Do cookbook editors hate Southern California?
My friend Laurie Winer has an interesting piece in LA Weekly complaining that New York publishers are prejudiced against Los Angeles chefs … or at least that they don’t pay them the same respect that they do New Yorkers. This is inarguably true, at least to a certain extent. I’ve always thought that everything in publishing was easier for New Yorkers because, well, that’s where 90% of book publishing happens. And if you were a cookbook editor, wouldn’t you want to work with the chef at the place where you eat lunch all the time?
But I’m afraid I think the piece, which seems to have been prompted by her difficulty selling a book with a couple of L.A. chefs, does carry the argument a little too far. And it does overlook the fact that Los Angeles restaurant chefs have published many cookbooks. My curiosity piqued, I started jotting down a list, more or less off the top of my head.
Wolfgang Puck by himself could practically fill a shelf. Nancy Silverton has eight, Mark Peel has three, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger have five. Then there's Suzanne Goin, John Sedlar, Piero Selvaggio, Ludo Lefebvre, Michael McCarty, Michael Voltaggio, Govind Armstrong, Ken Frank, Michael Roberts, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Akasha Richmond, Nobu Matsuhisa, Ann Gentry, Neela Paniz, Zov Karamardian, Joachim Splichal ....
I know I’m missing some, so help me out. And while you’re at it, how about suggesting local chefs who haven't been published yet who you’d most like to see a cookbook from. Let's help those New York editors out.
Photo: Hunting through the cookbooks at Janet Jarvits' cookbook store in Pasadena. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times