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Wrightfood cookbook - FREE download


Mattwright
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I run a food blog called Wrightfood - http://www.mattikaarts.com/blog

The Wrightfood cookbook has been in the works for quite a while now. I first came up with the idea over a year ago, and have been working on it ever since. The book is far from being done - only about 50% has been written and photographed in fact, but I wanted to get peoples opinions on the food, the photographs, the pacing of the recipes and so forth. Friends have said they love it, but then they would, they are friends. I need as many people as possible to take a look, and to let me know what they think - honestly.

So, here it is. The Wrightfood cookbook. The aim of the book is not to have thousands of recipes (this, as you see it here, is about 50% of what it will contain), but rather just a handful of really well documents quality recipes. Every stage in each recipe is documented with photographs, and decent descriptions. The idea is that a new cook and pick this up, and with little practice produce the food in here. No stone is left unturned, nothing is left to guesswork. The food is simple, clean, tasty and fresh.

http://www.mattikaarts.com/wrightfood/press/wrightfood.pdf - here it is. You will need Adobe reader to view it.

Hope you enjoy it, and let me know what you think.

The cookbook website is: http://www.mattikaarts.com/wrightfood - you can find out more about me and the book there.

Edited by Mattwright (log)
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Thanks Pat for kicking this topic up. I also thought it looked great. I'm looking forward to the final product. I think the quantity of recipes is important to discuss. When I buy a community fundraiser cookbook, I settle for a few recipes. When I buy a professional cookbook, and pay appropriate prices, I need quantity and quality. I'm not sure what that balance is...

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Hi Guys

Thanks so much for the comments. Glad that you guys like the photography and recipes. I hope to post more stuff as I get it done. Most new recipes are getting posted to my blog, but only a few of these will make it into the book (most likely refined a great deal).

As far as the recipe quanity goes. Before I started writing the book I got thinking about how many recipes from a cookbook I really make. Maybe 5% from some of my more favorite books. This just seemed kinda crazy to me. Which got me thinking more. Perhaps what would be more useful to newer home cooks in a smaller selection of recipes, that is diverse, but yet introduce new techniques to expand confidence, and inspire people to try their own combinations.

So, what I thought was that perhaps a good angle would be a selection of really good recipes, that were explained in great depth. I know when I started cooking many moons ago, I found most recipe books completely inadequate in terms of explanation - too much was left to guess work, which made things unessesarily tough - and turned me off some cookbooks. Ironically these are cookbooks that I have revisited and completlely love, now that I have a better understanding of cooking.

So, to make a long story longer - I wanted to keep the recipe count down, but be able to offer step by step guides, that really left nothing out. I have never been one for quanity over quality. I just really have to settle on how many recipes is a good amount. Perhaps 40? Suggestions on this would be welcome.

Thanks guys.

Matt

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I like that approach to your recipe count, but let me throw your comments back at you to see if its helpful. I agree that for the most part I only use 5-10% of my recipes from any given book (obviously more in some). So, what if that percentage will apply regadless of your count. What if that percentage is because you're matching food likes and dislikes. And so if you put 10 recipes, any given reader will only use 1. If you do 100 recipes, any given reader will only use 10.

What if the 10% is how many of your recipes a reader will be attracted to. Just theorizing...

The same then goes with the technique idea. What if its a recipe that is beyond or below my skill level, then are we lopping off a set number of recipes that won't be made?

I find the whole idea interesting...its the science of cookbooks. Go with your gut and keep seeking feedback - I think you're on to something.

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I hope I am on to something :D

I guess I should ask people of the recipes shown so far, how many would you cook? Also, if you look in the back of the book, there is a list of proposed recipes (now a bit out of date), how many of those sound interesting enough to cook?

My idea was that I was trying to create food that would appeal to most - try and cut out some of the crazy ingredients (a turn off for a lot of people when they have to go trecking all over town for 1/4 tsp of something exotic), and take things back to basics.

I will certainly get more done, and post as I go. I guess I should step up hunting for a publisher too.

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Matt, am I to understand that your intent is to find a commercial publisher to put this book in print? If so, I think there are a few issues with your approach. First, the book you're designing has full-color photography on every page. That's an expensive book to produce. Most publishers won't do that for anybody other than an established celebrity. Second, most major publishers aren't in the business of buying fully designed books that they just print up and sell. That's essentially the premise of the self-publishing industry. Regular publishers want to be involved in the creation and production of the works they promote, which is why they have editors and designers on staff. There are exceptions, but again they're generally for celebrity authors. And of course if you self publish you're back to the issue of this approach yielding a very expensive book. So you may want to think about a design that's less reliant on color photography. While your photos are beautiful, most of them are not essential, and the few truly instructive ones (like the risotto shots) could work in grayscale, which can be printed in a standard book without additional expense.

In terms of the content, two thoughts struck me right away. First, I think the introduction is weak. I don't see the point of opening with "So what right does an amateur cook have making a cookbook? I guess none really. I have had no formal training and never worked in a restaurant. I do however truly believe that you can be passionate about good real food without either." That doesn't give the reader confidence. Related to that, I think the book needs a better selling proposition than just "Matt Wright, blogger, cooks nice food with a Pacific Northwest twist." I think you should brainstorm and really define your style, and then figure out how to pitch that as somehow unique. There are a lot of cookbooks out there, tell us why we should care about yours? Second, if you're going to use an approach that calls for very few recipes, you might not want to start right off with two tomato-on-bread recipes. There's also a disconnect between the whole natural, organic, Pacific Northwest rap and your advice that winter tomatoes are just dandy. I think that goes, again, to the point that there's not a sufficiently focused vision being presented.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Matt: Chronicle Books in San Francisco published a series of cookbooks that are relatively thin paperbacks filled with gorgeous color photographs. They're beautifully designed and printed on thick glossy paper, perhaps inexpensively, in China. Each is devoted to a clear theme and part of its own series, such as one on individual regions in Italy. There is a definite shared visual style, no doubt the product of a team hired by the publisher.

I own one entitled Insalate which I picked up primarily because of the photography, but only because I found it drastically discounted from the $18 cover price. So, while the format complements yours in many ways, the publisher may have had problems marketing the books. I should add that several of the books devoted to Italian subjects were written by culinary professionals whose recognizable names would be selling points.

I agree with much of what Fat Guy says both in terms of praise and advice for revision. Finding a personal voice is as important as defining your goals and clearly demonstrating what you have to contribute that isn't available elsewhere.

If you truly wish to represent the Pacific Northwest, you need to define that context from the beginning and present a picture of that region from the perspective of a young home cook taking care of his family (very appealing to a certain demographic), and of a Brit who has embraced a new life in a new part of the world. Talk about huckleberries, for example.* Develop a sense of what distinguishes your region from the home you didn't choose for yourself.

Since you wish to encourage other young families that cooking isn't scary and that fresh, raw ingredients can be prepared simply, I think you'd be more successful addressing your audience in the introduction, drawing them into your world, instead of beginning autobiographically with a disclaimer (as Fat Guy points out). I like the fact that you're not using the traditional categories to organize the book (appetizers, soups and pasta, meat, poultry, seafood...), but novice cooks could use some guidance in meal planning. What would make one of the seafood dishes a complete meal? How does one vary salads or side dishes?

This goes along with rethinking the title. I understand the play on words, but as someone who will not be familiar to most of the people you plan to target, defining your topic without the self-reference might prove more successful.

*The New York Times has an article this week on Portland, OR as a hot spot for young chefs this week; the October issue of Gourmet highlights a young, attractive chef from your area, making sure her adorable 3-year old son appears several times in the photo spread.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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WOW is all I can say. This is the exact reason I made the decission to post my work here, on eGForums. Both of your comments are intelligent, and well thought out, and the suggestions are really going to help hone this book.

I agree with what you say about the Introduction, it could definitely be refined - I never thought about it from the direction you are coming, and yes, you are correct - it is a weak introduction.

Good ideas about the Northwest photos, and family stuff. I do plan to have more family photos throughout the book for sure. I don't want to completely section off the rest of the world though - just Northwest inspired I would say.

I think I might add a section to each recipe that shows what other dishes pair nicely with it - that should hopefully clear up any problems with the catagories.

Thanks again guys, I will keep you updated with how this goes, and keep the comments coming :D

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We share a common language and English is obviously the lingua franca of the world, but yesterdays Imperial measurements are not, why not add metric in brackets? It's the worlds favourite system and book will seep across borders.

No offence, really, really, really no offence, but there's no recipe or technique that I would hand over my hard-earned for (though I see that may well be your intention not to be flash). Why not gradations of difficulty or at least a few wiseacre recipes with photos for the whole porness of it all.

Best wishes,

from the old country,

Adey

“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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Metric units will certainly be added. It is funny though, most people I know back in England still use Imeperial, even though we switched ages ago.

I really respect your comments. You are actually the first person to say that they didn't like the book. I would be really interested to hear what kind of recipes you would like to see in this.

It should be noted that this book is targetted at relatively new cooks at home, and is meant to be simple prep. of really good ingredients - to show off the food.

I would love to put some stuff in there with more formal techniques - confit's, bain-marie etc - but I know a lot of home cooks won't spend 90 minutes making garlic confit for a recipe.

Please please please let me know what you would like to see in here in terms of food.

Some of the recipes planned for the book are "harder" than you see here. The idea still though is simple prep. of really good ingredients.

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