Behind the Scenes: Spreading culinary knowledge
September 14, 2012
My cookbook shelves are chocked full of culinary tomes old and new, ethnic and chef-centric, chef-scorned Junior League books and my treasured “Joy of Cooking.” Although I’m still a sucker for buying intriguing cookbooks – particularly those by Louisiana culinary saints John Besh and John Folse – increasingly I’m seeking recipes on the Internet. And I’m not alone. As we consumers of culinary knowledge get spoiled with the instant gratification Google delivers, cookbook authors, particularly noted chefs, are fast jumping onto the new technology bandwagon to feed our insatiable appetite for knowledge. The days of costly advance printing of books are numbered as “print on demand” services such as Outskirts.com spread in popularity. The times they are a-changing when it comes to how cookbooks are written and produced.One chef-author turning to electronic cookbooks is local chef with a global reach, Daniel Joly, executive chef and co-owner of Mirabelle in Beaver Creek. Belgian born Joly, whose book “Not Just Another Cookbook” was published at a hefty five-figure cost to him in 2010, has embraced the eCookbook format. Other well-known chefs, such as Denver’s culinary master Frank Bonnano, also have turned to electronic formats for cookbooks. Bonnano’s cookbook, “The Luca d’Italia Cookbook” he co-authored with wife and partner Jacqueline, is one of the first developed for the iPad eBook format, not merely transcribed. Joly is seeking to be the first – as best he knows – to produce on Kindle an eCookbook with videos and print-on-demand transcripts and recipes. There’s nothing new about videos on the Internet, but using them as supplements to eCookbooks opens up new possibilities for teaching culinary skills. Pop open a beer and cookOn many days this summer, Joly could be found in the culinary tent in Beaver Creek, either engaging a live audience in a cooking demonstration or filming cooking segments for his upcoming eCookbook “Cooking with Beer.” It doesn’t matter if he’s in the kitchen of his historic farmhouse restaurant or in a makeshift kitchen under a tent, he loves to cook and wants to share his skills beyond the borders of the valley or the pages of his cookbook. The video format gives him that opportunity. Joly is nearing completion of his eCookbook and free video supplement for the Kindle. With the release slated before the holidays, I thought it would be interesting to find out more about Chef Joly’s plans for the eCookbook format. As I sat with him over espresso – not beer – on Mirabelle’s quaint porch, I quickly surmised it was more than the coffee that energized Joly. His passion for making cooking videos as a “better way to connect with people” was palpable. He views the videos as the logical next step after writing a traditional cookbook. Initially Joly focused on the videos from a local perspective, seeing his website, chefjoly,com as a platform. But over time, Chef Joly broadened his horizons, as the Kindle, iPad and Facebook became avenues for reaching gastronomes around the world. Today, the primary goal of Joly’s work on his eCookbook is to “make the valley shine.” Joly hopes in time other local chefs will expand their Internet presence to share their culinary talents and better market Beaver Creek and Vail as culinary destinations. Visualizing the process”Food can be intimidating,” Joly said, “but it lends itself to visual representation.” One has only to look at the wildly popular programs on Food Network and Bravo to determine that people love to look at food and how it’s made. But the videos are only one aspect of the product. With the modest sum of less than $10, purchasers of “Cooking With Beer” will get 20 to 24 delicious, but approachable recipes in video format as well as print-on-demand transcripts and written concise recipes. With those three tools in hand, what initially can look daunting on the page, comes alive as Joly walks viewers through the easy steps necessary to create the dishes. Beyond home cooks who just want to expand their knowledge and try new techniques and recipes, Joly sees eCookbooks with videos as educational tools. Through partnerships with medical and lifestyle professionals, Joly believes there is an endless stream of opportunities to create videos customized for various nutritional needs and aspirations. Whether to help consumers lose weight, find heart healthy culinary plans for the whole family or control diabetes, Joly predicts eCookbooks with videos will offer great opportunities for chefs like him to partner with experts to share their skills and improve lives. So where to now? Joly doesn’t see this – at least for now – as a big moneymaking proposition. “It’s fun stuff,” he said. “I love cooking, I want to share it and help people, and I don’t take it too seriously.” But with one more weekend of cooking demonstrations in Beaver Creek during the Luxury Lifestyle Festival before the demonstration tent comes down, Joly’s attentions are shifting to finalizing “Cooking With Beer” for its scheduled pre-Thanksgiving release. I haven’t seen the list of recipes yet, but if his turkey brined in beer is one of them, I know now what’s cooking for Thanksgiving at my house! Suzanne Hoffman is a local attorney, wine importer and the Chambellan Provincial of the Southwest Region and Bailli (president) of the Vail chapter of the Chaine des Rotisseurs. For more background information on her “Behind the Scenes” series, go to http://www.facebook.com/vailvalleysecrets. Email comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.