If you live in California and love cookbooks, you probably know Celia Sack. Perhaps you subscribe to her monthly newsletter (and if you don’t, perhaps you should.)
Celia is the owner of Omnivore Books on Food, a delightful, sun-drenched cookbook shop in San Francisco’s Noe Valley. Each December, we check in with her to discuss the most popular trends and biggest sellers of the year. Here’s what she had to say for 2015.
Biggest Trend of 2015: Tacos
In Southern California, we know tacos reign supreme, but it appears the rest of the country is also experiencing a taco infatuation. Both Tacolicious and Alex Stupak’s Tacos offer recipes for making your own tacos at home, while Tacopedia transports the armchair traveler to the streets of Mexico City and beyond for a look at the country’s best taqueros.
Best Books for Boozehounds
Richard Betts adds a second scratch-and-sniff title to his name with The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All, and serious wine connoisseurs will be pleased to see the second edition of The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil has been revised and updated.
Books You Will Actually Cook From
This year we saw a nice crop of cookbooks that will withstand your kitchen splatter, as opposed to being artfully displayed on your coffee table. Among Celia’s favorites are Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year, Jacques Pepin’s Heart & Soul in the Kitchen and Joanne Weir’s Kitchen Gypsy.
What Publishers Got Right
This year’s international cookbooks may find you searching on Kayak for travel deals. The best examples feature vivid photography and personal essays that conjure up a sense of place. Some of Celia’s favorites include Senegal by Pierre Thiam and Jennifer Sit, Mexico from the Inside Out by Enrique Olvera andEat Mexico by Lesley Tellez. Tacopedia also gets a nod in this category.
Zahav by Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook is based on their Philadelphia restaurant of the same name, but their Israeli-inspired recipes will transport you nonetheless. The same could be said for NOPI by the London-based chef duo, Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully, which shows the strong influence of Scully’s Malaysian heritage.
What Publishers Got Wrong
If you’ve noticed a lot of aerial shots of quaint porcelain vessels, antique silverware and barnwood tables, you’re not alone. Celia calls it lazy styling. If you’re shooting a Thai cookbook, at least try to find Thai props.
Celia’s Favorite Book of 2015
This is Camino by Russell Moore and Allison Hopelain. Celia compares it to the beloved Zuni Cafe Cookbook, as though you have a chef by your side, gently encouraging you through the recipes. You can listen to the Good Food interview with Russell and Allison here.