By Olivia Snaije
PARIS (FEBRUARY 11): The first Paris Cookbook Festival kicked off tonight on Paul Bocuse’s birthday. It was sleeting in Paris but the auditorium for the Gourmand Cookbook Awards was packed with invitation-only authors, publishers and people from the trade coming from countries as far as Australia, Cambodia and Argentina.
Three women won honors for their lifetime careers in the business: Egyptian-born, London-based cookbook author Claudia Roden, Harumi Kurihara, the Japanese celebrity chef, and Costa Rican television chef Flora Sobrado de Echandi, whose cookbook series has sold over half a million copies in her country, where the population is 2 1/2 million people.
The categories for the awards were many, and the ceremony lasted over an hour. The award for the best Fish and Sea Food Book went to Kevin Snook’s self-published A Boy After the Sea, written in honor of his late son who loved to fish and cook. Alain Ducasse and Paule Neyrat’s book, Nature, won in the category of Best Health and Nutrition Book; and the Best Easy Recipe award went to Penguin India’s The Moti Mahal Cookbook.
The award for best cookbook of the year 2009 went to the Swiss God’s Cookbook, tracing the culinary traditions of the Levant. It is a perfect example of how the Gourmand team goes to great lengths to search out books that can be off the beaten path. The publisher, Arcadian Lifestyle printed 250 limited edition copies of the illustrated book which includes recipes from the Bible, the New Testament and the Koran. “Food is the thing we all have in common,” remarked the author as he accepted his Swarovski special edition trophy.
On the sweet side, the best Desserts Book award went to German pastry chef Franz Zeigler for his book Magic Marzipan, published by Matthaes; the best Chocolate book prize went to Kyle Cathie (UK)’s Adventures with Chocolate by Paul A. Young.
Gourmand also awards cookbook printers for their efforts, and this year’s prize went to the Slovenian company Gorenski Tisk.
A growing trend that Edouard Cointreau, Gourmand’s founder felt was important to point out was charity cookbooks. A category for Best Fund Raising Book was created and three countries, France, Singapore and the US won prizes, the first prize going to the French book Les Bonnes Tables, published by l’Itinerant, which runs a newspaper sold by the homeless. (Cointreau became familiar with the book when he bought it from a homeless person in the street.)
Always intent on picking out new directions in the culinary world, the Best Cheese Book award went to Colombian publisher MNR Comunicaciones with their book Expertos Queseros by Maria Lia Neira Restrepo. Cointreau remarked “the same thing is happening with cheese as it is with wine: they are making it everywhere!”
Last but not least, the Best Cookbook Photography award went to Alexandre Schneider, for his photographs in the Brazilian book Brasil a Gosto, by Ana Luiza Trajano, published by Melhoramentos.