Friday, February 8, 2013

Roger Smith Cookbook Conference Launches

Day one of the second annual Roger Smith Cookbook Conference kicked off today with a full schedule of five hands-on, interactive concurrent workshops.

Not unlike a real-life Shoots & Ladders, the boutique hotel’s narrow hallways led up and down to meeting rooms where Cookbook experts led a series of discussions on food and drink publishing issues and themes.

The two morning workshops were “Introduction to Cookbook Publishing,” led by Andrew F. Smith, one of the founding members of the Cookbook Conference, author, and educator and “Reading Cookbooks: A Structured Approach and Structured Dialogue with Barbara Ketcham Wheaton. 
The afternoon workshops were: “The Wild World of Self-Publishing,” “The Way to Look: How to Do Research with Cookbooks,” and “Cookbook Publishing 360.”

Overall, the mood was expectant, eager and hopeful. The style was casual. 

The Cookbook Conference is at the sweet spot of attracting the best cookbook authors, agents, publishers and marketers, food and drink writers and bloggers covering genres from cookies to cooking schools and kosher to Modern Sauces.
Yet the Conference is still at the emerging, pubescent stage that allows the experts and stars to share tips, support as well as joyful cocktail reception networking exchanges. 
To whit:  “What do you do?” asked one conference attendee over reception wine and treats.   “I’m a ‘wanna-be’ food writer,” sighed the star-struck food aficionado.
New-found food friend admonishes – “No, you are a gonna-be food writer!”   

This kind of koombya career embrace is no less extraordinary because the Cookbook Conference takes place in the “if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere town of hard knocks: New York. And in particular, the can-be-crushing world of New York publishing.

Every workshop included a detailed syllabus.  Workshops ran three to four hours. 
The workshops offered a true value for the attendees.
There was the “first-ever, pitch clinic and slush pile Olympiad” where attendees pitched their cookbook ideas directly to the panelists aka “acquisitions committee.”

The Cookbook Publishing 360 workshop featured an all-star line-up including, Katie Workman, author The Mom 100 Cookbook and – whose enthusiasm and energy and success brightened the cookbook conversation; along with Julia M. Usher, Ultimate Cookies
Lee Svitak Dean, Food Editor, Star Tribune, Martha Holmberg, IACP and author, “Modern Sauces,” , Lori Coughlin, America’s Test Kitchen (who provided a colorful printout of a 12-step Path to Recipe Perfection) and Bonnie S. Benwick, Deputy Food Editor, The Washington Post and soon to be cookbook author in her right.  

In addition to providing expert, real-world advice, experience and anecdotes, there was no hesitation to offer metrics – as in how many books can one expect to sell, how much money can one make, along with copyright issues and e-books and
Food and drink bloggers and their impact on the world of traditional
The networking, as promised by the conference organizers, was priceless…

Like a cheerleader, Andy Smith stood on a platform at tonight’s reception, called up the Cookbook Conference co-founders including Bruce Shaw, Adam Salomone, Ann Mendelson, and Cathy Kaufman. 

Next, Smith brought up hotelier Roger Smith to thank him – while pointing out his streets cape and wall art sculpture,

 and then urged attendees guests to enjoy the really good food and get back to work  - networking!

Given the very robust food and drink Cookbook Conference content, I will provide in-depth reviews of the Cookbook Conference in upcoming news postings. 

For more on the Cookbook Conference schedule and to register:

Wine, courtesy of Spain's Franciscon Vineyards

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