Quill and Quire

Books of the Year

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Booksellers’ picks of the year: cookbooks

All the retailers Q&Q polled for their top Canadian cookbook picks are drooling over Velveeta éclairs and foie gras breakfast sandwiches, thanks to David McMillan, Frédéric Morin, and Meredith Erickson’s The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts (Ten Speed Press). Inspired by the trio of trendy Montreal restaurants owned by McMillan and Morin, Joe Beef is not just a favourite for restaurant people or those in know, it’s also a nice reading book, says Barbara-jo McIntosh, owner of Vancouver’s Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks.

It’s always fun when you know the place, too, says Alison Fryer, owner of Toronto’s The Cookbook Store, who compares Joe Beef‘s success to Meeru Dhalwala and Vikram Vij’s restaurant-inspired Vij’s at Home: Relax, Honey (D&M Publishers), which topped 2010 lists.

Less decadent but still delicious, according to retailers, are three popular Whitecap titles: Julie Van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan’s Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Everyday, Nettie Cronish and Pat Crocker’s Everyday Flexitarian: Recipes for Vegetarians & Meat Lovers Alike, and Mairlyn Smith’s Healthy Starts Here: 140 Recipes that Will Make You Feel Great. While Jennifer McLagan’s ode to offal, Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal (HarperCollins Canada), might not be an average home chef’s go-to book, it’s a personal favourite with retailers.

Food Network Canada celebrities can’t be underestimated when it comes to cookbook sales. This season saw popular titles from several celebu-chefs, including Mark McEwan’s Fabbrica: Great Italian Recipes Made Easy for Home (Penguin Canada); Janet and Greta Podleski’s Looneyspoons Collection: Janet & Greta’s Greatest Recipe Hits Plus a Whole Lot More (Granet); Michael Smith’s Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen: 100 of My Favourite Easy Recipes (Penguin Canada); and Laura Calder’s Dinner Chez Moi (HarperCollins Canada). Anna Olson’s November release, Back to Baking: 200 Timeless Recipes to Bake, Share and Enjoy (Whitecap), is already in demand. Gail Norton of Calgary’s The Cookbook Co. Cooks says the waiting list for a November baking class with Olson was a mile long.

However, one of the biggest cookbooks of 2011 is a leftover from last year. Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming (Whitecap) is still riding high on the bestsellers’ list. Norton recalls that when Quinoa 365 was first released in April 2010 she thought former Whitecap publisher Robert McCullough was nuts, and conservatively ordered five. These days, she orders 20 at a time.