About this project
Little BIG Books are cookbooks by the people, for the people. In a niche dominated by superstar chefs, these are small, carefully curated collections of crowd-sourced recipes that tell the story of a region or a cultural group. Each has a single author who’s obsessed with stalking recipes to their source. The twelve recipes in each Little BIG Book ARE that source.
Little BIG Books are an ode to the heroes of the stove: the great American amateurs. There is not a lot of room in big publishing for the humble, the hidden, the inclusive and the real. But in a world where everything is like something else, curious cooks want something different for dinner. Something original and well researched, something authentic, handmade and from the heart. Little BIG Books are just that.
Little BIG Books are the antithesis of Food Porn. They are about real people, real food, and real life.
What the books are:
Little BIG Books are small, but mighty and concisely curated, that are fabulously designed and hand-crafted, right down to the brushed aluminum rivets that secure the durably-stitched binding.
Each contains 12 recipes and profiles as well as an author’s essay, is printed on high-quality, environmentally-friendly paper and is built to sustain the rigor of being opened on a kitchen counter, again and again.
The books are the natural extension of the traveling we do to create the LongHouse Food Revival every year. We delve into the hidden life of an immigrant group or explore a region. We stalk local cooking heroes and meet some exceptional, but equally unsung, writers and artists. Little BIG Books bring this grassroots talent together into volumes that celebrate a moment in American life.
The Little BIG Book project is the next logical step to Molly O’Neill’s best selling cookbook The New York Cookbook and, later, One Big Table. Once called “the Damon Runyon” of food, O’Neill has more recently been dubbed “the food writers food writer” and “the greatest food visionary alive today.” She began her career as an painter and poet, spent ten years working as a chef and has, over the past quarter century helped forge the passion for food that has swept across the country. A long-time columnist for the New York Times, and the host of PBS series Great Food, Molly has an unerring eye for the hidden stories --- and food ---that the public wants to hear (and eat!). Over the past four years she founded cooknscribble.com, an online teaching platform and resource for food writers, as well as the LongHouse Food Revival, the annual gathering of food media thought leaders in upstate New York. O’Neill conceived Little BIG Books in the tradition of the WPA writers and artists who created a portrait of American private life and community life. O'Neill is hand-selecting each recipe, mentoring each writer and is overseeing every aspect of Little BIG Books from recipe testing to the usability of the design to the hand-crafted, small batch feel of each volume.
Peggy Wolff, editor of the acclaimed anthology, “Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers on Food,” is making her cookbook debut with NOT SINCE SLICED BREAD. After hundreds of miles of back roads from her home in Chicago, she’s gathered a collection of family recipes and stories that traces the history of immigration in the Midwest and delivers the secrets for distinct, artisanal loaves from the Old World, recreated for the New World that became their home. Pass the butter, please.
Kurt Michael Friese, co-owns Devotay, the Iowa City restaurant and is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Edible Iowa River Valley. He blogs at Real Food For All, and his first book, “A Cook’s Journey: Slow Food In the Heartland,” traces the origins of his farm-to-table philosophy. In his Little BIG Book, IF VEGETABLES TASTED AS GOOD AS BACON, Kurt trains his sights on the geniuses of vegetable cookery he’s known in the heartland and preaches their gospel of ingredient + mastering simple technique = perfection on the plate. And how.
Former photo-journalist and chef, the writer Thomas Hirschfeld is a stay-at-home-dad, who grows most of the food he feeds his family in Indiana. He is a columnist to Food52, blogs at BonaFideFarmFood and is obsessed with cows, pigs and barbecue. Having begun his professional life with a job in Texas, he searches for Midwestern barbecue in OINK VS MOO and finds backyard warriors, parking lot vendors and national BBQ champions who stand by their meat, metal and fire. But which meat is the question in the Midwest – Hirschfeld gives twelve scrumptious answers, uh, recipes as well as the stories that usher cooks into the inner life of toothsome ‘cue.
Ellen Gray is obsessed with pie. A former restaurateur, she learned her pie technique in her grandmother's kitchen, furthering her skills under the tutelage of a former mid-western farmer who reinvented a Bucks County Farm in Pennsylvania. For the past 4-years has plied that obsession as the chief baker at Able Baker in Maplewood, New Jersey, rolling out dozens of pies weekly, hundreds during the holiday seasons. Pie is not a destination, it is a journey and in her pursuit of perfection in crust and the divine balance of filling-to-pastry, Ellen travels constantly and blogs irreverently at No More Mr. Nice Pie. The search for great ingredients took her far off the beaten path and deep into the heart of pie-dom to farms across the Midwest. In WHY PIE, she explains, in solid, well-tried recipes and hilarious stories, why the Midwest is all about pie.
More About Each Volume:
This year, we are publishing four volumes, drawn from our reporting in the Midwest. Next year, we will publish whatever number of volumes is appropriate and feasible based on our exploration of the Chinese Diaspora in the United States.
Because part of our mission is to provide a platform for emerging voices, we look for new authors each year and the books we publish are as much a result of their experience and vision as it is our sense of what the market wants.
Our basic belief: if we publish books that we want to read and cook from, our market of like-minded souls will greet each volume as we do – with open arms.
Little BIG Books is a publishing initiative that tells the story of America, book by book. Each book is a snapshot of a particular place and time and sensibility. Taken together, Little BIG Books create a portrait of the nation at the table. Imagine the old, Time Life Cookbook series meeting Foxfire in a small, easy to cook-from format.
Just as the artists and writers of the WPA Project created an archive of American life, Little BIG Books provides a rare opportunity for food loving artists, writers and scholars to create a viable commercial product as well as an invaluable historic record.
In addition to the print editions, the recipes and stories will reside on OneBigTable.com, a growing archive of American food stories and recipes.
We publish what our TRIBE can sustain. Some years that means multiple volumes; other years it may mean single volumes. The format of the books and our approach remain constant. Single subject. Crowd Sourced. Emerging voices. Expertly curated, edited and designed.
Cost of Each Volume:
Paper costs shift constantly, however, we anticipate that each volume will retail for $14.99, with a discount for subscription-style purchases of the entire set that is published each year.
Production & Distribution:
Little BIG Books are sourced, written, edited, designed and printed in the United States. We expect to release our first four books in the spring of 2015.
Our financial model assumes direct distribution --- e.g. direct sales via OneBigTable.com to our TRIBE members --- as well as through web-based stores on Amazon, et al. We will also sell our books wholesale to select retail outlets such as specialty food and cookware stores and cookbook stores, regional and national museum stores and through their author’s own retail outlets as well as through special events organized by the authors in Farmers Markets and Festivals and at appropriate food conferences and gatherings such as the IACP, the LongHouse Food Revival, FoodBlog South and Eat Words.
Our financial goal in this Kickstarter campaign covers production costs only; Exceeding that goal will allow us to launch the on-line journal that supports Little BIG Books as well as to hire publicity and social media experts to work with our team members who are dedicated to promotion.
Please be generous. Heck, be lavish if you can!
Risks and challenges
From Food Network to newsstands, the Next Great Food Media Star bid for America’s hearts, minds and dinner. Reflecting the simple constancy of cooking, Little Big Books are a quieter, grassroots initiative. The success of the venture depends upon finding an audience of like-minded people. As we developed the concept, we have culled a TRIBE of about 5,000 who view dinner as a humanistic communion of culture, agriculture and an the endless appetite for people’s stories told through food. We depend on that TRIBE – and expanding that TRIBE --- to make Little BIG Books commercially viable. That viability supports the cooks, authors and artists who collaborate to create each volume. We are providing the rare opportunity of a print debut and they are stalking a Big Win as indefatigably as we are.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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