Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A well worn path

It has become commonplace for chefs to write cookbooks. The routine goes something like this: chef opens restaurant, chef builds loyal clientele, chef "writes" cookbook that expands upon or documents his or her recipes enjoyed by customers. Rinse and repeat.

While my tone may be somewhat flippant, there are many examples of this practice. I am staring at Coyote Cafe by Mark Miller right now. The book is 20 years old and is published by 10 Speed Press, a house that seems to specialize in this genre. These books are really quite useful. Readers learn how a chef approaches recipe and meal development, learns a thing or two about preparing favorite dishes and, no surprise, the chef cements, or intends to cement, his or her place in the cooking pantheon.

In a move that seems to piggyback on this approach, a troika of local beer writers and a brewer are proposing a book of recipes from the local scene, Recipes from Beervana.

One complaint often voiced by a minority of beer aficionados is that Portland, and other craft brew havens, lacks a serious and consistent approach to food and beer pairing. It's not clear that the authors of the proposed book intend to uncover this truth or debunk it. The blurb on Facebook reads, Follow Mike DeKalb, owner of Laurelwood Brewing Co., Lisa Morrison, the Beer Goddess and Annalou Vincent, of Beer NW, as they trek across the Pacific Northwest in search of Recipes from Beervana! Then look for the book in Spring 2010 and get ready to get cookin'!

What is interesting about their approach, though perhaps not unique either, is that they are asking us to follow them in social media as they explore the many possibilities for food and beer. Will this interactive approach seek commentary from those who follow? Will their editorial choices be steered by their community of followers? Wait and see.