Cookbooks are the largest-selling category published in the United States, everything from The Meatlovers BBQ Guide to 365 Ways to Cook Carrots. Agents who specialize in cookbooks maintain websites with detailed instructions for authors eager to navigate the shoals of mainstream publishing. And, hey, it can be done. Among the local celebrity authors, Kathy Casey's recipes are published by Chronicle Books, Ethan Stowell has Ten Speed Press, Braiden Rex-Johnson has John Wiley, Kurt Dammeier lined up Clarkson Potter.
Publishers are the architects, designers and general contractors of the book world, but the best ones do far more than produce the author's book; they sell it as well. (Notwithstanding innumerable tales of their abject failure to promote it much further than the Remainder table.) Publishers also operate in an alternate universe where time itself can be made to stand still; years can pass before a project goes from manuscript to galley proofs to production; the notion of royalties an arcane relic. Hence the importance of agents who know which publisher is doing what, and who can hold publishers' feet to the fire if needed.
Hence as well the popularity of online publishers like Lulu, Dog Ear, and Cafe Press, where you can print a perfectly respectable copy of your manuscript for 20 bucks or so. Won't be an elegant, case-bound coffee-table volume, but just fine for a collection of book-club recipes or a souvenir montage of photos from your African safari.
And then there's Redmond's southern belle, Lisa Dupar, whose cookbook, Fried Chicken & Champagne, was recently given the Julia Child Award for best first book by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. The publisher is Southern Accents, Inc., with an address in Redmond that sounds suspiciously like Pomegranate, Dupar's award-winning catering company and bistro.
Dupar's self-published edition beat books by two established authors, Mark Bitterman (Salted) and Jessica Theroux (Cooking with Italian Grandmothers), released by mainstream publishers. (Crosscut reviewed Theroux's book last winter when she visited Seattle.)
"I'm still on Cloud Nine," Dupar said by email. "I'm flabbergasted," she told her publicist, Norma Rosenthal. And to the audience of 600 who attended the awards ceremony earlier this month in Austin, Texas, she acknowledged the contributions of the creative team behind the book (all women, by the way): photographer Kathryn Barnard, creative director Callie Meyer, designer Alicia Nammacher, and copy editor Miriam Bulmer. "They made my dream come true," Dupar said. "In my wildest dreams I never even conceived of receiving an honor like this."
Dupar grew up in Atlanta, started cooking at home because her mother wasn't interested, and entered an apprenticeship at the Peachtree Plaza hotel after high school. She made her way to Zurich and cooked in European hotels, and, in 1984, landed in Seattle at the Palm Court, the first female chef at a Westin Hotel property.
She left the hotel biz to open her own place, Southern Accents, as well as a catering company to provide stylish, high-quality food for private events in the growing market on Seattle's eastside. Six years ago she and her husband, Jonathan Zimmer, opened Pomegranate Bistro in Redmond, an intimate spot adjacent to the spacious catering kitchen.
Yes, there's a yummy recipe for comfort-food fried chicken in the book (saltine crackers do the trick for the crust) but her favorite sophisticated recipe is for Barolo osso buco (there's a source for veal demi-glace if you're not making your own). The book is filled with handwritten observations and kitchen tips ("Mash Notes"), as well as vignettes and charming photographs of eastern Washington wine makers. What comes through, above all, are Dupar's culinary intelligence and generous spirit.