musings about food, travel, creativity and life

Eat and Write–A Good Pairing!

Last weekend, the student in me was one happy camper. I attended two cooking classes.

One was on croissant making, held at Sur La Table in Carmel. I love eating croissants, pain au chocolat especially, so why not learn to bake them? Right! After the challenging and fun escapade, I was ready to buy stock in a butter creamery and skip my cholesterol level tests for a bit. The croissants were good, however. But of course!

The second class was a three-hour workshop on how to create a cookbook. It was taught by Dianne Jacob (, a food-writing expert whose excellent book Will Write for Food has inspired many food writers, and hosted by The Civic Kitchen Cooking School  (, a modern venue for home cooks in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Many years ago I met Dianne at a travel-photography-food conference at Book Passage in Corte Madera. There I first learned about blogging and got inspired to start a wine blog with a friend. Dianne also agreed to guide and edit my self published family cookbook/memoirette called Con Gusto:Eating and Living the Italian-American Way.

And here I was again, with just an inkling of an idea for a next cookbook, taking another of her classes. I read about it on Dianne’s newsletter, a great resource for food lovers looking for classes, good books about food, conferences, and interviews with chefs. When I saw there was only one spot left for the class, I grabbed it. I’m so glad I did.

Dianne presented material on cookbook writing and publication realities in an honest, straightforward, detailed, and helpful way. We learned all kinds of how to’s: how to come up with a workable idea, title, organization, book proposal and recipes.

Each of the twelve other students had an idea for a cookbook they were hoping to manifest. Concepts ranged from family cookbooks, to cookbooks for children, to one-culture cookbooks, to community cookbooks and more.

I was inspired by the curiosity, passion and commitment of these women (yes, all women) to craft their dream books and bring them to fruition, either through traditional printing which is possible but a challenging long-shot, to varied self publishing venues. And I learned about new chefs, cookbooks and cooking concepts.

Another highlight was when Jen Nurse, one of the co-founders of the cooking school, wheeled out a table with spreads of various cheeses, nuts, crackers, grapes, persimmon slices and beverages and placed it right in front of her cookbook library. She also was putting the finishing touches on ginger cookies she was baking for the second part of our class and joined our discussion after she brought them to the table.

Such a great weekend. I learned a lot, have a pain au chocolat in my freezer waiting for one of those most-have-chocolate mornings, and am inspired to pursue my kernel of a cookbook idea. And to top off my city cooking experience, I took my first solo Uber ride! All plusses for expanding my world.







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