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The British Larder book shortlisted for Gourmand World Cookbook award

By Peter Ruddick , 21-Dec-2012
Last updated on 21-Dec-2012 at 12:35 GMT

Less than a month following publication and just a couple of weeks after it was named the best cookbook by a UK female chef, The British Larder by Madalene Bonvini-Hamel has been named on the shortlist for the 2013 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

The British Larder, named after the website and Suffolk pub and restaurant Bonvini-Hamel founded with husband Ross Pike, will now compete with four other titles, including April Bloomfield's tome, for the Best Woman Chef Book award.

Inspire

"It is amazing news - I am honoured, flattered but delighted most importantly," the chef and restaurateur told BigHospitality. 

The book was written for both an industry and consumer audience and was designed to replicate the success of the Reader's Digest seasonal British cookbook - a month by month guide to cookery.

"It is not only a cookbook, it is a reference book - it is incredibly comprehensive. It is my gift back to the industry because the industry has been incredibly good to me - I wanted to share the knowledge I have gained from the wonderful people I have worked with.

"If I can continue to inspire others as I have been inspired then I think that is mission accomplished," she explained.

Accolades

The Suffolk restaurant is not the only business whose chef has seen success on the book shelves as well as success in the dining room.

Sat Bains' recently-published book - Too Many Chiefs, Only One Indian - was named best cookbook in the UK section of the awards and is now up for the title of Best Design in the world.

Also up for the top awards at next year's Gourmand World Cookbook Awards are books from Russell Norman at Polpo, Jamie Oliver and Yotam Ottolenghi.

However making the transition from chef or restaurateur to writer is not simple. Bonvini-Hamel was approached by the publisher (Absolute Press) but had to take all the photos for the book herself.

She managed to negotiate more pages than first agreed and an advance which paid for the time she was away from the restaurant but working with publishers to get a book out can be a tricky, timely and costly process.

"Financially I need the book to work; I need to hopefully earn something from it," The British Larder co-founder revealed.

"However it is probably more important from an accolades point of view - I need to win these awards to inspire people to believe in me, my brand and my business - The British Larder - so we can actually evolve. That is the best advertisement we can possibly have.

"I spend less on adverts than other people would but winning an award is far better for me," she added.

Bonvini-Hamel admitted she was very keen to scoop the title when the winners are announced in February.

She is up against four other books including April Bloomfield's A Girl and Her Pig - interestingly both authors have written about their experiences working with British chef Rowley Leigh.

In the December issue of Restaurant magazine, editor William Drew investigated the chef cookbook phenomenon and outlined some top tips for restaurateurs looking to publish a book.

The full feature will be available on BigHospitality later this week or you can check out the advice below. The magazine is available at large branches of WH Smith or you can subscribe here.

Recipe for success: the right ingredients for prosperous publishing

Do:

  • Find yourself a good agent. They work on a 15 per cent cut of any deal they arrange, so their (financial) interests are tied up with yours - and they should know their way around a publishing contract.
  • Research your publisher. What does it specialise in? How strong is its distribution and international network? How seriously will it promote the book?
  • Develop a concise and focused proposal, with a clear USP.
  • Work out your structure: sections, chapters, balance of narrative versus recipes (hint: less life story, more food).
  • Use a book as a calling card, a marketing tool and a PR hook – and promote it in person wherever possible.

Don't:

  • Labour under the misconception that you’re going to make any significant money out of it, let alone a fortune.
  • Assume everyone knows you and/or your restaurant, and that the name alone will, therefore, sell the book.
  • Focus only on the size of the advance, neglecting to negotiate a healthy royalties deal (just in case sales take off down the line).
  • Assume your restaurant recipes will work in a domestic kitchen. They will need testing, adjusting, rewriting – and retesting.
  • Forget to negotiate an author discount. You don’t have unlimited access to copies of ‘your’ book, so if you want to sell them you’ll have to buy them off the publisher at a pre-arranged price.

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