Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Catching up with the book

Today is my first posting about writing my first book.  
I had every intention of doing this much earlier - years ago, in fact.  
Maybe because we just came home from seeing "Julie & Julia" at the cinema or maybe I seemingly have more time now (more about that later), but I was determined to launch writing about the book today.
The soon (too soon?!) to be published book started as a concept in early 2002.  At that time, I was most interested in how the garden inspires artists -- all artists: musicians, painters,  fashion designers, cinematographers, writers, photographers and .... But most significantly, culinary artists, because they so obviously utilize the bounty of the garden to create their own art.  
So I thought a book franchise might start there --exploring the art of the garden from the perspective of how provocative and compelling a garden is to the creativity of  artistic endeavor.  
And it was!  I was over the moon when I was able to secure a publishing contract at that time for the book, "Celebrity Chefs & Their Gardens."  But then, all too soon, that publisher said there were too many garden books on the market and we needed to wait.  
For me?  Other opportunities arrived and I put the book concept on the shelf, so to speak. 
I had a new publisher interested in 2007 and we worked through the concept throughout 2008.  
At the same time, the world of gardening changed. A lot. Increasingly, gardeners were focusing more on growing their own food.  More and more, community gardens were turning from ornamental plants to vegetables and fruits.  Food scares and concerns about the safety of our food were news headlines!  Michael Pollan and Alice Waters were becoming icons for what seemed to be a growing (sorry) movement..
So I could feel the book subtly migrate to explore and learn about the unique chefs that celebrated not just the art of the garden but the integrity and tradition and purity of the garden and what that meant to our culture.  
I set out to identify those "celebrity chefs" who I now prefer to refer to as master chefs or noble chefs, who are leaders in marrying culinary art with garden art in an almost truer sense.  They grow their own food for the restaurant, their gardens do indeed inspire their work in the kitchen, and/or they elevate their local farmers and growers as partners in their pursuit of truly fine dining.  Menus imbued with seasonal, fresh local food. Not imported. Not exotic in the old way.  
I hoped these chefs, these culinary artists, could illuminate how they heroically changed the way we think about dining, about food, about nutrition.  They helped lead a revolution - a movement.  It soon became about lifestyle and politics too.

The book contract was finalized around Christmas 2008. I was so honored and so excited.  The book is to be published for spring 2010.

This will be the story of how that book came about, my overture to the chefs, my interview adventures (and there have been some epic tales!) and securing the perfect lineup of celebrity, er, noble chefs. And  finding the most wonderful photographer, food stylist and of course, working with a fantastic and supportive editor.  

Whenever I tell my friends and family about the chefs and their philosophy, not to mention the struggles and "triumphs" to coordinate all the elements of the book, they love it. I hope you do too. It is so exciting to learn from these culinary leaders.  
This first book focuses on chefs from New York City, the Hamptons and the Garden State.  I will share the list of chefs later...  
(Tell me who you would nominate to include in the book?)

I hope you will enjoy this story....