While I realize there’s no sympathy for one who appears to be a serial traveler, I’m just one exhausted lady who travels mostly for work and bit for fun. Between Paris, New York, Copenhagen and more Paris, I just never found the time to give a well-deserved show of gratitude to one of my favorite events of my year.
The Cookbook Conference that I attended in February was one of those events that totally surprised me in very good way. Shame on me for not sharing a recap sooner.
Quite honestly, I’m so glad I waited. A long shot get together with a Brit in Boston reminded me of all the wonderful developments from those few days in New York City, and it’s time to share.
The Brit was Nick Robinson. Nick and I are in different food fields but share a love for cookbooks and a genuine interest in finding that one thing that connects us to others — I happen to be a British food personality groupie, which he could definitely understand. We all secretly want to be just like Nigella Lawson, oui?
Nick embodies a true entrepreneurial spirit that echoed across the Cookbook Conference. In fact, when we met in March, he had already made some shifts to his business based on conference lessons. Lesson #1 from any soon-to-be-successful entrepreneur: Learn fast and change fast.
Nick is an inspiration and reminded me that while I did meet so many wonderful hopeful and seasoned cookbook authors, I was most impressed by the start-up like spirit that wove through the weekend. Attendees — the clever ones, bien sur — were focused on building a life and a business around their love, their study, and their fascination for food. The ideal — the published cookbook — was just one part of the agenda and not necessarily the end goal.
The room was filled with mini-entrepreneurs just doing their thing and doing it while working about 20 other jobs. I just loved that spirit and I wanted to share a few of my favorite food entrepreneurs from the 2012 Cookbook Conference:
1. Nick Robinson, The Editor’s Kitchen and ELT Author Representation. Are you a teacher who wants to write a book? He’s your man. He’s also sweet, insightful and knows how to recognize an opportunity when it stands before him.
2. Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, The Canal House: Call these ladies the accidental entrepreneurs, self-publishers who never intended to self-publish. While shopping the idea for their tiny books on seasonal food, they mocked up the idea and just kept going. The rest is history…
3. Gail Watson, A Stack of Dishes: I met a kindred spirit in Gail. She both flattered and schooled me in the same moment, and has a thousand stories I can’t wait to hear. A very successful Manhattan baker turned photographer and writer, Gail has a site that both chronicles her food life and makes me hungry.
4. Gail Dosik, One Tough Cookie: Don’t even get me started on Gail. Every interaction with her was laced with a smart quip and hilarious line. She is a baker, business woman and comedian all wrapped up in, pardon me, one tough cookie. And she always tells it how it is.
5. Katie Workman, The Mom 100 Cookbook: Katie and I crossed paths at the conference and met up again last week. She’s a Mom on a mission, and a smart businesswoman. Katie has written a beautiful book that we promise to dig into on this site very soon.
6. Abby Dodge, Abby Dodge: Abby distilled wisdom with a warm welcome. Her latest cookbook is pure genius: Desserts 4 Today: Flavorful Desserts with Just Four Ingredients. A small crowd of authors, bloggers and writers gathered around her in the hotel lobby, no doubt scooping up her sweet words before our time together was up.
There were so many others, like: Melissa Lanz, Cathy Barrow, Tara Barker, Andrew Schloss, Jeanne Sauvage, Grace Young, and John Carafoli. I was better off for getting just a few moments to speak with each of you. Thanks, as well, to my fellow conference panelists: David Leite, Pamela Anderson, Abby Dodge and Casey Benedict.
Lastly, I just wanted to thank the Harvard Common Press for inviting me to the conference. I enjoyed every moment and scooped up each lesson, gratefully.
All photos styled by Heidi Murphy/White Loft Studio and Maggie Battista and photographed by Heidi Murphy.
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