“Life has a bigger imagination than we do” – a true statement and the central theme of my life since the beginning of this year. Below is some news that I’ve been dying to share with the world – news that I still can’t quite believe is real!
It all started with an email (isn’t this how every great story goes these days?) with “Looking for a writer” in the subject line. Said email was from an editor at HarperCollins (!), and editor who’s a fan of my blog (!!), and is looking for a writer for a Thanksgiving cookbook for this fall – a writer like me (!!!). No wait… me!
My initial reaction was shock, awe, and disbelief (there may or may not have been tears…). My next thought was, Wow, I’m so flattered. But there’s no way I’ll have time to work on this, considering how busy the NGI book is keeping me this year. Nonetheless, I took a day to think about it and decided to take the call.
It turned out this would be a relatively small project (compared to the 200-recipe beast that is the NGI manuscript) that I could totally squeeze into my schedule. And here’s the kicker: the theme of the book is Friendsgiving! Friendsgiving, my favorite holiday tradition, one I’ve kept since high school. I could not believe the serendipity, the way the stars had aligned. Immediately, I felt oddly connected to the universe (yes, I’m aware of how silly that sounds) – I had just quit my job last month and had no idea an opportunity like this could present itself this quickly, if ever.
So there you have it folks: I wrote a cookbook. My own book with my own recipes, my own photographs, and my name on the cover (I’m still trying to convince myself as much as you).
In just under three months, I wrote and tested over two dozen recipes. Friendsgiving is organized into five menus inspired by some of my favorite global flavors, like Cuban, Italian and Southern U.S. There’s also a Classic menu – turkey, potatoes and all – and a vegan, gluten-free one, too. But that’s not all, there’s also a Pre-Game chapter featuring some of my favorite pre-dinner snacks and drinks, as well as desserts, wine pairings, decor suggestions, my favorite dinner party playlist, and so much more. Some of the recipes are a slight departure from my typical fare (there’s roasted pork and fried chicken), but since this book is about celebration, I was excited to showcase some of my favorite foods that are on the more indulgent side.
One of the most incredible parts of the whole project is that I got to photograph it myself – partially in my Brooklyn apartment, and partially at my dear friend and colleague Rebecca Ffrench’s house in the Catskills (who also helped with prop and food styling). Shooting the book was also the most nerve-wracking part. In a matter of weeks, I had to teach myself to shoot tethered (meaning directly from camera to computer), find the right shoot location, and figure out how the whole operation would go down upstate. But with the help of Rene and a few talented friends, it all magically came together in the most amazing way possible.
Behind the scenes
I am immensely proud and humbled by the project, and cannot wait to hold the first bound copy in my hands. Writing a book (even a relatively short 128-page one) is a deeply personal, at times agonizing, and highly rewarding project, and I am so grateful for this incredible journey. I hope you will enjoy using the book as much as I did creating it.
The official publication date is September 5, but you can pre-order your copy now. Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing recipes from the book and hosting giveaways, as well as a handful of events in NYC, so stay tuned for the announcements!
Now if only someone would fly me to Paris for free… (You listening, Universe?)
*Shout-out to @frenchwords for this quote.