Books make my world go round. They wake me up, inspire me during the day, and ease me into sleep at night-time. I was recently asked what was my most treasured possession, and I had to answer: my books. They're the only objects that have made every one of my many home moves.
How did you arrive at the concept for the book?
I had been wanting to write a cookbook for some time but the moment the seed of an idea was really first planted was a conversation I had with a very dear friend of mine regarding food for a certain situation – she was meeting her partner's ex-wife for the first time. An awkward moment. And that’s when it dawned on me – it has to be a book about cooking as it applies to life, real life. I wanted to capture all the funny, sad and gloriously politically incorrect moments of life, all the while providing a dish that suits.
What was involved in the creation process?
After I had decided what situations to include in the book, it was a case of writing about them, grouping them and then developing the menus or dishes that seemed to suit the occasions. I then went into recipe testing overdrive while working with Allen & Unwin editors on recipe editing and turning the manuscript into a manageable beast! I was also approaching photographers I liked to see if they would be interested in shooting for the book. I have ended up working (and conspiring) with photographers from all corners of the globe, which has been a fun and rewarding experience.
How long did it take to come together – from concept to first copy?
I’ve been working on the book for about three and a half years. For the first year or so it was more of a creative outlet while working and studying full time, then after living in New York, I decided to come home and dedicate myself to the project full time. It then took about six months, almost seven days a week, to complete the manuscript. The editing, photography and design process probably then took an additional four months before we finally hit print.
How did you envisage the look of the book?
I wanted a book design that reflected the content – something fun, approachable and honest. I was conscious of not creating that rustic look-feel with oversized white plates and heirloom tomatoes, which I think was achieved in the overall design and situation driven feel of each chapter. The book is a great combination of illustration, vintage prints and photography. The collaboration with different photographers for the project and their individual visual style helps add to that relaxed bon vivant feel to the book.
What was unexpected about the whole experience?
How much fun I had! For so long you are on your own, writing, testing recipes and editing, then all of a sudden the baby steps snowball and you get the opportunity to meet and work with fantastic creatives who care about your ‘baby’ just as much as you do and turn it into something greater than you let yourself ever imagine.