If you're a foodie and you're looking for a role model in the New Media landscape, Deb Perelman and her "Smitten Kitchen" blog demonstrate how one creative person with a slightly different take on cooking can carve out his or her own niche.
Perelman created her blog six years ago out of the notion that cooking should always be fun and that it should be possible even in the smallest urban kitchen. She lives on Manhattan's Lower East Side. The writer's down to earth and completely practical approach took off almost immediately and she now has millions of regular followers who have enjoyed her Peach and Sour Cream Pancakes and many other dishes.
The fame of the blog has led to Perelman's first Old Media effort, "The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook," a beauty of a book that has just been published by Knopf. The writer's tour will be bringing her to the Darien Library on Thursday, Nov. 29.
One of the most striking aspects of the blog and the cookbook are the scrumptious photographs that accompany the recipes, all of which were taken by Perelman. Entertainment Weekly called the pictures "pure food porn" in a glowing review.
"It absolutely came out of necessity. I'm not a photographer, but I had to take the pictures," Perelman said in a recent phone interview.
Despite her protests, the writer obviously IS a photographer or Knopf wouldn't have gone along with the idea of using her pictures, and "Smitten Kitchen" readers would not be asking Perelman for prints suitable for hanging. The blogger said there was "a lot of back and forth" on the photos for the book. "I've been doing it for six years and I wanted the look to be consistent ... I also wasn't sure I wanted to let a stranger do it."
The organic nature of the blog-to-book journey is also reflected in Perelman's direct and down-to-earth writing style. The personal feeling of the writing is a reflection of the years the blogger has spent interacting with her readers in the very busy comments section of each post.
"I am also not a journalist and I never learned how to write ... The blog made it a more conversational style," she said.
During the book tour Perelman has missed having the time to go over the blog's comments sections and interacting with readers.
"The comments are one of my favorite parts (of blogging). I feel like on a lot of websites (there is no one going over them). It's not good for the blog and not good for the conversation (to have unmoderated comments). I weed out the comments that I think are terrible, but I really do very little of that," she said.
Perelman quit her day job two years after the blog was up and running and started thinking about a book in 2009. The author considers herself lucky to be with Knopf with its "really important cookbook legacy" that includes such classics as Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."
"You know you have their attention because you're not part of a massive number of other releases. They give you a big push," she said.
Unlike other publishing companies that are less keen on book tours these days, Knopf has been adding dates to Perelman's agenda and she is up to 16 to 20 stops with a potential for more appearances. The author has been trying to make the book tour more than just a series of signings.
"I do a 10-minute talk, a Q&A and maybe some samples or a demonstration, but I want it to be more than just people waiting in line to get my scribble," she said.
Perelman will be at the Darien Library, 1441 Post Road, on Thursday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m. Visit www.darienlibrary.org.
Fixing a retreat
Famed designer Thom Filicia will be doing a promotional appearance for his new book, "American Beauty: Renovating and Decorating a Beloved Retreat" on Thursday, Nov. 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Wakefield Design Center, 652 Glenbrook Road, Stamford.
The book is a mixture of memoir and decorating advice that documents the two-year renovation of Filicia's own "fixer-upper" in Skaneateles Lake, N.Y., where he vacationed as a child.
Filicia became nationally famous as part of the team of designers and stylists featured on the Bravo series "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."