14 January 2011

DIY Cookbooks

Cookbooks have long been the bastion of self-publishing. Churches or women’s groups would get together and share recipes. They would get arranged and published and then sold as fundraisers. Of course the people that bought them tended to be the people that contributed the recipes. I have often wondered it there was ever a cost analysis of fundraising cookbooks. It might just be easier if everyone who contributed a recipe just gave the money and skipped the cookbook, but that wouldn’t be very communal now, would it?

In the old days (before blogs) there was a thriving culture of ‘zines, self published, small magazine with a very specific target audience.

Today, with the growing interest in food, it seems natural that new food ‘zines are springing up. With new computer technology sitting on a desktop, design and printing are a snap. (OK, maybe not a snap, but a lot easier than it used to be.)

Now, there are chefs and other foodies who are skipping the publishing house and going DIY with their culinary adventures.

One of the first was Martin Picard, whose restaurant Au Pied de Cochon is a star in Montréal. In Picard self published his culinary manifesto, filled with photos and recipes and ramblings. The book was huge hit and was eventually “published” in much the same form as it was self-published.

After years of working for Saveur, Food & Wine and photographing dozens of cookbooks, Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton formed The Canal House. The Canal House is a kind of foodie playground/office where the pair cook, write, photograph and hang out and publish Canal House Cooking a self-published cookbook/magazine filled with great photos and fun recipes. Check out the Canal House posts at Cookbook Of The Day.

Zac Brown is pretty famous in the y’alternative/Americana music circles. What many people do not know is that he is a confirmed foodie. A couple of years ago, he produced a cookbook called Southern Ground. The best place to find it is on the Zac Brown Band web site. Southern Ground is a highly designed cookbook that most published would dismiss out of hand as being too damn expensive to bother with. Printed on cardboard stock, each double page features photos and writings from the band as well as a recipe. Actually, there is a removable recipe card, just like Mama used to have. Each printed card is tucked into a glassine pocket. It has all the innovativeness of an old fashioned DIY ‘zine with a high production value.

If you find yourself with time on your hands and want to start a food zine, do let us know, we are behind you 100%.


  1. Yes, yes, yes! I'm smitten with the Zac Brown Band approach and now my mind is racing with ideas of my own! What an excellent start to a holiday weekend.


  2. I wonder if you have more advices about cook books! i find them very interesting.


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