Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Did I Mention I Wrote a Book?

If you and I spoke at all in 2009 and I was acting a bit mental, here's why--I was writing a book. And this week the book comes out! It's called the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook and we celebrated it last night with a big party at the very-chic Barney's in New York. We'll celebrate again at the 10th Annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival--which everyone just calls SoBe--on Miami Beach in late February. SoBe has been referred to as "the Sundance of the food and wine industry," "the biggest beach party on the planet," "spring break for chefs," a "family reunion for chefs" and "Foodstock." This year, 50,000 or so people will attend at least one of 50 SoBe festival events. It's four days of non-stop food-and-wine drenched decadence on one of the world's most gorgeous beaches. You should come!

So who's Lee Schrager and why is his name bigger than mine on the book cover? Lee is the founder and director of the SoBe Festival and, more recently, the New York Wine & Food Festival, coming up on its fourth year. Lee is one of the most energetic, most creative people I know. Not only are his festivals tons of fun, they raise millions of dollars for good causes. Lee is connected, I'm sure, to two of every  five people on the planet; at last count he had almost 7,000 people in his BlackBerry. So when he asked me to write the festival cookbook, I was thrilled.

The idea was to commemorate the big anniversary with 100 fabulous, festive recipes, all of them actually prepared at SoBe or with a SoBe feel. And we definitely wanted to display the festival's vivid multi-culti flavor.We wanted as many dishes as we could possibly fit in, but only if they were do-able by home cooks working with easy-to-find ingredients. We started with who knows how many hundreds and eventually reduced it like a fine sauce. At first I was afraid there would be no more seared tuna in the sea, we received so many variations on that theme. And then it was short ribs...everyone sent short ribs. Truth is we could have easily run 200, 300 great recipes if we had had the many dishes, so little space. Many were the nights I tossed and turned--really!--struggling to choose one dish over another.

Ok, so maybe you're not going to make Ferran Adria's Carrot Air with Bitter Coconut Milk for the kids' school lunch. But seriously, with few exceptions, this isn't a book filled with complex dishes made from scary ingredients you've never heard of. Plus, the recipes were all tested in a home--rather than professional--kitchen and only the best made the cut.

One of the many things I love about this book (indulge me here) is the wide range of contributing chefs. We've got recipes from the elite swat team chefs (Adria, Alain Ducasse, Thomas Keller, Eric Ripert, Charlie Trotter, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, David Bouley, Nobu Matsuhisa, Pierre Herme, etc.) and the rockstar celebrity TV chefs (Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, Emeril, Paula Deen, Guy Fieri, Mario Batali, Tom Colicchio, Morimoto, etc.) and the hard-working restaurant chefs whose places we love year after year and some of the best pastry chefs ever and even a few amazing young talents you've probably never heard of but soon will.

Because the event known as the Burger Bash is an annual SoBe highlight, we've got a whole burger chapter including winners of the festival's best burger awards. Another chapter is all barbecue, with recipes pulled from the super-popular SoBe event called the BubbleQ, where 25 or so top barbecue chefs man grill stations on the beach and serve up all different kinds of amazing 'cue with rivers of fancy French Champagne.

But the 256-page book has way more than just recipes. It's got witty and insightful (!!) Q&As with chefs ("Grilled for One Minute"), great anecdotes (well, those that I could repeat), tons of photos from the last ten years and a forward by Anthony Bourdain, the well-known chef/author/raconteur/bad boy/TV star who's been a loyal festival supporter for years and who always draws standing-room-only crowds. "When it comes to SoBe, I can't find anything to complain about," Anthony told me. "And I complain about everything!"

Whether you're a hard-core foodie, a beginning or accomplished cook, a culinary student or someone who just loves to see chefs in board shorts and flip flops, I think you'll enjoy the book. Best of all, proceeds go to a great cause.

Lee Schrager is a master event planner and he really outdid himself at our party last night. Lots of the chefs in the book were there: Jamie Oliver, Emeril, Bobby Flay, Paula Deen, Mario Batali, Michelle Bernstein, Hedy Goldsmith, Daniel Boulud, Anthony Bourdain, Jacques Torres, Rocco Dispirito and more. The food, catered by Barney's in-house restaurant, Fred's, was superb and the Champagne flowed nonstop. Now Lee's on a plane back to Miami, for a big "foodie theme night" promo with the Miami Heat tonight. Our book will be featured on the Jumbotron and will be looping on the huge digital billboard oustide the arena as well. Inside, VIPs in the suites will be dining on dishes from the book.

Me, I'm going to stay in New York for a few days of fun. I have a gorgeous room at an elegant new Fifth Avenue hotel called The Setai and I'm nowhere near ready to leave.

If you're at all curious what it was like pulling this book together, you can read what I wrote about that here.

If you're curious about the 2011 festival, click here

If you'd like to win a trip to the 2011 festival, enter here.

If you'd like to buy the book (and who wouldn't?), it's in bookstores nationwide and on all the usual websites including Amazon.

If you'd like to leave a comment below, do so! I'll pick one next week and send that person a copy of the book just for fun.


  1. Heartfelt congratulations Julie! How exciting and a wonderful achievement. Can't wait to pick up a copy and try the recipes out. I'm pretty impatient in general and won't be able to wait until the holidays so I'll be buying my copy next trip to Borders or Barnes & Noble :)

  2. Great post you whipped up today! Loved the party and hanging with you and your mom. Thank you for being wonderful you. xo, Susan

  3. Addendum: Additionally, congrats again! I know the extraordinary effort you put into this project and what a superb outcome! This wonderful book serves up lots of fun and deliciousness. (Wish the SoBe Fest started tomorrow!) Enjoying the recipes and anecdotes since purchasing my copy last night. -Susan

  4. Wow, that must have been one heck of a party! Congratulations.
    I can't imagine testing and distilling down the hundreds and hundreds of recipes down to the final 100. Those numbers are just too big!
    BTW, My favorite line in you post "elite swat team chefs" - nice visual.
    Again, congrats!

  5. We could not be more delighted, congratulations. Does this mean we shall see you soon back in Saint Remy?

    Big hugs,

    David and Nito Carpita

  6. Congratulations Julie....I can't wait to see it, xv.

  7. I kept saying "wow" as I read this entry -- just about at every paragraph. What a fabulous thing for you... and what a fabulous thing period! I'm so excited just having read about it. My heartiest congratulations, and all the best with the book, your time in New York, and Champagne tasting.

  8. Jule...You've come a long way, baby, since we worked together at R&I. So very proud of you and here's to the next book! Bonne chance...Michael B

  9. How phenomenal! Congratulations! Wishing you continued success!!!

  10. Congratulations!! I would love a copy of that book! I compiled a book of recipes from old classmates too, and it was a lot of hard work--and I didn't even write a thing--so I know how insane one can get during a project like this! I'm overseas but will have a friend in NY for the next two weeks. Cookbook...come to meeee, come to meee!

  11. Dear Julie,

    Congratulation! I like you. And I want to wish grat time in Nemw York.


    Krisztina from Hungary

  12. Felicitations! Bravo! Yay! Enjoy this happy time of celebrating (and eating, bien sur)!

  13. Julie, I had no idea! Big congratulations! What a phenomenal post about a phenomenal event. I wish you wonderful successes with the book. And enjoy the heck out of NY!

  14. Congrats have just birthed a will give you, and others, much pleasure for years to come.

  15. Fantastic! Very happy for you. Love the blog.

  16. Congratulations! The book and the event sound so wildly festive and delicious! I've just discovered your blog and can't wait to explore it. I was in St. Remy for the first time last year and thought it was the most wonderful place in the world. Cheers!

  17. Julie, congratulations! I cannot wait to get my hands on this book, it looks fabulous! what a lineup of chefs! off to Amazon right now!

    The party at Barney's sounds fab!



  18. Fantastic, well done! Now I hope to hear all about it chez moi, hurry home! Angela

  19. Truly enjoyed reading the post on the book, the party, the Miami Heat (Lebron is a dog!) etc. Will get myself a copy and one for my daughter, Emily who is a great foodie living in Boulder, CO.

    Craig Stevens

  20. Congratulations....what a wonderful accomplishment! It sounds just wonderful and if I'm not fortunate enough to win the giveaway I will definitely look for it at the bookstore!

    Have a wonderful time in New York!
    Hope Ava

  21. So when's the movie? LOL. I can't wait to get my hands on this book. If it is anything like this blog--well written, fun to read, full of buzzy insights--I'll love it. Bravo!

  22. Felicitations Jules! It must be great to look at your accomplishment on the shelves of a bookstore.

    Lee is a force of nature and you were wise to join forces with him on such a brave project. Of course you will fill me in on all the off the record details la prochaine fois we see each other.

    Thanks again for making SOBE F&W available for me to experience first hand.

    Very proud of you, bien sur!

  23. Hi Julie!
    That's terriffic! I'll have to check it out what a great showcase for your writing talents!!!!!!I am so glad for you! The line up of chefs is superb how thrilling it will be for you at the festival...I'm salivating already!!!!Maryannexo

  24. Congratulations, Julie. The fact that you were chosen to write this book just proves that You're the Best! I'm really happy for you and can't wait to see you back in Provence. Ruth

  25. Congratulations on the release of your book Julie~ it must be very exciting. I shall watch out for it in our bookstores ~ recipes make my day!!
    Dianne xx

  26. Congratulations on the book launch! And thank you for such an in-depth book review! I would love to review and share the book... and SoBe Fest has been on my dream "To-Do" for some time now. Perhaps this year I will be able to acquire invitations and tickets!
    Blessed Holidays!

    Cathy B
    pbprojecthope at yahoo dot com

  27. Oh congratulations. I book is like a baby there is lot of time in the making. So exciting., I wish all the best of luck. Carla

  28. Wonderful article! I love to read about Provence and the exciting events happening throughout France but hearing about your cookbook endeavor has been very entertaining. I look forward to reading more about "SOBE" and the fundraising events that surround the festival. What a worthwhile event for you to be a part of.
    I will definitely look into purchasing your book. Best of luck to you and the 10th anniversary
    celebration of the food festival.

  29. What an amazing accomplishment, to herd all of those great chefs together not only into the festival, but into a book. I'm sure it was a massive endeavor to get them to submit recipes, sit down for interviews, respond to questions, send photos, etc. The whole thing offers a snapshot of cuisine in the here and now; like a Brillat-Savarin of the early-21st century. Wonderful work, JM; it makes me want to go to the festival...and cook this stuff at home, too.

  30. So sorry I missed the Book Party! I didn't realize what a huge deal this was! Congratulations on the book! My only complaint, of course, is that Food Network picked you up instead of Epicurious! I'm going to have to talk to the powers-that-be over here at Conde. ;) I plan on getting the book for some friends for Christmas. Hope to catch up with you soon!

  31. wow julie looks FAB!!! congratulations! (and I know what a year or two or three making a book is like!)

  32. Can't wait to get a hold of a'll be an excellent substitution for actually being at the main event in February.

    Now you need NORTH Beach (SF) Food & Wine book as the perfect complement!


  33. Better late than sorry I haven't been over here sooner.
    Congratulations Julie!!!! Very very nice and I can't wait to get my copy. Cookbooks are my favorite read!

  34. I ordered the book and enjoyed it very much before giving it as a Christmas gift to my son John who is an excellent cook. I know he will enjoy it!

    1. How nice...thanks and thanks for letting me know! Really hope he loves the book and my holiday best to you both! :)