Cooking books become a lode and inspire luxury volumes that cost R$ 7,000

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Known for its art-oriented publications, the Taschen publishing house has just launched its first gastronomy book. In the coming months, Phaidon, another segmented house, will focus on Manu, a restaurant by chef Manoella Buffara, from Curitiba.

These launches are part of a movement —kitchen titles are no longer merely practical volumes, becoming more and more objects of desire, even entering the luxury market. With the transformation of chefs into celebrities, publishers began to bet more on the gastronomic niche — which in the United States alone is expected to grow 8% in 2023, according to BookScan, a publishing market analysis company.

Food books emerged as a way to record recipes, ensuring that preparations did not remain orally and get lost. Today they even saw collectible titles.

The last front is where Taschen fits in, one of the references in the market, which was dedicated only to arts, architecture and design. The book “Satoyama Cuisine”, launched at a price of €1,250 (about R$7,000), is his first step into the growing segment.

With photos by Brazilian Sérgio Coimbra, the volume weighs 15 kilos and presents, in 416 pages, the culinary philosophy of chef Yoshihiro Narisawa, one of the most important in Japan.

“We live in a new phase for gastronomy books”, says Coimbra, who takes detailed photos of recipes, generally on dark backgrounds. He has already worked with chefs such as the French Pierre Hermé and the Brazilian Alex Atala. “Food has become art in the hands of these professionals who create recipes with rich aesthetic care. The books want to convey this perspective”, he says.

The growth of this demand has led publishers to increase their investments, says Edouard Cointreau, creator of the World Cookbook Awards, an important award in the sector. He says there has been a shift in the cookbook market since the 2020 pandemic. “It has brought people back to reading and cooking. “

For Cointreau, there is also a tendency for food books to replace travel books. “There is a lot of interest in gastronomic books that show destinations and landscapes, in which photography is as or more important than the recipes themselves”, she says.

Proof of this is Phaidon’s bet on publishing an edition about Manu. More than just addressing the Curitiba restaurant, the book, which should be released in April, brings the chef’s work environment, her relationship with suppliers, in addition to the local ingredients she uses in her recipes.

“Manu – Recipes and Stories from My Brazil” brings together “themes, phrases and thoughts” that the chef has written in small notebooks in recent years. The book contains recipes and photographs that are very visually appealing. “But it also sums up their ambitions, processes and desire to build stronger connections within their communities,” says Phaidon editor Emily Takoudes.

In addition to publishing editions on restaurants from different countries, such as the Brazilian DOM, from Atala, Takoudes says he is always on the lookout for emerging chefs. “Before they even have Michelin stars, awards and [reconhecimento da] press,” he says.

Increasingly, too, she says Phaidon is interested in countries, regions or subjects with recipes and essays on a particular food culture that can take the reader deeper into a particular cuisine or topic. “We are developing our new subcategory of books on beverages.”

In Brazil, one of the examples is “Manihot Utilissima Pohl: Cassava” (R$ 209; 416 pages), Atala’s last book, published by Alaúde. In it, the cook brings together researchers, chroniclers, indigenists and photographers with the intention of showing the importance of the root in Brazilian cuisine.

From the same publisher, the book “12 Ingredients and a Dose” (R$ 109; 224 pages) was launched in January and focuses on the discussion of food cultures. Using elements such as corn, palm oil and cachaça, the publication, written by researcher João Luiz Maximo da Silva and olive oil specialist Sandro Marques, addresses the history and cultural practices of eating in Brazil.

In addition to the luxury market, publishing trends also pass through cookbooks. That’s what Rita Lobo does, who has more than ten books published on the subject. The last of them, “Rita, Help! Teach me how to cook”, reached the bestseller list already in the pre-launch, in the first year of the pandemic.

For Cointreau, from the World Cookbook Awards, books “need to try to translate very clear individual identities, which helps readers to be more interested and want to be part of the universe
food they represent”.

So paper sales have been on the rise — world leaders in prints like Artron [na China] are experiencing a boom, according to Cointreau, precisely in response to this new demand. “These books have the power to transport the reader to the surroundings and the recipes they bring, just open the cover”.

To eat with your eyes

‘Satoyama Cuisine’
Addresses the culinary philosophy of chef Yoshihiro Narisawa (ed. Taschen, 416 pages, about R$7,000)

‘Manihot Utilissima Pohl: Cassava’
From chef Alex Atala, it brings together texts on the role of cassava in the country (ed. Alaúde, 416 pages, R$ 209)

‘Manu – Recipes and Stories from My Brazil’
It deals with the work of chef Manoella Buffara from Paraná (ed. Phaidon, due to be released in April)

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