[b][url=http://www.ft.com/cms/s/4e43dc6c-12cc-11db-aecf-0000779e2340.html]When you buy a cookbook written by a famous chef, do you automatically assume that all of the recipes are original?
Is this an important factor in your purchase?
Does it matter that ghost writers may have "enhanced" or even altered the original recipes? or the writing for that matter?
Wow, what great questions you pose, and so timely with the onslaught of celebrity chef cookbooks out this Summer (and with more coming in the Fall).
From personal experience, I just finished writing my first cookbook (no recipe testers or ghost writers involved) and after spending literally hundreds (thousands?) of hours buying the food, testing the recipes, sampling the food(great way to gain weight, writing cookbooks) retesting, editing, writing succinct headnotes and stories, taking photographs, formatting, reformatting, and then doing all of this several more times once my editor(s) made changes etc.... I honestly do not see how it is logisitically possible for certain celebrity chefs to say, run several restaurants, have multiple cooking shows, execute public appearances, and manage their own magazine while scrapping in the kitchen and in front of the computer composing with their own hands the great American cookbook. It's just not possible. Or is it?
So, to answer your question, yes, it bothers me that the alleged "author" of such a cookbook, may (or may have not--don't want to make sweeping generalizations here) done much, if any, of the writing, recipe testing (grunt work) but merely acted as a consultant or editor to their own book, while a ghost writer or "X" number of assistants or whoever did the majority of the work.
When Joe Blow walks into Barnes and Nobles, he sees a photo of said celebrity on a cookbook cover, full stage name blazing, it can be argued that he naturally assumes this celebrity created, tested, wrote, edited etc... the book. Is this a problem for anyone?
This is a major factor in my purchases. I don't own any celebrity chef cookbooks at this point (except one Paula Deen, but that's a Southern thing). Like most writers, I believe in the strength and integrity of the written word (as well as creative recipe ideas) and when that somehow gets lost amongst big names and catchy titles, it saddens me.
Moreover, as someone who used to teach college level writing, there wasn't a student in my school who would be allowed to "pass" off someone else's writing as their own without failing the class. Is there a difference here?
I would love to hear from anyone who ghost writes for a living as this is a really interesting thread.