ingredients that I can't buy within 100 miles of where I live.

--Proofread and retest all the recipes before publication (this would put you way ahead of many cookbooks on the market).

--A user-friendly binding so the book will actually lay open and flat.
post #4 of 8
Yes! These are brilliant suggestions. Especially the one about the exotic ingredients. At least to me.
Don't let him fall into the "Martha Stewart trap". I don't know what kind of lifestyle you and your husband live, but if you fly to Paris once a week to pick up your bread don't tell us about it in the book. Normal people don't care about ingredients they can only get if they have no job and unlimited money.
post #5 of 8
Before he even starts writing, he should see if there's a publisher who wants what he can produce. That will save a lot of work that may never be published.

Pictures are generally overrated. Some of the greatest cookbooks have minimal pictures or just drawings such as Joy of Cooking. And Jeff Smith's cookbooks have virtually no pictures but are great to cook from.

Organization is nice, but there are a couple of different organizational styles that are appropriate depending on the kind of cookbook he writes. Books with narrow focus or topic may benefit from non-standard organization to more accurately reflect the topic.

Even better than organization is a high quality index which is an area usually skimped on. Indexing well is tedious and requires good software and some skill which most chefs will not have.

Bindings that lay flat are also highly overrated to me. These types of bindings usually have poor life span. Other solutions are preferable to me as it's not hard to keep a book open or just insert a marker to make it easy to flip open. Quality binding is much more valuable, even in just a paperback.

Proofreading and testing are valuable.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #6 of 8
Let's face it, there are cookbooks that cover just about every subject under the sun. There is no shortage of cookbooks out there and many, many more being published every month. So really the question should be, "What does your husband have to offer that can't be found somewhere else?" What kind of restaurant does your husband work in, what kind of food does he serve, what kinds of food does he have a passionate hobby about? These are the questions he should be asking himself. There may be a need for more Indian cookbooks out there but unless your husband is intimately familar with Indian food he will need to spend at least 2-5 years really seriously exploring the cuisine. Is he a BBQ god? He had better be if he wants to write a BBQ cookbook that won't be "torn apart" by those in the know. So instead of asking what people want he should be asking himself "What can I write about that my knowledge and passion come through and excite people about my book?" "What makes you and your book so special that #1. Publishers will be interested in it, and #2. customers will be willing to shell out their cash to buy your book when having to choose from hundreds of others?"
post #7 of 8
Yes Pete is right in my opinion. Write about what you know. It will be far more
interesting for him to write and vastly more interesting
to read.
post #8 of 8
As a beginner, as much as I enjoy learning as I go, I do like quite detailed technical books - step by step stuff that doesn't leave me wondering how the author travelled from step1 to step2.

Additionally, apart from a couple of my books which encompass a wide subject range (such as James Peterson's 'Cooking'), I have found myself collecting more single subject books (eg. meat, sauces, bread). If I do go for a more general recipe book, it's probably because I've seen the author on telly and enjoyed the energy they've put into their cooking.

This is all in the context of my not really having any exposure to what I know to be great quality meals, or indeed first hand knowledge of anybody with those skills - so to a great extent, I have to trust that my technique is as well underpinned as possible.

Best of luck with the project.:cool:
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